England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley

A marked improvement needed

The Preview by Alan Gardner

August 1, 2012

Comments: 73 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

Thursday, August 2
Start time 1100 (1000 GMT)

Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad are tied together during a training exercise, Headingley, August 1, 2012
Will England's bowlers be tripped up again by South Africa in the second Test? © Getty Images

Big picture

The equation for England going into the second Test is simple: if they're going to beat South Africa, they will need to play at least ten times better than they did at The Oval. An average of 31.25 runs per wicket might not look too bad during a wet English summer but it was dwarfed by South Africa scoring 637 for 2 in their one innings on a dry, sun-baked track. Turning two wickets into 20 against such obduracy is a trick that will take some pulling off.

It is almost a year since England ascended to the top of the rankings with an innings victory over India in the second week of August but, despite talk of establishing a dynasty, the crown has never been far from slipping. Many would say that South Africa have not needed the ICC's imprimatur to be recognised as Test cricket's best side but victory at Headingley will seal the series and confirm their rise to No. 1 anyway.

While Graeme Smith has again revelled in his role as England's tormentor, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower have faced fresh questions about tactics, skill levels and the balance of the side. It may be that England had one on day and four off days but that is not a switch that can just be flicked. The much-vaunted attack's plan of "bowling dry" was enough to send many watchers to the bottle, as South Africa showed how to resist temptation; while on a flat track, the batsmen arguably performed worse. They're accustomed to brickbats but for the bowlers this represents a fresh challenge.

South Africa have not won consecutive Tests since early 2010 but they look to be in a comfortable place, the team happy to lark about in fancy dress on their first night in Leeds. Having crushed England on the same weekend that Ernie Els won The Open, South Africa's Olympians currently lead Great Britain on the medals table, after Chad le Clos pipped no less a swimmer than Michael Phelps to gold in the pool on Tuesday. Perhaps they are unbeatable?

Form guide

England LDWWW (Most recent first)
South Africa WDWDW

Watch out for...

The fifth man to occupy No. 6 in the batting order, James Taylor is undoubtedly the smallest (he's 5ft 4in). After the middling efforts of Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Jonny Bairstow and Ravi Bopara, the weight of expectation might not be great but Taylor has long been marked out for international cricket and his every stroke will be closely studied. An unbeaten 163 in his last first-class innings suggests a slow start to life at Nottinghamshire is behind him.

Alviro Petersen is the South Africa player under most scrutiny after a lean tour in which he has scored 42 runs. He also averaged just 21 from 11 first-class innings for Essex earlier in the season. Nevertheless, Petersen has produced under pressure before, having already scored two Test centuries this year to defy his critics and in opening partner Graeme Smith he has the perfect example of how to succeed in England.

Pitch and conditions

After England were severely burned by preparing a dry, dusty pitch at The Oval, there is a definite green tinge to the second track of the series. The forecast for Leeds over the next five days is patchy, with rain and overhead cloud likely to feature, though whether that will benefit England or South Africa more is open to debate.

Team news

England have a rightly praised record of stability in selection so the presence of Taylor, confirmed as Bopara's replacement, may well be the only change. Rotating in one of Steven Finn or Graham Onions - probably for Tim Bresnan - or playing an all-pace attack are other options, though it was against South Africa at Headingley in 2008 that England broke a record, six-Test run of picking the same XI by including Darren Pattinson, so don't rule out a surprise.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 James Taylor, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn

Vice-captain AB de Villiers doesn't believe South Africa should make any changes to the team that bent England so severely out of shape at The Oval and, with Smith back after completing a round trip home to attend the birth of his daughter, a familiar line-up is expected for the second Test. JP Duminy and Jacques Rudolph, like Petersen, have not spent a great deal of time in the middle but confidence in their ability remains.

South Africa (probable) 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

  • England's most recent Test win in Leeds came against West Indies in 2007.
  • South Africa have only lost once in four Tests at Headingley since readmission, winning on their last two visits by 191 runs and 10 wickets.
  • Dale Steyn's seven wickets in the first Test took him past Jacques Kallis to fourth in South Africa's standings, with 279.
  • Kallis' best bowling figures in Tests (6 for 54) came at Headingley in 2003.
  • August 1 is Yorkshire Day, though even that may not be enough to keep Bresnan in the England side.


