South Africa in England 2012

SA our toughest challenge - Anderson

George Dobell at The Oval

July 17, 2012

Comments: 109 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen ponders life during a tricky week, The Oval, July 17, 2012
No distractions: James Anderson insists talk about Kevin Pietersen's future has not bothered the dressing room © Getty Images

South Africa represent the toughest test of England's credentials as the No. 1 ranked Test side, according to James Anderson. However, Anderson insisted that, while in the past England may have allowed the pressure of such a high-profile series to affect their performance, they now had the weapons and the confidence to overcome the tourists.

While some may question Anderson's short-term memory - England were tested pretty thoroughly in the UAE and failed to find the correct answers - there is some truth in his words. England have won seven Test series in a row at home, with South Africa the last side to defeat them, in 2008. Whatever their problems in Asia or the Middle East, England remain a formidable side in their own conditions.

"We've been playing really well at home, but this is going to be our toughest challenge for a while," Anderson said. "But we are still confident going into it. We think we have the necessary weapons to be able to beat them. That's the way we go into most series; thinking we are going to win.

"There's not going to be time to ease into the series. We're going to have to be on top of our game from the first minute. It's going to be an intense few weeks and it's good that they're not going to be back to back Tests, as it's going to be really hard cricket. It's two of the best teams in the world. They are a strong team, they have played well in England before, we lost the last series here to them so it will be really interesting.

"In the past, maybe, the pressure might have got to me in particular, maybe a few other guys. But now it's more exciting. You want to play in big games. You want to test yourself against the best in the world, which is going to happen in this next few weeks.

"Essentially my job is the same as it has been for the last 12, 18, 24 months. I have to go out there and set the tone, take the first over and try and bowl as accurately as I can for long periods of time. There might be a bit of added pressure because it's a bigger test for us. And there might be more patience needed as they are renown for being resilient and for soaking up pressure better than most other countries. So we realise that and it's exciting more than anything as you're testing yourself against the best in the world. They have four batsmen in the top 10 in the world and it's really exciting as a bowler to be able to challenge yourself against batsmen like that."

England have one selection issue to resolve. The identity of the third seamer remains unclear, with Steven Finn, in particular, pressing hard for inclusion ahead of Tim Bresnan. If Bresnan is fully fit - and it is open to debate whether he has ever recovered full pace since undergoing elbow surgery in early December - then his superior batting will ensure his selection. If Bresnan is unable to hit the bat as hard as he used to in net sessions over the next 24 hours, however, Finn may yet still play. It is a strong side that can afford to omit such a fast bowler.

Bresnan is one of three England players to receive injections in recent days. He has had a saline injection in his elbow, Matt Prior had a similar injection in both Achilles tendons and Graeme Swann had a cortisone injection in his elbow. All three are expected to be fit, though their treatment does underline the sense that the demands on this England squad are overly onerous. These players cannot be patched up indefinitely.

The one other area that England might have concerns is their catching. Both in recent Tests and ODIs they have squandered a worrying number of chances in the slips, at gully and at point. It is, arguably, an area in which they have been weak since the departure of Paul Collingwood and, in a tight contest and against a daunting batting line-up, they know they cannot afford to reprieve the likes of Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis or AB de Villiers.

"It happens like that sometimes," Anderson said. "You go through stages of dropping catches, there's no science behind it. We practice as hard as ever and go into the match confident of being able to catch the ball. We realise that a spectacular one-handed catch might be a huge partnership breaker and a match-turning thing, so we practise really hard for those situations and hopefully we can hold on to the ball this week."

Anderson dismissed the idea that speculation over Kevin Pietersen's future would distract England. Pietersen, who indicated last week that he would be prepared to retract his limited-overs retirement if a compromise could be reached over his international schedule, may well remain the focus of discussion outside the dressing room but, in it at least, the issue will not be discussed.

"Now we've met up as a Test side, we're going to concentrate completely on it and get ready for first thing on Thursday," Anderson said. "There's often headlines around players - some more than others - so that comes with the job. Like I said, that's left outside our little bubble in the dressing room. We just talk about what we're going to do on Thursday."

The Pietersen issue will continue to fester, though. Not only are England set to name their 30-man preliminary squad for the World Twenty20 on Wednesday - a squad in which Pietersen will be noticeable by his absence - but because there is an outside possibility that this could be his last Test series.

That remains an unlikely scenario. While Pietersen has requested permission to play a whole season of IPL in 2013 - a request that is certain to be refused - that does not mean he will decline the offer of a central contract this autumn. His desire to play Test cricket, and the Ashes in particular, remains strong. Pietersen, it should be noted, has just set up his own cricket school. Presumably it will be a school with long holidays.

It is also worth reflecting on the source of recent leaks about Pietersen and their purpose: at the end of last week Pietersen was emerging as a more sympathetic figure; a highly-talented player who was keen to spend more time with his family and prolong his career through periods of rest. Now, after the suggestion that his real intention was simply to play more IPL, much of the sympathy for Pietersen has evaporated.

In that light, Anderson's comments about the ECB's handling of the situation were intriguing.

"The ECB have been very good at handling a lot of situations," Anderson said. "They've got much better in the last few years at handling certain situations. They've handled it brilliantly at the minute and I'm sure they'll continue to do that and I'll leave them to do that.

"Generally when Kevin is making the headlines he tends to play very well. So hopefully he'll continue the form he's shown this summer and get us some big runs we'll need in the middle order."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 19, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

@mahjut - Re Tahir being weak link - It was Proteas123 who was intimating that so apologies for associating that comment with you.

