England v WI, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day May 28, 2012

South African shadow looms large for England

With a series for the top spot in the world coming up, England proved once again how good they are at home
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Like the film Titanic, there were some twists and turns along the way, but the end result on the fourth day at Trent Bridge was inevitable: West Indies - like the ship - were going down.

This was always going to prove something of a no-win series for England. Victory was expected; defeat would have been viewed as an embarrassment. England remain as the No. 1 ranked Test side, but those who insist they are little more than home-track bullies will go on believing it.

England's record at home really is remarkable, though. This success sealed their seventh successive home series win under Andrew Strauss - a record for any England captain - during which period they have won 16 Tests and lost just two. It was also the first time West Indies had suffered defeat in a first-class game at Trent Bridge. Whatever their issues against spin - and spin in Asian conditions in particular - England are excellent in England.

That may prove just as well. The shadow of South Africa looms over this series with England knowing that far tougher tests lie ahead. It would be disrespectful to dismiss West Indies as little more than a warm-up; disrespectful but not entirely untrue. It may well be that England even use the third Test at Edgbaston to rest a key player or two - James Anderson, who has, in Strauss' words a "quad niggle" is the obvious candidate - and take a look at some fringe candidates. Steven Finn may well win another chance.

Some may complain that such a move is disrespectful to West Indies or to the game. But the England schedule over the next 18 months or so - with a World T20, two Ashes series and demanding series against South Africa at home and India away - is daunting and relentless. Anderson would play every game if he could, but such a gem requires careful handling.

"We will definitely think about that," Strauss said. "We've always viewed resting or rotation as something you do on a case by case basis. We'll speak to the seamers and see how they are feeling. There is a balance to strike because primarily we want to win every Test - that's the starting point - but there is some benefit in taking a look at other bowlers. We want to win the series 3-0."

While England favour continuity of selection they will show no sentimentality towards Jonny Bairstow if they feel he does have a genuine problem against the short ball

While the fallibility of the West Indies top four - a top four that have contributed only 203 runs between them in 16 innings in this series - might suggest otherwise, the pitches at Lord's and Trent Bridge offered the England attack little assistance. There was minimal conventional swing available to bowlers in Nottingham and, with little pace, bounce or seam movement either, England were instead obliged to rely on the old virtues of line, length and pressure.

It is a method they have perfected. They rarely destroy teams with outrageous displays of pace or devastating displays of individual skill. Instead the four bowlers, all of them proficient but none, by the strictest standards, great, share wickets between them. In the field, they besiege teams with pressure. They give them nothing, cutting off their scoring opportunities and preying on their weaknesses and insecurities. They choke and suffocate them. With the bat they wear teams down and, by batting so deep, test the fitness, resolve and skill of their opposition. They are the boa constrictors of the cricket world.

Opponents often chastise themselves for one bad session; in truth they have more often buckled after several sessions of pressure. England may not possess the best individual players in the world but, in these conditions anyway, they may well have the best team.

The series against South Africa will clarify that. England will go into it, at least, in decent shape. On the final day here Strauss and Alastair Cook became just the fifth pair of batsmen in Test history to add over 5,000 runs together, Kevin Pietersen is back to his confident best, they have a batting line-up that contributes down to No. 10 and a reliable, sometimes inspired, bowling unit. Some doubt remains about the identify of the man who will bat at No. 6 against South Africa - while England favour continuity of selection they will show no sentimentality towards Jonny Bairstow if they feel he does have a genuine problem against the short ball - but the other 10 places are all but picked.

"We feel we can beat anybody at home," Strauss said. "We have home advantage, we know the conditions better than the opposition and we think we're a match for any side generally. Test wins are not easily achieved - we have been pushed hard in both these Tests - but it is the right attitude to think we can beat anyone at home."

