Forget me not

2008-08-15 00:00

Do not pay too much attention to the loss at the Oval, but do not entirely forget it. For Graeme Smith and his team, the main task had been accomplished. A win at the Oval would have been a good way to seal the series, but it was not essential in the same way that a good start was imperative for Kevin Pietersen and his adopted team. Motivating a team for a dead rubber has always been difficult, even for the most astute captains. During the halcyon days of the recent Australian teams, a good proportion of the few Tests they lost were dead rubbers. Whatever captains may say to their teams before such matches, the adrenal glands of their players are not easily fooled.

What was disappointing was the failure of Morné Morkel to take a single wicket in conditions that suited him. I feared all along that too much would be asked of Morkel on this tour. When Steyn fell out, he became the team’s main strike bowler, but he failed to deliver. His bowling was lamentable when Pietersen and Collingwood ran amok at Edgbaston. Although he obtained disconcerting bounce at the Oval, far too much of his bowling was off-target.

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