England complete stunning overseas victory

Considering how South Africa dominated most of the first Test, it was a stunning turnaround and England will be delighted to go 1-0 ahead in the series with just two Tests to play.

Neil Fairbrother

What a fantastic result for England in the second Test! Considering how South Africa dominated most of the first Test, it was a stunning turnaround and England will be delighted to go 1-0 ahead in the series with just two Tests to play.

I thought if we’d have had a bit more luck early in their innings then England would have been in control throughout the Test. As it was, South Africa got a bigger total than England would have liked with Dale Steyn getting some useful runs down the order. It put England under pressure at the start of their reply and they responded brilliantly.

Andrew Strauss set the tone for their performance with a brilliant 54 off 67 balls. Some of his shots were absolutely stunning and his innings just took the momentum away from South Africa. His performance was outstanding, but the century from Alastair Cook spoke volumes for his determination and character. He had been under a lot of pressure after a series of low scores, but dug in and delivered an important innings for his side.

Another player who was under considerable pressure was Ian Bell, who many believed should not have played in the second Test after failing to score many runs in the first Test at Centurion. He is a lovely player to watch and has all the shots and maybe his century will also have answered his critics. His century also helped England secure a big lead, which helped put South Africa under pressure in their second innings.

When they walked out to bat for their second innings, I was convinced the Test was heading for a draw and maybe South Africa thought the same. As we’ve seen so often before, however, pressure does funny things to teams and England never let them settle. Stuart Broad got his reward for making the ball reverse and Graeme Swann capped a brilliant 2009 for him by bowling England to one of their most impressive overseas victories I can remember.

Swann has always been a good bowler in county cricket, but he seems to thrive on playing on the big stage and has learned how to become effective in international cricket. He has always been a confident lad but his performances with bat and ball have enabled England to pick their sides without worrying about trying to balance things without a recognised all-rounder.

As good as England’s victory was, though, I think we all have to be careful about getting carried away. It was only a couple of weeks ago that we escaped from Centurion hanging on with out last pair at the crease and I am sure South Africa will want to come back strongly in Cape Town for the third Test. They have a very good record there and they are such a proud sporting nation that I am sure they will come back hard at England in this next Test

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