It is worth reflecting for a moment on the contrasting fortunes of these teams over the last decade or so. Since 2000, the first time England won the Wisden Trophy in the lifetime of these players, England have, with a few blips upon the journey, risen from the bottom to the top of the Test rankings. West Indies have continued their slide in the opposite direction and, since February 2009, they have played 32 Tests, won just two (one of which was against Bangladesh) and lost 16. They have lost six of their last eight Tests.

They could do worse than learning from England. And they could start by looking at the work of Lord MacLaurin - chairman of the ECB between 1997 and 2002 - and the way in which he instilled the game in England and Wales with a common purpose.

The greatest achievement of the ECB in those years was to convince all parties - the counties, the players, the media and the supporters - that the No. 1 priority was the success of the national team. Everything else - the central contracts, the investment in the national team, the investment in age group cricket and in local academies and the improvements in the domestic game - all came from that principal. While Caribbean cricket remains choked by ego, petty grievances, personal agendas, appalling management and individual aspirations, the West Indies team is trying to climb with an anvil tied to its back. They deserve so much better.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zenboomerang on May 31, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    The Saafa's may be looming large, but it will be without having played much cricket... This year SA have only played NZ in Feb/Mar & thats it... Eng this year have played Pak, SL, WI & then an ODI's series against Oz before the 1st SA v Eng Test... If Eng don't beat the Saafa's at home, then it will be more a poor indictment of where Eng is at, rather than where SA are at... Not casting stones, just facts...

  • ballonbat on May 31, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    JG2704, it might well be that the Ashes series is played as often as any other. But the SA complaint is that the Ashes consists of five matches, whereas most of the recent SA series have been three, even two or if lucky four. When last did they play five? I have no clue but hazard a guess at a series against the Windies?

    I wonder how much this has to do with tv revenue? There's more to be made in games that feature sub-continent sides and England and Australia. SA hasn't got the paying public. Just a thought.

  • JG2704 on May 31, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    @ Meety - Agree pretty much with everything you say. I'm sure I've said similar loads of times in the past and loads more in the future. The last series vs Aus sums themup for me. They bowl Aus out in the 1st test and end up winning in from trailing significantly from the 1st inns and then the same SA attack could not defend 300+ (after having them 165-5) vs the same side in the next test. Obviously credit must also go to Aus lower order but the results are there for all to see

  • JG2704 on May 31, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    @ dogcatcher on (May 30 2012, 10:17 AM GMT) Just to pick you up on one thing re Eng playing Aus too often. They play an Ashes series the same number of times per decade (by and large) as they play any other country. It somehow panned out we've not played NZ for some time and some joker made out like we were avoiding playing them. Re ODIs - I thought it was a shame SA/Aus played any ODIs when I think both sets of fans would rather have seen a decider for the last series. Also I don't think Aus are weak. Comp to the side pre 2008 then yes but they drew in SA , won in SL (which both SA and Eng failed to do on their last visits). And yes - too early to rank our bowlers with the all time greats. I think the only fair way is to only rank retired bowlers/bowling units and even then it becomes subjective

  • CricketingStargazer on May 31, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    I guess that the problem with many of these comments about SA's superiority is the obvious one: ehy don't they win more series (and by bigger margins when they do win) if they are so good? If it's down to mental weakness, which is what a lot of commentators have suggested, why won't England be able to exploit this weakness as others have? One of the features of England 2003-05 was that, after series people said "ah yes, but England beat a side in decline" (NZ, SA, Aus, WI, ...). It's also been a feature of recent series (Aus, Ind, ...). What a good side does is make the opposition look less good than they really are. The West Indies in the '80s & '90s and Australia afterwards were masters at it. We'll see this summer which side has that power. Undoubtedly the top 3 sides right now are Eng, SA & Pak (who are rising fast and should be officially #3 this summer) - it is not obvious to me though which of the 3 will be top dog in 12 months.

