It’s a good job South Africa were…

…undercooked.

Just imagine what an embarrassment for the number one ranked team in the world it could have been if the visiting South Africans were on top form.

England might not have taken the whole two South African wickets they did in the 189 overs bowled. Might have conceded more than the 637 they did in those overs. They might not have scored 625 runs in the 223 overs they faced. Luckily they couldn’t have lost any more wickets in those overs than they did.

That number one crown hasn’t exactly sat well on the heads of Strauss’ team. The fact that they’e lost five of the nine tests since gaining the crown from an inept Indian side last summer, two of the three victories they’ve managed were against an equally inept West Indian side, points to a somewhat false position at the top of those rankings. Did FIFA come up with the formula to rank teams?

Comprehensively found out at the Oval.

Funny how all winter we were told that Anderson was the best bowler in the world. Ah he can do it when the conditions aren’t perfect for him. Funny he couldn’t here. Especially as Steyn, Morkel and Philander could.

Something’s not right with Broad, he was pretty woeful during the recent one day series with Australia, much the same here. No zip. No spark. Nothing.

But of course the one they all want to drop is Bresnan. Been in a losing test side now, no need to keep him. Media don’t like him, never have and want him gone as soon as possible, this is their perfect excuse.

Swann is not the Swann we know – his six wickets this summer are costing 72, this was his third wicketless inning – having trouble with his elbow, pain killer injections not an ideal situation.

And then there’s the batting. From the moment Pietersen got out in the first inning it was downhill. Did anyone really believe England could bat a whole day to save the game? Certainly knew Pietersen wasn’t going to save the day. It’s the way I play. Being suckered in by Morkel, getting him chasing a couple of bouncers then try the straight length ball. It’s the way he plays don’t ya know.

Comes a point when the circus surrounding Pietersen has to be jettisoned and he’s told if he wants to be available for the full length of the IPL he an be because his services are know longer required by the international team that made his name, serving his mercenary desires.

Ah but Bell was still to come and he’d batted all day before against South Africa and they’ll respect him because of that. Or they’ll look at the rest of his innings when he bottled it and see it as the one off it was. Oh how beautifully he batted, we were told. Was he there at the end? No. Did he at least bat long enough to make South Africa have to pad up again? No. Did he meekly dangle his bat to a wide ball with a shot that was more at home in batting practise? Yes.

But wait again wasn’t there another saviour in there? Does anyone and I am including the player himself along with all members of his family really think Ravi Bopara is a test player? Does anyone really think that a few knocks against a poor Australian side in a one day series is an indicator of how he will fare against a side like South Africa in test matches?

Do us a favour before he really does become another Mark Ramprakash and ends up with 52 caps before someone finally figures it out.

And what is it about leg spinners. Ever since Shane Warne’s ball of the century, nearly 20 years now, you just have to call someone a leg spinner, doesn’t matter how good or bad they are they’ll have England tied up in knots.

But good news the pitch at Headingley should be better for the bowlers. Though anything that benefits the bowlers who got two wickets might also be slightly helpful for those that got 20.

Got to win at least one of these remaining two tests and hope for at least a draw in the other or that number one ranking is number three and the Aussies are joining South Africa above England.

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