Disappointing Poms cop stick from English media
ENGLISH media have slammed their Test side after a third straight batting collapse against South Africa, this time in Cape Town.
Entering the Test already 1-0 down in the series, England won the toss on a pristine batting deck and forced the hosts into the field.
Five of the top seven made starts but "gifted their wickets", as Sky Sports wrote, the Poms scraping to 9-262 at stumps with Ollie Pope unbeaten on 56 at the close of play.
There's plenty of praise for Pope, but the rest of the batsmen have come in for pointed criticism from England's media.
The Sun labelled it "a day of missed opportunities and sporting slackness".
The paper fumed at the inability of England's batsmen to make something from promising starts, writing "six batsmen scored between 29 and 56 in another display of appalling negligence".
"Just 24 hours after Surrey opener Rory Burns' tour was ended by damaged left ankle ligaments sustained in the daily kickabout, most of England's senior batsmen deserve a kicking of their own," the paper said.
"They broke the cardinal rule of batting in five-day cricket - when you get a start, you have to make it count."
That's true. And England's bats - even when they looked set - somehow always managed to find a way to get themselves out. The Sun called it "gross carelessness on a sunny day at a beautiful ground".
Plenty was made of the youthful nature of the England side. Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Sam Curran and Dominic Bess are all under 23.
Openers Dominic Sibley and Crawley had just four Test caps between them - the fewest of any opening pair (excluding nightwatchmen) since 1963.
And Sibley, Crawley, Joe Denly at three and Pope at six had just 19 Test caps between them before this match.
The Times wrote, "Not many England batting line-ups of modern times have looked as thin, in terms of age and experience, as the one on show at Newlands today."
Another article in The Times said "it looks a sickly batting line-up, inexperienced at the top, with a captain under increasing pressure and a lower middle-order short of confidence and form".
The Sun said: "This was their chance, a glimpse into England's future. But only Pope made much of a contribution as he finished top scorer with 56 not out."
Pope was very much the only bright spark on a sour day for England, scoring his second Test fifty, after being caught out on a Rabada no-ball.
The Times said: "Ollie Pope was a shaft of light, playing stylishly and selflessly with the tail to finish the day unbeaten on 56.
"Root can be assured that Pope will be around for a long time: he is classy, has an all-round game and is not limited or robotic as some of England's other batsman appear to be."
Nasser Hussain for Sky Sports said: "Pope's innings was more than a highlight - not just of today but of England's batting over the last couple of years. I found it refreshing to have a young man come in who wasn't robotic, wasn't over-coached, who had an off-side game and who got the tempo of his batting spot on."
Remember when Stuart Broad could bat? That sole Test ton seems a world away from the sorry figure who got skittled by Kagiso Rabada overnight.
The Times said: "What can be said of the ghost of the batsman that used to be Stuart Broad? He was bowled by Rabada, with his bat comically stuck behind his pad."
Another Times article said "he now bats No.10 for reasons all too painfully obvious - he can no longer bat".
It's just one of many problems facing this England side.