England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge July 13, 2017

Time for the real South Africa to stand up

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Match Facts


July 14-18, 2017
Start time 11am local (1000 GMT)

Play 01:09
Duminy dropped but final XI undecided

Big Picture


As far as Test captaincy debuts go, it's fair to say Joe Root got off to a flyer. An important toss won, a statement innings provided (with a little luck along the way), and an emphatic victory secured. Things may never seem this easy again.

South Africa will certainly looking to make the challenge a little tougher, now that they have their permanent captain back at the helm. Faf du Plessis is the sort of player who sprinkles hard knocks over his cereals in the morning and will be out to inspire a reaction from his wounded side; South Africa have not lost a Test series in England in almost 20 years and the battle to preserve that record will now intensify.

The wounds are mostly figurative, although Kagiso Rabada has absented himself from the second Test after a salty outburst at Lord's led to him accumulating a fourth demerit point. South Africa's problems in defeat were largely of the batting (and catching) variety, however, which has led to JP Duminy being dropped for what may be the final time.

England, meanwhile, have only good options to mull over. Moeen Ali claimed his first Test ten-wicket haul but will happily play the second spinner's fiddle, while Root will look for more from Mark Wood and Ben Stokes on a ground where both played a key role with the ball when England regained the Ashes in 2015.

Wood knows England have the likes of Chris Woakes and Jake Ball returning to fitness, which will put his place under pressure later in the series. But for now, England have settled quickly under their new captain and it is South Africa who need to summon a response.

Joe Root enjoyed a dream start in his first Test as captain © Getty Images

Form guide


England WLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa LDWDW

In the spotlight


Gary Ballance received words of praise from captain and coach for stubborn innings of 20 and 34 on his latest comeback. The latter was particularly valuable in retrospect, as he and Alastair Cook pushed England into a much stronger position than was immediately apparent on the third evening, before the clatter of wickets the following day. But it will only be hundreds and (to an extent) fifties that determine how long Ballance remains in the team. The fact Morne Morkel dismissed him twice bowling round the wicket at Lord's ensures he will be tested there again.

He is only one match into his Test career but already Heino Kuhn will be acquainted with the gauntlet of life in South Africa's top order. Kuhn faced 42 balls for two single-figure scores at Lord's, undone by a perfect Stuart Broad delivery in the first innings and perhaps a little unlucky to edge James Anderson down the leg side second time out. He came into this series in good form, having made two centuries (including 200 not out) on the South Africa A tour of England, but will want to spend longer in the middle in Nottingham to start feeling comfortable about life as a Test opener.

Team news


Having stuck with the same 12-man squad, England named an unchanged team - meaning Toby Roland-Jones continues to wait for a Test debut. With Moeen Ali now considered a "batsman who bowls a bit" and Liam Dawson in the side as the main spinner, they appear a balanced side.

England 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Keaton Jennings, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Liam Dawson, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Mark Wood, 11 James Anderson

The suspension of Rabada and dropping of Duminy, as well as du Plessis' return, means South Africa have some rejigging to do. Duanne Olivier has been confirmed as Rabada's replacement but they still have a decision to make over whether to stick with Theunis de Bruyn or bring in Chris Morris to further strengthen the bowling.

South Africa (probable) 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Heino Kuhn, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 Temba Bavuma, 6 Quinton de Kock (wk), 7 Chris Morris, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Duanne Olivier, 11 Morne Morkel

Pitch and conditions


The pitch being used is the same as that for the 2015 Ashes. Yes, Broad's 8 for 15 and all that. Trent Bridge usually aids swings and seam, which might actually be to South Africa's liking after a surprise trial by spin at Lord's. The forecast is generally clear throughout the Test, although temperatures may be on the cooler side.

Stats and trivia


  • South Africa last played a Test at Trent Bridge in 2003, when they lost to a James Kirtley-inspired England.
  • The 1998 match on the ground is best remembered for Allan Donald's duel with Mike Atherton as England levelled the series.
  • Alastair Cook is 45 runs behind Allan Border, who lies ninth on the Test run-scorer list.
  • Hashim Amla needs just eight more runs to become the third South African to 8000 in Tests.

Quotes


"I'm still desperate to make an impact with runs and get another win out of the lads. They performed brilliantly last week and it's important we keep that hunger and really drive forward as a team and keep improving as a side."
Joe Root - unsurprisingly - wants more of the same at Trent Bridge

Alan Gardner is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shehryar on July 14, 2017, 9:59 GMT

    so who shall i support today, england or south africa?

  • shopar2501408 on July 14, 2017, 9:36 GMT

    last chance for Ballance to look like a test cricketer?

  •   cricfan1607448465 on July 14, 2017, 9:12 GMT

    Only the need of the time is, SA have to know, to understand their potential and play up to that level. But at present, their moral is down and need only to strict to their basics only and in that condition, no power in the world can beat them.

  •   Stephen Scott on July 14, 2017, 8:31 GMT

    It seems that Trent Bridge suits seamers who can swing, so surprised at the continued selection of Dawson. Thought T.Roland-Jones would get his chance here.

  • Leon on July 14, 2017, 8:13 GMT

    An English tour in the past led to the resignation of an English captain. This tour has led to two quotas been dropped in JPD and Parnell. I still believe that this SA team has got what it takes to beat England as you don't suddenly become a bad team after beating Australia in Australia. But credit to England they are playing good cricket and as a Test cricket fan I cannot wait for the second test to start. Hopefully SA don't grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Praveen on July 14, 2017, 7:58 GMT

    @Raman: deKock lacks test match temperament? Have you watched their most recent series in Australia? He has a role and he is playing that to the T. Its the others who should set it up for him. Which did not happen in the first test.

  • Praveen on July 14, 2017, 7:53 GMT

    Elgar, Amla, Faf, Bavuma, deBruyn, deKock, Morris, Philander, Phehlukwayo, Maharaj, Morkel should be the XI today.

  • mabson9871691 on July 14, 2017, 7:48 GMT

    @DENNIS couldn't agree with you more, the English team is very vulnerable! Their pace bowling looks way past its best, and their batting has alot of non performers. The drops won them the game. With Faf at the helm, it's 3-1 to SA.

  • mabson9871691 on July 14, 2017, 7:42 GMT

    @OLIVIER 1 reason, Vern's fitness. H ecould break down at any stage, he's not the fittest of lads and seems rather injury prone. TBD will get his chance, right now we need the extra pace bowler

  • Olivier on July 14, 2017, 7:20 GMT

    Seems to be a witchhunt around Theunis De Bruyn. Usually when there's doubt over someone's place in the team they put their name in the probables but he's not even counted here for Chris Morris. Duminy being dropped should mean they get 6 geniune batsman and De Kock, why would you weaken a batting lineup just so Morris can bowl 8 overs in the day? I get he can bat too but surely De Bruyn after his 48 which helped stop a first innings SA collapse in the last match would secure his place when others did the same or not much better.

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