Strauss admits relief after ‘crazy hour’ in Centurion

December 22, 2009 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment


For whatever reason it never felt as though England were going to comfortably save the first Test against South Africa. Despite their obvious improvements as a team in the last couple of years, they always seem to make batting out on the final day as tense as possible.

Even when Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen took the score to 169-3 at tea there was always the overwhelming feeling that a couple of quick wickets would make the South Africans believe they could win the game, and so it proved.

After Pietersen ludicrously ran himself out, England suffered a collapse that their mid-90s side would have been proud of. By the time the last ball of the Test was bowled they found themselves on 228-9, scraping a draw on a day that should have been far more trouble free.

In the end, they had a patient knock from Paul Collingwood and some resilient final over batting from Graham Onions to thank. The Durham No.11 blocked out six balls from Makhaya Ntini to save the game.

As mentioned though, it shouldn’t have been that difficult and England shouldn’t have been relying on Onions to step up his game with the bat.

Strauss knows this too. In the aftermath he said that the final sessions included a ‘crazy hour’ meaning that the entire squad were ‘very relieved’ to have got away with a draw.

The England captain reserved praise for Onions, despite it ‘not being his job to keep his side in a Test match’. As for what was arguably the turning point of the day, Pietersen’s run-out, Strauss refused to place blame. He said that ‘mistakes happen on a cricket pitch’ and he would rather concentrate on the way Pietersen and Trott performed during their partnership.

He is probably right to focus on the positives. England deserved a draw from this one even though they struggled in the final session. Graeme Swann was terrific throughout, Onions was consistent, Pietersen and Trott DID look the part during their time together and the team as a whole showed they could compete with the best Test side in the World, something that is reflected in England’s second Test odds.

They will have to improve as the series goes on though. There needs to be more from the opening batsman, more from Stuart Broad and an improvement with the bat from Matt Prior. Hopefully, this will come and England will be inspired after salvaging a draw in the first Test, much like they were in the summer against Australia.

Meanwhile, the odds for next year’s Grand National are already starting to get interesting and could be worth keeping an eye on.

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Entry filed under: Cricket.

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