ENGLAND’S UNBEATEN run, which had stretched back over a year, came to an abrupt end in Cape Town last week.
None of the top seven batsmen managed to even make half-centuries in either innings, as South Africa levelled the Test Series. Bowled out for 163 in their first stand, England were always up against it. A slow pitch cruelly exposed a vital lack of patience as wicket after wicket tumbled, with even the previously indomitable Andrew Strauss falling victim to cheap dismissals.
Set a world record target of 501 to get out of jail, England’s leading order melted away, some tail-end resistance merely serving to reduce the deficit to 196 runs at the end of play. For South Africa, Kallis, Boje and Ntini were the heroes. If England are to rediscover winning ways and justify previous talk of taking back the Ashes next summer, two of the most important cogs in the winning machine must slot back into place by the next Johannesburg Test.
Captain, Michael Vaughan, with a top score of 20 in six innings, must re-discover his previous dominance with the bat and Steve Harmison, least effective of the bowlers with only seven wickets at a cost of 61 apiece in three Tests, has to find a way back to his old menace.