Kent v South Africans, Canterbury, 3rd day July 15, 2012

South Africa eager for battle to commence

  shares 23

South Africa left Canterbury on Sunday at the end of the second warm-up match of their England tour eager for the real thing which will start on Thursday at The Oval. Much has been made of a brief lead-in for the visitors before the battle for No. 1 begins, but by their standards this has been more than they often have on overseas tours.

It has been a vital time for the team with some players coming back from a lengthy off-season. Two eventful days in Taunton, which included Mark Boucher's enforced retirement, overshadowed any cricket that was played and gave the three-day match against Kent the feeling of a fresh start.

They enjoyed a much quieter time and were able to focus more on their game. This time the disruptions came from an area they have no control over with the second day shortened by rain, but two full days allowed their likely first-choice team to find their feet. All the frontline batsmen spent time at the crease, some more than others, and their probable Test attack bowled at least three spells each although not all of them convincingly.

"I can promise you that all the boys just want that first Test to start now," Jacques Rudolph, who scored a half-century in the South African innings, said. "We're well aware we haven't played a lot of cricket before this series and we've accepted that. England have played a lot of cricket, we haven't but we're not going to be worried about how much cricket we've played."

Instead, members of the squad have said they have prepared in other ways. They have referred to the three-day training camp in Switzerland with regularity and Rudolph was the latest to join in. "We spent some valuable time with Mike Horn, which really unified us," he said. "They were the three toughest days of my life, mentally and physically, and it was nice to do it with your team-mates because it gives you a bit of a stronger bond."

The team spirit was tested in Taunton after they lost their lynchpin. Rudolph described Boucher's injury as "traumatic," but said they "decided we had to move on quite quickly from that." Now, what is on their minds is making sure they are as ready as possible for the first ball on Thursday morning.

Three batsmen - Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and Rudolph - scored half-centuries while JP Duminy made 53 against Somerset. "From a batting point of view, everybody got starts and got in," Rudolph said.

Rudolph batted at No.6 in the Kent match having opened in Taunton because Alviro Petersen was injured. He said that while he did not have to make major adjustments, he used the time to tweak small things that are important when batting in England.

"You've got to have a really good game plan and know the way you want to construct an innings here," he said. "You've got to play the ball really late because the bowlers are looking to go fuller so driving becomes a little bit more difficult."

By contrast, the South African bowlers had to adjust their lengths to avoid bowling too short, something Morne Morkel struggled with on arrival. Although they battled to take wickets on a slow surface in Canterbury, Rudolph said the focus was on finding the right rhythms rather than making big breakthroughs.

"It has been a little bit disappointing for the bowlers because the wicket didn't really give them a lot of assistance, but I know specifically in the first innings they were just trying to bowl into their areas," he said. "It was pleasing to see Imran Tahir get four wickets in the first innings because he has been working really hard on his game."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 17, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    @Xolile - 2 of the wombats will be deployed at the Oval on those dates, want to meet up? #5wombats

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | July 17, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    @BlackInWhites - Thanks for the advice! I'll be at the Oval on both the 19th and 20th, watching AB keep and bat, and chilling with a nicely chilled beverage or two as you have suggested. Let's hope the rain stays away.

  • POSTED BY Pratchett on | July 16, 2012, 19:24 GMT

    To say that SA have a longer tail than England is not accurate. If AB keeps then surely we have a stronger batting line up? Anyway, as a Saffer, this series is HUGE. Please, please, please let the rain stay away...

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 16, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    LOL @RandyOZ. After spending months bagging Ian Bell - how did watching him get Man of the Series V Australia work out for you...? ha ha ha....

  • POSTED BY BlackInWhites on | July 16, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    @Xolile - you need to chill a little bit dude. Just watch the cricket on the 19th..

  • POSTED BY bouncedout on | July 16, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    @RandyOZ You see Randy, this is where you let yourself down.

    Having predicted a whitewash in the Aus/Eng one day series you couldn't have been more wrong.

    You now seek to rely upon SA to do what the Aussies couldn't.

    Sit back and enjoy the best two test teams in the world.

    Oh and get ready for Aus lose their ODI number one status

    I have always loved cricket but this really is the best. Eng going forward as fast as Aus are going backwards.

    Don't cry Randy it's only a game....ha ha

  • POSTED BY whatawicket on | July 16, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    randy/jonesy nice to see u back from ur hols good that you both took them at the same time,

  • POSTED BY simon_w on | July 16, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    @Phillisco -- oh hell, don't say that! what a horrible thought!

