Although I saw most of his 259 at Lord's in 2003 and he's also the only batsman I've ever seen score 300 in a day, I have to admit that until yesterday I'd forgotten what an outstanding batsman Graeme Smith is. The undefeated 154 with which he took his country to its first victory on English soil since the summer before I was born was a true classic, combining determination, measured strokeplay, good judgement and the priceless ability to ignore what was going on at the other end, namely that a series of batsmen were getting pinned by deliveries which they didn't see.

England, by contrast, go to the last Test of the summer in a mess. At Edgbaston Sidebottom played while clearly still unfit, something which looked uncomfortably like a mistaken attempt to avoid the embarassment of having to consider selecting Darren Pattinson again, and too many players (Cook, Bell and Pietersen in the second innings alone) got out to rash strokes, which again contrasted sharply with the discipline shown by the South Africans.

Furthermore, Vaughan's abysmal run of form continued, with the result that it's now rumoured that he's about to resign from the captaincy and possibly be dropped from the side.

And then, for good measure, you have the fact that Tim Ambrose, neat but unexceptional keeper that he is, isn't a good enough batsman to retain a place in the side and Panesar continues to frustrate. Yes, he's fundamentally still a fine bowler, but yesterday, in helpful bowling conditions, he failed once more to show enough variations of delivery and flight.

It remains to be seen what we'll get for The Oval - some or all of the questions may be answered later - but I won't be happy with much less than the replacement of Ambrose (and it's surely James Foster's turn now) and at least one fresh face among the batsmen.

Oh yeah, and a new skipper...

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