South Africa in England 2012 July 2, 2012

Smith sets off on No. 1 mission

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There's a particular type of excitement which accompanies a departure. It may be hope for something better on the other side, curiosity of the unknown or anticipation to try something new. In the case of the South African team, the overriding feeling when they left Johannesburg on Monday was determination to complete a mission they have been building up to for months.

Victory over England in the Test series will see South Africa ranked the No.1 Test side. It's a position that has been within reach but just out of their grasp, for almost as long as the rankings have been around. Briefly, South Africa touched the top, for four months in 2009 after their first successful tour to England since readmission. Graeme Smith hopes that this time they can repeat history and make it count for longer.

"I don't think we need much more motivation to beat England," Smith said, at the team's departure press conference. "We've come close to the top of the rankings for a period of time. We're hoping this will be the year that we can take ourselves to the next level."

Some will argue that no team deserves it more than South Africa. They have proved themselves in all conditions, having not lost away from home since 2006 in Sri Lanka. At home, they overturned a three summer drought by beating Sri Lanka in January. They have the world's top bowler, Dale Steyn, in their attack and even though they do not own the top-ranked batsman and allrounder (Jacques Kallis recently lost that spot to Shakib Al Hasan), they've regularly had players in the top 10.

South Africa have been in this position before. They have left for World Cups with massive public pressure and a favourites tag only to return empty handed. Despite winning important Test series in places where few have left with anything besides bruised egos, like Australia, they have not been able to top the standings for any sustained amount of time. Now, they want it to be different.

"We want to become the best cricket team in the world," Gary Kirsten said, but quickly qualified that he kept that as nothing more than an end goal and was something that occupied his day-to-day planning. "What we need to do every day leading up to those performances is what's important. We make sure we prepare as best we can to get our best chance of success."

To get ready for this tour, the squad will spend five days in Switzerland with adventurer Mike Horn. Instead of extra net sessions for players who have not been involved in the longest format of the game since March, Kirsten has decided to concentrate on human dynamics. The camp will include activities cricketers are unfamiliar with, such as cycling in the mountains, in the hope it will promote a culture of community.

"We want to make sure that we are connected as a unit," Kirsten explained. "On this tour, it may well boil down to crucial moments in the Test series. And we want to make sure we are prepared for that."

The mental focus has always been an area of concern for South Africa and under Kirsten the focus on togetherness seems to be what will be used to help overcome the usual lapses. Smith even alluded to it when he discussed the less talked about aspect of the series, the batting. "It's more exciting to talk about guys who can bowl at 150 kph, than about stodgy opening batters," he said. "But it is a crucial part; putting runs on the board. It's all about partnerships. The top six need to be really tight and perform well for each other."

Smith expects that England's strength as a unit will also shine through and is preparing for a different sort of psychological pressure to what South Africa are used to. "They've proven over time that they are a methodical, well-drilled team," Smith said. "They'll be battle hardened. They play the game hard and no-one wants to give an inch."

Pressure will be applied from all sides, with Smith saying he can already feel the "buzz" from the South African public, who have waited many years to see their cricket side dominate. "You can feel how much that means to the fans," he said. "We go there with the priority to perform well."

South Africa's sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, also expected big things from the side. He was there to bid them farewell and issue some instructions. "A visit to England is the absolute highlight of any cricketer's career. As South Africans, we expect them to maintain their proud record there," Mbalula said. "The Zimbabwe shame in the tri-series should be forgotten as we place ourselves to break hearts in the Queen's land."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on July 5, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @AKS286 on (July 05 2012, 18:23 PM GMT) Could not care less about Florida as a pitch. UAE is as valid as anywhere - the reason you're saying it does not count is because it goes against your argument. Our bowlers took 50 wickets in 3 tests there (16.66 wkts per test) , SA 26 in 2 (13 wkts per test) and yes I know that there will be examples of where SA outbowled Eng. I'm not saying they are not a formiddable attack - just that the way you talk about them is that they are up there with the WI attack and far superior to Eng and Aus which they are not.

  • 5wombats on July 5, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    @AKS286 - In Test matches the only ones who could beat England away were Pakistan. (If the truth is told our own England batsmen beat us - by being so useless against Ajmal & co...). We beat everyone else - or drew. If South Africa were so formidable - why did they have to "specially prepare" a Johannesburg pitch in January 2010 so that a result was possible? This is why - they were LOSING the series up until that Fourth (and final) Test. Don't take our word for it - ask any South Africa cricket fan; they all know it. There is going to be a "Deadly Barrage" in the forthcoming series - but not from the team you think.

  • AKS286 on July 5, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    @ JG2704 Tough series, clash of titans but still SA is favourite due to deadly barrage. bairstow position is a problem for eng.except of jimmy & swann no real threat.

  • AKS286 on July 5, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    @JG2704 the African Deadly Barrage destroys the solid indian batsmen in IND. the indian pitches which are heaven for spin bowling. still UAE is not a standard ground. lets watch Oz in UAE no highscore you will see and spinners bowls very well. in your views FLORIDA pitch is also standard? pak performs only in spinning pitches. last 3 years ENG is unbeatable away from home, played to which countries?

  • JG2704 on July 5, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    @AKS286 - ps so if we're not including UAE then England are unbeaten home and away for 3 years so should be miles ahead of all the other teams. UAE grounds are proper test venues. If you are going to put "any place any pitch" - if you want to put a more honest assessment of it you could put any place/any pitch except UAE pitches, Joburg vs Australia , and Cape Town vs India. It doesn't quite have the same force to it but at least it's an honest statement. The other thing you could do is just say they have formidable bowlers and leave it at that?

  • SuperSharky on July 5, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    Last time around South Africa has beaten England in England. England then hits back with a drawn Series in South Africa. South Africa was also unable to beat Australia in South Africa last year, and had to be satisfied with another drawn series. After seeing England and Australia battling it out in the ODI's, I wished for a Green Mamba Tri-Nation series on Green Fast Bowling tracks, between Australia, England and South Africa, fighting for number one. The upcoming Series between England and South Africa has been in the cue for way too long. I can't wait for the gripping stuff to start. I will follow ball by ball, no matter if it will be on cricinfo's live commentary at the office, or the radio in the car, or on the television at the take-away restaurant. I won't miss a ball.

  • JG2704 on July 5, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    @AKS286 on (July 05 2012, 06:52 AM GMT) Maybe you shouldn't put such huge emphasis on destroying teams everywhere and you even listed Pak as an example yourself. The stats which go against your statement are all from in the last 5 series (12 matches) Surely recent form is the best yardstick. NZ they won 1-0 (were expected to win by WW and prob would have done without weather) vs SL they lost one of the home tests but will admit it was batsmen's bad. Vs Aus - my 1st example when they could not defend a 300+ total was just 7 tests ago. At home vs India (again pre Phillander) they had mixed results. Then in UAE (admittedly pre Phillander) they took just 13 wkts per test. Yes , on their day they are formiddable. I'm just disproving your theory that they are this unstoppable threshing machine and head and shoulders above Eng and Aus. And there are not hundreds of test matches SA have played with this line up. Prob arround 10-15 (if that)

  • AKS286 on July 5, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    @JG2704 buddy from the hundreds of matches you stick up with the stats of 2-3 matches. and the UAE is not a standard ground & place for cricket, swann is a world class bowler no doubt. but some peoples tried to show swann down while they said lyon is better than swann but its a joke for me. never make exception as an example.

