England v South Africa: We’ll have regrets from first Test, says Strauss

Andrew Strauss admits England will have regrets after South Africa win the first Test by an innings and 12 runs at the Oval

By William Roe
andrew strauss
Andrew Strauss was left to reflect on England's heavy defeat by South Africa The Sport Review

andrew strauss

Andrew Strauss admitted the hosts will have regrets after the England captain saw his side crumble to an innings-and-12-run defeat as South Africa won the first Test and their first ever match at the Oval.

The Proteas took the host’s final six wickets on day five to seal a one-sided victory in which England’s bowlers only managed to dismiss Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen throughout the course of the match.

“We’ll have some regrets. We weren’t able to go on and get a big score after day one,” said Strauss.

“The odds were always against us after last evening but we’re frustrated we didn’t make them work harder.

“I think we’ve got an outstanding bowling attack that can take 20 wickets on most pitches. Here conditions played a part; we couldn’t get the ball swinging.”

Under blue London skies, England needed to bat through the final day with just six second-innings wickets in hand, having lost four on Sunday evening.

But England’s hopes of a famous rearguard performance denying South Africa victory were dealt a massive blow when Ravi Bopara was dismissed within the first hour.

The Essex right-hander chopped a Dale Steyn delivery feebly onto his middle stump and departed for 22 with big questions hanging over his Test credentials.

Ian Bell was the pick of England’s batsmen and he, alongside keeper Matt Prior, saw the hosts through to lunch at 177-5, still 75 runs shy of making the Proteas bat again.

With South Africa captain Smith rotating his bowlers regularly, it was down to leg-spinner Imran Tahir to get the second breakthrough of the day.

Prior was caught at slip by Jacques Kallis after attempting a sweep – a shot that England’s batsmen seem keen to keep in their repertoire despite it yielding little benefit.

South Africa, and Steyn in particular, bowled beautifully, and as the sun beat down, the 29-year-old quickie used speed and aggression to finish with figures of 5-56.

The world’s top-ranked bowler had Bell – who was stubborn and defiant – caught in the slips for 55 with the second new ball, removing England’s last real hope and calming any nerves to make victory an inevitable formality.

Tahir – who managed to get real turn and bounce on the final day pitch – picked up the last wicket of James Anderson, who was trapped lbw on the back foot, to finish with 3-63 from 32 overs and secure a comprehensive win.

The Proteas will head to Headlingley for the second Test knowing that they out-bowled, out-batted and out-played the No1 Test side – the pressure will be on England to reassert themselves on home soil.

The second Test gets under way on 2 August in Leeds.

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