Posted by mahjut on (July 19, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

@ JG2704 on (July 19 2012, 08:40 AM GMT) ""Rules are rules""" - only until they are changed - usually following a debate!. """If the nations who had one overseas born player in their side had 2 , then the stance from their fans would change to "It's ok to have one or 2" and so on.""" you are exactly right - which is why everyone but the English say no, and the English think it's ok, and a debate has started. People don't go for this becasue until now it's only ever been 1 (with two in a squad being unusual and 3 in the ballpark of a national team pretty unheard of), but i think the English will get some Kiwi support (the Kiwis can add de grandhomme to their two Saffers- over the formats). I never called Tahir a weak link - i rate him! ... and i am not surprised that the ECB has looked a bit more closely at this considering the demographics of county cricket...

Posted by JG2704 on (July 19, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

@mahjut on (July 18 2012, 22:58 PM GMT) Rules are rules. If the nations who had one overseas born player in their side had 2 , then the stance from their fans would change to "It's ok to have one or 2" and so on. Trott and KP are obviously born and raised in SA. I doubt if most folk would even notice Prior or Strauss who both left SA pre teens if it wasn't for Trott and KP and the fact that we are succeeding with the players we have. I'll be honest , from an outsider's point of view I'd be more narked about Morgan who qualified for Eng within a year or so of playing his last game for Ireland. To me that is much worse as Morgan to Ireland would be a huge star whereas KP and Trott might well have just got lost in the domestic scene in SA so SA's loss is nowhere near as great as Irelands.As for Dernbach - well if you talk about Tahir being a weak link.. Also FYI ECB (under no pressure from ICC) has tightened it's rules on overseas born players qualifying to play for England

Posted by mahjut on (July 18, 2012, 22:58 GMT)

JG2704 on (July 18 2012, 20:36 PM GMT) . Hi, i thnik the debate has gathered momentum in recent times due to numbers (and England's success of course] - which is different from the odd one or two which was accepted, if not condoned, in the last 20/30 years. SA have seldom gained players unless you count Elworthy or P Harris (bit like Prior's case though) ... but my argument is wider, England's strongest OD team may include 2 but in the last 12 months i am sure you can add KP and Dernbach ... hasn't another played (or am i thinking of the irish addition - name's gone)? so, i don;t think it's a case yet of right or wrong but as i said earlier, i think the numbers have started a principle debate. To answer your question in a nutshell - i think it has genrally been ok to have one 'foreigner' in a team but there seems to be a grassroots ('bitter'!?) fans' objection to many more than that - which may or may not lead to self-reflection in the ECB.

Posted by Pritt32 on (July 18, 2012, 22:37 GMT)

Bring on the South Africans. Their pace attack is awesome, as Morkel and Steyn can trouble batting attacks. England form is looking formidable, but face a stern challenge this summer as South Africa will not be an easy ride. I am looking forward to an exciting series. It makes a refreshing change, as England played mediocre test teams in last home fixtures, as India and West Indies proved. The contest was far too one-sided. It will nice to see a fair contest between two strong test teams.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

@SAFTW on (July 18 2012, 16:37 PM GMT) Absolute apologies sir. I must have pasted the wrong user name etc and can see that all you were doing was saying Amla is not Indian

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

@Proteas123 on (July 18 2012, 15:39 PM GMT) doesn't matter if he's your weakest link or the best player in your side - the situation's/principle's the same. Who's to say someone else wouldn't have come in and did a job. Trott probably wasn't most people's choice when he made his debut in 2009

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 20:36 GMT)

@mahjut on (July 18 2012, 11:31 AM GMT) hello - you see it as you see it - but surely it's either wrong to play for an adopted country or it's ok. So surely if it's fine for Tahir to play for SA it should be fine for Trott or KP to play for England. Even if you disagree with those 2 examples because of timescale of qualification , Strauss and Prior grew up,were educated in England. PS 4-5 SA players in Engs one day set up. Realistically our strongest OD side would include 2 - Trott and Craig

Posted by applethief on (July 18, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

@Nadeem1976 Speak for yourself, the last 18 months have thrown up some great test series. India have been the only consistent disappointment, but they did play one entertaining draw in the final test when WI toured last. Otherwise, Aus in SA was highly engrossing, NZ scored a memorable win over Australia away, Pakistan's redemption in the UAE was spectacular. There have been scrappy series, such as Pak in WI last year, Sri Lanka in the UAE. even India fighting to avoid follow ons was intriguing to watch. We've seen the rise of exciting new talents in test matches: Philander, Cummins, Junaid, the fall of greats like Dravid, Tendulkar and VVS. 2005 was almost a decade ago, there's been plenty going on since then - where have you been?

Posted by SAFTW on (July 18, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

@JG2704 on (July 18 2012, 08:11 AM GMT) I have nothing against players immigrating to countries and then playing for those countries. We don't control their lives or wishes. I was merely replying to the comment that Hashim Amla is from India. Which he is not. If you looked I did not say I was opposed to it! Just correcting someones comment. And when Trott and Pieterson left to England there really was not a place for them in the SA side, so good on them for making the right career choice. It worked out for them.

Posted by mahjut on (July 18, 2012, 15:51 GMT)

Bob (Young) - i think we are discussing both principles AND numbers ... but probably more numbers! numbers already representing but numbers waiting to represent (and the numbers themselves will create debate on the principles) - it is more of an issue now than in the past because there were always just one or two here and there (which you've picked up on ie Kawaja/Nash and Tahir) but now with the Eng team -Tests, ODI andT20 inclusive - a little up on the odd one (or maybe two as in the case of the Kiwis) it's a debate which fills a gap between now and the start of the test ... especially as there's little other int cricket on atm

Posted by Proteas123 on (July 18, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

@ JG2704 - Tahir is SA's weak link at the moment and has certainly not made SA the top team that it is. Pieterson and Trott are your best batsman. You are comparing Oranges with Apples. England without their Saffers would not stand a chance and that is the point that every non-eng supporter is making.