  • heathrf1974 on July 5, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    One problem SA have is consistency. Most matches they are great but in a series they can play one ordinary one. It will be interesting to see how Philander goes, but they do lack a spinner.

  • SATID on July 4, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    19 July will be the start of exposing the English for the average side they are...tik tok tik tok

  • JG2704 on July 5, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @AKS286 on (July 05 2012, 18:23 PM GMT) Could not care less about Florida as a pitch. UAE is as valid as anywhere - the reason you're saying it does not count is because it goes against your argument. Our bowlers took 50 wickets in 3 tests there (16.66 wkts per test) , SA 26 in 2 (13 wkts per test) and yes I know that there will be examples of where SA outbowled Eng. I'm not saying they are not a formiddable attack - just that the way you talk about them is that they are up there with the WI attack and far superior to Eng and Aus which they are not.

  • 5wombats on July 5, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    @AKS286 - In Test matches the only ones who could beat England away were Pakistan. (If the truth is told our own England batsmen beat us - by being so useless against Ajmal & co...). We beat everyone else - or drew. If South Africa were so formidable - why did they have to "specially prepare" a Johannesburg pitch in January 2010 so that a result was possible? This is why - they were LOSING the series up until that Fourth (and final) Test. Don't take our word for it - ask any South Africa cricket fan; they all know it. There is going to be a "Deadly Barrage" in the forthcoming series - but not from the team you think.

  • AKS286 on July 5, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    @ JG2704 Tough series, clash of titans but still SA is favourite due to deadly barrage. bairstow position is a problem for eng.except of jimmy & swann no real threat.

  • AKS286 on July 5, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    @JG2704 the African Deadly Barrage destroys the solid indian batsmen in IND. the indian pitches which are heaven for spin bowling. still UAE is not a standard ground. lets watch Oz in UAE no highscore you will see and spinners bowls very well. in your views FLORIDA pitch is also standard? pak performs only in spinning pitches. last 3 years ENG is unbeatable away from home, played to which countries?

  • JG2704 on July 5, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    @AKS286 - ps so if we're not including UAE then England are unbeaten home and away for 3 years so should be miles ahead of all the other teams. UAE grounds are proper test venues. If you are going to put "any place any pitch" - if you want to put a more honest assessment of it you could put any place/any pitch except UAE pitches, Joburg vs Australia , and Cape Town vs India. It doesn't quite have the same force to it but at least it's an honest statement. The other thing you could do is just say they have formidable bowlers and leave it at that?

  • SuperSharky on July 5, 2012, 12:30 GMT

    Last time around South Africa has beaten England in England. England then hits back with a drawn Series in South Africa. South Africa was also unable to beat Australia in South Africa last year, and had to be satisfied with another drawn series. After seeing England and Australia battling it out in the ODI's, I wished for a Green Mamba Tri-Nation series on Green Fast Bowling tracks, between Australia, England and South Africa, fighting for number one. The upcoming Series between England and South Africa has been in the cue for way too long. I can't wait for the gripping stuff to start. I will follow ball by ball, no matter if it will be on cricinfo's live commentary at the office, or the radio in the car, or on the television at the take-away restaurant. I won't miss a ball.

  • JG2704 on July 5, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    @AKS286 on (July 05 2012, 06:52 AM GMT) Maybe you shouldn't put such huge emphasis on destroying teams everywhere and you even listed Pak as an example yourself. The stats which go against your statement are all from in the last 5 series (12 matches) Surely recent form is the best yardstick. NZ they won 1-0 (were expected to win by WW and prob would have done without weather) vs SL they lost one of the home tests but will admit it was batsmen's bad. Vs Aus - my 1st example when they could not defend a 300+ total was just 7 tests ago. At home vs India (again pre Phillander) they had mixed results. Then in UAE (admittedly pre Phillander) they took just 13 wkts per test. Yes , on their day they are formiddable. I'm just disproving your theory that they are this unstoppable threshing machine and head and shoulders above Eng and Aus. And there are not hundreds of test matches SA have played with this line up. Prob arround 10-15 (if that)

  • AKS286 on July 5, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    @JG2704 buddy from the hundreds of matches you stick up with the stats of 2-3 matches. and the UAE is not a standard ground & place for cricket, swann is a world class bowler no doubt. but some peoples tried to show swann down while they said lyon is better than swann but its a joke for me. never make exception as an example.

  • heathrf1974 on July 5, 2012, 4:09 GMT

    One problem SA have is consistency. Most matches they are great but in a series they can play one ordinary one. It will be interesting to see how Philander goes, but they do lack a spinner.

  • SATID on July 4, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    19 July will be the start of exposing the English for the average side they are...tik tok tik tok

  • AKS286 on July 4, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    SA choke in ODI and T20 not in the test matches.

  • JG2704 on July 4, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    @AKS286 on (July 04 2012, 12:27 PM GMT) We've done all the stats before and you keep going on about how deadly they are and how they bowl out sides in all conditions/all pitches and you include Pak there , but they only took 13 matches per test in UAE and could not defend a post 300 score at home vs Australia. Decent attack nonetheless. Eng and SA are very well matched in that dept , maybe SA have the edge in pace with Eng having the far better spinner

  • AKS286 on July 4, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    @pennyweight if a team plays well against WI, PAK, NZ then nothing to be appreciated because its a universal truth that they will win. STEYN IS THE WORLD"S BEST FAST BOWLER in the history of cricket. the captain of DEADLY BARRAGE.

  • AKS286 on July 4, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    its all about "AFRICAN deadly BARRAGE" i.e steyn, morkel, phillander, tsotsobe, de lange which is capable to destroy any FORTRESS at any place any pitch. only if is the quality spinner like ajmal, swann. but spinner doesn't matter with this BARRAGE an average spinner is enough.

  • Plz_Dont_Get_Whitewashed on July 4, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    When you are on the TOP there's only one way to go - DOWN !! .... Aus were on top of the Test Rankings for so many years, but now look at them! ..... India were on the top of the Test Rankings for almost 3 years, and now see where they are! .... England have been on top for almost a year, and now is the time for SA to become NO.1 !!! :D

  • SasiGladi on July 4, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    Some how I am feeling they will get choked in crucial deciders...both teams have powerful bowling line up tough fight ahead very eager to watch.....

