proteas hit for six in the media

HOSTS South Africa received a media hammering yesterday after a shock early exit from the ICC Champions Trophy tournament.

The Proteas fell by 22 runs on Sunday to surprise packets England, their second loss in three Group B matches at the second most important national team one-day tournament after the World Cup.

A bowling outfit led by speedster Dale Steyn that conceded 856 runs in three outings bore the brunt of the criticism as the team ranked number one in the world once again flopped in a major competition.

"The home team lost this match with the ball through one of the poorer bowling displays produced by them in recent years," said TheStar under the headline "England break SA hearts".

"It was a good wicket for batting certainly, and winning the toss was important, but the kind of dross served up by the bowlers would have made it easy for the local B team, never mind international batsmen."

The newspaper did not spare the batsmen either apart from captain courageous Graeme Smith, whose career-best 141 kept the Proteas in with a chance until his departure triggered a closing-overs collapse.

"Where England made judicious use of the short boundary on the eastern side of the ground, only once did a South African player manage to clear the rope in that area of the field."

Business Day said top teams are there to be shot at and very few underdogs can resist the temptation to come out swinging in the hope of landing a knockout punch early on.

"That South Africa bowled poorly is not in dispute. What they need to address is why. Were they due a bad day anyway or was there a problem with preparation? If they stumbled and lost their collective rhythm because they were distracted by the fearless England approach, there may be a problem because every team will play like that now."

The Citizen said it had once again become clear that the Proteas and showpiece tournaments do not mix despite a magnificent innings by Smith at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

"England strangled them like a hitman equipped with a wire after producing a splendid batting effort when Andrew Strauss won an admittedly vital toss."

England made 323-8 and South Africa 301-9 in their allotted 50 overs and the winners became the first qualifiers for the semifinals of a tournament offering a $2million (R14,9million) first prize. - Sapa-AFP