A short history of South Africa vs England at the Wanderers

On January 14, 2016, South Africa take on England at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg - this is something that happens only every 5 years or so, and on this occasion it will have been 6 years since the last one. The Bullring, as the stadium is affectionately known, has staged some entertaining contests over the years even when they were one-sided. Here's a summary of how these matches have gone down since the Bullring's refurbishment in the early 1990s.

Hundreds from Gary Kirsten and Brian McMillan and a fantastic team bowling performance helped South Africa set England a massive 479 to win. Only Dominic Cork, who picked up 9 wickets in the match, threatened across both innings for England. Needing to survive just over 5 sessions, a draw wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, but at 145/4 on the fourth day, it didn't seem likely. Skipper Mike Atherton, however, produced one of the greatest innings of all time with his unbeaten 185 - he batted for close to 11 hours with vital contributions from Robin Smith (44) and and keeper Jack Russell, who batted four and a half hours for his 29, as England earned a hard-fought draw.

Atherton hooks during his innings of 185*

This wasn't much of a contest, really. England were four down for just two runs only 3 overs into the match, and were bowled out for 122 and 260 while South Africa racked up 403. Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock picked up 19 English wickets between them in a mesmerizing dual exhibition of pace and swing. Andrew Flintoff, rebel that he is, was dismissed by Paul Adams as South Africa won by an innings and 21 runs.

Allan Donald appeals

A much more competitive run-fest followed at the Bullring this time around. An opener was the top scorer and anchor in each of the four innings - Andrew Strauss (147), Herschelle Gibbs (161), Marcus Trescothick (180) and Gibbs again (98) scored freely as the Test appeared to be heading for a draw, but it was a bowler who changed the course of the game. Matthew Hoggard ran through South Africa with his masterful swing, taking 7-61 to take his tally for the match to 12 wickets, giving England a 77-run win with only 7 overs to go.

Matthew Hoggard takes Graeme Smith down

This time, the Wanderers was the stage of the series finale, the fourth Test of a four-Test series, and South Africa went into it holding a 1-0 deficit, thus needing to win to avoid a series loss at home. It turned out to be a relatively easy task as they wrapped it up with 5 sessions to go, winning by an innings and 74 runs. Paul Collingwood was England's lone positive from this match, topscoring in both innings (more remarkable in the second innings when he made 71 and the next highest was Strauss' 22), supported for a while by hit-and-giggle cameos from the lower order. For South Africa, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel took 14 wickets between them, but it was an efficient team effort overall.

Dale Steyn mid-leap
Two top teams, the world-best fast bowler, some of the world's best young cricketers - these all add up to eye-catching cricket, this is not a tour you'd want to miss.

Thanks to the Bidvest Wanderers, I have 2 tickets to the Test between South Africa and England at the Bullring! It starts January 14, 2016, and if you're planning to head down to Johannesburg to catch the action, this is a good opportunity to get your hands on the tickets (of which there aren't many left).

To enter, send an email to cricketnerdblog@gmail.com with "Wanderers Contest" as the subject, and include your name in the message. For an extra entry in the contest, tweet about this article (with a link) and add your Twitter handle in the message when you send the email entry.

The 2015 Ashes: Statistical Review

Click to enlarge.

Infographic provided by Investec Private Banking

England win the Ashes as Australia disappoint on foreign soil once again

England eased to victory in the 2015 Ashes Test series after winning three of the first four matches, ensuring that they take an unassailable lead into the final Test of the series. The final clash is underway at the iconic Kia Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club. The Aussies were heavy favourites going into the tournament and were odds on with most major bookmakers to retain the Ashes after England endured a topsy-turvy few months prior to the series.

However, Trevor Bayliss took over as head coach and has been an inspiration since arriving at the helm back in May. England's big players have all produced match-winning performances throughout the series and pressure has been lifted off captain Alastair Cook. As good as the hosts were, Australia were extremely poor and they will be very disappointed to lose the Ashes after whitewashing England 5-0 in the last series. Michael Clarke was especially poor and the captain has announced his international retirement after the final Test of the series next week.

Worryingly for Australia, they have failed to win an Ashes series on English soil since 2001 - a run of four consecutive series defeats. While this isn't necessarily a problem in terms of personnel, defeats outside of Australia will continue to play a key role in psychological preparation for future cricket matches in other countries. For many years, the Wallabies were the dominant force in cricket. Nowadays, they have slipped down to second behind South Africa in the world rankings and will be nervously looking over their shoulders at the likes of Pakistan and India who aren't too far behind and have played fewer matches in 2015.


While the 2015 Ashes series was a complete disaster for Australia, all hope is not lost. They still possess a talented side but are clearly lacking confidence away from their native land. In fact, the Wallabies remain the best side in the world in one-day cricket and will fancy their chances of success at the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 tournament next spring. Australia will be one of the bookmakers favourites to succeed and you can keep up with all of the latest cricket odds and news ahead of the tournament's opening fixture on 11th March.