"There is a steely determination among the troops to show we are better than we were last week. It's going to take a lot of guts but I am confident we have that."
England captain, Andrew Strauss, wants his team to come out fighting

"It's important that we don't get too far ahead. They have the capabilities of beating us and we are trying not to get too caught up in what is going on across the fence."
South Africa captain, Graeme Smith, warns against complacency

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: Alan Gardner

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by CCricFFan on (August 2, 2012, 13:28 GMT)

last series england and SA played was a draw 1-1 and england won 2nd test and SA won 4th test and other 2 were draws and in both draw matches England were 9 down ,they could easily have lost them both, and yes only end result counts so they both were draw and final score was 1-1 but it tells u that SA dominated that series as well which 1-1 scoreline doesnt say it,thats the point.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 2, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

@zenboomerang on (August 02 2012, 09:41 AM GMT) Thing is they won't try it ONCE even. How long they should try it for is open to debate but trying it just the once is a step in the right direction. How many failures do we need from our number 6 , for us to try this different formation out?

Posted by Meety on (August 2, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

Cannot believe Swanny was dropped! Oh & I'll get in early - bad luck about the dead ball, but it was the right call!

Posted by zenboomerang on (August 2, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

@JG2704 :- "5/1/5 is our best (maybe only) hope. If they try it and we get beaten again then at least I know that we are not good enough - period"... Selling yourself a bit short there :) ... One game will not disprove your thoughts or even one 3 game series would only show how that team performed against just one other team... Remember that as a batsman, Botham sits between Bresnan & Broad atm so maybe the ECB really does need to look at different options...

Posted by kprashant1 on (August 2, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

y is there not any comments section on live scorecard page????????????

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 2, 2012, 9:29 GMT)

@ JG2704 on (August 02 2012, 07:44 AM GMT), ah I see. I didn't actually follow that series at the time and it sounds like I must have read the results backwards.

Posted by Patchmaster on (August 2, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

Finn in. Broad out, Prior at six, not rocket science.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 2, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

@landl47: really opened up a can of worms there didn't you? Heaven forbit you should criticise Philander! Stats don't mean everything in cricket; even the great Aussies admitted Ashley Giles was a fantastic player for England, because he could hold up an end. His stats on the other hand are not exactly legendary...

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 2, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

We all wish James Taylor well, but - there is a hint of desperation in his selection, being thrown in on debut against the most potent attack in world cricket at the moment! Under the Andocracy new players are eased into the team, not catapulted! Bairstow was being 'eased in' by getting Tests v WI, but that showed up the limitations of his technique in coping with the short stuff. Bopara has domestic issues - and bang! The net has to be cast very widely. Under this scenario in the past, there would have been the recall of a tried & trusted veteran but there's no Graveney, or Washbrook around these days (though Trescothick, if fit & willing would have fitted the bill). So, let's be clear, England is asking a heck of a lot of young James. If he comes off, it will be a very pleasant surprise & will be hailed as a masterstroke by the selectors, but talk about rolling the dice! This is not the way England likes to conduct a campaign in the modern era. Good luck, James, you may need some.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 2, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

@Rampant_Aussie -Mate , have you actually studied what our number 6 batsman has actually done for the side over the recent years. ?If we had yer man Hussey at 6 then going 5/1/5 would be a gamble as you'd be replacing a proven quality number 6. Even moving him up to 5 might upset the balance. But when you have no proven number 6 , sometimes when your bowling depth is better than your batting depth your best method is to try and bowl the other side out cheaper with the extra bowler than outscore them with the bat. As an Eng fan if you gave me 2 options - 1- to chase a 350+ score down with 6/1/4 or 2- to defend 250 with a 5/1/5 I'd choose the latter every time.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 2, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

@jmcilhinney on (August 02 2012, 00:37 AM GMT) Sorry bud , but your stats have let you down this time. Eng went 1-0 up in that series , unless of course cricinfo have got their stats wrong. It went draw , Eng by inns , draw , SA by inns.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 2, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