  • Meety on May 31, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    @Saffie1987 - on paper I'd say the Saffas are the better side & SHOULD win in a close fought series - maybe 2-1, HOWEVER, if the Saffas play @ 75%, England will win 3nil - all by innings margins. The great WIndies or Oz sides of the past couldn't win everything, (meaning they lost when they weren't @ 100%). As good as I think this Saffa side could be, they are NOT that great. @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - agreed, regardless of rankings - the fundamental difference between the Saffas & India is that the Saffas batting & bowling is better suited to England than India's - so no comparison between the teams is valid. @JG2704 - Sth Africa are an enigma in cricket. Back throughout Oz's period of dominance, I never simply expected to beat the Saffas, I always thought they could win. I thought they'd be the next Champs of world cricket after Oz were knocked off. It amazes me how they under perform so much! Steyn is ridiculously good + Philander & then there is Kallis, AB & Amla. Has me stumped!

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - Agreed that taking 20 wickets (obviously for less than what your opponents take 20 wkts for) is what is required and SA do have better bowling options than India , which makes it surprising that SA aren't winning all that many series at all. However , 50/50 series predicted from me

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    @ Saffie1987 on (May 30 2012, 14:14 PM GMT) You say about maybe going a little OTT but then you say about only needing to play at 75% to beat England? Maybe no one's seen the above 75% SA side because drawing so many series (most of which were at home) - well if you were above 75% in those series then 75% isn't good enough to beat England unless England have an absolute stinker. Man for man SA probably are the better side. Could be that this is the series where it all falls into place

  • A_Vacant_Slip on May 30, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - Ok mate you got me. Definitely there is no comparison between India and South Africa who should not be mentioned together in same sentence. Even so as you rightly point out battle is fought out in bowling department. But I cannot see how South Africa batsmen will be able to withstand England bowling and fielding pressure. India "stellar" batting could not handle it and Aussie (albeit weaker) batting at home in Australia could not handle it. In England no-one can handle it. This is why I pick England but team appear well matched on paper. Cricket not played on paper though, eh? PS I like your posts so no grudge here...!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 30, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @A_Vacant_Slip: India believed that packing a team full of batsmen was key to victory, and either forgot the golden rule or just didn't have options: IN TEST CRICKET THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY IS TAKING 20 WICKETS. Therefore I don't think you can simply compare the upcoming SA team with 'Number 1 India of old' - SA has fantastic bowling options, and THIS is what wins test matches. That's what's gonna make this series a tight one, regardless of England's impressive home stats.

  • zenboomerang on May 31, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    The Saafa's may be looming large, but it will be without having played much cricket... This year SA have only played NZ in Feb/Mar & thats it... Eng this year have played Pak, SL, WI & then an ODI's series against Oz before the 1st SA v Eng Test... If Eng don't beat the Saafa's at home, then it will be more a poor indictment of where Eng is at, rather than where SA are at... Not casting stones, just facts...

  • ballonbat on May 31, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    JG2704, it might well be that the Ashes series is played as often as any other. But the SA complaint is that the Ashes consists of five matches, whereas most of the recent SA series have been three, even two or if lucky four. When last did they play five? I have no clue but hazard a guess at a series against the Windies?

    I wonder how much this has to do with tv revenue? There's more to be made in games that feature sub-continent sides and England and Australia. SA hasn't got the paying public. Just a thought.

  • JG2704 on May 31, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    @ Meety - Agree pretty much with everything you say. I'm sure I've said similar loads of times in the past and loads more in the future. The last series vs Aus sums themup for me. They bowl Aus out in the 1st test and end up winning in from trailing significantly from the 1st inns and then the same SA attack could not defend 300+ (after having them 165-5) vs the same side in the next test. Obviously credit must also go to Aus lower order but the results are there for all to see

  • JG2704 on May 31, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    @ dogcatcher on (May 30 2012, 10:17 AM GMT) Just to pick you up on one thing re Eng playing Aus too often. They play an Ashes series the same number of times per decade (by and large) as they play any other country. It somehow panned out we've not played NZ for some time and some joker made out like we were avoiding playing them. Re ODIs - I thought it was a shame SA/Aus played any ODIs when I think both sets of fans would rather have seen a decider for the last series. Also I don't think Aus are weak. Comp to the side pre 2008 then yes but they drew in SA , won in SL (which both SA and Eng failed to do on their last visits). And yes - too early to rank our bowlers with the all time greats. I think the only fair way is to only rank retired bowlers/bowling units and even then it becomes subjective