Posted by cbradbury on (July 18, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

Grade cricketers? More accurately - 'failed to make the grade' cricketers, surely?

Posted by WillDuff on (July 18, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

Change the record RandyOz & co. England pick elligible players, as any sensible country would. Where's the issue? You're only upset because England are good (and Aus are rubbish). If England were poor you'd not be chirruping constantly.

Posted by bobmartin on (July 18, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

@coolerking in reply to RandyOz.... Nice one *****

Posted by AKS286 on (July 18, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

@RandyOz i really want the old Oz side which not only won but won the matches dominately back. but that team was lead by PUNTER. your captain mr. clarke divided the team and he axed and also don't like those who don't respect him.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 18, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

@mahjut, the question was not about you but about your kids, if you had children born en England, learn most cricket in england, but you moved back to Zimbabwe when he was 16, so he then started playing cricket there, when the Zimbabwian selectors pick him for that team should he say no, im waiting for England to call me up? Or should he play for his second country, in this case Zimbabwe?

Posted by coolerking on (July 18, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

@ RandyOZ

Are you sure? In the recent ODI series it looked as if the Aussie side was almost entirely made up of grade cricketers.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (July 18, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

Rohan_K last time I looked this was an Eng/SA thread? I don't care about India - they're irrelevant.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (July 18, 2012, 13:22 GMT)

When you're world number 1, the envy rolls in from every corner. These are happy days for an English cricket fan. :) A good series between World's Number 1 & 2 awaits all true cricket fans.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 18, 2012, 13:08 GMT)

We all love the English trying to defend their Saffers. "They're English because they learned how to play cricket in England" Doesn't that make Strauss Australian then? (Not that we would ever field a grade cricketer).

Posted by jb633 on (July 18, 2012, 13:06 GMT)

@Surley Cynic, yeab but just because you were born somewhere else does not mean you are not English. I was born in Oz, but have been brought up and raised by English parents in England. To say that Strauss and Prior are SA is a joke. Ganted about Trott and KP, they are South African.

Posted by Snick_To_Backward_Point on (July 18, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

Sandmate - bit strong that! My enduring memory of the rainbow is one of shining brightly until it chokes on the rain! Go the Jack!

Posted by SamonandTrout on (July 18, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

" Whatever their problems in Asia or the Middle East, England remain a formidable side in their own conditions." there any of the top 5 or so sides sides that are not formidable at home? How can any side claim to be number one if they only win at home? Please, also stop comparisons between oz great team and current eng team...there is no comparison!

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 12:30 GMT)

It will be great to see PACE BOWLING at its finest with the likes of STEYN, ANDERSON, MORKEL, BROAD, PHILANDER, FINN, BRESNAN on song................ hope to have some quickies worth watching in the PAKISTAN SQUAD as well...............

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

great cricket in prospect.............. hoping to see CLASH of TITANS for the next few weeks............. the likes of COOK, STRAUSS, TROTT, KP, BELL, BOPARA against the STEYN, MORKEL, PHILANDER, TAHIR is a treat to watch............ on the other hand ANDERSON, BROAD, BRESNAN, SWANN toiling for the wickets of SMITH, AMLA, AB, KALLIS will be the cricket at its finest................ CRICKET WILL BE FANTASTIC AS THE TEST OF BOTH TEAMS....................

Posted by Rohan_K on (July 18, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

It certainly is the toughest challenge for England at Home vs SA. But like India who were almost invincible at home (when they were#1), England toughest battle will be in Oct in India. England in last 2 decades have been an awful touring side(apart from last Ashes)especially in Asia. To protect their #1 status that tour will be a decider. Never mind SA series will be very exciting and will be down to key moments and both teams look equal on paper, only one difference Swann, this may well cost SA the series. Hope they poor english weather stays good and we have an exciting series.

Posted by coolerking on (July 18, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a total non-issue within the squad and will have zero effect on this or any other series. Frankly it really only seems to be of interest to cricket journalists.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 11:55 GMT)

So the old England/Sth African connexion raises it's bored stupid old head again... . A quick round up of "foreigners" in international teams reveals not only England/Sth African but also Australia/Pakistani - Sth Africa/Pakistani - West Indies/Australian - New Zealand/Sth African.. there are probably more..... So what are we talking about.. principles or numbers...

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

Right now proteas have a downfall, they should climb up to spot by beating england on their own backyard. Amla, Steyn and philander to be watched out for. Pommies have good batting power, if their batting gets weakened, they will fall easily. all the best to both of the teams.

Posted by mahjut on (July 18, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

@JG2704 on (July 18 2012, 08:11 AM GMT) ... a qick PS. i am agnostic by nature and do not see a reason for either 'for' or 'against' - in sporting terms Tahir is reprasentative of SA sporting infrastructure ... they have not produced a really good spinner of their own!!! but i have not made up my mind if this whole thing bothers me much or not. sorry if you feel i should have!

