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A critical incentive in England

There is nothing like some English media opinion to rattle a few cages in sport.

I closely followed the UK scribes and commentators post-drubbing of the first T20 clash at Southampton. The predictable ones didn’t disappoint. They were united in their scathing criticism of South Africa and most notably had the skipper AB in their sights. The general tone was that South Africa's tour of England was unravelling dramatically and they were subsequently suggesting doom and gloom was to follow for them in the four upcoming tests.

A tour of the UK is unique. It is long, intense and constantly scrutinised. The red banner newspaper journalists are looking for anything to jump on that will scream headlines. All they are trying to do is hook eyeballs and sell newspapers. In years gone by some of the scribes were unscrupulous and off-field scandal hunters but thankfully in today's world things are different. Make no mistake though, they will still twist the knife between the shoulder blades if given a gap. Some are always at the ready to give the England team elevated status at the drop of a hat. Those guys are paying the piper.

The media slaying of the South African team happened at exactly the right time. The passion and intensity that was shown during the second T20 in Somerset was brilliant. They were constantly bristling with intent with ball in hand and the superb handling of inflammatory moments seized victory.

The stoked fire in the belly will put them on the right track now for the final T20 and the tests. Personal changes and new faces arriving for the longer version will invigorate the changeroom and I expect that a renewed attitude of strength will pervade that inner sanctum.

I do not blame the English media for crowing as they are only doing their jobs and I must point out that some did it thoughtfully and intelligently. Others didn't though and that clearly angered some of the tourists. The good news is that the scathing media reports have delivered a red-hot flamed arrow dripping with criticism into the heart of the changeroom at a crucial midpoint of the tour. Subsequently that has galvanised the South African squad and significantly raised determination levels.

The South African test squad is a very proud unit. They have superb memories from 2012. An unexpected, timeous incentive has arrived. They will feed off that.

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