  • on July 4, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    1st thing to everyone bringing out the choking thing:south africa only choke in ICC tournaments..you must be stupid to believe that to be the case in tests..I'd say SA's struggles in tests in recent years can be linchpinned to 3 fundamentally important factors:1)Not selecting a specialised opener to back up Smith(honestly..Rudolph,Petersen,MacKenzie are specialist middle order batsmen).my vote=Amla (or Dean Elgar..good spinner 2)to open with Smith,Duminy in at 3(the boy can bat for long periods of time,give him some cushioning in the form of 2 solid openers,and solid 4(kallis) and 5(de Villiers)..allow him to become the great batsman he should be.2) our ongoing and neverending spinbowling debakel..Tahir is quite frankly too impatient and he bowls WAY to quickly in tests - Duminy is more effective..3) the void left by Shaun Pollock..my vote,Ryan MacLaren. So, if I had my way,I would have the team as follows:Smith,Amla,Duminy,Kallis,AB(wk),Alviro,Rudolph,Maclaren,Vern,Steyn,Morkel

  • JG2704 on July 4, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    @ JustOUT on (July 03 2012, 01:16 AM GMT) What is this nonsense that people like you say about Smith making Vaughan retire? Vaughan had a chronic knee injury which he finally was unable to play with. Do you honestly see a guy who captained us to our 1st Ashes series for 18 years and coming from behind to win that series and a guy who went from an average player to the worlds number 1 batsman as that weak as to retire as soon as he lost 1 series by 1 match? Please publish this time

  • on July 4, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    Philander and steyn will destroy this England lineup, I don't think the engish batsmeen can handle them. Philander will be unplayable in english condition. Please publish Cricinfo

  • on July 4, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    One name will be talked about a lot during and after this series regardless o whether SA win or lose.--King Kallis.If SA have to win HE HAS TO PERFORM whichh e has not done till now in England.If you take him out it will be uphill or Smith-Amla,Devillers(?) to bail SA out always (also Boucher s gone for rear guard actions).AND if they lose then u can be sure King Kallis has not fired...becasue if he plays like he does everywhere else SA usually win...AND Eng batting is not as strong as many think.we already saw Bradmanesque averages of Cook,Trott etc tumbling as soon as they stepped in Asia.Alos Steyn,Morkel and Philander with 9again)Kallis are jus as good.Kallis form will make the difference.may the best side win..bring on the series!!!

  • anver777 on July 4, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    Like others its a big challenge for SA against hi riding Eng... almost everybody failed & struggled to dictate terms in Eng !!! "A TOUGH DREAM" to fulfill Mr.Smith !!!

  • Pennyweight on July 4, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    South Africa performed wonderfully well in NZ recently, in similar conditions to what they will experience in England. NZ aren't anywhere near the standard of England, but I think SA will push England hard - especially if their team culture is tight-knit and they're ready for a scrap. It could be a gripping series.

  • yorkshirematt on July 3, 2012, 23:11 GMT

    And if Eng beat Aus 5-0 in the ODIs they suddenly jump from #4 to #1?

  • yorkshirematt on July 3, 2012, 23:10 GMT

    Can SA really become no.1 if it's drawn? How? I really don't understand these rankings, which means they are pretty wothless, and will be until a proper test championship is introduced.

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    @Graham Pringle on (July 03 2012, 09:56 AM GMT) Thrashed in UAE (Which some consider near to SC) 1-1 vs SL. Funny , I've never heard of a 1-1 thrashing before. A new one on me., . Please publish - nothing offensive or untrue

  • Shan156 on July 3, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    @Saffalicious, please remind us which part of SA was Imran Tahir from.

    SA are a hard team to beat but so are England. While all the attention is on Kallis naturally, it is Graeme Smith who will be the biggest threat to England. Kallis, great player he is, has an abysmal record in England. Smith, OTOH, has been magnificent. He almost always seems to do well against England. So, it is imperative that England execute their plans against him well. Swann, with his impressive record against left-handers, would be crucial.

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    @ EnglishCricket on (July 02 2012, 17:29 PM GMT) That's a ridiculous comparison and even as an Englishman I'm embarrassed by such comments. That tournament was T20 for a start , 2ndly it was very much a 2nd string SA line up. Maybe a better yardstick is SA A'S form vs SLA in SL. Please publish - nothing offensive or untrue

  • Pratchett on July 3, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    So let me get this straight. If it rains the whole time and the series is drawn 0-0, then SA will actually usurp Eng as the #1 team? That can't be right! Since this is the most anticipated series for me ever, I fully expect it to rain non stop. And then #1 will not be deserved. What a joke! Three tests? And that in an age where we are told that too much cricket is being played...

  • grizzle on July 3, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    As a neutral, I am hoping for a well-fought series. Without a doubt the two strongest Test teams as of now! England probably have the edge with a stronger batting lineup and better spinner in their ranks.

  • desi-blue on July 3, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    If the S.A batting line up clicks,I can't see them losing this series...S.A is the only team at the moment who can play Eng at their own strength ie;swing and pace and actually come up on top...if they are mentally ready and up for a fight i see them winning this series...but then again,Eng are not ranked no.1 for nothing..especially at home they have been unstoppable,either way it should be a great series but i am rooting for S.A... I hope they can win and FINALLY become no.1...

  • gibbs.175 on July 3, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    no chance for SA ...a poor batting line-up....all hopes on kallis and amla.....yes only DALE can make a difference....good luck SA.....

  • A_Vacant_Slip on July 3, 2012, 18:57 GMT

    I am certain England will win this series and win it convincingly. Only bad weather can prevent it. Unfortunately, looking at the weather in England this Summer - rain has to be odd-on favourite. This series should be in Kenya in the dry season - then no problem for England win! (Also - that way I would get to see it).

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    @ satish619chandar on (July 03 2012, 03:24 AM GMT) Would you say SA's form is that great? Their last 3 series they drew at home 1-1 vs Australia after going 1-0 up and beat NZ 1-0 and SL 2-1 at home. Yes re NZ the weather almost certainly cost them a whitewash but none of those 3 results are anything more than expected. If I was a SA fan I'd have expected a 3-0 win vs NZ (Fair play they could not change the weather) , to beat Aus and to beat SL 2-0. Having said that , it's still better than losing 3-0 in UAE but it's not like SA are red hot either and are not surpassing expectation

  • Last_ride on July 3, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Vernon Philander will be Englands greatest danger even more then steyn.The conditions are so perfect for him.England have the edge in terms of batting depth.But that depth will be tested because steyn and co can easily run them over.

  • Saffalicious on July 3, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    I think that England are good at home because Saffa players are so good away from home. Talk about evenly matched even in that respect. I think the balance is that there are more Saffas playing away from home in the SA side

  • shovwar on July 3, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    This is a great series for all the South Africans....Forget about England...This is the battle between South african greats....Maybe Swan and Anderson may join the battle but they are the minority compare to all the South Africans playing in the series. Hats off to South Africa for producing so many stars and that is the reason we get to watch the series of this decade.

  • Munkeymomo on July 3, 2012, 15:26 GMT

    I predict 15 days of solid rain and not a ball bowled. The most likely prediction on these boards by a LONG way.

  • SnowSnake on July 3, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    @Bruisers: How many times I have seen SA fans touting that SA deserves to be #1 when SA actually played in SA and barely managed to draw series against India and Australia. If SA cannot win series against then top teams in SA, why should I believe that SA can win against England in England? Frankly, keeping Steyn and De Villers aside, I just don't see SA has much to offer. Yes, they have decent other players but so do other teams. England in England is pretty damn difficult team to beat. However, SA can still be number 1 if it draws the series. So, SA has a chance. Winning the series is where SA will fall short.

  • on July 3, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    For those who are wondering why this Test Series is only 3 Test Matches its because of the Olympics which obviously clashes with these Tests and therefore more people will be watching these Olympic games as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to watch athletes in their country.

  • SICHO on July 3, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    I can't believe comments that i'm seeing here, Graeme Smith is only 31 years old. Even KP is older than him. Just because he played many Tests doesn't mean he's old

  • din7 on July 3, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    i can't wait for the series to start. But what hell on earth they thought while keeping inly 3 tests, atleast 4 tests should have been there...really disappointed. Its going to be seies of the decade and limited to just 3 tests?