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

Nice article George but I feel the title should have been named as ' SA our toughest challenge...IN HOME - Anderson

Posted by mahjut on (July 18, 2012, 11:20 GMT)

yorkshirepudding - I don't think you understand the influence of school sport in SA ... forget Strauss, he left too young but Prior would have already developed a sense of competition that is not found here in the UK at that age - giving him an advantage over English kids when he got here. But that is not even a bother ... the team has Saffers knocking at the door (there are even deluded kids like Ballance now claiming to target the team. the claim that Strauss and Prior learnt their cricket in Eng has sustainable defence - the claim that Africa does not have a big influence in English cricket does not!! To answer your question (which is too impossibly hypothetical); i came here at 19 from Zim and if i suddenly got a chance to play cricket nationally i would choose Zim (over 10 years down the line) ... but i can say that becasue i am not an ambitious sportsman (if i were - who knows!!?). btw, i am perfectly happy in the UK - even a member of the village cricket team .. i'm settled!!!

Posted by mahjut on (July 18, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

Leighway - the quota system never did any more damage to SA cricket than give the likes of KP and Trott an excuse. Smith has dealt with this issue publicly (which i think is why KP turned on him early days): guys were impatient!! whether or not Trott or KP would make the SA side now is questionable...whether they'd be welcome is not!

Posted by mahjut on (July 18, 2012, 11:01 GMT)

JG2704. not that i said it was ok for Tahir (i said don't amke the comparison when SA have lost loads of players). So in ODIs Sa have lost 2/3 to Netherlands, 2/3 to Ireland, 2/3 to NZ and 4/5 to England while in Tests they've lost at least the two that play for the Kiwis as well as at least 2 certainties that play for Eng - dispute Prior all you like, he wasn't in play-school when he left SA though - while with "African influence" i intended to infer the inclusion of Fletcher and Flower as well as beyond - in the counties... I never included Strauss in my thinking at all - unnecessary, with the amount of SA players (ok some have returned; eg Peterson and Rudolph) in the counties, many on the fringes of the some form of International cricket for Eng why bother adding Strauss to those stats!?

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 18, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

@sachin4prez, sadly the weather is out of our control, but if you lookup the jetstream you'll understand why, we've had such a bad start to the spring and summer. Basically the Jet stream is too far south, which has been caused by the high pressure sat over Iceland for the last few months refusing to move. The good news is that the Jet Stream is moving north so it should be a lot dryer moving forward into late July and August. These things happen once in a while.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (July 18, 2012, 10:52 GMT)

Trott and Kieswetter played for SA under 21... quite strange given that some on here think they were playing in England for '10 years' before being selected. If they were so English why did they play for SA u21? I think once you've represented a team at that level you shouldn't change. And I only mentioned fringe players like Meaker and Compton to show that future call-ups may go the same way, and Compton's parents had to travel from Durban to watch him get his 1000 runs.

Posted by anuradha_d on (July 18, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

that it is being talked about.......means it's an issue.....that Flower is trying to snub " no personalities greater than the game"....means that there are personalities that are being entertained by ECB throuhg a "discussion" find possibilities of if not changing then atelast bending the rules to accomodate them.......KP is special and has managed to trigger discussions and events cenetered around will distract

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 10:10 GMT)

England are tops ! no doubting ! God save the Queen !

Posted by Sandmate on (July 18, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

Rainbow is going to drown the Jack, ahem as usual!!

Posted by sachin4prez on (July 18, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

No doubt this is england's best lineup for 20yrs. Clearly they aren't anywhere near the dominant force that Oz was for 15yrs or the Windies for 20, but they are deserved number 1. Sadly, what's the point of being number 1 if it means your fans just have to sit in the rain all day. These forecasts are a joke - how can it rain all through the middle of summer?? No wonder Pietersen wants to play the full IPL --- why would he want to return to play NZ in May. If it's 19degrees and raining in July, I hate to think what May is like in England. Here's hoping for a full test match at the Oval ...

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 18, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

@Satish.v, what really knocked India was the 1-0 win against the WI's then the two massive losses agaisnt England (seoncd at the time) and Australia (5th at the time) and you see why they have dropped off the top. even at home they win most series by 1 game or draw against top teams, look at 2008 when england last visited India won the series 1-0, and england were ranked 5th or 6th at the time, India should have won 2-0 or 3-0 against a poor England in that series.

Posted by colc on (July 18, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

Although S.Africa look a fine side on paper, [and on the field!] they always strike me as being a bit one dimensional in their thinking. I think that Anderson has the ability to sort Smith out, Kallis has a miserable record in England, and de Villers is going to have to bat and keep, which I don't thing he's ever done at Test level. Steyn is a fine bowler, but Morkel is a bit predictable. Philander is the dangerous one, and could do a Terry Alderman if we're not careful.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

The Proteas can very rarely pick purely on ability.There is a quota system ,which is being addressed and improving of late.When KP and Trott left,the quota system was OTT , hence no GUARANTEED place for them! England gain from that.Simple ! To be fair, Smith,Amla,Kallis,Trott,de Villiers, Pieterson,Duminy/Rudolph all in the same team?! World cricket would be lopsided! So perhaps cricket all the better for it :-)

Posted by Selassie-I on (July 18, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

I wonder what all of the aussie's comments will be like on here when Glen McGrath's son comes to play for England, due to his English mother? guessing he would probably rather come to play for a top class outfit, rather than a team who will surely be bottom of the rankings in 10 years time, presumably already overtaken by the newly admitted test nations; Netherlands and Ireland. On a serious note.. I would say at the moment England's best players are the bowlers, Jimmy, Broad, Swann, bres and finn and in the batting Bell and Cook, I bet someone will dig up that Bell has a chinese grandma or something and have a moan though. let us not forget Khawaja, nannes, symonds... doesn't pattinson actually have English parents as well?

