There has been a lot of talk about Englands failings in the second Test, which they lost by 10 wickets to a far superior South Africa, from selection problems, to Vaughns form, and lack of balance in the line up. While these are points that have some merit, the selection of Pattinson was strange, Vaughn has been found wanting by Steyn, and Ambrose at 6 is too high, and Broad is scoring runs but not taking wickets.
The selection of Pattinson was odd, not because he isn’t good enough, or because he’s Australian. He has done enough in a very limited time to suggest that he can bowl, be at that he has not been fully tested. The fact that he was born in England, but is an Aussie, having been brought up there, learned his cricket there, and speaks with an annoying accent, seems to have gotten to some people. Yet Kevin Pietersen is ok. He was born in South Africa, brought up in South Africa, and learned his cricket in South Africa. But he has the three lions tattooed on his body so it’s all good. He’s English now. That’s a bit hypocritical of some the English public. The main difference is that Pietersen, having been a South African with no English claim,had to qualify to play for England, and so had to play years of county cricket before he could play for the country he wasn’t born or bred in. Pattinson didn’t have to go through the slog of seasons of county cricket, and played just 11 first class games before making his debut. Most of his team mates had never seen him bowl, and that includes Vaughn, who has seen him once on TV. How is a captain supposed to handle a bowler he knows nothing about? Something isn’t right there and the selection smells a lot like desperation, and his a slap in the face to Tremlett, Hoggard, Harmison, and the young bowlers who would love to play for their country. With Pattinson hoping to get another call up, this debacle may have harmed him more then anything.
Vaughn’s form has not been good. When he has to face a very good attack it becomes all the more apparent. Against the pace of Steyn he has no chance. His footwork, his balance, his timing and his confidence are all missing. If England are to post consistent big totals they need their captain at his best. The problem for now is that South Africa wont let him settle. As soon as Vaughn comes in there can be no doubt that Steyn will be brought into the attack, with Morkel or Ntini from the other end. Vaughn needs time at the crease, something South Africa will look to curb.
The English bowling attack is over relent on Anderson, and Flintoff and Sidebottom, when fit. The work load is not shared amongst the attack, and with Tests coming thick and fast, and little to no recovery time in between, Anderson is very much in danger of being over used. South Africa have the luxury of Steyn, Ntini and Morkel bowling in shorter bursts and with Kallis and Harris helping to ensure they they are kept fresh and ready. Broad has shown a lot with the bat, but not as much with the ball. Unlike Flintoff, who is a genuine all rounder (and so should bat at 6) Broad is a bowling who can bat, and will be a bowling all rounder in the future. His job is to bowl though, with the batting a bonus. He needs to step up his bowling if he is to both keep his place in the Test team, and help Anderson from bowling himself into injury.
Things looked so promising for England in the opening 3 days of this series. How quickly things can change, and they have been exposed brutally. It now seems that the opening 3 days where more of a very poor one for South Africa rather than a good one for England. England have a week to get their house in order before South African come right back at them. Perhaps they aren’t as good as they think they are.