  • RandyOZ on July 3, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    Hats off to South African for being there or there abouts when they have to fill two international teams with players.

  • inzamam_ul_haq on July 3, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    England has the advantage in home conditions but South Africa is also a strong team and can beat any team, so it is going to be a tough task for England even in home conditions.

  • jb633 on July 3, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    @July 03 2012, 09:56 AM GMT, If England are backyard boys then what does that make India. Indian fans have been smarting ever since the test series last summer and are keen to make everyone realise that the results do not count because they took place outside India. Yes England were spun out by Pakistan in UAE, but I think you will actually find they smoked SL in the second test. And without any good spinners I can't see us getting rolled in the same way. I think this series depends upon 4 men, KalliS, Amla, vs, Cook, Trott. Depending on which of these can lay a platform will decide the series. Personally I don't think there is much between the two. Kallis has struggled in England but Trott looked ruffled against his countrymen in 09/10 series. I think KP and AB will be eye catching if there are runs on the board when they come in, but I am sure the coaches will not want them facing, Anderson/ Steyn with the scores 20 or 30 for 3. Cook to be man of the series. Good luck India

  • on July 3, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    What a mouth-watering encounter this is going to be!!! The two top sides in world cricket at the moment (in my opinion)... Squad for squad, man for man, batsman for batsman, bowler for bowler, fielder for fielder, strength for strength, weakness for weakness... hardly a difference & so evenly matched in every aspect! This is every cricket fans dream series & I simply cannot wait for this epic battle for no.1 status!!! If anything... England may have a home advantage, however, South Africa are good 'travellers' with a fantastic away record. Such an awesome prospect... no doubt it will live up to all its hype! Good luck to both teams & may the best team win.

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    @ Bruisers on (July 03 2012, 10:32 AM GMT) I agree re leeluk's comms. No need for that , but how do you work out that SA deserve it more than England? When was the last time SA actually beat a top 4 side in a test series? It's all very well being hard to beat but you also have to beat good sides .Fact is Eng,Aus and SA are all fallible and all can beat each other on any given day.

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    Re Englands batting depth - I'm starting to think that the reputation is flattered by the series against the woeful Indian bowling attack. I wonder what might happen vs a decent bowling attack. I think most batting line ups tails can wag on their day. We have seen this from WI and Australia this year

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    I see this as being a tight , strongly contested series. History shows how well both teams are matched and the last SA win over Eng was in Eng and the last Eng win over SA was in SA so I guess home advantage isn't that significant. Any realistic cricket follower would not predict a mauling for either side. On paper SA possibly have the better players but it doesn't always work out like that on the pitch. Eng were woeful in UAE and not great in SL either. The one positive was that we ended the tour with a win. 1-4 isn't great but it would have been more psychologically damaging had we won the 1st match and then lost 4 in a row. I feel the respective wins over WI and NZ tell us little about either side. And while a number 1 team should not be losing a series 3-0 it should also be winning significantly more than it's drawing.

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    @Springbok111 on (July 03 2012, 08:11 AM GMT) I guess that's a question for SACB. The one good thing is that the only way your team loses (in the rankings from this) is if Eng and Aus increase their win% etc as the ranking points are calculated by number of total points divided by games played

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    @ Sheelbhadra Shankar on (July 03 2012, 07:29 AM GMT) / highveldhillbilly on (July 03 2012, 05:43 AM GMT) Re Tahir - I noticed in the ICC rankings that Harris has over double the ranking points of Tahir and is 35 places higher. Does Harris not play test cricket anymore or are the rankings wrong

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    @ YorkshirePudding on (July 02 2012, 17:57 PM GMT) You mean all but one of them at home? To be fair I'm not sure SA playing at home is that much of an advantage

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    @ Stephen Axtell on (July 03 2012, 06:42 AM GMT) Re Smith being younger - guess it's because he's been around longer and as a captain as well

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    @ omar.choudhary on (July 02 2012, 23:32 PM GMT) Mate , either side can give stats on why their side will win. If Pak in UAE was a yardstick then SA would win (Although they would have to bowl take 20 wkts per match which they did in neither and something Eng did in 2 of the 3 tests) and SA outdid Eng in India. Eng have better recent series results vs Aus and trumped SA in home series vs India

  • JG2704 on July 3, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    @ leeluk on (July 02 2012, 20:04 PM GMT) How can either side lose 4-0 in a 3 match series?

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 3, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    According to the Aussies, all of the current England side were going to have their "careers ended" by the ongoing ODI series. Goodness... what team will England go for against SA then?

  • on July 3, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    @Graham Pringle - I agree completely. England are good enough only in their own backyard. they have been lucky to have a lot of home series one after the other in recent times. The only time they played outside england, with Pak and SL, they have been humiliated and nearly lost their No. 1 ranking. SA is a much better allround team capable of winning anywhere. Only exception is Eng won the Ashes and doubt they would be able to retain the Ashes next time. Kallis, Amla and ABe will shine alongwith Pillander and Morkel. Steyn is always the spearhead.

  • moloko on July 3, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    England are playing at home so they are favourites bt i still yhink the proteas will win the series 2-0.

  • Green_How on July 3, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    @ Graham Pringle - may I congratulate you on such a hilarious and original post. LOL

  • Bruisers on July 3, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    @EnglishCricket - Quite hilarious how you say "us English" when half of the team is South African by origin. And also stop boasting about Bangladesh's performance in the recent tri-series against SA. They didn't even make the finals of that series.

  • Eskimo on July 3, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    I won't worry too much about injury concerns for SA's bowling line-up. History shows they rarely get injured. And all this talk about Dale Steyn, yes he is my favorite modern day cricketer, but Philander is the real threat. I hope England realize this, just as the biggest threat for SA would be Swann. Don't compare Swann to Tahir or Bresnan to Philander. These bowlers are miles apart. I still think England are heavy favorites, SA haven't played cricket recently. Form only lasts as long as you keep playing, thus I fear SA's batting is gonna let them down.

  • Bruisers on July 3, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @leeluk - The South African team may not have achieved anything in world cricket but at the same time what have England done? Don't talk about Ashes or the WT20 win you guys had in 2010. Being the world No.1 Test team is the you guys can brag about. But SA is the team that really deserves that tag and they will prove it next month.

  • dogcatcher on July 3, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    Lets hope this battle lives up to expectations and the saffers are not too undercooked and not acclimatised enough. As a Saffer I'd be very very happy with a draw in game 1. England batting is looking ominous with all indivduals finding form of late and SA seem to be low on matches and practice. On paper a cracker!

    A month ago I had SA with the edge even though England had home advantage. Given the return to form of Strauss and Co, I now think England have the edge. All I hope for is a contest as recent games in England, be they one day or test, have been very one sided.

    I can't help but feel that the weather will have the defining say with a 1-0 or draw series being the end result and folks wishing there was more.

    Oh well back to back 5 test series ashes seems more important.

  • Bruisers on July 3, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    @SnowSnake - "Over reliance on de Villiers and Steyn" What do you mean by that? There are four SA batsmen in the Top 10 Test batsmen and three bowlers in the Top 10 Test bowlers rankings. I know rankings don't mean much but they are a fair indication of the recent performances of players.