For England, meanwhile, they will enjoy their latest success but will know just how important preparation will be for next year's World Cup in India. While Twenty20 cricket isn't England's strongest form of the sport, they will be eager to make a huge statement of intent and could reach the latter stages of the event if they perform at their very best. With Twenty20 star Kevin Pietersen currently out of the team due to a difference of opinion, it will be interesting to see if Bayliss can convince him and Strauss to settle their problems ahead of the tournament. England impressed in the one-day international series with New Zealand and - although we are yet to see if Alastair Cook will stand down from his post as captain - will be full of confidence heading into next year's Twenty20 competition.

Sportskeeda App Review: The Sports Fanatic's Dream

Being a sports nut is hard enough without having to suffer the ignominy of being out of the loop. Not knowing what's going on in a match can turn me into a nervous wreck, scrambling for my phone at every opportunity to load the heavy pages of reputed sports news websites. Sportskeeda's app (on Android here, where it boasts a 4.8 rating) made this easier for me, being an easy-to-use source of constant updates on any sport you might follow, from cricket and football to kabaddi and archery.

Upon installation, you'll be given a little tutorial on what content goes with which tab: hot content, live updates, most popular content and the last tab allows you to browse the vast variety of sports. Then you get to pick the sports you follow, which dictates what content shows up for you. Yup, it's customizable with a few taps - you can basically use it as an app dedicated solely to certain specific sports of your choice. And you're all set!

The content is easy to read and pictures can be viewed independently. The live coverage of current games are fun to follow, making the best use of analysis and humor found on social media.

As far as data usage goes, the Sportskeeda app won't be causing any problems. In fact, it's a great deal better in that regard than any other app you may be using - it has a download size of 4.4 MB and it appears to be well-optimized. The live-stream data usage is negligible. It's lightning quick and takes no time at all to switch between tabs and content - which, by the way, can be easily shared to Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp as well as any other apps you may have.

In conclusion, this really is the app that can (and will) quench your thirst for updates from the ever-revolving world of sports. You'll get your news and your scores, and you'll get them fast. If you have 10 seconds to get an update, you won't spend 8 of them on a loading screen and a menu like on other options you've been forced to try; you'll be reading the content in a flash. And it's still just in the beta stage! Again, available here for Android.

Translating Media Reactions to England's Struggles

The World Cup remains young. And yet, if any team has already damaged itself beyond repair, it's England. The English have had a truly sorry showing to date, and as shown clearly in the official pool standings, they now sit at fifth place in the viciously competitive Pool A. While English sports fans are unmatched in their ability to self-deprecate - often in an almost admirable fashion - it seems the media has thus far failed to capture the full scope or severity of the nation's World Cup meltdown.

Fortunately, we're here to do it for them! So without further ado, here are some honest and cynical translations of the media's coverage of the English team's performance so far.

We'll start with an early betting analysis that took an objective look at England's chances for success. Posted at Bet Fair by cricket writer Ralph Ellis just after England suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Australia, the article pointed to England's "captain crisis" as a reason for its struggles. The piece even suggested that former English captain Alastair Cook may have been better after all (despite being brutally and continuously criticized by the British media) than newcomer Eoin Morgan. Ellis writes, "Whatever his failings as one day captain, Cook never suffered a run as bad as the one that his replacement is on now."

Translation: Fine! We admit it! We were wrong! Alastair Cook isn't perfect, but damned if he's not the best man we've got for the job! He's like the Wayne Rooney of English cricket, and that's better than nothing! For the love of God, STRIP EOIN MORGAN OF HIS CAPTAINCY BEFORE WE EMBARRASS OURSELVES!

Eoin Morgan

Next, we'll look at a somewhat sad article that was written by Mike Selvey of The Guardian about English cricket coach Peter Moores' having felt compelled to apologise for his side's play. Indeed, the two crushing defeats England suffered to start its World Cup run demanded an explanation, but it almost seems unfair for the coach to have to answer that demand when play between the lines was so disastrously lopsided. In analysing the losses, before he got to Moores' quotes, Selvey wrote, "England though were dismal, a collective failure to cope with conditions in which they, of all teams, ought to be able to cope."

Translation: You're damn right the head coach should apologise! How on Earth can a team with England's talent and experience show up to these conditions unprepared? Are they lazy? Unfocused? Is there any excuse whatsoever?

And finally, we'll come to a sort of match recap of the New Zealand dismantling of the English cricket squad, posted by former star Sir Ian Botham at Mirror. Evidently utterly disgusted by England's performance, Botham pulled no punches in expressing his discontent, beginning his column with: "In nearly 40 years of playing for and watching England in one day cricket, I have not seen a worse performance than the one I saw in Wellington on Friday."

Translation... You know what? Never mind. Botham pretty much said it all, about as harshly as it can be said.

Ladies and gentlemen, your British sports media and 2015 English World Cup squad!

GIF of the day: McFielding

McSlogga's the most committed fielder.

PS.- This blog isn't dead.

I am Root

Amateur work, but more of an effort than India's batsmen put in.