What an awesome series this 2008 tour of England by South Africa has been. Controversy, fights, and heart-stopping outcomes. England lost their second place test rankings and dropped to fourth, that position only to be taken by the Proteas as the second best test team before Australia.
This the first time South Africa have beaten England on tour in over half a century. It has been more then epic.
Even with this series win, one (as a South African) always feels the rolling eyes of England supporters, only denoting the strong emotion of loss, and the creeping sense of being cheated, somehow...in rugby or cricket, might I add.
Being in England at the time of the RWC 2008, I remember being practically pelted with jeers and cries of foul play after the final whistle: "The try shoulda been awarded, we woulda had the bastards!!"...tisk tisk. My only reply being: "We beat you with two tries to spare, mate."
I think we can all point fingers at some of the umpires descisions during the recent test series, especially that of Alim Dar during Flintoff's over to Kallis, where Kallis was caught well off guard with a flying yorker which hit him on the toe.
Clearly out, only to be follwed up by a round of fiery deliveries and one final out swinging, in cutting beauty that would up root the stumps of Kallis' wicket and send him walking. Just rewards. Awesome cricket.
On that thought, the umpiring was more than a bit shoddy.. Although, the sentiment of the game did seem to become a bit more 'nasty' towards the end of the 3rd test, one thinks that England supporters and players were predicting a bit more of a stand by England, and maybe even a series win?
It's strange how, whilst listening to the radio coverage of the series, some of the very established English commentators spoke of a very welcomed show of South African orthodoxy during the games. This was in relation to the formal knitted jersey that England has seemed to discard and that South Africa has seemed to keep. It was also in relation to South Africa's orthodox manner of both play and the spirit of the game.
This, to me, seemed not so evident until Flinthoff's last wicket of Kallis. South African batsmen were clearly not picking up his yorker. It is believed that Flintoff's arm comes down very high during delivery—so much so that it reaches the line of sight above the side screen, and thus batsmen were losing sight of the ball. This was not so just for Kallis, but for McKenzie and Amla as well.
If this is so, then too bad, I say. It's cricket!
But what isn't cricket, is Flintoff's lack of courage and sportsmanship, in his last wicket of Kallis in the second innings of the third test match, where he beamed a ball at waist height, in which Kallis completely lost sight of the ball, was hit in the crotch and was given LBW. Nice one mate.
Although this wicket might have been an attempted yorker, judging by Flintoff's conduct during the series, I wouldn't be surprised if he was aiming higher..
The apparent lack of class was also evident in Flintoff's second questioning of umpire's descisions. Andre Nel, for example, is a feisty character, but his old Afrikaans up bringing would have taught him never to second question authority, and he hasn't. Shameful to say the least. Was Flintoff reprimanded? No.
This all shows us what the Proteas were really dealing with, as the failure of an English team that thought they were better than they actually were going into a series, and the disappointment of realising it only now at such a late stage, with the resignation of a captain and the retirement of a player.
With the up coming ODI series, we hope to see another clash of two great teams.. well at least one.. Full of the fight, grit, and performances that keeps our eyes locked onto the tellies. This, cricket, the most awesome game.
I would personally like to wish, with the greatest condescending arrogance, Kevin Pietersen—the new England test captain—the greatest of luck, and may the best team win.