London - Make no mistake, England have been blown away here, and after winning an important toss too. South Africa have done to England what they themselves have done to so many other sides in recent years and completely overpowered them.
At 270 for three at the start of the second day, England would have expected to get 500, throw the ball to their much-heralded attack and pile the pressure on South Africa. So for Graeme Smith’s side to turn that around so emphatically is a superlative effort.
This is an England bowling attack that we have been proud of and for them to take only two wickets in the match is the biggest concern. For once it has been the opposition who have had far more options with the ball, the seamers moving it more and the spinner turning it more.
England now know, if there were any doubts, that here is a side who represent a serious challenge to their status as the world’s No 1 Test team. This has been the most complete performance, even down to an unusually positive declaration. I wouldn’t have liked to have played against this lot.
It has to be a worry that on a pretty flat pitch South Africa were able to take 18 more wickets than England. So much of a worry, indeed, that if the wicket at Headingley is similar I cannot see how England could possibly field the same attack in the second Test. The psychological advantage that South Africa would have will surely be too great after this.
England will have to consider bringing in Steven Finn for Tim Bresnan, as much as anything for the “oomph” that has been lacking here. England cannot afford to worry about the extra runs Bresnan might offer when they need to make more of an impression with the ball.
Yet this is not the time to panic. England have got where they are with consistently brilliant cricket and one bad game does not mean they need to make big changes. They must think rationally and come up with the best ways to hit back.
If there is more movement at Headingley then England should again look like the attack we have become accustomed to watching. Movement would breed confidence among the bowlers and uncertainty in batsmen. Then Smith and Hashim Amla’s pads might suddenly look a bit bigger and Jacques Kallis might get a bit squared up, as he has been in the past in England. All is not lost.
I do not think England’s batsmen are as culpable for this defeat as the bowlers. Yes, there were some bad shots, particularly in the second innings, but much of that was down to scoreboard pressure and the quality of the opposition. Look at the way South Africa set up Kevin Pietersen. Morne Morkel worked him over with the short ball to push him back - not too many attacks have the quality to do that - and his technique was affected. Brilliant bowling.
There will now be calls for all sorts of names to come in but, for me, Ravi Bopara should play at Headingley. People might say I’m biased towards an Essex man but all I want to see is Bopara handed a proper chance.
In a funny way I think the English public will have enjoyed this week. They wanted to see a team who could seriously test England and they have got one. This is real Test cricket. - Daily Mail