England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval July 18, 2012

Let the battle for No. 1 commence

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Match facts

Thursday, July 19
Start time 1100 (1000 GMT)

Big Picture

This series could be all about cart-wheeling stumps, bonce-bothering bouncers and catches in the cordon, as the world's two best bowling attacks go head to head in conditions favourable to pace and swing. It could also be overshadowed by the weather and the Olympics, with its attendant bureaucratic bungling, amid grumbles about the inadequacies of a three-Test encounter. For now, we can savour the prospect of a potentially thrilling clash between the two best sides in Test cricket - even if the rankings would perversely deny the fact.

Despite the ICC's annual recalculation dropping South Africa to third, victory in the series would lift them above England to No. 1 - a position they last occupied, briefly, in 2009. Graeme Smith was the last touring captain to secure victory in England, going back to the historic series success of 2008, and South Africa are also unbeaten away from home since losing a two-Test rubber to Sri Lanka in 2006. With four batsmen - AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and Smith - in the top ten, they have a top-order on which to build a successful campaign; in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, the bowlers to torment England in a manner they are more used to dishing out.

South Africa's last two tours have resulted in the end of an England captain's tenure but, fortified by back-to-back Test hundreds against West Indies, Andrew Strauss will fancy his chances of ending the hoodoo. Under Strauss and Andy Flower, England have become ruthless bullies in their own conditions, winning seven home series in a row. The quicks are programmed to bowl an relentless line and length - something which South Africa's attack are still adjusting to here - and in Graeme Swann, England may hold the trump spin card. His fitness after a twinge in his troublesome right elbow, as well as The Oval's receptiveness to spin, could be a determining factor in the first Test.

Posturing aside, there will be a touch of sadness when the teams take the field, at the absence of Mark Boucher, who was set to reach 150 caps and more than 1,000 dismissals in international cricket during the series. Both teams have plenty of motivation but neither is confident enough to mutter "you guys are history" just yet.

Form guide

England DWWWL (most recent first)
South Africa DWDWL

Watch out for

England's No. 6 is just about the only area of long-standing uncertainty in the side and, after Jonny Bairstow's difficult introduction to Test cricket against West Indies, Ravi Bopara has been given another chance to establish himself in the middle order. He enjoyed a successful ODI series against Australia and seems more comfortable about meriting his place, though he is often a slow starter and South Africa's bowlers won't give him any help in getting going.

AB de Villiers is one of South Africa's most accomplished batsmen but he will have to perform both in front of and behind the stumps, in the wake of Boucher's enforced retirement. De Villiers said he is looking forward to a rest whilst wearing the wicketkeeper's gloves, rather than running around at point, but there will be greater demands on his concentration, not to mention his back. His record as ODI keeper suggests he may be up to the challenge.

Pitch and conditions

This will be the first Test pitch produced by The Oval's new head groundsman, Lee Fortis. Spinners have often prospered here, though more often at the back end of the season, and given the damp summer thus far the surface could be lower and more seam friendly than before. The forecast is grey and rain-spattered, which will probably have both sets of bowlers sniffing around the toss.

Team news

After a month away from international cricket, Kevin Pietersen returns to the England fold, while Bopara finally gets his opportunity at No. 6 - barring a stubbed toe or ricked neck between now and 11am tomorrow. With Graham Onions nursing a tight hamstring, England's only decision is likely to be between Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn for the third fast bowler's spot.

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

The shock departure of Boucher from the touring party aside, South Africa are a settled team. De Villiers is expected to take the gloves, with JP Duminy, who scored a century on his last outing, coming in to add depth to the batting as well as a back-up spin option. Alviro Petersen has recovered from a foot problem, so Jacques Rudolph remains at No. 6.