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | July 16, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    @BlackInWhites - I agree with you that if Tsolekile plays it may very well be 2-0 for England. But if Tsolekile doesn't play it will be 2-0 for SA.

  • POSTED BY Phillisco on | July 16, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    With only a three test series and continuing bad weather this series could be one that promises so much but delivers little. a 0-0 could realistically be on the cards, a real travesty for what ought to be a real battle between two world class teams.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 17, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    @Xolile - 2 of the wombats will be deployed at the Oval on those dates, want to meet up? #5wombats

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | July 17, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    @BlackInWhites - Thanks for the advice! I'll be at the Oval on both the 19th and 20th, watching AB keep and bat, and chilling with a nicely chilled beverage or two as you have suggested. Let's hope the rain stays away.

  • POSTED BY Pratchett on | July 16, 2012, 19:24 GMT

    To say that SA have a longer tail than England is not accurate. If AB keeps then surely we have a stronger batting line up? Anyway, as a Saffer, this series is HUGE. Please, please, please let the rain stay away...

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 16, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    LOL @RandyOZ. After spending months bagging Ian Bell - how did watching him get Man of the Series V Australia work out for you...? ha ha ha....

  • POSTED BY BlackInWhites on | July 16, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    @Xolile - you need to chill a little bit dude. Just watch the cricket on the 19th..

  • POSTED BY bouncedout on | July 16, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    @RandyOZ You see Randy, this is where you let yourself down.

    Having predicted a whitewash in the Aus/Eng one day series you couldn't have been more wrong.

    You now seek to rely upon SA to do what the Aussies couldn't.

    Sit back and enjoy the best two test teams in the world.

    Oh and get ready for Aus lose their ODI number one status

    I have always loved cricket but this really is the best. Eng going forward as fast as Aus are going backwards.

    Don't cry Randy it's only a game....ha ha

  • POSTED BY whatawicket on | July 16, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    randy/jonesy nice to see u back from ur hols good that you both took them at the same time,

  • POSTED BY simon_w on | July 16, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    @Phillisco -- oh hell, don't say that! what a horrible thought!

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | July 16, 2012, 10:39 GMT

    @BlackInWhites - I agree with you that if Tsolekile plays it may very well be 2-0 for England. But if Tsolekile doesn't play it will be 2-0 for SA.

  • POSTED BY Phillisco on | July 16, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    With only a three test series and continuing bad weather this series could be one that promises so much but delivers little. a 0-0 could realistically be on the cards, a real travesty for what ought to be a real battle between two world class teams.

  • POSTED BY hersheybar on | July 16, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    The weather isn't looking great for cricket at the moment. Expect four seasons in one day and a lot of rain breaks. Lets hope to get results for all of the games.

  • POSTED BY raj_24 on | July 16, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    @Sandeep bhardwaj Eng batting torn by Indian bowlers ? In tests last yr? When did that happen except on one occasion when eng were 8/124 and still made 221.

    but true it is bowlers from both teams that will make the diff.I think eng have advantage in that SA have longer tail .

    Also Eng can strengthen their attack by incl. Finn as 5th bowler although he shd be the 3rd seamer in their 11 always.No need for 6th batsman for eng. But that to happen sun will have to rise from west .

  • POSTED BY AVIKOL on | July 16, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    Hope SA makes this opportunity count. Looking forward to a great Test match series. Still would give England 1-0 due to home advantage & presence of Swann which may be the difference.

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    This series will be won by the side who bats well. On side is Strauss, Cook, Trott, Bell, Bopara & Co and on the other side we have Smith, Amla, De Villiers, Kallis, Prince and Co. We have seen this in the recent past that both teams' batting can be torn even by Indian bowlers (not so long ago). However, it is their fantastic bowling lineup which sends shivers down the spines of their opponents with the pace, swing and movement. Wishing both the teams good luck. Would love better team to win.

  • POSTED BY BlackInWhites on | July 16, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    The English will take this series 2-0. There is no way that SA will be taking this one.

  • POSTED BY Always-positive on | July 16, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Hey Randy, just like the ( Quote from you ) " best attack in the world" did during the ODI !!, England do their talking on the pitch unlike Oz or saffers who talk the talk but can't back it up, who is the #1 side in the world again.......... oh yes, not Oz or SA, Now that speaks volumes.

