Cape Town – Humiliated by an innings by South Africa in the
first Test, England’s tenuously No 1-ranked Test cricketers had to take it on
the chin from the UK media on Tuesday.
At the same time, Proteas stars at The Oval like Hashim Amla
and, on the final day, Dale Steyn came in for rich praise, whilst England
stalwarts Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen appeared to be singled out for the
majority of criticism in the home camp.
Mike Selvey of The
Guardian wrote that England were destroyed on Monday by “indisputably the
finest fast bowler on Earth” in the form of Steyn.
“Armed with the second new ball ... it was a brilliant
display of merciless, destructive pace. As defeats go, this was as humiliating
as they come for England.
“The disappointment was Broad, who is the one bowler capable
of bending his back and flogging something out of a moribund surface. He was
down on pace and content to bowl within himself ... (he) did not serve his team
well as a result.
“England could have done with Steven Fynn’s extra pace and
may want it at Leeds (for the second Test starting on Thursday next week).
Maybe Broad rather than Tim Bresnan should look over his shoulder.”
In the same paper, Vic Marks said: “South Africa’s victory
was as emphatic as it gets – South Africa took 20 wickets in the match; England
“On that first day, Steyn was out of sorts. We saw him in
animated, angry conversation with his coaching staff, before falling down the
pavilion steps on his way back to the ground.
“By the fifth afternoon, Steyn could be spotted down at
long-leg at the Vauxhall End, as relaxed as a picnicker. Between deliveries
from the other end he would lean on the fence and chat to the spectators ...
the go-to man was happy. He had delivered once again.”
Former Middlesex and Northern Transvaal seamer Simon Hughes,
writing in the Daily Telegraph, gave SA-born Pietersen a rough ride: “In
neither innings did Pietersen bat responsibly, nor even in the nets on Saturday
morning when he experimented with flip shots and extravagant lofts ... he
seemed to be preparing for a T20 match.”
Also in the Telegraph, ever-opinionated critic and once
limpet-like England opening batsman Geoff Boycott described South Africa’s
thumping win as “murder in the sun”.
He wrote: “Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis put The Oval pitch
in perspective. They batted with superb technique, picked the length carefully
and finished us by batting England out of the game.
“The captain’s (Andrew Strauss, in the second innings
sweeping to Imran Tahir) dismissal was horrible. He is the leader and has to
set the tone.
“Kevin Pietersen got sucked into a bouncer contest with
Morne Morkel. His hubris got the better of him.”