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

@Tdozzie927 on (July 18 2012, 02:11 AM GMT) Acc to many on here , SA are far superior in just about every dept as it is , so even in the fantasy world they'd not likely improve by much. Remember KP moved because of lack of opportunity - which if true would indicate that he might have got lost somewhere in there

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

@SurlyCynic on (July 18 2012, 00:04 AM GMT) Oh yeah all those regular test players inc Compton who has never played for England. Now that is both remarkable and desperate

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

@mahjut on (July 17 2012, 23:22 PM GMT) - So you also are counting 2 kids who probably could not even spell England or Africa when they moved here as African? And umpteen SA players in test cricket ? Who are the others then? Even in ODIs the only SA born players who regularly play are Craig and Trott and as said before you're either for or against this sort of thing so it's contradictory to say it's ok for Tahir because he's the only one

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

@SAFTW on (July 17 2012, 21:26 PM GMT) So you can't accept players with half English parentage moving over before they even reached teenage being able to play for that country? Also you say about "Only one" in Tahir but surely you're either against it or you're against it.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 18, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

@Highflyer_GP on (July 17 2012, 23:58 PM GMT) So what exactly is your point? Before I answer in full - are you trying to say that because SA have played less cricket that their chances are reduced of being number 1?

Posted by Green_How on (July 18, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

@surlyCynic - quite remarkable indeed - that you think that England will have Flower, Meaker, Kieswetter, Dernbach and Compton in the team on Thursday. If you are going to post something on here at least make it credible and accurate.

Posted by Mike_veitch on (July 18, 2012, 7:49 GMT)

dual passport holder Trott played for 10 years in Engalnd before being selected. If South Africa had any interest in picking him or even asking him they had plenty of time.

@SurlyCynic you're only jealous because no other country appears able to spot a cricketer before they've even played the game. They then poach them over here with their families in the knowledge that one day they'll be international standard. I assume this is what you are suggesting by Strauss and Prior and also you're other list of Meaker, Kieswetter (a little older but stil schooled in UK), Dernbach & Compton

Posted by CamS71 on (July 18, 2012, 7:41 GMT)

@jmcilhinney on (July 18 2012, 02:22 AM GMT) - well said sir. I would add that Kieswetter's cricket education was formed at Millfield School & Somerset CCC, thus he is a product of the English system & has always held a British passport. The same goes for all the others that have been dragged up in this discussion (Meaker, Dernback, Compton...etc), none of whom are actually in the Test side. And calling Compton S. African is laughably weak source.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 18, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

@simon_w. It's what they do. They can't cope with the facts so they make some up. The "England are not as good as the great WI and Aus sides, therefore England are rubbish" line has been trotted out so many times it's a complete yawn. The other well rehearsed lines are; "no good away from home", "full of foreign players" and "the rankings are flawed". All these observations are made with the express intention of belittling and mocking England. The other thing we like is the way that known offenders go away and then come back with different names. Hilarious the lengths some people will go to to cover their shame. Hilarious and pathetic.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 18, 2012, 7:30 GMT)

@mahjut, only 2 of the 4 SA born players learnt cricket in SA and played for SA youth teams, the coach is a Zimabwian, and India's current and previous coach were African, Kirsten is largely credited for making india the success it was in the Test arena over the last few years... so if you live abroad and you have children out side of your home country, then move back, and lets say whom is a very adapt cricketer which country should he play for? His birth country or your home country?

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 18, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

@Meety, Luckily the Jet stream is moving north so we should be in for some good weather (or rather better weather than it has been recently) starting next week, this test could end up being an opening salvo, giving both teams chance to have a look at the others armoury. I think england might edge it 1-0 but I do have to go with the Drawn series being a good favourite.....@jcm, totally agree though I do think Bell could step up to Number 4 if KP does throw all his toys out of the pram, which would allow Bopara to move to 5 for england to look at a new player (Taylor, Hales, Stokes) at 6.

Posted by daisyhayseed on (July 18, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

Mmmm, yet more comments about South Arican's playing for England. Zzzzz, boring.

Posted by Satish.V on (July 18, 2012, 6:36 GMT)

Since when did winning at home become the barometer for judging the greatness of a side? 8 series won at home?! Going by the same yardstick,India should be the best side right now,having not lost at home in more than 8 years.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

SA have not lost away since 2006! nuf said!

Posted by jonesy2 on (July 18, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

south africa rejects XI are going to get smashed plain and simple they just dont have any players that can threaten and their bowlers are all medium pace club trundlers

Posted by ravi_b on (July 18, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

India was tough, Australia was tougher, SA is toughest - agreed BUT tell your batsmen to take care of Steyn and Morkel and you do the rest. We expect you to win as underdogs.

Posted by JustOUT on (July 18, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

Well.. england is a good team and they hv proved that since Ashes 2010-2011. But SA is equally tough to crack. I can't imagine a single English batsman in the wicket for more than 1 over if Dale steyn repeats his overs he bowled on Day 3 in capetown against Sachin. It was like SHANE WARNE at 140kmph. :)

Posted by Jack_Tka on (July 18, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

The previous TEST series in England was so pathetic(Ind vs Eng), that I am eagerly waiting for this one to begin. This time atleast the teams are evenly matched, except the wicketkeeper. Both SA and Eng have in form batsmen and bowlers. I will look forward to see who among the bowlers creates the maximum havoc in the opposition camp. I love watching fast bowlers bowl and this time its going to happen well in either of the innings. :-)

Posted by screamingeagle on (July 18, 2012, 5:46 GMT)

Well, I think England will squeak through, but this looks like a re-run of how India fared when they were No.1. Eng after these series at home will start travelling and start getting beaten, that is when it starts to go pear shaped. This No.1 stuff will keep changing hands for some time to come. And going by Wombats logic of SA not beating Aus at home, can we also expect Eng to get thrashed in India? After all, they lost in UAE... :)

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (July 18, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

I believe that this is last chance for ICC to save test cricket. Cricket fans are waiting for nail biting series for last 7 years. Ashes in 2005 was extremely thrilling and nail biting. ICC is not able to produce a single great test series after that.