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Jacques Rudolph, 7 JP Duminy, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have not won in 13 visits to The Oval, losing their last three

  • This is the earliest an Oval Test has been held since 1983, when New Zealand began a four-match series in south London on July 14

  • Andrew Strauss needs 70 runs to reach 7,000 in Tests and one century to equal the England record of 22, jointly held by Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott

  • Graeme Smith is set to play his 100th Test but it will only be his 99th for South Africa, as he captained the ICC World XI against Australia in 2005

    Quotes

    "The rankings say we are number one but we've got to go out there and prove it."
    Andrew Strauss, England's captain, is not resting on his laurels

    "There's a real feeling of contentment and clarity. We're at the point where we want to be and just want this series to start now."
    Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, is keen to get going

    Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scube on July 21, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    5wombats on (July 19 2012, 20:40 PM GMT): Ofcourse, you are! Thanks for the confession! But, don't give up so soon! You can only get better by regularly interacting with many enlightened souls on this forum!

  • 5wombats on July 20, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    @maddy20. Why are you continuing to hide behind Pakistans fine performance (kudos Pakistan)...? Is it because with 2 whitewashes under their belt you know that india would be no match for Pakistan? You like to mix up the Test and ODI - do you like Pakistan because they won the Asia Cup, or is it simply because they beat England in Test Matches? Just because Pakistan beat England in the Test matches in the UAE it doesn't india will beat England in india - and it doesn't make the drubbings india got in England and Australia got in 2011 go away.)

  • 5wombats on July 19, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    @Scube on (July 19 2012, 12:33 PM GMT). Rubbish.

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 on (July 19 2012, 08:15 AM GMT) So when you say "IT IS THE OTHER PEOPLE FROM ASIA WHO DOESN'T CONSIDER ENGLAND AS NO.1 TEAM AFTER THEIR SL & UAE TOUR " what exactly do you mean in your previous post when you say "UNLESS YOU START WINNING IN ASIA NO BODY WILL CONSIDER YOU REAL NO. 1 ?" Which is it to be? please publish

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    @Bob Young on (July 19 2012, 18:11 PM GMT) Indeed my friend

  • on July 19, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    @JG2704... I sometimes wonder whether some of the posters on here can tell the difference between the three formats... either that or they craftily mix 'n match the stats in the hopes we won't notice.... How wrong can they be !!!

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @maddy20 on (July 19 2012, 10:07 AM GMT) If you're bringing other formats into it then we actually had a successful tour of UAE as our overall record was 6-4. If you're not bringing other formats into it then India ODIs are irrelevant to the issue. Which is it to be?

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @bestbuddy on (July 19 2012, 09:30 AM GMT) - Thanks - learn a new thing every day. Certainly nout to do with ECB on that one though

  • Scube on July 19, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @5wombats: So, you think the 1-1 result against SL in Asia is a great result to your # 1 ROTF (Rest Of The World) team! And you are also confident that your team would have won / whitewashed Pak if that 0-3 series had been played in Asia!?! By the way, I'm yet to meet a living person who watched Eng beat India in India! And you don't seem to be confident your ROTF team can reverse this statistic based on your comments! Otherwise, I'd have expected you to say, "Wait for Dec for my ROTF team to show what they are capable of!"

  • Scube on July 19, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    Will this be the last time or the first of many to come when two South africans will be opposing captains fighting for Basil D'Oliveira trophy!?! Whichever way the series goes, Basil might be smiling in heavens for the success of SA! ;-)

  • Scube on July 21, 2012, 17:26 GMT

    5wombats on (July 19 2012, 20:40 PM GMT): Ofcourse, you are! Thanks for the confession! But, don't give up so soon! You can only get better by regularly interacting with many enlightened souls on this forum!

  • 5wombats on July 20, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    @maddy20. Why are you continuing to hide behind Pakistans fine performance (kudos Pakistan)...? Is it because with 2 whitewashes under their belt you know that india would be no match for Pakistan? You like to mix up the Test and ODI - do you like Pakistan because they won the Asia Cup, or is it simply because they beat England in Test Matches? Just because Pakistan beat England in the Test matches in the UAE it doesn't india will beat England in india - and it doesn't make the drubbings india got in England and Australia got in 2011 go away.)

  • 5wombats on July 19, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    @Scube on (July 19 2012, 12:33 PM GMT). Rubbish.

