England Scuppered By Real Test
A test defeat is all too rare for this England side. Rarer still a defeat at home by an innings and 12 runs. But this was finally a test worthy of the name.
South Africa won the first test by an innings and 12 runs to take a 1-0 lead with two to play.
Most of the hard work was done by Hashim Amla. He hit an unbeaten 311 and in the process became the first South African to hit a test triple hundred. It was batting of the absolute top drawer.
He partnered both Jaques Kallis and Graeme Smith. Very much the junior partner for both of those giants of South African, and indeed World, cricket. But Amla batted on. And on. And on and on. For 13 hours.
As he batted forever and a day the South African total cruised by England’s paltry first innings effort. Alastair Cook’s century long forgotten.
Ian Bell gave it his all on the final day at the Oval. Eventually out for 55. And his resolution gave England fans a fleeting hope their team could salvage a draw. And with South Africa needing to beat England in the series for number one test status; a draw would have been near as good as a win for England.
But all the damage was done in that magnificent first South African innings. The innings that saw the visitors declare for 637 with only two wickets down. It also included centuries from Kallis and Smith.
Kallis was callus (sorry) of England’s aspirations in the first test. He proved a monster with both bat and ball. And proved once again he is one of the finest all rounders in the World.
The hopes pinned on Ravi Bopara in England’s second innings didn’t come to fruition. He is still to deliver a shining, defining, moment for England that justifies his enormous potential.
So one down. Two to go. And England have it all to do.
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