Test cricket is dead if SA vs Eng series is not going to be thrilling and nail biting. I am feeling that with the emergence of T2020 cricket thrill this may be the last genuine chance for ICC to save test cricket. I hope to see great great series.

Please no White wash....please don't kill test cricket please.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

This english team is excellent , what they have to do. To get the wkt. Of Hashim amla as early as possible and the wkt . Of kallis ,but he has poor record against english team , so no big problem , than it wil' be all english men show , cook wil' be sufficient for sa trio pacers..?

Posted by AKS286 on (July 18, 2012, 5:31 GMT)

@ FANS don't go through the stats, don't go through what happened earlier, who beat whom. every new match is a new beginning, every day is a new day. john davison hits fastest century of the WC what past record he is having? jaques rudolph hits doble ton on debut what past record he is having? gillespie scored double ton what past record he is having? shane warne the best ever spinner in the world always thrashed by indians everytime and many more so forget past every match is a new match.

Posted by AKS286 on (July 18, 2012, 5:22 GMT)

KP will bat very powerfully to show the ECB that how much he is eager & useful in odi & t20. but no matter who you are the pride, honour of board, country & cricket is always ahead to you."African Deadly Barrage is ready to face ENG's solid immense fortress ". the clash of titans. Good Luck to both of the team. NO RAIN & bad weather.

Posted by satish619chandar on (July 18, 2012, 5:19 GMT)

What is with this KP issue? He just retired from formats he can't play anymore for various reasons which is acceptable to him.. Remind you guys.. He is not dropped or not banned from playing shorter formats and he took the decision by himself.. So, why should be it a issue at all? Strauss will cause issues in test squad? Poor media having no questions to ask and are now doing this continuously..

Posted by AKS286 on (July 18, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

the only thing what i don't like in eng they just underestimate the batting of bresnan. why bresnan is considered as a third seamer? treat him like an all rounder. jimmy, broad, finn/onion/meaker should be considered as a third seamer.

Posted by mikey76 on (July 18, 2012, 4:40 GMT)

SurlyCynic. For the umpteenth time Prior and Strauss are not South African. Both were brought up in England and learnt their cricket here and have at least one english parent. By your reckoning Colin Cowdrey was Indian and Ted Dexter Italian!! Its the same story with Meaker, brought up in the english system and therefore has every right to call himself english.

Posted by   on (July 18, 2012, 4:38 GMT)

Anderson think SA is their toughest challenge? If I remember only team who have whitewashed them in few years is Pakistan and I am sure SA wont win England will win the series

Posted by mikey76 on (July 18, 2012, 4:33 GMT)

Mervo there are 2 South Africans in the England side. 1 pakistani in the South African side. So I don't really see your point. Just lazy jealous comments.

Posted by Hammond on (July 18, 2012, 4:22 GMT)

@randyoz- I am certain that kp is quite happy playing for England, I mean let's be honest, south Africa have even gotten beaten recenttly by Australia at home! England haven't felt that shame for a decade.

Posted by kitten on (July 18, 2012, 3:56 GMT) point saying people are talking rubbish...please present facts before you speak....has England ever performed well in the sub-continent, apart for the recent drawn series against a weak SL team. I support England, but it is not blind support, I watch what is happening, and I agree England have a very strong team, but in England, where the wickets suit their type of bowling. Again, I ask you, what have they done in the sub-continent? Can you honestly say that this team is as good as the past Australian teams who ruled for years at the top? Maybe they are, but we all have to wait and see......time will tell....all will be revealed. I would love to see them do well, but I have yet to see them perform as well, abroad.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 18, 2012, 2:22 GMT)

@Mervo on (July 17 2012, 22:06 PM GMT), despite the unimaginative opening, you do touch on a valid point later, although I don't agree with your evaluation in England's case. English cricket was in the doldrums for a long time. There's no way that you can realistically say that KP kept any highly deserving English-born player out of the team. I don't think that you can say that of Trott either, given that Bopara and Bell had both been given a run at #3 and failed to cement their place. Bell could hold down that #3 spot now but he won't displace Trott now that he's entrenched. You could potentially say that Kieswetter and Morgan have prevented a deserving youngster taking a spot but that's 50/50 at best too. The fact is that the success that England have enjoyed lately, partly thanks to foreign-born players, has help to reignite interest in cricket in England and will therefore lead to more good English-born players being available in future. It has stimulated, not stifled.

Posted by simon_w on (July 18, 2012, 2:12 GMT)

Just for the record: to suggest Prior and Strauss are not English is absurd, and even both KP and Trott have had British passports since the days they were born. Also, (esp. @kitten), obviously no-one is suggesting that this England team is as good as the great Australian team of the recent past -- the almost certainly won't ever reach _that_ height. But being #1 in the world does not mean being the best team ever -- why does no-one seem to understand that? Right now, there is no team with a better record over the qualifying period than England -- therefore they are at the top of the rankings, and deserve to be so. Why is that so hard to understand?

Posted by Tdozzie927 on (July 18, 2012, 2:11 GMT)

Lets analyse the South African Cricket test team's batting line up. Could imagine how great they would be if they actually had Andrew Strausss and Kevin Pietersen, let alone Jonathan Trott. Number one in the world I would suspect.

