Jacques Kallis: Our bowling attack is up there with the best ever

 

The Oval

This series was presented as the battle between the two most powerful bowling units in world cricket, but the evidence of the first Test suggested there was a disparity between South Africa's attack and that of England.

England's bowlers have performed impressively during the tenure of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, and they have the talent to do so once more in the final two Tests of the series, at Headingley and Lord's.

Yet according to Jacques Kallis, who showed the qualities in this game that have made him one of the finest all-rounders of the modern era, the current South African arsenal is the most potent in his 17-year international career.

"In terms of the variety we have, it's probably up there with the best we have had," he said. "It allows us to play well and take wickets in most conditions. We've got Vernon Philander who puts the batsman under pressure and makes him play a lot of balls; there is Dale Steyn, who has pace and swing; Morne Morkel gets a lot of bounce and pace; and then leg-spin from Imran Tahir.

"That's something we didn't have before and gives attacking value to our spin as well as being able to defend. We have a nice balanced attack who can put most teams under pressure."

Modesty prevented Kallis from discussing his own attributes, so his coach, Gary Kirsten, added: "Then you've got another guy who's got 278 Test wickets."

The South Africa captain, Graeme Smith, did not speak after the match as he was due to board a flight last night so he could be in Cape Town today to attend the birth of his first child.

The captain would have made the journey with a light heart after overseeing a performance that was close to cricketing perfection. The batsmen scored 637 runs, which included man-of-the-match Hashim Amla becoming the first player to score a triple-century in Tests for South Africa, for the loss of only two wickets.

England's 20 wickets were claimed for a combined total of 625 runs, giving the Proteas victory by an innings and 12 runs and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. If Smith's team win one of the remaining two games, they will replace England at the top of the International Cricket Council's Test rankings.

Their coach, Kirsten, is a former Test opener for South Africa who guided the India side before returning to coach in his homeland. "It's very special," he said. "This type of thing does not happen very often, but we have real class in our batting line-up and guys who don't give their wicket away.

"We have a long way to go but we have put our peg in the ground. We want to be the best team in the world and we know what we need to do to achieve that.

"People need to enjoy playing with each other and believe in what we do. It's about bringing the individual brilliance we have into what we want to achieve as a team."

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