Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Strauss hails ‘emphatic’ win over S Africa


England captain Andrew Strauss said yesterday that his team’s win by an innings and 98 runs in the second Test against South Africa at Kingsmead had been outstanding.

“It’s not far off the best performance I’ve seen by an England team,” Strauss said. “Away from home that’s as emphatic as we have been. Pretty much the whole match we’ve done what we wanted to do.”

Off-spinner Graeme Swann took five for 54 and claimed his second successive man of the match award with match figures of nine for 164.

England needed just 18 overs on the final day to complete a win that gave them a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

England’s comprehensive triumph completed a year of success under Strauss’ captaincy, which included an Ashes series win over Australia.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 12 months,” Strauss said. “But we’ve still got a lot of hard work to do.”

He said one of the keys to the team’s success was “not getting carried away when we’ve done well.”

He said yesterday’s win would count for nothing when the teams square up in the third Test in Cape Town on Sunday.

“But we’re in a good position in the series, one up with two to play, and the way we’ve won today gives us a lot of confidence going into Cape Town,” he said.

While Strauss could reflect on a year of success, South African captain Graeme Smith said that this year had been a let-down after his team won away series against Australia and England last year.

They lost a home series against Australia and won only one Test out of six during the year.

“We reached a point but we haven’t been able to go to the next level. We need to look at why we haven’t been able to take that step,” he said.

Smith said the scale of the Durban defeat was “massively disappointing” and indicated unhappiness with the way the team had prepared.

“We need to be quite precise in terms of the things we need to improve on in terms of training sessions and coaching,” he said.

Smith was critical of his team’s bowling performance.

“From ball one we were poor,” he said. “We never found our areas and we weren’t precise enough.”

Asked about the form of fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who has taken two wickets for 233 runs in the first two Tests, Smith said: “Makhaya would be the first to put his hand up and say he’s disappointed with the way he has bowled.”

He comes with a lot of experience and he’s performed really well for us over a period of time. We have given him all the support we can behind the scenes. He’s an important cog in our line-up, so we need to look at all those aspects,” Smith said.

Although South Africa named a 14-man squad for the second and third Tests, Smith said he did not believe there would be major changes.

“It’s important to take the emotion out of decisions. We need to get to Cape Town, have a look at the squad and see what the selectors give us.”

The match was effectively lost on Tuesday when South Africa collapsed to 76 for six but Smith said the team’s top six batting line-up had generally been solid over a sustained period.

“It was disappointing. It was a creation of pressure and England being able to attack. They ran in and they bowled well. Maybe we were a bit tentative but we need to give credit to England. We were outplayed,” Smith said.

South Africa’s faint hopes of extending the match beyond lunch evaporated when Morne Morkel was out to the 11th ball of the morning. Morkel was dropped by Strauss off the previous delivery from Swann, which the left-hander edged low to the England captain’s right hand, with the ball going on for four.

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