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 on (July 19 2012, 08:15 AM GMT) So when you say "IT IS THE OTHER PEOPLE FROM ASIA WHO DOESN'T CONSIDER ENGLAND AS NO.1 TEAM AFTER THEIR SL & UAE TOUR " what exactly do you mean in your previous post when you say "UNLESS YOU START WINNING IN ASIA NO BODY WILL CONSIDER YOU REAL NO. 1 ?" Which is it to be? please publish

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    @Bob Young on (July 19 2012, 18:11 PM GMT) Indeed my friend

  • on July 19, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    @JG2704... I sometimes wonder whether some of the posters on here can tell the difference between the three formats... either that or they craftily mix 'n match the stats in the hopes we won't notice.... How wrong can they be !!!

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @maddy20 on (July 19 2012, 10:07 AM GMT) If you're bringing other formats into it then we actually had a successful tour of UAE as our overall record was 6-4. If you're not bringing other formats into it then India ODIs are irrelevant to the issue. Which is it to be?

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @bestbuddy on (July 19 2012, 09:30 AM GMT) - Thanks - learn a new thing every day. Certainly nout to do with ECB on that one though

  • Scube on July 19, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @5wombats: So, you think the 1-1 result against SL in Asia is a great result to your # 1 ROTF (Rest Of The World) team! And you are also confident that your team would have won / whitewashed Pak if that 0-3 series had been played in Asia!?! By the way, I'm yet to meet a living person who watched Eng beat India in India! And you don't seem to be confident your ROTF team can reverse this statistic based on your comments! Otherwise, I'd have expected you to say, "Wait for Dec for my ROTF team to show what they are capable of!"

  • Scube on July 19, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    Will this be the last time or the first of many to come when two South africans will be opposing captains fighting for Basil D'Oliveira trophy!?! Whichever way the series goes, Basil might be smiling in heavens for the success of SA! ;-)

  • maddy20 on July 19, 2012, 10:07 GMT

    @5wombats England had a chance to win outside England last year and they got massacred (read whitewashed) by Pakistani Spinners 3-0. They had a chance to win In Sri Lanka, they huffed and puffed to draw. Then they came to India and were thumped 5-0 in India. Come december, you are set for another whitewash in India, courtes of R.Ashwin, A.Mishra . For the record, India also won in England in 2007 where as England has not won in India since my grandpa was a teenager!

  • unregisteredalien on July 19, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    simon_w, I could not have said it better (and I'm not English).

  • bestbuddy on July 19, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    @JG2704: The 2 test series had nothing to do with the South African Cricket Board; The ACB refused to give up their boxing day/new years tests, even though it was SA's turn to host them. The compromise was a shorter series outside of the december/january holiday period, and as the series was during both school and university final exams, the only solution was to have only 2 tests and play several limited overs matches (less odi's than normal too I might add)

  • 9ST9 on July 19, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    who cares about the olympics? this will be a cracker of a series !!!

  • on July 19, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    England 2-1 SA and Tahir is gonna shine

  • JG2704 on July 19, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    @saffarock on (July 18 2012, 17:54 PM GMT) SA only played a 2 test series vs Aus at home but managed to play a 3 match ODI series and 2 match T20 series. Seems all boards are the same

  • rahulcricket007 on July 19, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    @CHRIS -P , @SIMON . I M NOT SAYING THAT ENGLAND ARE NOT NOT NO .1 . THEY R NO. 1 . AFTER WATCHING THEM IN LAST 1 YEAR I HAVE CHANGED MY MINDSET AGAINST ENGLAND . IT IS THE OTHER PEOPLE FROM ASIA WHO DOESN'T CONSIDER ENGLAND AS NO.1 TEAM AFTER THEIR SL & UAE TOUR .

  • Abdurrazaaq on July 19, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    Its teams + conditions like this that will always keep test cricket alive, without being biased to my home boys, but I feel South Africa has the edge in terms of talent + experience. England has the edge in the sense that they are so well accustomed to their home conditions. 1 -1 draw I predict

  • CDUP on July 19, 2012, 8:03 GMT

    @Vishal SA is not completely dependent on Steyn. Like in any team, he plays a crucial role as the strike bowler, but all the bowlers need to support him, and each other. In the recent SA test series the support bowlers took most of the wickets, but that does not mean Steyn didn't play his part, since he was going at 2 runs an over. The opposing teams know he's deadly, so more often than not they are very cautious against him, and will rather play shots against Philander or Morkel, who are by no means average bowlers as you seem to suggest, resulting in more wickets for them.

