England batsmen may show effort of attrition
17 August 2012 | NEIL MCKENZIE
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the drama in the build-up regarding the relegation of perhaps their best batter in Kevin Pietersen would’ve taken its toll mentally.
But regardless of how messy the whole affair looked to be, it must also be said that there was a united front coming from the England camp.
In fact, much of the antagonising came from Kevin initially and it’s perhaps indicative of the England Wales Cricket Board’s calm but firm conduct that prompted him to issue an apology.
The governing bigwigs acknowledged the gesture yet, probably realistically, decided that the broken fences would need a more protracted period of mending and stuck to their guns in omitting him.
Kevin is a very strong-willed individual and you have to be hardnosed to keep him in check but also fair as not to alienate them.
Undoubtedly assisting in the situation was Andrew Strauss’ measured response.
Before this Test kicked off, he noted that he was disappointed that Kevin made his job of keeping his unit tightly-knit more taxing though adding that generally he got on well with Pietersen.
As outsiders, we won’t know what’s truly going on behind the scenes but I think it’s undeniable that the consistent attitude that permeated from all quarters of the England side helped greatly in them looking sharp for this game.
Indeed, we’ve had some good old-fashioned Test cricket.
The English bowlers did well to dislodge our top four so easily though it must come with the disclaimer that Alviro Petersen and Jacques Kallis were unlucky.
I’ve been a big advocate of utilising the decision review system but it is disheartening to see instances like Jacques’ dismissal.
Even with the review, there was still a lot of doubt about whether he was out and the benefit of doubt always goes to the batter, so you have to question the third umpire’s conduct in that regard.
Nonetheless, it was great to see the lower middle-order show the resolve they did.
JP Duminy’s role at No 7 has become notable as he anchored the Proteas’ efforts in the latter stages of the first innings in Leeds and this time round he played a crucial hand in giving the batting effort respectability.
Vernon Philander’s potential influence as an all-rounder was also highlighted with a career-best score – it’s tantalising to think he can be as useful with the bat as he’s been with ball.
It has been interesting to see how England responded after losing their first four wicket cheaply.
The Proteas bowlers took note that batting was significantly easier in the second and third sessions on day one, and they knew they had to be disciplined yesterday, realising that the pitch wasn’t overly friendly for them.
England’s batting will always be strong despite the absence of Pietersen and what we have seen is more of an effort of attrition from them. Most of their options – except for Matt Prior – are methodical scorers.
They can progressively bat you out of the game yet can’t take the game away from you in one session like Kevin.
What we might see then is England steadily take control while eating up time – something they don’t have in abundance in such a high stakes clash.
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