South Africa v England is a great rivalry

This match-up always produces a bit of needle – the two countries just don’t like each other!

That said, you can’t read too much into what went on in the middle. There were a couple of isolated incidents through this Test series but, goodness, you could get three or four of those in the same session in series I’ve played against Australia and South Africa.

The Barmy Army really helped to make the series good fun. It’s dirt cheap in South Africa, and it’s quite funny to watch the kind of fun English people going there can have.

Everything was good-natured and it was a good month to be out there commentating on the cricket.

Happy days for England

After they lost the first Test in Centurion and lots of their squad was badly hit by illness, for England to run out comfortable winners was fantastic.

I was on the 2007 tour of Australia, when we lost Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and others for the whole series.

The 2005 team capitulated on that tour, and we got hammered 5-0.

Despite all the illness and losing Rory Burns, Jofra Archer and Jimmy Anderson to injury, Joe Root’s team have been able to do a damn good job.

To see England’s top-order battle away and create some sort of base for the other guys was satisfying.

They’ve been searching for opening batsmen since Cook and Strauss, so watching Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley grow into nice players was very pleasing.

Mark Wood owned the fast bowling department for the last two Tests and Stuart Broad was very good throughout the series.

Joe Denly and Jos Buttler are concerns. Denly has got big technical issues against spin, which is a worry heading to Sri Lanka next.

Winning four tosses may have changed the way that the series played out, but it just feels like Root’s team now.

From England’s perspective, it’s happy days.

This is the worst South Africa team ever

This is probably the worst team that South Africa have ever put out in Test match cricket.

They have got their management sorted, but I’m very concerned about their depth of players.

I’m concerned that the wrong players are being picked, and I’m gravely concerned about the number of South Africans that play in England on Kolpak deals.

I tweeted this week that if Graeme Smith does one thing, it must be to engage with the ECB about the possibility of South Africans playing in England, earning the money they need to, but also being available for internationals.

Seeing a poor South Africa team is like seeing a poor West Indies team. The world of cricket suffers.

Bygones are bygones

It was nice to catch up with Matt Prior in South Africa.

Everything that happened with him and the England team was a long time ago. If you can’t move on from something like that in six years then you really have a problem.

In retirement, we have the chance to remember that we achieved some fantastic things and toured some beautiful countries together.

I haven’t seen Matty for years. He was laughing, saying that he cannot believe I never played golf on any of those trips.

He and some of other guys played on some amazing golf courses and had the most brilliant time whereas I was cooped up in the bedroom or in town having a coffee. He couldn’t believe how much of a golf bug I’ve got now.

It was lovely to catch up and good fun working with him.


Commentary is about being honest

I commentated on the 2017/18 Ashes series, but I think this series was probably the first in which the English audiences have actually heard the method to my madness.

I tried to explain my approach and understanding of the game. All I can do is look at the game in that half hour stint, try to understand what’s happening and identify with the players that I know well.

I didn’t do it to make anybody feel happy about anything, and I was brutally honest when I needed to be.

I thought the things I had to say were completely fair, whether positive or negative.

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