  • 5wombats on July 19, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 - by Asia you mean india right? What makes you think you are so important? india had the chance to start winning outside of india last year. You had your chance to beat SA in SA - you drew, you had your chances in England and in Australia - you got whitewashed. Twice. Winning in india doesn't prove anything - unless india start winning outside of india nobody will consider them the real no. 5. Avoiding whitewashes would be a start. PS turn your caps lock off.

  • on July 19, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    I think .. SA chances of winning are hugely dependent on Dale Steyn... If he gets to his best quickly in series.... i see huge problems for English batsmen... but Steyn has to be supported by other bowlers also...

  • harshthakor on July 19, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    Morally,I do not agree that the winner of this series is neccesarily the best team in the world.England never proved to be outstanding on the sub-continent.

    With their superior form and better organisation in team balance England should be favourites.However S.Africa has more genuine match-winners in Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis and posess the most lethal pace attack to tour England in recent years.On seaming tops,England has proved to be a champion team vanquishing Australia and India.This English team is one of the most powerful English teams since the war and it will be an achievement for the Proteas to win.However today form is so inconsistent in test cricket today.Remember S.Africa's triumph v.Australia down under in 2008-09 and their reversal in a home series against the same team 3 months later.The Proteas often lack the crucial killer punch.

    We could have won of test cricket's most intense contests of recent times.

  • Eskimo on July 19, 2012, 5:40 GMT

    rahulcricket007 is spot on. It is sad to admit that people outside of England won't even acknowlegde England as the #1 side if they beat SA. Even if they beat India in India the public will probably say that it was against a weak Indian side. On the other hand if SA beat England in this upcoming series they will be the undesputed #1. I feel for England, even though I'm an SA supporter. Sometimes life (and cricket) is just unfair...anyway, let's hope for a cracking series. And this might sound cliche, but may the best team win.

  • on July 19, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    Its gonna be a real test war as these 2 teams are top sides in the world now. In terms of batting is concerned both of the sides are really solid. In bowling, SA has all great fast bowlers with Tahir. Spinner like Swann is a key. Fielding could be a great factor in this type of high voltage test matches where SA is always stay in top. My heart goes for SA but I think its going to be England. I don't want it.

  • Chris_P on July 19, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    @rahulcricket007. You mean nobody like you will consider them #1. if the rankings say they are number 1, that is the undeniable facts, whether you like it or not. India were #1, but they never won a seriesn in Australia or South Africa or in SL since 1995. Did you think they were not #1 then?

  • jmcilhinney on July 19, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    Outside the actual results, the two things I'm most interested in are the performances of Bopara and Philander. Bopara is obviously a talented cricketer but hasn't always shown it, for whatever reason, at international level. If he can finally break through and perform well against such a good bowling attack then that will stand him and England in fine stead for the future. As for Philander, he has obviously had a phenomenal start to his Test career but he hasn't really stood out in England so far. In conditions that should suit his style of bowling, he'll be very keen to perform more like he did against Australia.

  • jmcilhinney on July 19, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    @saffarock on (July 18 2012, 17:54 PM GMT), given that you're presumably an SA fan and may not have read a lot of stories about England recently, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. In actual fact, the point of that ODI series, from an England perspective, is maximising their potential to win the 2015 WC. The ECB requested that CA organise a 5-match ODI series in Australia just before that WC to help England acclimatise. CA obliged, on the condition that the ECB agree to the series just completed. According to CA, their hope was that it would give some of their less experienced players some exposure to playing in England ahead of next year's Ashes. Believe that or not as you like but, from and England perspective, that series was not primarily about money. It shows how seriously England are taking the next WC. Last time England set themselves a goal they became #1 in Test cricket, so bet against them at your peril.

  • simon_w on July 19, 2012, 3:59 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 -- being #1 in the world doesn't mean being totally dominant in all forms and in all places. Arguably only two teams have ever really achieved this, in the modern era. Being #1 means being the best, on average, over the qualifying period. Right now, that's England - not by much, granted, and by the end of this series it could be South Africa. On the other hand, if England win the series, then they're margin at the top will be increased. Do they rival the great Aussie and West Indian teams? No, of course not. Are they the best there is around right now, on balance? Well if they take this series, you have to say yes. Being #1 in the world doesn't mean being invulnerable, impervious to defeat, and having no weak spots whatsoever.

