Cricket: England v South Africa

Simon Hughes: KP's dismissal was the turning point

Pietersen's loose shot to Kallis in the first innings was the beginning of England's troubles

Simon Hughes: KP's dismissal was the turning point

It was a terrible match for England and the whole team didn’t work well. They should have made more runs in both innings and the bowlers needed to sharpen up and be more aggressive.

The critical part of the match was Kevin Pietersen getting out when he did in the first innings. He played a loose shot on 42 with England on 251-2. The next morning England lost three wickets for 19 runs and South Africa were back in the game.

If Kevin Pietersen had been in at that stage, he could have been in a dominant mood and England might have got more than 500. It would have been difficult to lose the game from that position. So, I blame Pietersen more than any other England player.

By the afternoon, on Saturday, it was a really good pitch to bat on and England could still have been batting after two days.

It was a major surprise that South Africa got 637-2 against England’s attack. We’ve gone on and on about how good our bowlers are and then they take two wickets in 189 overs. It’s almost inexplicable.

One point to make is that in cricket momentum can overtake you and the whole game can unravel. And South Africa’s batting was great.

But England’s bowlers were below par. Stuart Broad has been out of form for a while, I feel.  He wasn’t at his best in the one-day series against Australia and his pace was down in this Test match. It seems like he hasn’t got his rhythm right and he has been cruising in, rather than attacking the crease.

The other problem is that Graeme Swann is not fully fit. He didn’t get as much out of the pitch at The Oval as one might have expected. He has an elbow problem and I don’t know when he’s going to have it fixed. The schedule is such that there’s hardly any convenient time for treatment.

Swann is so integral to everything England do that they need him to be at the top of his game. I felt that Bresnan, too, was short of his best and I’m not convinced he is the right man in the long-term.

But it’s not an easy decision to make to change the side for Headingley. Bresnan could be well-suited to conditions if it seams, or swings. In helpful conditions, England are the masters of line and length and piling on the pressure.

The danger, though, is that when the pitch does very little, England’s attack is a bit samey and lacking in penetration.