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England's Innings Defeat....  

The repercussions for England’s innings defeat against South Africa will no doubt extend further than Darren Gough’s retirement from the Test arena.
I have a feeling there will be other changes from the side humbled by the Graeme Smith-inspired Springboks at Lord’s with the return of Graham Thorpe the most likely. But congratulations first to South Africa although I believe that at 22 and in the infancy of his Test career, Smith being talked of in the same breath as Sir Don Bradman is way too premature.

Time will tell, but so far this summer, he is so much on top of our bowlers that they do not yet know how or where to bowl at him.Smith is also scoring at a rapid rate of knots and when a batsman is in that kind of mode he can quickly take the game away from the opposition. I find it incredible that South Africa can have affected such a turnaround in fortune.In just a couple of county knocks after being dismantled by England in the limited-overs game, they suddenly look a side capable of beating any other with the exception of Australia. Gough’s departure will no doubt hasten a shake-up of the bowlers, but at Lord’s on a cracking wicket our batting also looked a little brittle and a couple of mini collapses helped take the game away. It must have been very hard work for new captain Michael Vaughan especially considering that he had no more than two days to get his mind round the job and to lead out a team that did not have his fingerprints on it. I am sure that will change. It must also have been hard work for immediate past captain Nasser Hussain, who two days before having to prepare himself for Test match cricket again, he had been in bits as he resigned from the captaincy. I do no think he had enough time inbetween to mentally prepare himself. It will not be easy for the selectors because they could point at five or six of the team and ask questions, but I am sure they will listen to their captain before making their final decision.

Vaughny’s job against South Africa was not helped by seeing his side’s first innings done and dusted inside three and a half hours and then having to spend 2 days in the field without being able to buy a wicket.

When the opposition are 50 for five then everybody in the team has ideas and is not frightened of airing them, but at 250 for one, the ideas run out and the captain can be a very lonely man.But we have a strong and determined leader and I am sure he will emerge better for the experience.No doubt his team will be more than aware what they have to do if they want to remain at his side.

There can be no doubt that Freddie Flintoff will be at Trent Bridge when the Third Test starts next week after his magnificent second innings knock.It mattered not that England had little or no chance of saving the game when he showed the world his remarkable talent, there is always pressure when you bat in a Test and particularly in front of a Lord’s full house.

His 142 had been coming for some time and it was an innings of immense magnitude.A cautious start when he avoided the bouncer was followed by some of the most brutal hitting headquarters has ever witnessed.It was nice to see that for once Graeme Smith and his team were also helpless in the face of such an onslaught.

This innings will set Freddie up and now I believe we will see him mature into the batsman-bowler all-rounder I have always felt that he was rather than the bowler-batsman he was perceived to be elsewhere.

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