    This will be a close fought series, unlike playing against Australia.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 16, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    It's never wise to read too much into a warmup game but it is encouraging to see two young England batsmen, playing for a 2nd division county no less, stand up so well to one of the best bowling attacks in the world... twice. I'm sure that the batsmen will be happy that most of them spent some time in the middle but I'm sure there are a few who would have liked a second crack. You'd expect that it would be the batsmen who would take more time to acclimatise to English conditions but it looks like the bowlers still have a few cobwebs to blow off. Philander particularly should not really need a much acclimatisation. Nice to see two English youngsters stand up to a bowler who took 14 Australian wickets in two Tests.

  • POSTED BY raj_24 on | July 16, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    A couple of daydreamers have posted their wishes here so far dreams which are not going to be fulfilled.HAHHA

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 16, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    @RandyOZ on (July 15 2012, 23:45 PM GMT), I seem to recall your suggesting that some other bowlers were going to rip through the England batting not that long ago. How did that work out? Of course, we didn't see any Australian "pace battery" "averaging 150 clicks" so maybe you were talking about somebody else.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 16, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    It should be a very good series. It's a pity it's only 3 tests; series between the top teams in the world should be 5 tests. The South Africans are a mature and experienced side and all of them have played in England, so they know what to expect. I don't know that England are that much better prepared, since the WI and Australia didn't provide much opposition. Hopefully the weather will settle down, we'll get three full matches and the winner will be #1 in the rankings. Then the ODI series will also be for #1 in the rankings. There's an exciting time ahead!

  • POSTED BY Akilkhan on | July 16, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    m eager to see the proteas approach how they will tackle the pace of english bowlers as well as strong batting line up>>>>>

  • POSTED BY 1st_april on | July 16, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    SA 2-0 ENG.....Lords the batting paradise...will provide the draw...

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 15, 2012, 23:45 GMT

    Can't wait to see Steyn rip through the house of cards that is the United XI batting order.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | July 15, 2012, 23:45 GMT

    Can't wait to see Steyn rip through the house of cards that is the United XI batting order.

  • POSTED BY 1st_april on | July 16, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    SA 2-0 ENG.....Lords the batting paradise...will provide the draw...

  • POSTED BY Akilkhan on | July 16, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    m eager to see the proteas approach how they will tackle the pace of english bowlers as well as strong batting line up>>>>>

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 16, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    It should be a very good series. It's a pity it's only 3 tests; series between the top teams in the world should be 5 tests. The South Africans are a mature and experienced side and all of them have played in England, so they know what to expect. I don't know that England are that much better prepared, since the WI and Australia didn't provide much opposition. Hopefully the weather will settle down, we'll get three full matches and the winner will be #1 in the rankings. Then the ODI series will also be for #1 in the rankings. There's an exciting time ahead!

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 16, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    @RandyOZ on (July 15 2012, 23:45 PM GMT), I seem to recall your suggesting that some other bowlers were going to rip through the England batting not that long ago. How did that work out? Of course, we didn't see any Australian "pace battery" "averaging 150 clicks" so maybe you were talking about somebody else.

  • POSTED BY raj_24 on | July 16, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    A couple of daydreamers have posted their wishes here so far dreams which are not going to be fulfilled.HAHHA

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | July 16, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    It's never wise to read too much into a warmup game but it is encouraging to see two young England batsmen, playing for a 2nd division county no less, stand up so well to one of the best bowling attacks in the world... twice. I'm sure that the batsmen will be happy that most of them spent some time in the middle but I'm sure there are a few who would have liked a second crack. You'd expect that it would be the batsmen who would take more time to acclimatise to English conditions but it looks like the bowlers still have a few cobwebs to blow off. Philander particularly should not really need a much acclimatisation. Nice to see two English youngsters stand up to a bowler who took 14 Australian wickets in two Tests.

  • POSTED BY Always-positive on | July 16, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Hey Randy, just like the ( Quote from you ) " best attack in the world" did during the ODI !!, England do their talking on the pitch unlike Oz or saffers who talk the talk but can't back it up, who is the #1 side in the world again.......... oh yes, not Oz or SA, Now that speaks volumes.

    This will be a close fought series, unlike playing against Australia.

  • POSTED BY BlackInWhites on | July 16, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    The English will take this series 2-0. There is no way that SA will be taking this one.

  • POSTED BY on | July 16, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    This series will be won by the side who bats well. On side is Strauss, Cook, Trott, Bell, Bopara & Co and on the other side we have Smith, Amla, De Villiers, Kallis, Prince and Co. We have seen this in the recent past that both teams' batting can be torn even by Indian bowlers (not so long ago). However, it is their fantastic bowling lineup which sends shivers down the spines of their opponents with the pace, swing and movement. Wishing both the teams good luck. Would love better team to win.