England's reign at the number one position in Test cricket was even shorter than India's and they have nobody, but themselves to blame for that. The dropping of Pietersen for perceived derogatory text messages about skipper and coach was one big selection folly and not picking Steve Finn for the first Test which they lost by a big margin was another.
Far too many coaches and skippers want batting beefed up so much that they lose out on quality bowlers, who would be taking more wickets than the bowler who can bat a bit. Sure, even the bowlers must not gift their wickets away, but to pick a lesser bowler because he bats a bit is not going to win games.
England have in Swann and Broad, quality bowlers who can handle the willow quite efficiently and add valuable runs. They also use James Anderson as a night watchman so he is clearly no mug with the bat, so where was the need to pick Tim Bresnan unless it was being superstitious since he had always been in an England team that won a Test match. That Oval Test loss turned it the other way for Bresnan and when at Leeds he had a convenient twinge in his leg, Steve Finn came in. Finn has been England’s most hostile bowler and an accurate one too and he troubled South Africa in both the Tests that he played. But for better catching in the slips he would have bagged more wickets than he did.
Leaving Pietersen out just tells you the double standards that exist, for there have been other England players who have poked fun at each other through books and the modern phenomenon of the social media and no action, but for the occasional slap on the wrists has been taken against them. Aren’t we also told that it is quite macho to sledge and those who take it and do well are even more macho. So why were the texts which incidentally are personal and not in the public domain a good enough reason to drop KP?
Before the last Test started there were some who thought that Philanderer's success had been a bit of a fluke. They obviously had not watched him go past the bat umpteen number of times in the first two Tests without getting that edge. Cricket can be a cruel game on the field, but feels even more so when there are unnecessary queries asked about some players by those who should know better.
Thank God nobody from South Africa suggested that Philander had got his wickets because of the 'quota' system since some had hinted darkly, if one may use that word, that he was picked because of the so called quota system. Not just wickets, but invaluable runs is what Vernon Philander got for South Africa in the Test that got them the number one ranking and he ended up being the man of the match. He and another 'quota' player, Hashim Amla got their names on the honours board at Lords and with it helped South Africa seal the series and the number one ranking.
Vernon Philander for his outstanding feats with both bat and ball in the third and final Test is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.
Professional Management Group