Posted by Hammond on (July 18, 2012, 2:02 GMT)

@Mervo- any talk of "recruiting" South Africans is complete and utter rubbish. Have a look at the EU "Kolpak" decisions and the ECB's subsequent attempts to limit the amount of foreign players in county cricket. The facts make a complete mess of any allegation that the ECB actively sought to "recruit" foreign players because of a lack of local playing talent. Sad that people continually use an outright lie to attempt to belittle probably the greatest England test side in the last 50 years.

Posted by Meety on (July 18, 2012, 1:19 GMT)

Hopefully will be a fascinating series - please no Whitewashes either way! LOL! Months back I thought the Saffas will do it 2-1 or 2-0. I am now leaning towards a drawn series on account of the closeness of the teams AND the weather. All I hope for is, that IF the weather does intervene, that it doesn't deprive either side from winning whilst in a dominant position. Then again the weather intervening when the Saffas are 7/200 needing another 50 runs would also suck for both teams, so I 'spose what I am saying is no bad weather please unless the scores read Eng 700, Sth Africa 5/600 (I doubt it will be a high scoring series), or vice versa.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (July 18, 2012, 0:04 GMT)

jb633: The difference is Amla was born in South Africa, as were Strauss and Prior. Simple really. (As were half the team, Flower, Meaker, Kieswetter, Dernbach, Compton etc etc. Quite remarkable really)

Posted by jr1972 on (July 18, 2012, 0:01 GMT)

I watched SA in New Zealand and was impressed by the way they built pressure in the field. Philander was the standout performer and he will relish bowling in English conditions. Should be a fantastic series.

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (July 17, 2012, 23:58 GMT)

@JG2704: They lost against WI (lol) and Pakistan (whitewashed), won against Bangladesh and Australia, scraped a draw in SA and drew with SL just this year. SA by contrast haven't played any away series in 2009 and 2011, but won 2 and drew 2 when they have had a chance. And you tell me that these ranking are fair when there is such a disproportionate amount of cricket being played? Heck even NZ plays more test cricket than SA.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 17, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

KP is just bitter he isn't playing for South Africa, and has to settle for England. Better make sure you win KP, they would be mighty sour grapes to eat if you lost.

Posted by mahjut on (July 17, 2012, 23:22 GMT)

DazTaylor - i have a couple of points to raise about your outrage 1) there IS a heavy african influence in this English team (whether you deem that an issue or not is another matter entirely, but it is a fact) 2) i don't think coming back with "Tahir" really holds up for long (i would guess conditions in SA are fair enough so finance may have been a reason for him but the fact that it's cushier for cricketers in the UK - but that apart, Sa getting ONE back for the umpteen they've lost seems tolerable). to be honest i am FAIRLY ambivalent to this living and working abroad thing (i do it) - but what is a national team representative of!!? if it is there to reflect, by the varied national backgrounds of its members, a cultural, political or economic desirability then i'd guess 'job done' - no issue ... BUT if claims to represent the sporting infrastructure for its citizens from childhood through adulthood - i'm unconvinced! roll on thursday ...

Posted by applethief on (July 17, 2012, 23:07 GMT)

Short memory, perhaps, but Anderson does have a point - it doesn't do to dwell, and England have a shot if they go at SA with a winning mentality.

Posted by mahjut on (July 17, 2012, 22:57 GMT)

this seems the most appropriate place to comment on Boys "England have Edge with Prior, tail and spin": hope that's not the only edges they have because "Prior" (I would have absolutely agreed with this were Bouchy still gloved up but sending Duminy in at 7 would negate the extra bit that Prior had over Bouch in terms of batting), "Tail" (tahir at 11 makes the tail look pretty short for SA but I'm willing to give this ONE edge to a whisker) and "Spin" (well, how can one judge Tahir after 7 tests? answer: by his FC record obviously - clearly the Test record can't be a true guide or we'd have to apply it to Philander too - both have played 7 tests - making the 4 best bowlers over the two teams the 3 Saffer quicks and Bresza and the clear top two the saffer openers, with Vernon head and shoulders above the other 5). BUT such is NOT life, Jimmy is right; SA are their toughest test but they should be up to it...not easy but should be done at home ,,,

Posted by jb633 on (July 17, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

I think this is the best touring side to have visited England since SA were last here in 08. This SA side actually looks stronger though with the introduction of Philander and Tahir. England are a completley different side than the one in 08, with stable leadership and a settled side. I seriously hope the weather does not intervene in this series. That may be wishful thinking though.

Posted by jb633 on (July 17, 2012, 22:28 GMT)

@SAFTW, by that logic then how are Strauss and Prior not English. Both were schooled and brought up in this country. They are as English as anyone.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 17, 2012, 22:21 GMT)

@kitten - @Highflyer_GP is talking rubbish and you are agreeing with him. That makes two of you talking rubbish. All these jealous comms are just one giant YAWN....

Posted by   on (July 17, 2012, 22:10 GMT)

Ummm wrong James. The toughest test came in Jan 2012 and your side was blanked 3-0. Not going to let that one be forgotten so easily :)

Posted by Mervo on (July 17, 2012, 22:06 GMT)

Saffers 1 versus Saffers 2. Really, Australian could start recruiting there too, but it does stifle the young players who are native born.

Will be interesting to watch the English advantage at home lean out if Philander his the spot.

Posted by SAFTW on (July 17, 2012, 21:26 GMT)

@Phil Katon. Amla was born and grew up in South Africa...his South African buddy, his origins may be from India but his a South African born product. The only overseas player we have is Tahir.

