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England-South Africa Test: Quality 'Test-match Bowling' on Display

The first test match between South Africa and England is underway and it would be fair to comment that it is turning out to be almost, an ‘ideal’ test match. I say that because it has nearly all the contents of a result-oriented, engaging test match. For starters, both of the teams have struggled to reach 400 in their respective first innings. Just like Geoffrey Boycott, I support the idea that best test matches are those wherein scoring in the region of 350-400 needs some serious application. Secondly, the bowling standards from both the sides have been impressive. Bowlers from both camps have combined penetrations and patience by bowling long, disciplined spells. Every batsman has had to invest a lot of time in reaching 30 runs or so, before feeling comfortable at the crease.
Now that the second innings of South Africa is underway, it would be even more interesting to see how many runs they can put-up on the board, considering that they have lost nearly half their side for just about 50 runs! Yes, that does create the impression that there is evil in the pitch but that is not the case. It is simple, sustained, pressure bowling by the English bowlers, who have created a remarkably young and effective bowling unit, presently being led by Swann. The South Africa seem susceptible against most types of spin bowling and they haven’t been able to digest what Swann has been dishing out to them. The contest is about to get even more engrossing once the final innings of England gets underway and Paul Harris and Ntini are pressed into action on a pitch that is steadily offering some exploitable uncertain bounce to bowlers who are patient enough to hold their off-stump line. It does seem strange that batsmen from both sides cannot comprehend straightish spin bowlers but that is making the battle more result-oriented. For a change, you find premium being put on boundaries and batsmen are ready to take a hit or two on their helmets.

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