In those rare moments when there isn’t cricket on in the 51allout maisonette we occasionally allow ourselves to watch a little bit of Eastenders. Not because we like it, but because it makes us feel better about our lot in life: at least we don’t watch this shit regularly. Imagine being addicted to something so mind-bogglingly awful, looking back at one’s life at the very end and realising that Albert Square had swallowed up vast quantities of precious time that you will never, ever get back. No matter how much you plead with your maker it will never change; that was time you could have used for anything, and you chose to watch the dismal made up lives of miserable Londoners who couldn’t afford a washing machine between them.
Of course, having sat through quite possibly the worst ODI series in the history of cricket, we really are in no position to criticise anyone. This was a dismal end to a dismal series in which the top two sides in the world produced their version of the ‘Who Shot Phil Mitchell?’ storyline, to the relentless pounding apathy of the general public.
Still, Hashim Amla batted very well.
From start to finish this was a complete shambles from England. Ian Bell missed a perfectly straight one to start the rot, rubbing salt into the wound by pissing the review away like Samit Patel casually discarding an empty Bounty wrapper. From there things still managed to go downhill: Ravi Bopara displayed all the mental faculties of someone who’d only just returned from three months as a homeless while Eoin Morgan and Alastair Cook got out to pathetic shots against the part-time bowlers. There was a hint of fight from Bairstow, Kieswetter and Woakes but the innings soon subsided like a TV soap metaphor crashing into the sea before being hurled against the rocks of this writer’s indifference.
It was precisely the end that this series, this being the thirteenth ODI of a summer in which there couldn’t possibly be a fourth or fifth Test in the clash of the top two sides, thoroughly deserved.
Not that South Africa emerge from this sorry mess with their reputation improved. Their performances in games three and four were genuinely woeful. They weren’t that much better here but luckily England completely self destructed on a perfectly good batting pitch in ideal sunny conditions. South Africa just had to turn up with the bat to win, which they eventually managed to do after a rocky start.
Part of the blame for that rocky start rests at the door of Dean Elgar, a man who looks as if he’d be more suited to batting down the order for the Queen Vic XI, with matches presumably taking place in the square – four runs if you hit the bench of tears – assisted by shoddy camerawork and utterly ambivalent editing. He certainly doesn’t look remotely in the same class as the rest of South Africa’s batsmen. However, the absence of Jacques Kallis continues to completely unbalance the side, with either the bowling or the batting suffering more, depending on which low quality all-rounder is introduced.
Special mention should go to Wayne Parnell for bowling the sorts of enormous no-balls that so shocked everyone associated with the game two years ago. Thanks for that.
The end result of a 2-2 series draw is that the two sides remain unchanged at the top of the oh so important ICC rankings with thoughts now turning to the three T20 Internationals of the next week followed by a World Cup jamboree. The next ODI action for both sides isn’t until the new year, when England are in India and South Africa host the New Zealand juggernaut. Hopefully three months of being made to watch Eastenders will teach both sides to treat those games with a bit more respect.