  • diehard_alwayz on July 3, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    Philander is going to be a handful in these conditions with his line and length. If Steyn and Morkel continue being just themselves, the saffer seam attack is a bit better than the poms, but the Swann is miles ahead of Tahir. Englands middle order with Trott, Bell and KP matches or probably just pips Amla, Kallis, AB in English conditions. Strauss and Smith are equals and Prior matches Boucher. Cook > Petersen/Rudolph and Morgan = Duminy. I think Swann is the one trump card that England have. My prediction: 1:1 with one close draw that England saves. Cook should score a lot, Steyn,Philander and Swann should get a load of wickets and one brilliant Innings from Eoin Morgan. Rudolph should score big , this being the place where he improved his game. Lets see whether I end up eating my words.

  • Damo_s on July 3, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    All these predictions are pointless. The teams are well matched to which it seems most people are in agreement. The result will most likely come down to 1 or 2 sessions of brilliance from 1 or 2 individuals, therefore it really could go either way. Unless, this terrible weather continues in which case I can see 3 draws and arguably the most antipated series in years being a wash out. Got to love the british weather. It is true that we (England) have a very strong tail, but against the likes of Steyn I'm not sure they can be relied upon to hang about in the way they can against less potent attacks. The top 7 must perform for England to win in my opinion. Cant wait. It promises to be ace!

  • on July 3, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    England are just backyard boys, their tails only wag in the white lands. When in sub-continent they get thrashed black & blue. England is touring India late this year, they are bound to get pasted as they were beaten against the other 2 main Sub-continent teams SL & Pak. South Africa is a lot better performer in any conditions, even if they dont win they draw the series in Sub-continent. England are a hopeless bunch with main performers being expats. No team is like Australia few years back, they used to win everywhere, that dominance is not there anymore. Even in the ongoing ODI series with Australia, Eoin Morgan was the best batsman in both matches, who happens to be an Irish import. It is as if they will import the best player / talent & ask him to play for England. One day they will import Sachin Tendulkar & say we have the world's best batsman. LOL.

  • Selassie-I on July 3, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    Huge series, really looking forward to it, got tickets for 3 days at Leeds... bring it on! the sides are so even it's unbelievable. One thing in our favour is that if SA have an injury to a bowler or two they could be in trouble... Eng have the backups - Finn, Tremlett, Onions that should help. Last time Onions played SA he was great against them. Who do SA bring in? Tsotobe...?

  • nair_ottappalam on July 3, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Having read most of the comments, I can understand how the cricketing world is looking at the forthcoming series. It is unfortunate that this is not a 5 test series. Man to Man matching is very difficult. Most of the batsmen in South Africa have equal or better matches from the English side. With the entry of Philander, South African bowling can also match with the English. A combined effort of bowling and batting is what really counts, weather permitting. Yes with the home conditions behind them, England have a very slight edge over the proteas. It would be a 55-45 affair in favour of England. The recent debacle England suffered in the UAE will have no bearing on this series. The conditions and the opposition are entirely different. Looking forward to the series of the decade.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 3, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    SA 'A' vs SA 'B'

    I cant wait!! Which team will win? Which team will be speaking english and which will be speaking afrikaans - probably both!!

    Been looking forward to this series for about a year, an outrage its only 3 test series and not 5.

  • yorkshirematt on July 3, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    Could be the "series of the century" but we'll need the great british weather to sort itself out first, or it'll be the anticlimax of the century

  • on July 3, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    This is test cricket Proteas dont choke in that format. Bowling out a team for 99 in the first innings of the game and still lose, now that is choking...

  • Humdingers on July 3, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    The bowling is matched. Forget the rankings. Steyn v Anderson (Styen wins); Morkel v Broad (depends if Morkel has a good or bad day); Philander v Bresnen (Have to give it to Philander); Swan v Tahir (Swan has this one). The batting will determine the winner. If South Africa don't *choke* then they win this. Otherwise England will grind them down. Expect big runs from KP as a statement to the ECB (and the fact he usually pulls out the big guns against SA). Prediction - touch one but I think SA 2-1 (weather permitting all games go the distance).

  • on July 3, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    great encounter,mouth watering...probably best cricket to be played in 21st century.

  • Starboomber on July 3, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    Just can't wait for the series to begin, England should be favourites because of the home conditions. All the best to Gary & the boys.....

  • 5wombats on July 3, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 on (July 03 2012, 04:45 AM GMT) Rubbish. Given the number of geriatrics in the india team and what South Africa, England and Australia have done to them in recent years, comments about the age of England players is laughable.

  • TsoroM on July 3, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    This series has makings of some really exciting cricket. Hopefully the likes of Steyn, Morkel and ABD can carry their form from the IPL. I expect Morkel and Steyn to be deadlier in English seamer friendly conditions, throwing the Big Vern and Kallis in that mix . And with quite a few English batsmen in deccent nick of late including Strauss, this should be a great contest. I'm also looking forward to seeing Anderson in action, I think he's the best English bowler at the moment with all due respect the rest of them. I do however think our batsmen will be up to the task against him.

  • Springbok111 on July 3, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    Probably been asked and answered before, but please can someone explain why SA plays so much less cricket than other teams (England 48, Australia 46, SA 32)?

  • on July 3, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    England's brilliance stems from the fact that a potent pace attack that thrives on swing, bounce and pace has complimented its static but poignant batting these past few years. This scenario changes when they travel outside England. Take the last series against Pakistan of the ODI series against India for example. Having been whitewashed against Pakistan and India is not a rosy picture u can draw of the world no. 1. Lets Also not forget South Africa have not lost an away series since 2006. In Steyn, Morkel and Philander they have an attack that would test the stickiness of this England line up. these bowlers have enough skills up their sleeves to upset the best. So i wont be surprised if Cook and Trott end up on the lower side of averages and see England fall from grace. Also I am not to sure as to how, people like Anderson and Broad could disturb someone like Kallis, Amla or a DeVilliers as they have also been brought up on juicy wickets. All in all a world championship in the offing.

  • i_witnessed_2011 on July 3, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    WOW!! It will be a very good series... both teams are very good balanced and talented ... England is very tough to beat at home and SA team has proved that they are very good tourists... All the best to both teams and I personally support SA ;-)

  • on July 3, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    Keeping myself strictly contextual to this article, I am amazed how could this lady(Firdose) skip uttering this thing or that regarding Imran Tahir. I remember Tahir's debut to the international cricket was made so glittered as if Warne had been gifted to the SA by the Pakistan. I am, however, disappointed by the show that Tahir has so far been able to put up. I hope Tahir is able to prove me and other, who doubt his potential, wrong, as sSA's success definitely takes precedence over my cynicism and skepticism. And Yes, English tail is, as always, dangerous as they are quite prone to its waging frequent and long enough.

  • on July 3, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    @EnglishCricket, SA's T20 team was a B team. Zim are not the pushovers they once were, same goes for Bangladesh. We will see what they do in the world T20. As for this series its going to be a coinflip i think. Whoever is in the zone on the day will make the difference. As for english home conditions..i doubt that will work in Englands favour as both teams have high calibre bowlers able to exploit any movement. Its going to be a cracking series thats for sure. Pity its only 3 tests....