  • CricketingStargazer on May 31, 2012, 6:43 GMT

    I guess that the problem with many of these comments about SA's superiority is the obvious one: ehy don't they win more series (and by bigger margins when they do win) if they are so good? If it's down to mental weakness, which is what a lot of commentators have suggested, why won't England be able to exploit this weakness as others have? One of the features of England 2003-05 was that, after series people said "ah yes, but England beat a side in decline" (NZ, SA, Aus, WI, ...). It's also been a feature of recent series (Aus, Ind, ...). What a good side does is make the opposition look less good than they really are. The West Indies in the '80s & '90s and Australia afterwards were masters at it. We'll see this summer which side has that power. Undoubtedly the top 3 sides right now are Eng, SA & Pak (who are rising fast and should be officially #3 this summer) - it is not obvious to me though which of the 3 will be top dog in 12 months.

  • Meety on May 31, 2012, 6:02 GMT

    @Saffie1987 - on paper I'd say the Saffas are the better side & SHOULD win in a close fought series - maybe 2-1, HOWEVER, if the Saffas play @ 75%, England will win 3nil - all by innings margins. The great WIndies or Oz sides of the past couldn't win everything, (meaning they lost when they weren't @ 100%). As good as I think this Saffa side could be, they are NOT that great. @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - agreed, regardless of rankings - the fundamental difference between the Saffas & India is that the Saffas batting & bowling is better suited to England than India's - so no comparison between the teams is valid. @JG2704 - Sth Africa are an enigma in cricket. Back throughout Oz's period of dominance, I never simply expected to beat the Saffas, I always thought they could win. I thought they'd be the next Champs of world cricket after Oz were knocked off. It amazes me how they under perform so much! Steyn is ridiculously good + Philander & then there is Kallis, AB & Amla. Has me stumped!

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - Agreed that taking 20 wickets (obviously for less than what your opponents take 20 wkts for) is what is required and SA do have better bowling options than India , which makes it surprising that SA aren't winning all that many series at all. However , 50/50 series predicted from me

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    @ Saffie1987 on (May 30 2012, 14:14 PM GMT) You say about maybe going a little OTT but then you say about only needing to play at 75% to beat England? Maybe no one's seen the above 75% SA side because drawing so many series (most of which were at home) - well if you were above 75% in those series then 75% isn't good enough to beat England unless England have an absolute stinker. Man for man SA probably are the better side. Could be that this is the series where it all falls into place

  • A_Vacant_Slip on May 30, 2012, 20:51 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK - Ok mate you got me. Definitely there is no comparison between India and South Africa who should not be mentioned together in same sentence. Even so as you rightly point out battle is fought out in bowling department. But I cannot see how South Africa batsmen will be able to withstand England bowling and fielding pressure. India "stellar" batting could not handle it and Aussie (albeit weaker) batting at home in Australia could not handle it. In England no-one can handle it. This is why I pick England but team appear well matched on paper. Cricket not played on paper though, eh? PS I like your posts so no grudge here...!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 30, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @A_Vacant_Slip: India believed that packing a team full of batsmen was key to victory, and either forgot the golden rule or just didn't have options: IN TEST CRICKET THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY IS TAKING 20 WICKETS. Therefore I don't think you can simply compare the upcoming SA team with 'Number 1 India of old' - SA has fantastic bowling options, and THIS is what wins test matches. That's what's gonna make this series a tight one, regardless of England's impressive home stats.