@landl47 on (August 01 2012, 19:13 PM GMT) TBH , I'm starting to think we don't have the depth we think we have and that it was exaggerated against a poor India bowling line up. We have depth in bowling but for whatever reason are afraid to use it even though it is bowlers who win matches.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 2, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 01 2012, 18:53 PM GMT) I hate to say this as Broad is my favourite Eng player but your selection looks good. Bresnan is a Yorkshire man and also ihe is the best old ball bowler we have. Replacing Broad - I would do very reluctantly - but at least you are bringing in a new ball bowler for a new ball bowler. As I posted on another thread the rumours are that Swann will not play but we'll see. I think SA are still huge favourites but 5/1/5 is our best (maybe only) hope. If they try it and we get beaten again then at least I know that we are not good enough - period.

Posted by ViperIX on (August 2, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

@landl47, though might agree on the England reserves part, the other comments makes no sense. Philander bowled well in the 1st game better than Anderson or Broad I suppose, although you might not agree. Talking about depth, a team's depth is reflected on their performance in any conditions. So, if you are talking about the depth of this English team, they thrashed Pak 4-0 after being mauled 3-0 in tests and massacred 5-0 by India in India, also to highlight drew 1-1 with SL who people might consider as one of the worst bowling attacks in TESTS. I am not quite sure which depth you are highlighting here. Still we would look forward to how they can challenge this SA team and later AUS and the tour to India, lets see.

Posted by FredElliot on (August 2, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

@jmcilhinney No you dont remember correctly. In the last series in SA, the first test was drawn, Eng won the second, the third was drawn and SA won the last test to square the series.

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 2, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

@landl47 : Do agree with the rest but Philander's average 54 for rest of career is just a joke.. If England takes 2 wickets for rest all tests, they will be the last team in the rankings.. Philander was as good as anyone last game and he maintained one end tight without giving away anything.. Allowed others to attack freely..

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 2, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

@Rampant_Aussie : Yes i do agree.. But what i think is, the value Finn offers with ball will be bigger than the runs scored by the new no.6.. And, with the kind of form Prior is in and the lower order in Bresnan, Broad and Swann' ability to bat can make England think of 5 men attack.. You never know what will happen in the game but still..

Posted by i_witnessed_2011 on (August 2, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

I hope SA comes out of the habit of winning the first test and loosing the second. This is their best chance to get to No.1, I hope they do not spoil this chance.

Posted by Rampant_Aussie on (August 2, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

@satish619chandar, This is a huge game for England. They cannot possibly risk having only 6 batsmen playing against this RSA attack! If the top order wobbles (esp on the first morning), England do not have the batting depth to recover for long periods against Steyn, Morkel etc. James Taylor looks a good young player, I've seen a bit of him and his record is nothing to sneeze at. He tends play off the back foot though, which could be a target for Morkel to push him back and Steyn to pitch it up and get him half forward and edging. As for Bresnan, he's just unlucky. He hasn't done much wrong. But Finn is just an all-round better bowler and he's in better form. Changes: Finn and Taylor in - Bopara and Bresnan out. RSA unchanged (though Alviro Petersen on notice). Conditions could give the advantage to either team I reckon.

Posted by arun_mvgr on (August 2, 2012, 5:44 GMT)

All d best africa. This is d perfect time to Show the world, u r d best test team right now in d world.

Posted by landl47 on (August 2, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

@Harmony111: Philander's played 8 tests, not 20. and in test #8 he got 2-108. If he averages 54 for the rest of his career, the first 7 tests will soon be forgotten. @disco_bob: if Petersen, Rudolph, Duminy, Philander and Tahir were qualified for England, they would be England's reserves. Why? Because England has more depth. It's easy when you try thinking. @maddy20: I was thinking of the depth which beat Australia 3 times by an innings in Australia, which whitewashed India in every format, which thrashed both Pakistan and Australia 4-0 in ODI's, and which whitewashed West Indies in all formats. THAT sort of depth.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (August 2, 2012, 5:10 GMT)

