Friday, January 08, 2010

Rear guard action

What would any South African cricket fan do, seeing their side settling for a draw again after getting 9 opponent wickets? But they had company in Australian fans during the Ashes of 2009. And the tormentors for both SA and Aus were the English tailenders.

SA is down 1-0 in the series with a test to go after this.
England - 4th innings 9 down and 2.5 over to go (runs were not a concern for both the teams).
England was playing for draw and SA was in need of a win desperately.
Last 2 batsmen, Onions and Swann (rather bowlers) in crease.
Two of the best bowlers, Morkel and Steyn bowling at them.
10 fielders surrounding them in catching position.
Occasional taunt at the batsman from the closein fielders.
Crowd against them.
And the 2 batsman survive to draw the match.

English and SA are too familiar with this situation.
Travel back 20 days to Centurion for the 1st test of the series.
England were 9 down with 19 balls to survive.
Collingwood and Onions stared down by 22 hawk eyes.
And believe it or not they survive with Onions facing 12 balls.

None of these compare to the historic Ashes match last year.

England survived 69 balls (yes a long long 11.3 over) in the 1st Ashes test.
The heroes of the match were Monty and Anderson (not for their bowling though). England were staring at an innings defeat when the pair came together after the fall of the settled Collingwood. Monty played perhaps his longest innings of 35 balls to deny the Aussies a victory. The crowd in the Cardiff stadium was vociferous when the final ball was negotiated. England celebrated as if they had won the test. But perhaps the damage was much more than a victory. Aussies are generally not in such a situation and were totally unsettled. What happened next is not only history but historic…England beat Aus 2-1 to win the Ashes. The pride on Aus was dented which ultimately resulted in they loosing No1 ranking.

The might of the tail is shown in such daunting circumstances and the English are right on top.

Will SA loose the series is something to be seen after the remaining test.

Collingwood’s contribution in all the 3 tests is very significant though the accolades deservedly go to the tail.

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