Nasser Hussain hailed England’s “champion cricketers” Ben Stokes, James Anderson and Stuart Broad after Joe Root’s men found a perfect Test template to beat South Africa in Cape Town…
That was an outstanding performance. Joe Root’s best Test as captain.
We mustn’t get too giddy. We can’t get too down when England are losing or too up when they are winning. But this is good, this is the template of how you play Test cricket.
In the first innings, too many batsmen got in and got out but they put it right in the second innings.
Dom Sibley batted how an opener should bat – batting long, batting time and setting it up for the gun middle-order players of Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope etc.
And then when you have champion cricketers like Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Stokes, you’ve got a chance and the makings of a very good side.
In the first innings they were normal England but then someone got them by the scruff of the neck and said ‘come on, we’re a bit better than that’.
When Pope got to the crease in the first innings, we saw the brand of cricket England need and want to play.
I think they have been a little bit soft with their batting and I still see a batting line-up that is a little bit fragile – I am not going to change on that just because they have won – but Graham Thorpe said give them time and I think that is key.
England’s champion cricketers
In the end it came down to character and the character of Anderson, Broad and Stokes was phenomenal.
It was also a little message to Archer. I hope he was watching the passion and pride that three champion cricketers in Broad, Anderson and Stokes showed.
If he is going to come back into this side, he needs to show that sort of attitude to winning games of cricket.
Stokes on Monday set up Stokes on Tuesday. He went out and smashed it to give his captain time to declare and then who was there right at the end at five o’clock on day five? Who else but Stokes.
Phenomenal batting. Phenomenal bowling. Phenomenal catching. Phenomenal effort. Brilliant.
After all the celebrations, someone will have to remind England how they won in Cape Town.
The top-order batsmen batting time and getting a huge score, the middle order kicking on and then some top-quality bowling as well as a world-class all-rounder. There is no one in the game at the moment who can match what Stokes is doing.
On to Port Elizabeth for the third Test
Even if Anderson hadn’t walked off [with a side issue] I firmly believe in this red-zone stuff with these guys clocking up some overs, so where are they with their fitness?
We saw Broad limping past so it’s lucky England have got that break [until January 16].
It looks like the Port Elizabeth pitch will deteriorate but it actually stays pretty good. You have to bowl a full length there – it is almost like a subcontinent pitch in that if you bang it in it just dies on you.
It is also a spinner pitch so I am glad England have put that five-seamer nonsense to bed. I don’t think they will need two spinners so now Dom Bess has played he should play until the end of the series.
You can’t go back to the eighties and nineties where you play a couple of games. He has played and done well so give him a run. He will have soaked this in and want more of it.
Watch day one of the third Test between South Africa and England, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7.30am on Thursday, January 16.