@landl47. Re Stars vs depth. It is illuminating look at the figures of the experienced bowlers in the Eng vs SA tests. "Head-to-Head" (HTH) figs over enough innings (8) make meaningful comparisons as all play is on the same tracks & under the same conditions. The best bowler in Eng/SA tests is Morne Morkel. He Kallis & Swann's HTH figs are close to their career figs. Steyn, Anderson & Broad have significantly better career figs than HTH figs. 8 of Duminy's 11 wickets have been English, & he tops the HTH figs. Pre-Oval, Swann was the only Eng bowler with HTH figs better than ANY of the Saffers, & Kallis' figs make him a BOWLING pick ahead of Anderson & Broad. A=average & S=strike rate. (Oval test upped Eng bowler's figs: chang listed as (+) Eng. ANDERSON: A-39.18(+1.6) S-70.1(+4.8) BROAD: A-45(+5.62) S-75.5(+9.7) SWANN: A-38.57(+7.19) S-74.9(+14.9). S.Africa - KALLIS: A-34.47 S-77.6. MORKEL: A-26.23 S-50.4 STEYN: A-32.05 S-55.5 DUMINY A-22.75 S-46.3

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (August 2, 2012, 3:20 GMT)

When pitches are flat in England/South Africa/Australia, it is considered great batting. When pitches are flat in the Subcontinent, it is considered batsman taking advantage of a flat pitch. Flat pitches are flat pitches and the subcontinent has no more nor less flat pitches than anywhere else. Look up statistics for runs per wicket and people will see the truth

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 2, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

James deserves his chance but i still would prefer Finn as replacement for Bopara.. No way you can expect a debutant to hold up against the likes of Steyn and co.. It will be really bad for him if he fails.. In these conditions, Finn can be as deadly as anyone on his current form.. Either choice, one guy in form is going to sit out.. It all depends on whom England feel was the reason for bad show in first game - Incapability of batsmen to cash in on first day start or inability of bowlers to pick wickets.. Unfortunately, the slot of Bopara is the only thing they need to work on.. Rest guys have done enough to merit place in a team after one failure in home..

Posted by CCricFFan on (August 2, 2012, 2:41 GMT)

well lemme add this if its a green top then finn for swann , if a flat track (after watching last test its almost impossible) then finn for taylor. by saying bresnan would score more doesnt mean bresnan is a better bat than taylor i think taylor will be a better bat than any of previous number 6 they have tried before. but on debut against this bowling attack i'd pick bresnan over taylor.

Posted by maddy20 on (August 2, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

@landl47 Depth? What depth? You mean the bowled out in under 3 sessions depth or 2 wickets in 180+ overs depth? Infact thats not in the same zipcode as depth!

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 2, 2012, 0:37 GMT)

@JG2704 on (August 01 2012, 19:04 PM GMT), didn't England also bounce back from an innings defeat against SA in SA last time? If I remember correctly, SA won the first game by an innings, the second was drawn and then England won the third game by an innings, with the fourth game then drawn also. It was a crushing victory to SA at the Oval, no doubt, but it certainly doesn't mean the series is over. People keep telling us that SA deserve to be #1 but the very reason that that aren't already is inconsistency. England are capable of coming back to draw or even win this series. They may not do so if SA continue to play well but that is also not guaranteed. The series is still very much alive.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 2, 2012, 0:33 GMT)

@SurlyCynic on (August 01 2012, 16:26 PM GMT), I'm applying no double standard at all. It makes him as Australian as Strauss and Prior are English from that point of view as they both came to England as young boys. That said, unlike Strauss and Prior, Darren Pattinson has returned to his country of birth to play domestic cricket and made himself available for selection by England. If Strauss and Prior had returned to SA to play domestic cricket and had been picked to play for SA then I'd have no issue with that. They haven't though. They both grew up in England, have played domestic cricket in England and have been chosen to play cricket for England. If you have an issue with that then maybe you ought to ask their parents why they chose to leave SA in the first place.