  • on July 3, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    Smith is younger than Strauss and Swann just to name a few. Yet Smith is one that is mentioned about getting on in years. Makes zero sense. Plus Englands "depth" is not as strong as people are trying to make it out to be.

  • asithaSL on July 3, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    Wow....!! it's going to be top battle, SA really good talented team with lots of high class players. But, in other hand, England best balance test team in the world today. But, I feel a little advantage for England. their batsmen are in top form at the moment. So it's going to be best test series from long time....

  • highveldhillbilly on July 3, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    I think the greatest risk to SA is Tahir. If we win the series it will be despite Tahir not because of Tahir. I think it's definitely advantage to the English, a very settled team that is playing as a unit. The bowling attack compliments each other well and the batsmen are in some form at the moment. SA has strangely played very little cricket of late so it's very difficult to gauge form from the NZ series.Surely Boucher's last series? Finally I think the English tail could also cause many head aches (and heart aches?) for the SA team. Looking forward to some great test cricket.

  • Saffalicious on July 3, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    I would make England the favourites in their own back yard. I hope the English press agree as nothing motivates the Saffas more than an underdog tag. Some of the posts refer to a lack of depth in batting and for that matter bowling within SA, given that some of the players are approaching their sell by date, such as Kallis, Smith and Boucher. I am quite excited by this to be honest as we have some real prospects such as Dean Elgar, Duminy, a clutch of good keepers that can bat as well, and bowlers like de Lange, McLaren and a few others coming through. What I havent seen yet is a strong allrounder that SA have always managed to unearth in the mould of McMillan, Rice, Klusner, Kuiper or Kallis. Cometh the hour, someone will step up to the plate though.

    all strength to the Poms, I hope they are at the top of their game. Will make the series win that much sweeter. I predict 1-0 to SA

  • on July 3, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    Cant wait for the series to begin..it will be a cracker..

  • rahulcricket007 on July 3, 2012, 4:45 GMT

    @landl47 . yeah , you r right . by the way england also have a captain who is 35 now & was almost under retirement pressure for the defeat in uae .thanks to his 2 100 against wi which buy him some time . also what about kp , he is also 32 . may be he will also retire in 2 years to earn some money in ipl & other leagues . & what about swann , he too is in 30+ range .

  • KelvinLTR on July 3, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    two wonderful test teams, greetings from Sri Lanka, might be the series of the century, may the best team win

  • satish619chandar on July 3, 2012, 3:24 GMT

    SA have the side and form on their side too.. But what they have against is, England's form and the way their players put up the hands everytime they come on.. Especially at home.. This will be the most sought series as both teams are settled and in good form..

  • simon_w on July 3, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    Does anyone know what this sentence means: "We want to become the best cricket team in the world," Gary Kirsten said, but quickly qualified that he keeps that as nothing more than an end goal and it is something that occupies his day to day planning. ???

  • Marcian on July 3, 2012, 1:45 GMT

    As a neutral fan, I think England have the edge and should win the series. SA has a tendency to disappoint even though they have a superb team; exceptional bowling attack, solid batting and brilliant fielding. Note: SA didn't win a Test series on home soil for three years until they beat SL in January. Here again, SA lost a Test match to, arguably, one of the worst bowling attacks going around. SA has all the skill and talent to beat England, but, I'm afraid they will fall agonizingly short. I hope the series is as exhilarating as the '05 Ashes. Good luck to both teams.

  • on July 3, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    You can't say anything about saf seeing the tri series,it was saf B team. Good to see spotlight is back on steyn,philandar can feel pressureless and carry of destruction. It will be a fantastic series.

  • JustOUT on July 3, 2012, 1:16 GMT

    I don't understand why some guys take up CHOKE word here. This is the same team and same captain that WON last test series in England. Smith's innings at edgbagston made Mr.Vaughan to retire immediately.. So guys look at the results before you talk. This is a test series.

  • LePom on July 3, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    On paper I'd say S.A. should have the advantage, as on an individual player basis they would rate a bit higher.

    On the field however, I have a gut feeling that England may have the edge, because I think the England Team performs to a level greater than the sum of its parts, wheras the S.A. as a Team tends to perform to a level lower than the sum of its parts.

    The recent tour of NZ is a case where S.A. looked less than convincing contenders for the #1 spot in UK type conditions against NZ.

    The other factor is that in recent years S.A. have risen the ranks by not losing, rather than winning, whilst England- though fragile at times , have a much more aggressive mentality in pursuing wins.

    Not losing is good enough to get you close to the top, but unless there is a lower ranked team making a run for the top (and knocking off the top contenders for you- as in the case of India being helped by England beating Australia in 3 out of 4 series) you need to win to get right to #1.

  • praveen4honestremark on July 3, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    Kirsten , all the best sir!! We expect you to win series over England. But an important thing you should tell your boys is that ,' No body is above game and all should play carefully, positively and with Unity'. The main problem for SA is that they some how lack that inspiration to counter attack or stay there to fight when everything is going against them. SA have very great players, but it should rather become a great team. Kirsten as coach of India was instrumental in making team play as a Unit and thus win world cup. Playing as a Unit is tough task as you need to know what your partner bowler is bowling and later how u should pressurize from other end in support of your partner. I just applies every where, in batting and fielding...I am really hoping to see SA to be number 1 in tests. All the best SA, you can do it - Indian.

  • Shan156 on July 3, 2012, 0:37 GMT

    @omar.choudhary, the world doesn't revolve around Pakistan. SA lost their last test series to SL away and could only draw against Australia and India at home. England managed to draw with SL away and beat Australia and India at home. One series result does not make or break a team. Just how England's 4-0 win at home against India does not make them a great team, a 0-3 defeat against Pakistan away does not make them a poor team either. While SA have a better away record, their home record is inferior to England. However, they were the last team to beat England in England and they probably hold the edge on paper. However, if you look at head-to-head statistics of both teams since SA's return to international cricket, it is pretty much even stevens in test matches. Looking forward to a great series. Non-England fans may write off England at their own peril - I am sure the Saffer team and Gary Kirsten won't. They also know they have a tough contest in their hands.

  • omar.choudhary on July 2, 2012, 23:32 GMT

    Pakistan already defeated the so called "#1" test side, in the UAE (3-0). Whereas Pakistan drew the series with South Africa in UAE (Both matches were drawn). It seems South Africa have the edge here vs England.

  • subbass on July 2, 2012, 23:25 GMT

    England could well win this series simply because the lower order batting is so strong. Having the likes of Bresnan 8, S Broad at 9 and Swann at 10 is the biggest advantage either side has imo. In bowling England probably just shade it due to our own conditions, but SA have a slightly better top 6. Fielding ? I guess England has the slight edge. All in all a hard series to call, and 1-1 looks fairly likely but I will say 2-1 England if the weather is kind ! I think England will have to play badly to lose the series, I am confident we are simply the better side in our own conditions. I do wonder though if we were 1-0 down with 1 Test to play would we pick 5 bowlers ? !

  • on July 2, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    SA and England use to play 5 test series. The last of which was won 2-1 by England in South Africa in 2004/05. Since then there have been two 4 test series that SA won in ENG and the other was drawn in SA. How would the SA fair against the England bowling? Generally they are pretty good.

