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28 January 2016

Tuffers thoughts on the South Africa Test

Hello, Tuffers here,

I thought I would run the rule over the England boys performances this winter. A great 2-1 win was a fantastic achievement away in South Africa, one of the hardest places to win, although I must admit a real favourite of mine to tour, especially visiting  the vineyards – definitely not facing Alan Donald!

Alastair Cook – Captain – 7 / 10
Cooky captained the side brilliantly and tactically had it over the South Africans; his record as captain is right up there with the best now. He’ll be disappointed he didn’t score as heavily as he would like during the series but he still gave the side a few solid starts and finished with a nice 70 odd. He’ll pleased to get back to his farm and his sheep with the knowledge of a job well done.

Alex Hales – 4/ 10
 
Alex will have learnt a lot about his game on this tour. South Africa is one of the hardest places to  open with quick pitches with a bit in them and you have to have your technique right to dig in a bat for a while – he didn’t quite get it right. He showed a glimpse of his ability at Cape Town so I’m sure if he’s given another go he’ll belt a few big scores.

Nick Compton – 7/10

The Comp Dog will be satisfied with his return to Test cricket. He was man of the match for me in the first Test. He faded a bit towards the end of the tour, perhaps a bit of tiredness leading to a couple iffy shots – but he’s brought a bit of steel to the order. Now can he develop his game when the going is good? He’s the type of batter us bowlers love as it usually means you can get a full days kip before you have to bowl again!

Joe Root – 8 / 10

Roooooooooooooooooot! What a player this guy is. Undoubtedly the best batter in the world at the moment and can be whatever he wants. Lovely on the eye and scores quickly too; he’ll be disappointed he didn’t finish with a real big score – but still was the wicket the South Africans wanted.  Also he’s the only Yorkshireman I know to always play with a smile on his face. Sorry Geoffrey & Vaughany!

James Taylor – 5 / 10

Quite possibly the smallest man I have seen play cricket for England- I reckon Mike Gatting would eat his weight for lunch most days. He might be small but he’s got huge courage – unbelievable catches at short leg. Another that will be disappointed he didn’t score more heavily but he’s showed he belongs at this level and will come again.
 
Ben Stokes – 9 / 10

Botham, Flintoff, Sobers- he’s been compared to them all in the last few weeks. The only player he hasn’t been compared to is me! Although I bet if he took up left arm spin he would do a decent job at that as well! Runs, wickets, catches and scores a few goals in warm ups too – this young man is going to win a lot of games for England; glad I don’t have to bowl at him!

Jonny Bairstow – 7.5/ 10

One of the middle order ginger destroyers! I think Mr Bairstow came of age as a Test player in this series. He knows he belongs at this level now and it was touching to see his emotion when he got his maiden Test ton; his dad Bluey would have been proud. Yes he dropped a couple catches and his keeping needs a bit of polish- but he’s young and guys like Alec Stewart and Matt Prior turned themselves into world class keepers with hard work.

Moeen Ali – 6 / 10

Had a quiet-ish series with the bat; didn’t quite have the impact he did in the Ashes – but what a batter to have coming in at 8; someone who can flay a tiring attack around is priceless. He’s chipped in with a few crucial wickets too- Cooky throws the ball to him with complete confidence he’s going to do a job and he isn’t the last resort – used as an attacking spinner as he should be. Top beard too!

Stuart Broad – 9/10

What a great series Broady! He knows his bowling inside out now and knows exactly what he’s trying to do and is honest enough with himself to know when he’s gets it wrong occasionally and he corrects it straight away with devastating effect. He comes to the party at just the right time so often it’s no fluke- bowling South Africa out for zip to win the series was some of the best fast bowling I’ve seen. He will end up as one of England’s greats for sure.

Steve Finn – 7/10

Big Steve Finn is a crackerjack bowler and when Jimmy and Broady finally pack up England will have this fella to replace them. He bowled with genuine pace and was often England’s best bowler- no batter looked comfortable against him. Would have liked a few more wickets I’m sure and a shame he got injured before the final test on a pitch he would have been lethal on but he played his part in a top series win.

Jimmy Anderson- 5/10

Not his best tour ever by his own admission but we will let England’s leading bowler off on that one; Jimmy battled with a bit of injury and just looked a bit short of a gallop to me. He kept the batters honest and never bowled badly but lacked a bit of his usual nip off the wicket; my money is still on him to take his usual hatful of wickets in the summer though. Sells a nice drop of wine too!

Chris Woakes 4.5/10

I feel a bit sorry for Woakesy really as he was in and out of the side due to availability of Jimmy and then Finny’s injury; big shoes to step into. He’s not bowled badly at all in the first Test and could have had a few more wickets easily. Then he’s chucked into the last Test having not played for 3 weeks- so he looked a bit short of rhythm. He’s a classy cricketer though and he can be a very good player for England in all formats; he’s got to be the worlds best number 9 too… He is a proper batter with first class hundreds. I batted 9 for England once; 10 & 11 was Alan Mullaley and Dev Malcolm so maybe not saying much there!

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Written By Phil Tufnell