Posted by CCricFFan on (August 1, 2012, 23:02 GMT)

they shouldn't replace finn with bresnan either james taylor or swann is a more logical choice . i believe breasnan would score more than taylor plus hes a bowler and swann couldnt do anything in the first test so on maybe green top hes useless so either all pace attack or play 5 bowlers.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 1, 2012, 22:43 GMT)

@landl47, "Once again, it's SA's stars against England's depth." I think you're getting a little confused here, SA will be playing England not their 'depth'. Depth refers to reserves, if England indeed have 'depth' then that means their actual players must be very good indeed.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 1, 2012, 22:23 GMT)

@SurlyCynic, Darren Pattinson's brother James who plays for Australia was born in Australia so in answer to your question, I suppose that does make him more Australian then either Prior or Strauss are English.

Posted by thruthecovers on (August 1, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

This Test is all about the toss and then it's bowling line-up against bowling line-up. The way I see it. I fancy our line-up of Steyn, Morkel, Kallis and Philander with Vernon showing just why he was the last bowler in hundreds of years to take 50 wickets in only 7 Tests. What makes Philander great is his ability to make batsmen play. Even on that sorry excuse of a Test pitch at the Oval, batsmen still found it tough against him and one always felt he was on top, the lack of wickets notwithstanding. My guess is, those in ENG and elsewhere still having a quizzical look at his figures, will find out in this Test what all the fuss is about. And after that, there is still Steyn to contend with. Scary thought. This Test will once and for all settle the debate on who is the better bowling unit.

Posted by disco_bob on (August 1, 2012, 21:40 GMT)

After England lose this test, (or draw it if the weather is kind to them) the 3rd Test can be their "Thanks For The Memories, Farewell to No1" tour.

Posted by thruthecovers on (August 1, 2012, 20:16 GMT)

@landl47 You pommies just never learn, do you? Making big, absolute statements before a ball has been bowled. How did that work out for you in the 1st Test? None of the other 5 would make it in the ENG eleven. Are you saying Morgan, Bopara and now Taylor would be prefered over either Rudolph or JP at 6? And no place for Philander either, arguably the best exponent of line and length with both swing and seam since McGrath and Pollock? Must be the English humour I'vs heard so much about...

Posted by Harmony111 on (August 1, 2012, 20:09 GMT)

@landl47: If Philander had come to Eng after playing 20 tests and taken 130 wickets then you would have said "Yeah let's see how many he gets in the next 20". Some people are always hoping for a downfall in the future, which as things usually go in life are inevitable. And then these same people twirl their mustache and say "See? I told you he was just not good enough. All hype and luck and no skill". Ok, let's turn it the other way. We all know how well England played to become #1. Let's see how they play once they become #1.

Posted by stormy16 on (August 1, 2012, 19:41 GMT)

From all accounts the pitch and weather will allow for a more sporting contest and give Eng a chance to claw back in to the series. In Asia this would be called doctoring the wicket to suit the home team! Looking forward to the contest and both teams should consider playing a 4th seamer instead of the spinner if the conditions are helpful.

Posted by landl47 on (August 1, 2012, 19:13 GMT)

Once again, it's SA's stars against England's depth. In the first test the stars prevailed easily- Smith, Amla and Kallis all got big hundreds and Steyn, Kallis and Morkel took 14 wickets between them in the game. Add in de Villiers and you have 6 very formidable players. The other 5 wouldn't get in the England side (and yes, I know Philander got 51 wickets in his first 7 tests. Let's see how many he gets in his next 7). So the job for England is to avoid being beaten by the big 6. If they can do that, they have a better than even chance. I know- easier said than done, especially on the form shown by both sides in the first test. Having Finn in the side might help, but the others have to step up, too. If they can do it, the third test will be electric. If not, then well played SA, the new #1 test side.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 1, 2012, 19:04 GMT)

@IndnCrktfan on (August 01 2012, 15:41 PM GMT) They have actually bounced back from an inns defeat before. VS Australia in the last Ashes. However that defeat levelled the series and they already had a convincing victory over Australia so they knew they could do it. The one positive is that SA have crushed sides before in one test and come unstuck in the next. They did that vs Australia last year , although maybe I'm straw clutching here

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 1, 2012, 18:53 GMT)

Finn for Taylor and Woakes for Broad, and Bresnan maintained. If England choose Taylor instead of Finn, or something similarly stupid, then SA slight favourites IMO. Good luck both teams - should be a great game regardless.

