8 Aug / 2017(471)…Batting positioning (Basil D ‘Oliveira series-SA v Eng -2017)

England won Basil D ‘Oliveira series 3-1. It was not a easy victory, they had to work hard to win the series, particularly after losing the 2nd test match which leveled the series 1-1.

This was one of the rare series where teams batting first won all the games with a huge margin…and unlike other test series this was one was dominated by ball!.

Both teams had problem in positioning their batting order – England have problem at the top – they debuted two batsmen at the top -viz Tom Westley and Dawid Malan, and along with them they had new rookie Keaton Jennings opening with experienced Alastair Cook. They are still trying to get the right opening combination. Their batting is heavily depended on captain Joe Root, Cook and Stokes, who are well supported by Bairstow and Moeen Ali.

South Africa had middle order problems – like England rely on their captain Fa Du Plessis and Hashim Amla for batting. However Du Plessis was not available for 1st test – hence they had to shift their batting order in the first test.  They were trying to balance the middle order. Three different players batted at No. 4 , No.5 and No.6.

It was a rare occasion for South Africa to do something bold -viz they promoted De Kock at No. 4, but soon lost patience with him, and reverted him to lower batting position. One feels they should have kept him at the top for the whole series as they had Elgar and Amla to steady the innings.

Batting positioning in first innings of the series

Usually the batting order is shifted in the second innings of a test match when teams are either setting a target, chasing or trying to save the game. It is a rarity to shift batting position in first innings of every test match. I believe this was major reason for South Africa to lose the series. Below table features batting order of first innings of 4 tests for both teams. The low scores are marked in red. There is a constant change in personal for same batting position. three different batsman(Duminy, Bavuma, and De Kock) batted at No.4.
The No.4 , 5 and 6 average runs were 20.80, 31.00 and 26.60 featuring no century and only 5 fifty. There was only one century scored by their opener Elgar
Only two fifties were scored by openers - Cook scored 88 & 69 -The No.3 had only one fifty - Two centuries were scored by them. Root(190) and Stokes (112)-
For comparison purpose -
Below table is 2nd inning batting order of 4 tests for both teams-
South Africa had 3(Duminy,De Kock and Bavuma) players batting at No.4 but not captain Du Plessis
England top-order position remained same, but apart from Root they performed poorly. However their lower order did well - with carefree batting by Moeen Ali and
debutant Roland-Jones

Test series stats analysis

Test snippets:
-Only once 400 plus runs was scored.
-Three test match got over with a day to spare
-Margin of wins were - 211 runs, 340 runs, 239 runs and 177 runs

both teams used 14 players for the series. England had 3 Test debutants and South Africa one.
It was a rare occasion for South Africa as none of their bowlers picked a five wicket haul in the series. For England Moeen Ali had the best test match figure.


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