  • on July 2, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    @hhillbumper you should remember that South Africa since readmission has only lost one Test series in England, two overall... 1998 and 2004... apart from that we've had many draws and three SA victories... during their last trip, Graeme Smith single handedly beat England at Edgbaston with a magnificnet 154*, the first 4th innings century on the ground.

  • Lmaotsetung on July 2, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    What does India have to do in an England vs South Africa series? As always you guys never cease to amaze! I'm glad Eng are up 2-0 against Aussie or else these pages would be flooded with comments from Indian fans still hurt after last summer.

  • landl47 on July 2, 2012, 22:15 GMT

    Really, the SA side have to seize this opportunity. Kallis is 36 now and won't be around much longer. When he goes it will leave a huge hole in the SA line-up. Smith is also beginning to get to the later part of his career and, as the recent series in Zimbabwe showed, there's not a lot of good batsmen coming through. The seam bowling is excellent, although the second strings aren't as strong so hopefully Steyn, Morkel and Philander will stay healthy. However, spin is a major weakness for SA in England (and samincolumbia, just remind me what part of South Africa Imran Tahir comes from?). It's England's overall strength against SA's stars and it should be a great battle.

  • on July 2, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    It will be an interesting series as it will South Africa vs South Africa ... may the best South Africa win :D

  • HawK89 on July 2, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    A lot of senior players for both teams, but given its in England, I will say they are the favourites. SA only managed to draw a test series against a pretty weak AUS test batting lineup, and their upcoming players couldn't even beat ZIM in a T20 match. Either way, we are going to see some quality cricket from at least one of the teams.

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on July 2, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    The one bowler who's got me worried is Philander - the guy's action is built for English conditions. He's far more dangerous than #steyn and Morkel IMO. For me, he's the x factor in the saffer side and i can see him causing us some real problems.

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on July 2, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    @Heisenburg - whoever wins this series deserves to be no. 1. Reputations off the field count for nothing. Let's see how the big names perform under real pressure. May the best side win. Can't wait!

  • on July 2, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    shakib al hassan is ranked higher than jacques kallis. have to take them icc rankings with more than just a pinch of salt.

  • on July 2, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    Such a shame there are so few Test matches in this series. SA are a very good team, so I think it's finely balanced. England have always struggled to get Smith and Kallis out, so I wonder whether they might be the difference for SA, but then they haven't faced this England attack. I don't think that the English batsmen have faced anyone with Steyn's quality for some time now, so perhaps they should encourage him to have a quick session of football so he can tread on the ball and injure himself.

  • on July 2, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    Also,to add. I know England are pretty good at Test Cricket. They win virtually anything to everything that comes their way at home in Test Cricket but so do India at home. India infact is unbeatable at home in ODIs and T20s as well and generally sends sides after having whitewashed them. This is the same English side which got whitewashed by an inconsistent Pakistani side in UAE recently and drew 1-1 with Lanka in Lanka. How easily do the critics smash India for losing away and ignore England's failure away from home. At home,England are brilliant but so are India. Away record of this SA team is pretty good and is probably the only side which has given a tough fight to the Indians in India! Hope they beat this English Side,we'll anyways are waiting for the Revenge Series later this year. England showed us swing last yr,we'll show them SPIN. Waiting for that series too. Let England enjoy some HOME victories as of now!

  • on July 2, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    This will be surely the best Test Series of the Year. SA is the team which has the best chance to beat this English side in England[Even more than Australia by a long way]. Steyn,Morkel,Philander is an attack which matches up with the English bowling line up and the good thing about this SA side is that their batting is well settled. Smith,Amla,Kallis,ABD on song is a treat to watch. The only concern will of the 2nd opener and the no.6 spot with Rudolph in there. That's where England can attack. But overall,it'll be a great series. England slight favourites but that can change very very quickly.

  • EnglishCricket on July 2, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    @SICHO - Is it really possible to be perfect? Absolutely not!, Yes England lost to Pakistan 'away' 3-0 in Tests but just like to remind you that England won the ODI Series 4-0 and T20 Series 2-1 so you're really not being fair. Overall since 2010 till today England have the best of records of all the teams out there in fact the rankings overall speak for themselves anyway so they are indeed the BEST TEAM in the WORLD. About the Tri-Series whether its important or not, official or unofficial to be the 'BEST', you need to play in any conditions in whatever situation or circumstance important or unimportant and I think we can all agree to that if we're honest to ourselves :)

  • hhillbumper on July 2, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    Do we think South Africa will do their normal trick and choke or will they hold it together.What ever happens it will at least be more of a challenge than playing the Aussies or India

  • samincolumbia on July 2, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    More than South Africa, it's England who needs a 'team' building exercise as their team has players from different part of the world.

  • nlambda on July 2, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    They key word, as always, will be c-h-o-k-e. Let us see if it rears its head with SA needing 100 to win with 7 wickets in hand on the 5th day afternoon...

  • 5wombats on July 2, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    This is going to be a real treat. Last year the anticipation amongst England fans about the visiting and highly rated "number 1" test side was really high. They didn't deliver. England didn't let them. This year South Africa are also highly rated, but something tells us that now England have grabbed the #1 slot they aren't going to relinquish it as easily as the indians did. South Africa were rolled over in South Africa by the current india side leading to a drawn home series. South Africa were also rolled at home by the current Australia side leading to another series draw. South Africa ARE a good side - with some great great bowlers & batsmen - but how good are they if they cannot win their home series against the likes of india and Australia? It wont be like 2008 with the England team and its captaincy in disarray; England are a significantly stronger and more accomplished Test side now than they were then. That's why it's going to be good! Can't wait!!!

  • leeluk on July 2, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    this overestimated South African side will loose 4 /0 to England I dont know why people talk big about SA they have players but pls tell me what they have achieved in cricket world

  • vrn59 on July 2, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    My SAF XI: Smith, A Peterson, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers, Rudolph, Boucher, Steyn, Philander, M Morkel, Tahir

    My ENG XI: Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bopara, Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson

  • SICHO on July 2, 2012, 19:56 GMT

    @EnglishCricket The "best" team in the world got whitewashed by a team ranking no. 5 or 6, (i don't care about UAE conditions) i mean how can a "best" team in the world get whitewashed by a no. 5 ranking team? And the Tri-Series. In case you are confused, was a T20 Series and was a chance to experiment not to prove a point that we can win

  • 2.14istherunrate on July 2, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    SA have not fallen prey to the stupidity which saw India play last year with only 1 warm up game. It will rain during the tour, that is the one given here, so expect washed out days. Sorry about the weather, but not for the total drubbing hopefully England will dish out to you, South Africa. It's sad this fine banquet will only be played over 3 Tests. So are most other people. The authorities should take more notice of the people rather than pontificationg about this and that.

  • JG2704 on July 2, 2012, 19:24 GMT

    Just one correction. SA beat Eng in Eng in 2008 and not 2009 as it says in the article. Look forward to the series . Let's hope for some good weather for a change

  • ballonbat on July 2, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    I know it sounds a little sentimental, but it would be a great farewell present for Mark Boucher - he really deserves this final accolade - and an equally justified reward to Jacques Kallis for his 17 years at the top of the game. The others are great players of course who also deserve to be No 1 but they have time on their side. I don't doubt that if it doesn't happen now, then De Villiers, Amla, Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Duminy et al will lead the Proteas to the top of the pile in the next couple of years.