Posted by Shafaet_001 on (August 1, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

Against steyn Making a green pitch = jumping from 10th floor, and also there are philandar, morkel and kallis. "Morkel is the 3rd best bowler of the team","Philandar was the best bowler of saf since his debut (except in last game)", this two facts are enough to prove why this saf attack can be compared with windies attack of 80's.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (August 1, 2012, 18:03 GMT)

@rjansen. Indeed - at Headingly, in 6 inns Kallis has taken 12 wickets at an Ave of 18.91 (BBI - 6/54,) more than any player in either team! The other bowlers? Morkel, 2 inns, 7 @ 16.14. Steyn, 2 inns, 7 @ 24.71. Broad, 3 inns, 7 @ 30.42. Anderson, 4 inns, 5 @ 68.8. (Swann's 16 overs, 0 for 64 seem bloody silly next to Panesar's 5 inns, 10 @ 25.2) Kallis, Steyn & Morkel look very imposing at Headingly! In the 2008 Headingly test, the matchups between the current batsmen & bowlers looked like this: Anderson got Kallis for 4 runs, Broad got AB de V for 174 runs. Morkel got Strauss for 27 (bunny??) Cook for 18 & Bell for 4. Steyn got Pieterson for 45 runs. And Kallis? Oh oh - this looks familiar: Pieterson for 13, Bell for 31 & Cook for 60! Other notable Kallis wickets @ Headingly: ME Trescothick, MA Butcher (twice,) ET Smith, MP Vaughan, A Flintoff. Whoa - nuff said! If I were Flower I'd have Panesar on the line and have sent SA's bowlers a triple chilli Vindaloo for dinner!

Posted by jango_moh on (August 1, 2012, 18:02 GMT)

@A_Vacant_Slip... greatness is built over time... ur joke about "the most formidable batting line up" is well taken considering the recent happenings, but check out the stats for each of those batsmen, home and away, and the wins by india in the last decade away, and ull see the point... as far as broad goes, he was pretty good last year no doubt... but to be considered really good, he has to be consistent... i dont see anything in his average or his past(getting hit for six sixes in an over by yuvraj singh) that suggests he's really good... if he does better in the future, good for him.... btw, hoping to see a great match, i expect eng to fight back well...

Posted by phoenixsteve on (August 1, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

As an England cricket supporter I naturally hope we bounce back at Headingly. Somehow I think 'bouncing' is going to play a significant roll in this game? England have it all to do but the top ranked side doesn'y suddenly become a bad team - based on 1 result - no matter how rubbish England were! Or how magnificent SA were either. It will be a true test of SA class if the likes of Smith, Amla 7 Kallis can succeed against a swinging seaming ball with Mr Finn letting them have a few! England's batting has to perform. Despite everything that's been written and said the chief difference between the sides was that England didn't make use of the toss and a chance to post a big score. Dropped catches don't help either..... Whilst I am hoping for an England win I am EXPECTING SA to be victorious and good for them! Just please please show some fight lads- it doesn't matter if you're beaten - it's just cricket - but show up for the challenge! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (August 1, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

So many people are writing off England but they do have the talent to match and beat SA , amla is not going to score a 300 every innings , last one was a very special one , if they could withstand initial bursts of steyn and morkel , kallis will have to bowl more and that in turn will affect his batting (hopefully) , tahir willl be ineffective on this green pitch , so they do have a good chance , and SA with all their talent is not the most consistent side , even sri lanka (sorry no offense) beat them at home.

Posted by martin000 on (August 1, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

@ Hindh88, hahaha.. well said dude. England team is a joke.. wat u gonna do now.. can't even prepare green or flat tracks which may backfire... better skip the match.. lolz .. Worst team in world cricket which play spin like headless chicken

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (August 1, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

Finally, the best team in the world will officially become no.1

Posted by djdrastic on (August 1, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

Here's hoping Smith and co force another England captain to resign.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (August 1, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

jmcilhinney: So he went to Australia as a young boy, which makes him more Australian than Strauss and Prior are English. Or do the usual double standards apply?