  • on July 19, 2012, 3:58 GMT

    anxiously awaiting for the first ball,this will be a great series

  • rahulcricket007 on July 19, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    WELL NO DOUBT ENGLAND ARE REALLY BALANCED SIDE & HAVE MORE CHANCE TO WIN BUT ANDREW STRAUSS 'S QUOTE CONFUSES ME . HE SAYS WE HAVE TO PROVE NO. 1 RANKING BY WINNING THIS SERIES . SORRY ANDREW BUT WINNING A HOME SERIES DOESN'T PROVE ANYTHING . UNLESS YOU START WINNING IN ASIA NO BODY WILL CONSIDER YOU REAL NO. 1 .

  • johnathonjosephs on July 19, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    Philander has lost his magic. If you look at the first class figures he is having in English Country cricket, it is nothing compared to the phenomenal stats he had in Test Cricket. Graeme Smith has been out of form for quite some time already. The real batting rests on Amla, De Villiers, and Kallis. Duminy, Prince, and Rudolph can also pitch in with batting, but out of all the batsman, they need at least 3 to click during the series. England's batting is strong especially in England. The workload will be on Steyn and Tahir (who has the most experience in England)

  • Caino94 on July 19, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    Wow! both terrific sides on paper, so much batting and bowling depth I really cant pick a winner! Being an Australian for a few years now we have been critisizing a certain member of our squad being the potential 'weak link' but everyone in these sides have earned their position. Look at englands bowling stocks, Bresnan a terrific line and length bowler who is quite a handy allrounder at number 8 then at number 9 you have broad a world class seamer who has a highest score of 169 backed up by swann arguably the best spinner in the world and anderson then south africa with the deadly pace of steyn the height and bounce of morkel and the swing and cut of philander with a bit of leg spin aswell from tahir. The batting looks just as impressive with duminy at no.7! and bopara at number 6...yep gonna be a fascinating series! :D

  • landl47 on July 19, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    It's good that the talking is finally nearly over- or at least I hope it is. The weather forecast is not good; unless it's wrong, we might only get half a day's play. It would be very sad to see this series ruined or, still worse, decided by the weather and it would make the decision only to play 3 tests even more perverse. This really is a series which appears to be too close to call. SA has some great stars, England has great depth. Hopefully, it will stay dry, we'll see some great cricket and may the best side win.

  • maddy20 on July 19, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    Give the no.1 ranking a parting hug England. The "REAL" South Africa is here!

  • Sinhaya on July 19, 2012, 0:46 GMT

    Come on England from a Sri Lankan fan. Your batting depth will prove the difference.

  • hmmmmm... on July 19, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    I never thought I'd be so interested in the outcome of a series between Eng and SA...but I anticipate that this is going to be Test cricket at its best. Still a shame that a pointless ODI series against our sleepy Australians has reduced it to 3 tests, yet we will have ten Ashes tests next year. I doubt I will ever understand the irrationality of cricket's administers!

  • Woody111 on July 19, 2012, 0:26 GMT

    @Ahsan, it's definitely possible. Collapses can happen, key opportunities missed and sessions lost which shape the game. It's really about the beauty of test cricket. Logic probably suggests England have a better lineup; particularly in lower order batting and spin, but you just never know. South Africa have guys capable of massive scores just like England and also an attack capable of ripping through a batting card; again, just like England. As someone else commented the biggest worry for SA is the wicket-keeping. But if AB gets some rest before batting this may not be an issue and if JP Duminy lines up at 7 he could always get shifted in the order without losing too much depth. I'd actually put AB at 6 for the first test and move Rudolph up.

  • SaracensBob on July 19, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    Looking forward to this - its gonna be mighty close between these two. Only weakness I see in SA side is the length of the tail, once Eng get thru the top six they're going to reckon on polishing them off pretty quick. Eng bat deep which makes me wonder about selectors' obsession with picking a batsman at no. 6. The no. 6 " batsman" has consistently provided no runs for the team over an awful lot of matches but Eng have still been able to compete - so a complete waste of a place in the team! Eng from 6 to 11 should be Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Finn, Anderson. The batting boys will get the runs, with some back- up from the tail, and the the 5-man attack would really ask questions of the Saffers. Won't happen of course, selectors are fixed in their ways. So, "Good luck, Ravi!"

