Thursday 22 February 2018

Cricket: Steyn makes his mark as England humiliated

Derek Pringle

It was not simply the defeat that will traumatise England, even though it is the first they have suffered in 12 home Tests, but the nature of it -- a pounding by an innings and 12 runs.

Suddenly, with a 1-0 deficit to make up in only two matches, their world No 1 Test status looks in serious jeopardy from South Africa.

The manner of the loss certainly did not suggest two closely matched teams, the pre-match billing for this series. After dominating the first day, courtesy of Alastair Cook's century, the home side were outclassed in all departments and even humiliated with the ball.

Having lost five of the nine Tests since reaching No 1 a year ago, Andrew Strauss' team have not defended their position at all well. This drubbing will challenge the restorative powers of team director Andy Flower and his backroom staff.

With 15,000 spectators basking in sunshine, England began the final day on 102-4, needing to survive to at least 30 minutes after tea to have any chance of saving the game.

In was Dale Steyn, in a timely confirmation of his status as the world's best bowler, who did the serious damage with 5-56. Imran Tahir chipped in with three wickets as the match was sewn up just before 4.0.

Steyn began yesterday's haul with the wicket of Ravi Bopara, bowled off the inside edge.

His wicket was South Africa's lone success in the morning as Ian Bell and Matt Prior dug in. After the break, Bell reached the slowest Test 50 of his career, but it created a false sense of security as Tahir began to cause problems bowling from around the wicket into the footholes.

That threat seemed to disconcert Prior, who sought to counter his jitters by playing the sweep -- with equally disastrous consequences as the ball skewed to slip to leave England 200-6.

Having applied himself superbly, Bell was drawn into a casual shot by Steyn's third delivery with the new ball, and was caught at slip. With Bell gone and Steyn's killer instinct roused, it was only a matter of time, of which there was plenty, before the match was settled.

After Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann departed, a brief resistance then prevailed as Tim Bresnan and James Anderson kept their opponents in the field beyond the scheduled tea break. It was a tiny consolation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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