With two days' play gone in Leeds, England are in deep trouble, largely because of the way in which Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers batted yesterday. And the key element in their superiority was the patience which they showed in tricky batting conditions, something which was in direct contrast to the way in which England approached things - in the face of more testing bowling - on Friday.

After their big hundreds at Lord's, Pietersen and Bell batted like millionaires, and, while some of their strokeplay was magnificent (one of Pietersen's on-drives won't be bettered this summer), both their dismissals spoke of impulsiveness and over-confidence.

In contrast, both Prince and de Villiers waited for the bad balls to arrive and put them away well, controlling the tempo of the afternoon and putting their team in charge of the match.

Various commentators yesterday were saying that Prince reminded them of Brian Lara, but I can't see it myself, if only because Lara, to me, belongs to that class of batsman to whom lesser mortals just can't be compared. As I've said before, the player he reminds me of most is Graham Thorpe - just as compact, perhaps a bit more orthodox, but with similar strength of mind and presence at the crease.

The stand between Prince and de Villiers represents a worthy analogy for the new South Africa and its cricket - Prince the toughnut from the Eastern Cape townships who wouldn't even have had the chance to play first-class cricket a generation or two ago, and de Villiers, the gilded Afrikaner prodigy who might not have chosen to play first-class cricket a generation or two ago.

They combined superbly, and, if England don't get them early today, they'll grind them into the Headingley dirt.


Anonymous said...

I sniff comparing Ashwell Prince to the real Prince, Lara, is an English ploy to shock the South African to the extent he forgets how to hold the bat. Obnoxious. England should play it fair.

Rob said...

Excellent article Brian, I think you summed it up nicely. Let us hope England can learn from Prince/ de Villiers/Amla/McKenzie -- I am not hopeful though.

The comparison I heard was comparing Prince's 'bob' as he starts to move. That is a bit like Lara although comparing Prince to Lara is ridiculous -- I don't think Prince could empty a beer tent!

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