  • on July 18, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    I don't see SA winning this series at all.....can anyone tell me how is that possible?

  • Chris_P on July 18, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    Probably fair that the winner of this series should be #1, The big "if" is whether South Africa can take their chances & not choke. They have had numerous chances to be #1 & have failed with drawn series against sides they should have won. That seems to be their biggest hurdle, that final step & it is this that England have overcome. My opinion is that this Saffer side is close to greatness but their myriad of stumbles have held them back. This could well be Kallis's final swansong to strut his stuff for Sth Africa. He can't go on forever at his stratospheric standards. The age clock is ticking against him. Roll on test cricket, in any form.

  • Nerk on July 18, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    I believe SA are the better side on paper. Indeed, they have been one of the best sides in the world for a while. But they cant finish off a series. The amount of times they have been in a commanding position after the first test, and let it slip in the second... Most recently was Australia's recent tour. SA should have won that series against an inexperienced Aus side under pressure, yet they faltered when it counted. If this SA team want number one, they have to beat teams, not draw with them.

  • mikey76 on July 18, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    Strauss potentially one Innings away from 7000 runs and 22 hundreds and people on here have questioned his credentials. Just shows there are an awful lot of people on here who know zip about cricket.

  • AnoMaLy on July 18, 2012, 21:25 GMT

    Why not play Finn in place of either Bopara or Bresnan and improve England's chance of winning this test?

  • rafe01 on July 18, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    Australia did draw SA when in Australia, and have been beating everyone else except England, so I don't think it is too unjust that Australia and SA are neck and neck for second spot. If SA beat England, or make a good showing, then that is something the Aussies haven't achieved, and I'm sure they'll move away from Australia in the rankings.

  • tests_the_best on July 18, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    mouth-watering contest in store if rain stays away. irrespective of who wins, looking forward to some great performances, especially in the bowling dept since so many world-class bowlers are in the fray. got a feeling there are going to be a few sub-200 scores on either side.

  • i_witnessed_2011 on July 18, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    On the card both team looks even... or if u compare even hard some difference would be between two spinners and fielding ... Between Tahir and Swann, Swann has the advantage... No spinner from outside is likely to dominate in English condition... Fielding-wise SA has Advantage...but even then its hard to predict the result based on teams' strength and weakness... They are so even...

    But if you see recently no other team from outside can beat Eng in home condition... I think same will happen with SA... They may be good tourists, but Eng has the upper hand... But I really hope SA make it to No1. :)

  • ejsiddiqui on July 18, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    My only concern is AB (The Wicket Keeper). If he handle WK position well then SA would be a great team.

  • JIBRANDADA on July 18, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    its sad tht boucher isn't playing but i bileive whatever happens its for gud. in comes DUMINY he is good no doubts on tht just see MCG 2008. this is going to be great series btw bowlers & batters too. only weak link i see for SA is unfortunately I.TAHIR. Smith looks like wil do what he does best ie. lead from front and H.Amla is always special 2 wafch & ofcoz Kallis the way he betted for KKR no 1 can stop him. PHILENDER i forgog u buddy plz remind me what u can do.

  • SurlyCynic on July 18, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    Hard to predict anything other than a 1-1 draw for the series, with one rain affected game. Strauss and Smith must also be the only pair of opposing test captains born in the same city

  • Always-positive on July 18, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    I'm no Shane Watson but if thats is the SA line up the top 7 better bat well because that is a long tail !.

  • on July 18, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    The ACTUAL Number 1 and 2 teams will be competing this series. England have slightly home advantage. SA will give tough time. Result may be 1;1

  • shovwar on July 18, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    This is most prolly the best SA XI squad there can be. In a way the inclusion of Duminy had strengthen the squad. If AB can keep well then this team would be hard to beat in any condition home or away.

