Cape Town – An English critic has delivered a damning verdict on South Africa’s shell-shocked, inexperienced bowling line-up in the second Test against England at Newlands here.
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In his report on Sunday’s scintillating advance by the tourists, spearheaded by double-tonner Ben Stokes, to a first innings total of 629 for six declared, respected Scyld Berry of the Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk) wrote: “In line with much else of South Africa’s cricket, their bowling now has never been so weak since their readmission to Test cricket in 1992.”
Some might consider it a cruel judgement considering that the Proteas were fielding three members of a four-man specialist unit with a combined total of nine caps, and missing the services through injury of all of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott.
Yet the prolonged brutality of the treatment handed out to rookies Chris Morris (on debut), Kagiso Rabada and off-spinner Dane Piedt by Stokes and Jonny Bairstow on Sunday was also hard for the staunchest of Proteas supporters to deny, with the 69-cap Morne Morkel not entirely spared either.
Berry interestingly compared South Africa’s current slide in Test cricket with England’s suffering in 2012, when Graeme Smith’s SA side of the time won the series on enemy soil and grabbed the top spot in the rankings from them.
“(Stokes and Bairstow) demolished the house which Jacques built – and not only Kallis but Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn and some illustrious team-mates.
“As Stokes pounded six after six into the stands like a mortar, South Africa’s position at the head of the Test rankings was exposed as ridiculous, the relic of a bygone era.
“They went to the top in 2012 ... and on the back of a very similar performance to England’s here, when they scored 637 for two at The Oval. Within a month, Andrew Strauss’s captaincy was over and South Africa had deposed England as No 1.”
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