Dazed and Crestfallen:
The transformation from boring to boorish didn’t take long. Their appealing would have put sub continent teams to shame. The picture was complete when Panesar felled James Anderson in the victory celebration. England have gone over the top in their rejoicing, but have not lost their head, yet.
They would feel they are entitled to. After all it took a lot to clean up the mess, in the head, after the defeat at Headingley and then, they were practically out of it at Edgbaston till Pietersen fired and Collingwood breathed life not only into his Test career but also, into England. The tables have turned and Graeme Smith now cuts a lonely figure as South Africa struggle to put defeat out of their mind.
South Africa started pretty admirably though, under the circumstances and it seemed South Africa would actually make something of the chase at sixty-five for no loss. It appeared ridiculous when Neil McKenzie misread the yorker and found himself trapped lbw to Andrew Flintoff. He had clearly expected it to thud into his ribs, judging from his reaction. Even he could manage to see the funny side of it. But it still meant South Africa had lost a crucial wicket.
The dangers had barely been parried when Hashim Amla fell to Monty Panesar. The lbw decision at first sight appeared at a disadvantage to the batsman, hitting him high on the pad. But England could not be denied and South Africa were starting to look suddenly vulnerable again.
Jacques Kallis walked away in a huff, the indignation and injustice writ so large that he could no longer hide. Flintoff’s preplanned yorker turned into a less than waist high full toss that hit Kallis flush on his thigh as he ducked into it. Clearly Kallis suffered from the illness as McKenzie; he failed to spot the ball! The umpire though was seeing it all and he had no hesitation in raising his finger and declaring him out lbw. His reaction suggests there will be a few more discussions on this one.
Even as Smith went about bearing it the burden that was steadily getting heavier, he lost Ashwell Prince to a straight forward caught behind, the nick to Tim Ambrose thinning the top order as South Africa went into tea forelorn despite the skipper’s twenty-third half century.
The Morning After:
Morne Morkel was seen banging his head, almost admonishing himself after getting Ryan Sidebottom out. It was a gesture that all of South Africa was doing after letting England off the hook. And at what heavy price! What should have been ordinary victory will, if it happens, be one that rewrites history at Edgbaston.
South Africa imagined they would not be chasing more than 100 runs when they had the first wickets in a canter. But the evening session proved too costly much to the exasperation of their coach Mickey Arthur. The coach thought to drill all the points that make for a victory, especially one that seals the series. But he could only moan dismayed that South Africa had failed to put theory to practice. Shockingly, South Africa’s bowling seemed to cool off, just when it should have intensified. Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen latched onto the lack of intensity and the result was that England continued the suffering on the morning of the fourth day’s play. By the time South Africa found their radar, they had missed badly and were left to chase 281 as lunch time approached.
They now need an innings of belligerence and another of caution. And they need centuries again in an effort reminiscent of their pulling off a draw at Lord’s.