  • on July 18, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    i wish sa win this series by 2-1 !! but i guess the reality would be either england winning the series 1-0 or a drawn series like 1-1 !!

    sa have very fragile batting order except amla,kallis and de velliers some times !! smith is soo inconsistent so is alviro !!

    trott,bell,cook and strauss will be soo formidable line up

    duminy shd bat at 4 or 5 he is too good to bat at 7 and making him bat with the tail is like wasting a great talent !!

    philander shd replicate his 5 for's in england too to prove he is the best ever test bowler !!

    come on steyn torment england !!

    england are wasting a greatt talent like finn by benching him !! he is the reason for england's resurence in odis along with bell !!

    captain shd show some confidence on finn when he is at his peak !!

  • 5wombats on July 18, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Be quite nice to win the toss and put SA in - then we'll really see how mentally strong they are....

  • saffarock on July 18, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    As a saffa fan i worry about our chances, we are VERY undercooked while the poms have been playing consistently all season. S.A play very few Tests matches in comparison to England and Australia. Its obvious that nations who play more cricket get more practice and generally perform better. Give us a 5 Test series to show who really is boss - what was the pint of a 5 one day series v Aus? i'll tell you...money money money

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  • saffarock on July 18, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    As a saffa fan i worry about our chances, we are VERY undercooked while the poms have been playing consistently all season. S.A play very few Tests matches in comparison to England and Australia. Its obvious that nations who play more cricket get more practice and generally perform better. Give us a 5 Test series to show who really is boss - what was the pint of a 5 one day series v Aus? i'll tell you...money money money

  • 5wombats on July 18, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Be quite nice to win the toss and put SA in - then we'll really see how mentally strong they are....

  • on July 18, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    i wish sa win this series by 2-1 !! but i guess the reality would be either england winning the series 1-0 or a drawn series like 1-1 !!

    sa have very fragile batting order except amla,kallis and de velliers some times !! smith is soo inconsistent so is alviro !!

    trott,bell,cook and strauss will be soo formidable line up

    duminy shd bat at 4 or 5 he is too good to bat at 7 and making him bat with the tail is like wasting a great talent !!

    philander shd replicate his 5 for's in england too to prove he is the best ever test bowler !!

    come on steyn torment england !!

    england are wasting a greatt talent like finn by benching him !! he is the reason for england's resurence in odis along with bell !!

    captain shd show some confidence on finn when he is at his peak !!

  • shovwar on July 18, 2012, 18:19 GMT

    This is most prolly the best SA XI squad there can be. In a way the inclusion of Duminy had strengthen the squad. If AB can keep well then this team would be hard to beat in any condition home or away.

  • on July 18, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    The ACTUAL Number 1 and 2 teams will be competing this series. England have slightly home advantage. SA will give tough time. Result may be 1;1

  • Always-positive on July 18, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    I'm no Shane Watson but if thats is the SA line up the top 7 better bat well because that is a long tail !.

  • SurlyCynic on July 18, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    Hard to predict anything other than a 1-1 draw for the series, with one rain affected game. Strauss and Smith must also be the only pair of opposing test captains born in the same city

  • JIBRANDADA on July 18, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    its sad tht boucher isn't playing but i bileive whatever happens its for gud. in comes DUMINY he is good no doubts on tht just see MCG 2008. this is going to be great series btw bowlers & batters too. only weak link i see for SA is unfortunately I.TAHIR. Smith looks like wil do what he does best ie. lead from front and H.Amla is always special 2 wafch & ofcoz Kallis the way he betted for KKR no 1 can stop him. PHILENDER i forgog u buddy plz remind me what u can do.

  • ejsiddiqui on July 18, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    My only concern is AB (The Wicket Keeper). If he handle WK position well then SA would be a great team.

  • i_witnessed_2011 on July 18, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    On the card both team looks even... or if u compare even hard some difference would be between two spinners and fielding ... Between Tahir and Swann, Swann has the advantage... No spinner from outside is likely to dominate in English condition... Fielding-wise SA has Advantage...but even then its hard to predict the result based on teams' strength and weakness... They are so even...

    But if you see recently no other team from outside can beat Eng in home condition... I think same will happen with SA... They may be good tourists, but Eng has the upper hand... But I really hope SA make it to No1. :)