  • A_Vacant_Slip on May 30, 2012, 19:48 GMT

    I don't agree with heading. It should read "England shadow looms large over South Africa". How South Africa must dread coming to England. England are at home and match fit. Home defeat for England in a Test is so rare - in 2011 Played 7 won 5 drawn 2 (4 of those wins were against so-called "number one" test team). 2010 Played 6 won 5 lost 1. 2009 played 7 won 4 lost 1. 2012 played 2 won 2. So since 2009 that played 22 won 16 lost 2. South Africa may be good side - but they show against very mediocre Australia that they are well capable of losing. South Africa will have to bring their best cricket. Come to England is severe test - as "number one" India found out last year.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 30, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    I'm surprised we haven't had any "if the sun shines, England will struggle... if the clouds cover, England will swing to victory..." comments yet! Where are you all hiding? Or are you just like me and stunned that we've actually had any great sunshine here in UK for a change! O.K. so maybe there was some truth to this cliche, but I'm impressed with the maturation and new variation of England's bowlers. I agree the series is a real 50:50. Looking forward to Steyn vrs. KP!

  • on May 30, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    The great Andrew strauss form will suddenly take a nose dive thanks to Steyn and Morkel.

  • Saffie1987 on May 30, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    @JG2704 : Maybe i was going a little bit over the top! But i feel that Sa really doesn't have to play at 100 % to beat England! 75 percent is enough!!!!! I know i'm biased, but even objectively, This sa team should beat England! And what's up with people saying that England's bowling attack is better then Sa's attack!!! That's a load of rubbish!!!!

  • jmcilhinney on May 30, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    @RandyOZ on (May 30 2012, 09:10 AM GMT), haha! We know that England are doing well when you have stoop to criticising them for their policies regarding substitute fielders. While I'm addressing you, have you decided whether you want Khawaja in the Australia team or out at the moment? I can't recall what your last position was.

  • CricketingStargazer on May 30, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    Randy, didn't realise that your confidence had been shaken so badly by recent events. Only a few weeks ago you would have predicted 3 innings defeats for England. Now you can't even predict victories. Keep an eye on the series: it's #1 v #2.

  • on May 30, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    @JG2704 on (May 29 2012, 21:38 PM GMT), I wasnt talking about England in the UAE, I am referring to when Pakistan toured England last. I cant believe you cant see the comments re Kallis. I once read from an England supporter that the Proteas only have 4 batsmen and England have 7 batsmen !!!!

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    @subbass on (May 29 2012, 16:07 PM GMT) Cricket actually differs from football in this respect. In football a team can be1 point clear of the next who has 2 games in hand and until those games in hand have been played that team stays above the other. In cricket the ranking is calculated by total number of points divided by the number of tests played so the only way the ranking points are affected is by form. Playing more matches only benefits a side if they improve on their form in those matches

  • JG2704 on May 30, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    @Saffie1987 on (May 29 2012, 20:03 PM GMT) You may be right but it's not pure fact at all. Eng have not even played against that attack and Aus managed to score 300+ against that exact same bowling attack to level that series. If Australia can do that in SA then surely Eng have a chance in England

  • dogcatcher on May 30, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    @JG2704 - delange is a rising star but raw, lopsy(Tsotsobe) is good & then you have the all round talent of Parnell. IMO these guys are nowhere as seasoned or as good as the Englsih backup options. Lets hope SA's import gets some sage advice and tutlage from Qadir.

    @britop - you are correct but the ICC test champ keeps getting moved & if they were a force they would institute the same tech around the world and get proper schedules and teams playing each other when both teams are at their peak. Lets face it, England play Australia too often because the ashes is the biggest money spinner (IPL excluded) in the game. Having this every second year doesn't allow other teams to rip into a weakish Oz team or get at England. No changing this!

    @yorkshirepudding - Lords is not the only venue in the UK..(no country has as many venues) getting tickets for both archery or cricket will prove illusive. Not sure I like all the talk of england current bowlers being up with the greats.way too e

  • RandyOZ on May 30, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    South Africa A vs South Africa B will be a very interesting series, purely because the margins of victory to the A team will be hard to predict. I would assume the A attack of Steyn Morkel and Philander will be way too strong for the house of cards presented by the B team. Lets also see if B can field a new record for most substitute fielders used in one match.