Posted by kitten on (July 17, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

I tend to agree with Highflyer_GP's comments. England have no doubt beaten all and sundry at home, but apart from their last series in Australia, fared miserably against Pakistan, and so did India( former #1 team) against England and Australia(away). India too, is brilliant at home, and very difficult to overcome, so, certainly this points system should be reviewed. We shall have to wait and see how England perform against SA, and also in the sub-continent, before one can truly say that they are as strong as Australia were during their reign at the top for many years. Time will tell. Looking forward to a wonderful series between England and SA. May the better team win, and no rain interruptions.

Posted by   on (July 17, 2012, 21:01 GMT)

@SurlyCynic By that reckoning Amla is an Indian not a South African...U CAN'T have it both ways!!

Posted by   on (July 17, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

@Highflyer_GP #1 teams don't get whitewashed? So India DIDN'T get whitewashed by England to earn England the #1 position. Also didn't England win the Ashes in Australia last time? Also England are #1 in tests, #1 in t20, and if one game of the recent Aus series hadn't been rained off Eng would be #1 in odi too. I love these jealous comments-shows we r getting somewhere-namely under every1 else's skin 'cos we are the best. NO, atm there is no WI of the past, no Aus of the more recent past, but England ARE the best team in the world atm...Deal with it!

Posted by vpsports on (July 17, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

We will miss Boucher for sure

Posted by 12thUmpire on (July 17, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

Right, SurlyCynic on (July 17 2012, 17:59 PM GMT). Supporting of ½ of your statement about weakness @ №6, Posted by 12thUmpire on (July 17 2012, 15:35 PM GMT) in

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (July 17, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

I don't see what the problem is. SA have never won at the Oval whereas it is happy ground for England as any. The only cloud on the horizon is in fact clouds and what they bring. Hopefully 1 in the bag first up and then 1 becomes 2. Easy!!!

Posted by phoenixsteve on (July 17, 2012, 20:30 GMT)

So the per-contest hype starts.... For me the bottom line will be England's batting - as the bowling has proved to be consistently classy for the past 2 or so years. Somebody says that Andreson vs Smith will be the key? Somehow I doubt it as Smith looks like a walking LBW with his across the line technique - I anticipate a poor tour for Smudger! The UDRS is relentless at finding out such players and even KP is going to have to play straighter? It's going to be a cracking series (shame there's only 3) but England have to bat and catch well. South Africa have a couple of class batters and there bowling attack isn't exactly pedestrian! Hope the weather co-operates.... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by DazTaylor on (July 17, 2012, 20:27 GMT)

I, for one, am getting seriously fed up with the repetitive nonsense from fans about England. They are a team of Saffers. What utter nonsense. Also, Imran Tahir is a South African isn't he?

And they can't win abroad? Ask an Australian and they will confirm that statement is utter rubbish and embarrassing.

Posted by CazSomerset on (July 17, 2012, 20:20 GMT)

Fair enough on KP and Trott, but Prior and Strauss are not South Africans. There are some people out there with some massive chips in their shoulders'.....

Posted by JG2704 on (July 17, 2012, 20:19 GMT)

@Highflyer_GP on (July 17 2012, 19:31 PM GMT) Maybe you could actually check out Eng's record in tests from 2009- now and tell me which other series England have last in that period. If a football team in a league (any league) is at the top of the table and loses 3-0 then do they automatically drop down a place or 2 if the 2nd or 3rd placed side is a number of points behind? Of course not. And which team deserves this ranking more than England?

Posted by Highflyer_GP on (July 17, 2012, 19:31 GMT)

#1 teams don't get whitewashed. That too by an unpredictable Pakistani team that has been through a lot lately. Even if England do win this series and cling on to the #1 ranking, all it proves is that they can win at home. South Africa have been unbeaten away from home in 6 years! This ranking system is poor and needs a major overhaul!

Posted by landl47 on (July 17, 2012, 19:10 GMT)

I think Anderson v. Smith is one of the most important battles of the entire series. Smith, on his two previous tours, has set up a couple of victories almost on his own. In the Lord's test of 2003 his 259 ensured a massive total and an innings victory for SA and at Edgbaston in 2008, after SA had been set 283 to win, Smith's brilliant 154* got SA over the line by 5 wickets. However, he's always batted with a very closed grip, with the bat pointing towards midwicket, and now Anderson has mastered the ball which moves away from the left-hander as well as the one that ducks back into him. Smith isn't a patient player and if Anderson can consistently move the ball across him towards the slips, I think Smith will give chances. Then it's up to England to take them, which hasn't always happened recently! The KP scenario continues to play out and Anderson's endorsement of the ECB's position tells you all you need to know about how the other players feel.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 17, 2012, 18:40 GMT)

Australia is Englands toughest challenge. Always was always will be. If we can go to Aus and beat them there then we're pretty sure that we can take on South Africa here in England and beat them. South Africa could not win their recent home series against Australia - this is a clear indicator as to South Africas current form. No disrespect to SA here - and it will be tough no doubt, but England has the edge.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (July 17, 2012, 18:06 GMT)

wait for this series for over a year now. I hope to see a cracker of a series. Let's see who rules the world.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (July 17, 2012, 17:59 GMT)

Who has the better South Africans? Well, I'd take Amla over Trott, Kallis over KP (in tests), Smith over Strauss and De Villiers over Prior in batting, but Prior is def the better wicket keeper. And unusually it is an Englishman, Swann, who represents England's real advantage. Both teams weak at #6.

Posted by 360review on (July 17, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

Don't worry Anderson, England will again win the series. They have lot of different ways to win games that are played in England. Another problem may be Kevin, if he makes headlines and tends to play well, then well ECB takes a tough stance against him, so it could be a win-lose situation.

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