Posted by yorkshirematt on (August 1, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

@rjansen I don't suppose he fancies playing a bit of county cricket at Headingley after this series does he?!

Posted by anuradea on (August 1, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

When Australia was #1 they beat everyone in all conditions to get there and stay there. This clearly shows the flaw in the ranking system where your scheduling helps to get there. England got to be #1 by beating people in England in their conditions that also in early summer conditions where mpst asian countires fail to adopt. If we want to get a true #1, the only way is to have a test champianship with home and away games with more points for away wins. If traditional games such as the ashes (which is the ONLY true traditional seiris) is a problem we should keep it out or make them play home and away as well. Anyway if the weather stays sunny, this will be 3-0 South Africa.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 1, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

England will be crushed once again at the hand of their suppliers, South Africa. Taylor and Finn will possibly stem the flow. I mean to say they might take 3 wickets this time.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2012, 15:54 GMT)

I think a lot of English fans forget that this great attack or Broad, Bresnan and Anderson played an aging, out of form Indian Batting line up. Yes you beat them 4-0 but so did Australia a few months after England. England beat the worst Australian side in recent memory thats the reality..the last 2 times you have played SA its been very clear whose the better side. Come on the Proteas.

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (August 1, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

Talent wise this ENG side can match this SA side. It is the mental strength and the ability to bounce back from a huge loss in the first test that will determine if they are indeed the rightful #1 team. I'm no expert to suggest the right combination for the second test but to me if Strauss can get some runs they can go with Finn instead of James Taylor. Bell, Cook, and Trott are all among runs including Prior. If Staruss and KP join the party then it will be a long day for the South Africans. Note Morkel and Steyn can only bowl in 8 or 10 over spells. That means Kallis, Imran Tahir will have to do most of the bowling. So if ENG can play those short spells from Steyn and Morkel like they did on the first day of the first match, ENG can put pressure on SA. In any case I know what I will be doing the next 5-days.. Good Luck to both the teams and look forward to a nail biting contest.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2012, 15:28 GMT)

Change Taylor for Finn and I'll be happy. I don't think Bresnan's completely inapt with the ball. Broad and Swann didn't pick up a wicket at the Oval, so they're the ones looking to prove themselves. Jimmy takes care of himself, so no issue there. My point is you need four quality fast bowlers to take on South Africa's batting order. We should drop the seven batsmen & four bowlers regime and go with six batsmen & five bowlers. SA have Kallis as their fifth bowler. England once upon a time had Flintoff. Finn can bowl at 90mph+ so that should give us a bit more balance with the ball. That's my opinion.

Posted by Hindh on (August 1, 2012, 15:21 GMT)

If eng prepare green track they will dig their own grave and they know it... Now eng cant win either on a grassy track or a flat track.

Posted by irishrover on (August 1, 2012, 14:55 GMT)

This is a real test for England. If they really are the best test team in the world, then they should be able to produce the goods, and push the South Africans very close. Yes, South Africa are very strong and will be full of confidence, but I can't see England playing as poorly as they did at the Oval.

The key is for England to bowl better. Though the batsmen let them down in London, it was their toothless bowling attack (and, yes South Africa's superb batting) that ultimately cost them the game. I think this will be a completely different game at Leeds, with a seaming pitch and possibly some swing.

Key contest....England will be keen to get rid of Amla and Smith early on. Looking at the forecast, it will be a good toss to win, and bat first, with the weather possibly becoming increasingly wet as the game goes on.

In any case, I am really looking forward to taking my seat in the north-east stand tomorrow, to see the start of what should be a really exciting game!

