CRICKET BETTING – BET ON THE THIRD TEST – ENGLAND v SOUTH AFRICA – 30th JULY
The 21st July marked the 27th anniversary of England completing the most famous turnaround in Test history on this ground, as Bob Willis followed Ian Botham’s heroics, bowling out Australia, to win after following on, in 1981. The 2008 Test against South Africa produced a vastly different result. South Africa won the toss and batted first, compiling a total of 522, aided by 174 from Abraham (A.B.) de Villiers and 149 from Ashwell Prince.
The England side that had been a model of consistency for six matches was in disarray. The selection of Darren Pattinson when Ryan Sidebottom pulled out with a back injury was a shock. Captain Michael Vaughan admitted knowing next to nothing about Pattinson, who has only played eleven first-class games. Selecting him over Chris Tremlett and Paul Collingwood, along with Tim Ambrose’s promotion to no.6, was pure folly. England was completely outplayed in every department and despite the return of Andrew Flintoff, this was a performance to forget. The bowling lacked any sort of bite, allowing South Africa to rack up a massive total. South Africa enjoyed the better of the conditions, but that is the advantage of winning the toss at Headingley. The England batting in the first innings was irresponsible, with too many batsmen throwing away their wickets, resulting in a pathetic total of 203. Needless to say, Graeme Smith enforced the follow on, with England 319 behind.
South Africa rivals Australia?
South Africa’s 4th day bowling performance the ball was a team effort. Steyn and Morkel each took three apiece; Kallis and Ntini two. Even Paul Harris briefly threatened, even though he went unrewarded. Graeme Smith’s seamers were made to work for their wickets, however, and England nearly managed to survive until lunch unscathed, thanks to a partnership of 59 between Cook and Anderson. In looking for positives, which England badly need, Stuart Broad smacked his third fifty in as many Tests and the most authoritative to date, with 11 perfectly-timed fours in a partnership of 61 in just 12.3 overs with Pattinson. His innings of 67 not out was a timely reminder of how valuable he is at No.9. After bringing up his fifty from just 41 balls, a powerful cover drive off Makhaya Ntini handed England the lead, though Pattinson was bowled shortly afterwards to end the entertainment, with England just 8 runs ahead, heading for a 10-wicket defeat. Peter Moores, the England coach, defended his captain’s decision, saying, “Vaughan knows conditions here well, and he just felt that we needed a bowler to give us a full length, because the pitch looked as if it was going to be slow.” This can only put more pressure on Vaughan as England head to Edgbaston with no idea as to their best eleven players. On the evidence of these four days, South Africa rival Australia at the top of the world rankings. England cannot afford to go down this summer without a fight. They need to hit back quickly. Despite not losing at Edgbaston since 2001, England has plenty to ponder and need a complete rethink if they are to bounce back and level the series a week on Wednesday. Following the Headingley fiasco, South Africa is a best-priced 2/7 with Stan James to win the 4-match series, with England at 12/1 with SkyBet and a drawn series at 4/1 with Paddy Power. Unsurprisingly, South Africa is favourites for the Edgbaston Test, at 5/4 with bet365. England is 10/3 with Stan James, with the draw 6/4 with the same firm.