Kallis weighs in as England's hopes fizzle out

It was the match that was meant to show how far England had come after their successful summer. Instead, a resounding defeat by eight wickets at the hands of South Africa merely confirmed that their place in the pecking order of world cricket has not yet risen above the status of also-ran.

It was the match that was meant to show how far England had come after their successful summer. Instead, a resounding defeat by eight wickets at the hands of South Africa merely confirmed that their place in the pecking order of world cricket has not yet risen above the status of also-ran.

As awakenings go, this was about as rude as it gets. On the eve of this match, England's captain Nasser Hussain had said his side had improved since they had last met South Africa and looked forward to being tested by them. Well, that particular wish was granted and his team were found wanting, if not short of a quantum leap in class, then at least some common sense.

"From ball one, to the the last ball of the game which went for six, we were outplayed," said Hussain. "It was a pretty good performance from them and we were not up to it. They played like a side at the top of their form, while we failed to do the basics. To be honest, we did not even come second and we have a lot of hard work to do."

The main problem, as it has been for some time, was a woeful lack of runs. In benign batting conditions you cannot hope to contest matches when you are bowled out for 182 with almost six overs of the innings left. Hamstrung by such a low total, and the need to attack on a placid pitch, England's bowlers could not get further than Jacques Kallis and Boeta Dippenaar, who batted superbly to score 78 and 66 runs respectively. In a flourish that rubbed dirt into an already gaping wound, Dippenaar finished the game off with a straight six off Craig White, with 65 balls to spare.

Curiously, in the aftermath of such a heavy defeat, Hussain was more critical of his bowlers than the batsmen. "We are used to different conditions," he said. "Sides like South Africa, Pakistan and India are brought up on pitches like these where you need to bowl with control and discipline. So often in England the ball does something, whereas on these surfaces you have to work bloody hard. It is an example to learn from."

Aside from their batting, a task which was a virtual foregone conclusion, South Africa bowled and fielded superbly, taking eight catches and essaying two brilliant run-outs, one inevitably by Jonty Rhodes. And yet, impressive sight though that was, the dismissal of five England batsmen to catches in the deep suggested a mental frailty resulting in poor shot selection.

Most galling, after Graeme Hick and Andrew Flintoff had added 66 for the fifth wicket and taken England to 154 for 4 in the 37th over, was the loss of the last six wickets for 28 runs in 46 balls. Such carelessness would scarcely have been acceptable on a Johannesburg greentop, but here, on pitches praised by many as being the best in the world for one-day cricket, it was simply wretched.

Hick, playing more deftly than in recent memory, had a fine match, top-scoring with 65 from just 68 balls and taking two brilliant catches, the best a one-handed effort in the gully to dismiss Gary Kirsten. Nairobi is only 1,800 miles north of his old stomping ground in Zimbabwe and he clearly felt at home. True, the track was flat, but it was his colleagues who should be criticised for squandering the chance to be bullies on it.

Love it or loathe it, South Africa's efficiency at this form of the game would win them industry awards in Japan. Opening the bowling with Shaun Pollock and Roger Telemachus, after Hussain had opted to bat first, they nailed England to the floor, conceding just five runs in their first eight overs.

Instead of trying to swing the ball hither and thither, they concentrated on old-fashioned line and length. The ploy appeared to bamboozle Marcus Trescothick who, like Stewart, prefers to play with the full face of the bat, rather than use half a bat to find gaps and keep the score ticking, something the very best one-day batsmen resort to when the bowling is tight.

Once he had realised that there would be no easy runs, Trescothick took matters into his own hands and stepped down the pitch to take 15 off Pollock's fifth over. Unfortunately he appeared not to have considered a retort from the bowler and the slower ball that he chipped off Pollock to Allan Donald at mid-on had "sucker" written all over it.

Back playing his first one-day international since South Africa's famous tied semi-final against Australia in last year's World Cup, Donald, soon to be 34, was quick to show that he is still an asset. Eschewing raw pace in favour of accuracy, he removed Hussain and Stewart in successive overs, the captain succumbing to his old failing of opening the face of the bat.

Stewart, in a manner that was to afflict Flintoff, Hick and Graham Thorpe, holed out at deep mid-wicket, finding the fielder stationed there with unerring accuracy. The others did exactly the same, though Flintoff's hack off Pollock, after he and Hick had given England a launching pad to get around 230, was particularly dim-witted.

Paul Grayson, on his one-day debut, had a game he would rather forget, making nought and conceding 20 runs from five ineffectual overs. But on a day when England showed they can be a pretty ordinary side away from the green, green grass of home, he was a symptom of their shortcomings - not the cause.

SCOREBOARD

England won toss

ENGLAND

M E Trescothick c Donald b Pollock 26 43 min, 36 balls, 3 fours, 1 six ÿA J Stewart c Dippenaar b Donald 18 71 min, 47 balls, 3 fours *N Hussain c Boucher b Donald 5 18 min, 11 balls G A Hick c Hall b Kallis 65 107 min, 68 balls, 9 fours G P Thorpe c Hall b Boje 14 41 min, 31 balls, 1 four A Flintoff c Klusener b Pollock 25 40 min, 37 balls, 2 fours C White run out (Rhodes TV replay) 3 6 min, 2 balls M A Ealham c Boucher b Pollock 10 31 min, 26 balls, 1 four A P Grayson c Pollock b Kallis 0 2 min, 1 ball A R Caddick run out (Boje TV replay) 0 9 min, 4 balls D Gough not out 6 9 min, 5 balls, 1 four Extras (lb2, w5, nb3) 10 Total (193 min, 44.1 overs) 182

Fall: 1-33 (Trescothick), 2-50 (Hussain), 3-55 (Stewart), 4-89 (Thorpe), 5-154 (Flintoff), 6-160 (White), 7-167 (Hick), 8-168 (Grayson), 9-174 (Caddick), 10-182 (Ealham).

Bowling: Pollock 9.1-2-27-3 (w1) (6-2-20-1, 2-0-5-1, 1.1-0-2-1); Telemachus 9-2-45-0 (nb1,w2) (6-2-22-0, 2-0-18-0, 1-0-5-0); Donald 8-1-25-2 (w1) (6-1-16-2, 2-0-9-0); Kallis 8-0-26-2 (nb1,w1) (6-0-23-0, 2-0-3-2); Boje 5-0-24-1; Klusener 5-0-33-0 (nb1) (one spell each).

SOUTH AFRICA

A J Hall c Hick b Gough 1 15 min, 11 balls G Kirsten c Hick b White 32 47 min, 34 balls, 7 fours J H Kallis not out 78 145 min, 110 balls, 10 fours H H Dippenaar not out 65 113 min, 86 balls, 9 fours, 2 sixes Extras (w2,nb6) 8 Total (for 2, 161 min, 39.1 overs) 184

Fall: 1-19 (Hall), 2-52 (Kirsten).

Did not bat: J N Rhodes, ÿM V Boucher, L Klusener, *S M Pollock, N Boje, R Telemachus, A A Donald.

Bowling: Caddick 7-1-40-0 (nb1,w1) (5-1-24-0, 2-0-16-0); Gough 9-2-43-1 (nb5,w1) (7-2-29-1, 2-0-14-0); White 8.1-0-40-1 (8-0-34-1, 0.1-0-6-0); Ealham 10-1-41-0; Grayson 5-0-20-0 (one spell each).

Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and S Venkataraghavan (India).

Man of the match: J H Kallis.

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