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (August 1, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

@Vinay Kolhatkar (August 01 2012, 13:30 PM GMT) "Broad is not that good a batsman and his bowling is non-threatening". You are joking - right!?! Stuart Broad was Man of the Series V India last year, India - remember who, according to India fan, are supposed to have the most formidible batting line up in the whole history of cricket? Stuart Broad easily swept India aside time after time, and on flat pitch too. He even got a hat-trick. And you @Vinay say Broad bowling is "non-threatening", ha ha. Then you call Broad "not that good a batsman". Maybe you know nothing of his 169 V Pakistan with Asif + Amir + Ajmal at Lords in 2010. Check your fact before you come here.

Posted by binojpeter on (August 1, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

I am rooting for an England win in this test. Final test will be up for grabs for both teams, I guess.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

If Steyn can take a 5-wicket haul in "a dry, dusty pitch at The Oval", I shudder to think what he will do if there's a hint of green on the pitch on a overcast morning with a new ball. I can almost imagine Steyn and Philander drooling at that prospect. Good luck England. You'll need it.

Posted by rajmal67 on (August 1, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

South Africa were a power house before thy were yanked out by the political issues. Upon their return they have done nothing but either win or perform admirably. It would be very appropriate and fitting for them to crush England again and get the number one test spot. The English team is not weak in any way but they perhaps lack focus and greater discipline, features so well displayed by South Africa.


Posted by   on (August 1, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

I really hope SA bat well in their 1st innings.. If we do that, ENG will be beaten again. Against sides better than them they lose their resilience quickly. Give em a wallop, like you did at the Oval.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (August 1, 2012, 14:11 GMT)

I'm surprised Andy Fogarty has prepared a wicket with a "greenish tinge" but I suppose it couldn't be helped in these conditions.

Posted by rjansen on (August 1, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

I read somewhere that Kallis has taken more wickets than any current English bowler at Headingley. Doesn't mean much, but it's a funny stat :)

Posted by yorkshirematt on (August 1, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

Eng should drop Brezlad. Then he can get himself down to Northampton to help his county as they have a severely weakened attack.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 1, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

@SurlyCynic on (August 01 2012, 13:45 PM GMT), FYI, Darren Pattinson was born in England of English parents. The family emigrated to Australia when Darren was a young boy and James was born soon after. If you're going to mock, you ought to at least have your facts straight.

Posted by AMAZINGFAN on (August 1, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

sa will beat eng on any kind of pitch.if eng prepared green top for this test match then i'm sure steyn &co will rip this eng team.eng don't deserve to be no.1.good luck sa.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

it's going 2 be 2-0 sure!!! this is time to say good bye to england team!!

Posted by trav29 on (August 1, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

i really dont understand all the calls for tremlett , afaik hes only played one first class match since having to return home from the winter tour because of injury. he went 1-82 in that game and supposedly is still not fully fit so there is no way hes even going to be considered

Posted by St00rt on (August 1, 2012, 13:47 GMT)

Lovely references to Ernie and our Olympic swimmers. Here's hoping that the Proteas destroy the English and send Andrew Strauss to an early retirement. Proudly SA!!

Posted by SurlyCynic on (August 1, 2012, 13:45 GMT)

It's unfair to mock Darren Pattinson's selection like that, I think he has a great grandfather who once visited England, so we should probably be asking how Australia poached his brother to bowl for their test team.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (August 1, 2012, 13:38 GMT)

Very strange to see England select someone so short (and so English) in Taylor... I would have brought in Compton as a solid number 6. Should be a good contest, SA have a habit of slipping back after crushing wins.

Posted by   on (August 1, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

If England don't pick Finn, they are completely stupid. Both Finn and Tremlett should play ahead of Broad, Swann and Bresnan. If not Tremlett, at least Onions. Don't understand why Broad gets the nod ahead of Bresnan. Bresnan's batting avg for the first test was 38, more than the overall 31 and much more than Broad's. He also took half of all the SA wickets that fell versus Broad who got none! Jokes aside, Broad is not that good a batsman and his bowling is non-threatening. Swann could also be put aside at Headingley. Bold selection beckons, otherwise by the third test, when the seleclors realise their folly, it will be too late.

Posted by Narbavi on (August 1, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

The best chance for England would be to prepare a spinning wicket and allow Swann to make use of it, they know they would lose within 3days if they prepare a wicket with grass as the south african seamers are miles better!!

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