  • on July 2, 2012, 18:46 GMT

    Thats what i like to see,in a report,the usual non biased SA,view lol.Why do South Africa deserve to be number 1?.England have won 9,drawn 2 and lost only 1 series in 3 years.Fair enough South Africa have gone unbeaten away for a while,but they have drawn a lot of series in the last few years.If they beat England,then fair enough,the No1 ranking will be deserved,but beating England will be far from easy.

  • BellCurve on July 2, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    There are plenty examples of "togetherness" in Herschelle Gibbs' autobiography. Not sure whether mountain biking will achieve the same level of intimacy?

  • on July 2, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    Come on you guys. I don't for a minute that you can beat the English, but I want you to know that even if you don't, you will always be my no. 1 cricket team in all formats of the game. For what it is worth, West Indies is my 2nd team and India third . . .

  • sundarb on July 2, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    Looking forward to this test series. should be fantastic as england are also very strong at the moment. Two fantastic coaches - Gary Kirsten and Andy Flower. I think South Africa will win this series 2-1.

  • shovwar on July 2, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    they dont need the no. 1 ranking cos they are already the best test side in the world and they proved it by beating Aus, Ind, nz, pak and England as well away from home already.......

  • on July 2, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    No doubt he's the worlds best Fast bowler after Wasim Akram, Macgrath, Ambrose & Walsh. he has pace and variety as well!

  • zuber21886 on July 2, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    england maybe be stupidly again dominate the games because of their home advantage.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 2, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    Really looking forward to the series! Fantastic players in both teams, and unlike the Aussies that love their trash talk, both teams let the bat/ball do the talking. Bring it on...

  • on July 2, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    ENGLAND IS THE BEST AND ALWAYS WILL BE THE BEST SA IS GONNA GET TRASHED :D

  • alexrdavies on July 2, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    England are No. 1 because they are an attacking team who win matches.

    Since the 2009/10 season (i.e. in the last three years), England have won 59% of their matches; South Africa have won just 41%.

    Even counting just away matches, England have won 44% over the same time period; South Africa have won 40%. They're hard to beat, but that's partly because they're cautious and many of their matches end in draws.

    If South Africa win against England, on their own turf, then they will be a worthy world No. 1. However if the series ends in a draw, then both sides will still have question marks against them. Can England win away? And can South Africa should the ruthless mentality and winning ways that are required to be a truly dominant team?

  • YorkshirePudding on July 2, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    You can hardly say a side is dominant if they've only won 5 of thier last 10/11 series, and only one of those at home, still it will be a fantastic series to watch, and it will be the first side that blinks at a cruicial point in each game that determines the outcome. I cant wait for the 27th July to come round.

  • zuber21886 on July 2, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    and morkel, he is missed.

  • ac_Indian on July 2, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    This is going to be an exciting series... looking forward to this.

  • SICHO on July 2, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    We have the world no. 1 bowler so England beware. I just can't wait to see battle of the bowlers: Steyn vs Anderson, Broad vs Philander, Bresnan vs Morkel. This series is going to be a cracker, its a shame that the Test series has only 3 matches

  • EnglishCricket on July 2, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    South Africa should not get their hopes up!, us English will win this quite comfortably 3-0. I'm not saying this because of shear pride rather I'm saying this because South Africa are simply far too overated I mean this team couldn't even compete against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh in the recently concluded Tri-Series so I don't understand why some people are saying they can compete with the best Cricket team in the world which as we all know is ENGLAND ;)

  • sudhir98 on July 2, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    yep, this will stop all the choking immediately. Good one Mr Kirsten!

  • SnowSnake on July 2, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    SA is very talented team, but in the end they always fall short. Of all the teams, SA has been consistent in #2 position. England may be knocked off #1, but it is difficult to knock off SA from #2. The problem I think is over reliance on one star bowler Steyn and AB de villers. Everyone else in SA team is great but not exceptional. England can be beaten by SA but, for that to happen, SA has to play England in SA. England at home is a pretty strong team in recent times.

  • SagirParkar on July 2, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    all the best to south africa... i'd very much like to see them win the series and take top spot in the rankings !

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 2, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    England v Aus is always the pinnacle for any cricketer in the UK but I've rarely looked forward so much to a series as this coming visit from SA. They posses a hugely talented team, very similar in many respects to England. Both have excellent quick bowlers and batsmen capable of batting for long periods and scoring heavily. I think SA will shade the number 6 spot, whilst I rate Swann higher than Tahir and Prior over Boucher. Because of the nature of both attacks, and the experience of most of the SA team in England, I don't think home advantage will count for so much as usual. Whatever the outcome, it's going to be a cracker!!

  • Heisenburg on July 2, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    South Africa deserve to be no.1, Amla, De'Villers, Kallis, Boucher, Philander, Steyn, amazing players.

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  • Heisenburg on July 2, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    South Africa deserve to be no.1, Amla, De'Villers, Kallis, Boucher, Philander, Steyn, amazing players.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on July 2, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    England v Aus is always the pinnacle for any cricketer in the UK but I've rarely looked forward so much to a series as this coming visit from SA. They posses a hugely talented team, very similar in many respects to England. Both have excellent quick bowlers and batsmen capable of batting for long periods and scoring heavily. I think SA will shade the number 6 spot, whilst I rate Swann higher than Tahir and Prior over Boucher. Because of the nature of both attacks, and the experience of most of the SA team in England, I don't think home advantage will count for so much as usual. Whatever the outcome, it's going to be a cracker!!

  • SagirParkar on July 2, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    all the best to south africa... i'd very much like to see them win the series and take top spot in the rankings !

  • SnowSnake on July 2, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    SA is very talented team, but in the end they always fall short. Of all the teams, SA has been consistent in #2 position. England may be knocked off #1, but it is difficult to knock off SA from #2. The problem I think is over reliance on one star bowler Steyn and AB de villers. Everyone else in SA team is great but not exceptional. England can be beaten by SA but, for that to happen, SA has to play England in SA. England at home is a pretty strong team in recent times.

  • sudhir98 on July 2, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    yep, this will stop all the choking immediately. Good one Mr Kirsten!

  • EnglishCricket on July 2, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    South Africa should not get their hopes up!, us English will win this quite comfortably 3-0. I'm not saying this because of shear pride rather I'm saying this because South Africa are simply far too overated I mean this team couldn't even compete against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh in the recently concluded Tri-Series so I don't understand why some people are saying they can compete with the best Cricket team in the world which as we all know is ENGLAND ;)

  • SICHO on July 2, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    We have the world no. 1 bowler so England beware. I just can't wait to see battle of the bowlers: Steyn vs Anderson, Broad vs Philander, Bresnan vs Morkel. This series is going to be a cracker, its a shame that the Test series has only 3 matches

  • ac_Indian on July 2, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    This is going to be an exciting series... looking forward to this.

  • zuber21886 on July 2, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    and morkel, he is missed.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 2, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    You can hardly say a side is dominant if they've only won 5 of thier last 10/11 series, and only one of those at home, still it will be a fantastic series to watch, and it will be the first side that blinks at a cruicial point in each game that determines the outcome. I cant wait for the 27th July to come round.