South Africa in England 2012 July 31, 2012

South Africa must 'get off the wave'


The only thing standing between South Africa and victory in the second Test at Headingley, which would seal the series and take them to No. 1, is their state of mind, according to middle-order batsman Jacques Rudolph.

After their innings-and-12-run win at The Oval and a batting performance Allan Donald said "can't get any better," there would appear very few areas of improvement for the squad. But, having seen first-hand how the only place to go from the top is down, with England losing five out of nine Tests since becoming the world's best, Rudolph said South Africa have to be careful with how they respond to a big win.

"Our challenge will be to get off the wave of the first Test match, from a mental point of view," Rudolph said. "Obviously it was a convincing win for us but we are not too results orientated. We expect a strong fight back and we are prepared for what we are going to face."

South Africa have a good record at Headingley, having only lost one of the four Tests they have played here since readmission. In 1994, Peter Kirsten's century forced a draw, in 2003, Jacques Kallis' six wickets won the match and in 2008, AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince put on 212 runs for the fifth-wicket to give South Africa what proved a series-winning lead.

Rudolph believes it is the ideal place for them to hold on to their series lead. "From a team point of view, we can take quite a lot of confidence from how we played here in the past," he said.

With that much experience at the ground, including Rudolph's knowledge from five years of playing at Yorkshire, he believes the team will be properly prepared. While Rudolph said the information he is sharing with his team-mates is "not new," he hopes it can provide some important insight.

"There is a strong perception that Headingley is more a bowler's kind of wicket but in my experience here, especially when the sun is out, it's a really nice place to bat," he said. The average runs per wicket has increased from 27.91 in the 1980s to 34.18 in the 2000s, an indication that the green mamba is not as venomous as before, something Rudolph could confirm. "Once you get yourself in and get used to the swing and a little bit of seam movement you can get yourself in."

South Africa have squashed any speculation that will consider an all-pace attack with every member of the squad saying the XI is likely to be unchanged but Rudolph hinted that Imran Tahir, the legspinner, may have to change his approach.

"It won't be as dry as The Oval and it won't be as bouncy or turn as much. From a spinner's point of view, you've got to adapt your game plan and maybe be a little bit more containing as opposed to attacking."

JP Duminy's offspin may have a role to play, in addition to his batting at No.7, although he has not had much time in the middle doing. Duminy has scored a total of 94 runs in four innings on the tour and has bowled 27 overs across the four matches he has played.

Rudolph said too much should not be read into warm-ups because the rest of the preparation has gone well. "We are quite used to playing back to back matches and getting into a rhythm but here we have had a lot of time off and you have to find ways to keep yourself fresh.

"Personally, I find that in the warm up games the intensity is not really there because it is not as competitive as a Test match. But Gary Kirsten is quite strong on the fact that you've got to be aware of your own space and preparation. "

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Barry on August 1, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    No cricket connoisseur can ask for more. THIS is the marquee match-up in world cricket, probably for the rest of the decade. If England truly are the best team in the world they have nothing to fear - come on England COME ONNNNN

  • Alex on August 1, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    SA will win second test also and strauss might get injured.

  • Randolph on August 1, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    A wise man would put his money on South Africa. They are heads and shoulders above Great Britain, sorry England (I get confused with the Olympics).

  • Barry on August 1, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Ok world THIS IS IT. If England turn it around against an excellent if imperfect side (Amla was the difference at The Oval) and win, this will go down in history. Headingley has been waiting over 30 years for another mythical Test...

  • Sharky on August 1, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    I agree with MattyP1979, Posted by MattyP1979 on (July 31 2012, 23:23 PM GMT), that England and South Africa are the best sides in World Cricket at the moment, but not with a huge margin. Isn't Australia still second on the rankings ?? I feel that Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand and Bangladesh has lost their peak-form and their form are deteriorating while The Proteas, The West Indies and Pakistan are on the up. England is on a status quo for they are still number one and the Saffers would have never celebrated their Test Match win with so much love and enthusiasm if they thought that England wasn't a good side. It just feels so good when the media makes you the underdog and then you win. Ask the Proteas, Shaun Tomson, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Chad Le Clos, Cameron Van Der Bergh and a lot of Saffers and other sportsmen. If the underdog wins, the celebration is more special.

  • Abdurrazaaq on August 1, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    Regardless of the Oval test drumming, South Africa is the better side without bias. South Africa is stronger in all 3 departments. England will have to pull the rabbit out their hat to win the series, or at least draw the series from here.

  • Satish on August 1, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Yes.. A good start will always help but focus only will get through to the end line.. No matter how you start, lifting game is absolutely necessary.. Even during the ultimate game for SA, they did have a minor issue - Middle order not getting to do it in the middle.. Yes it is a complement for them to score 600 odd for 2 but still middle order is not yet in the playground yet.. That will be the only thing that can be mentioned as sort of negative.. With a crushing win, they gained lots and lots of momentum.. Either complacency or choking only will make them to lose their momentum..

  • Kenso on August 1, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    One of the few disadvantages to only losing two wickets in a test match is that the SA middle/ lower order have not yet been exposed the the england attack. If England can punch through that SA top order they may take two or three quick wickets in the middle. To do that I believe Finn must play. Bresnan just does not give the same kind of penetration and his batting whilst useful should not overshadow the fact that england were a frontline bowler short last test. Tip England to bounce back this test... Look for a big score from Cook and Bell and some quality bowling from Anderson and Broad. Just for the record im Australian and hated writing that the poms will bounce back but if I was a betting man (and I am) id take England as outside chance to level this series

  • Marcio on August 1, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    Doubt it will be a walkover. Will be a good test for england, no pun intended. If SA get on top early they will probably take a psychological stranglehold on the series. Again, a lot will depend on weather and pitch conditions, and who bowls first. I'm tipping SA this game and Eng for the third.

  • Matthew on August 1, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @subass...dream on buddy boy. As Nadeem said, SA can't lose this series now. It's either 1-1, or 2-0 (most likely) or even 3-0.

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