  • CricketingStargazer on May 30, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    @subbass, good point, well made! One of the reasons why South Africa's challenge for the #1 spot has been made more difficult is their insistance on playing short series. The big points are there to be won with 3-0 and 4-0 wins, especially over the weaker sides. Playing 2-Test series you haave to win almost everything to make any headway and, when you have slip-ups (such as that series v Australia), a single defeat can be very serious in its consequences.

  • on May 30, 2012, 4:00 GMT

    I think the SA Vs Eng series will decide who is the undoubted No. 1. Till the time India was winning abroad this past decade, it was a force to reckon. This was achieved primarily because we had the better of the methods teams like England and Australia employ. For e.g. Australian fast bowlers till the series' before the last one used the short ball to great effect and length swing was a potent english weapon. Batsmen like Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman ameliorated that threat to an extent while carrying match winning fast bowlers like Zaheer, Sreesanth, Ishant, Srinath and others along with them. But the change of tactics the last series changed all that and result was a 4-0 score line. traditionally teams have reworked their strategies at home and like England, even India have not been defeated at home for long. So the Eng Vs SA series will be a test of skills and technique for Eng while their series in India will tell whether they deserve the world champion tag or not... !!

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    @Andy Plowright on (May 28 2012, 22:54 PM GMT)- You start your answer saying what you think they'll go with. But if you were picking the side would you consider a 5/1/5 formation and if not what would be your reasons against it besides we have had success with 6/1/4? Also agree re 6th batsman (if we go with that formation) being Compton. I think it was a fair idea trying Bairstow against a lesser WI side. Have you seen enough of JB to say Compton is the man and if so would you play Compton next test rather than wait for the 1st SA test?

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    @dogcatcher on (May 29 2012, 10:55 AM GMT) As I've said in another post I feel it's a real 50/50. Now re SA - You hint that you worry about their lack of bowling depth. I guess De Lange is the next in line and he had a great test recently (maybe his debut?) , but is there nothing much below that?

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    @Stephen Axtell on (May 29 2012, 07:13 AM GMT) It's swings and roundabouts. Re Eng in UAE it was generally spin that found them out and Tahir is nowhere near the level of Ajmal or Rehman and the English pitches are nowhere near as condusive to spin to those in the UAE. Also who's saying there's nothing more than Kallis? I don't think I've read one comment which says that? The last 6 series are 2-2 with 2 draws and tests are 8-8. That's how I see this one - a 50/50 job

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (May 29 2012, 08:54 AM GMT) Sorry bud but that SA test where they rolled over Aus for 47 was the opposite of the example you are trying to put across. In that test I believe Aus batted forst and built a very hand lead after SAs 1st inns went pear shaped and SA blew Aus away in the 2nd inns and then held firm with bat. The 2nd test , 2nd inns is a better example of what you're trying to say about not finishing teams off. I'm not saying too much on the subject as I still have my doubts re our batting

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 21:21 GMT

    @pommyadders on (May 29 2012, 06:21 AM GMT) Nail on the head as far as I'm concerned

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    @landl47 on (May 29 2012, 03:21 AM GMT) Bres has already been averaging better than our number 6s have when batting at number 8 and Broad's average at 9 would not be far off. Hypothetical question - your decision - you can have a batsman who averages around 35 or a player who can averge between 30-35 with the bat and 30 with the ball , which would you choose?

  • JG2704 on May 29, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 on (May 29 2012, 01:22 AM GMT) - Maybe - Maybe not. He averaged 25 lat time he toured Eng. He's obviously always a danger man and could do sensational things. But then again he could do what he did last time. I believe Darren Bravo and Edwards were both averaging more than Gayle pre this tour. To be honest I'm pretty sure there were plenty who omitted Samuels in their chosen line ups (probably because they thought Pollard was a better bet LOL) so if you took Samuels out would Gayle,Bravo etc have done better?

  • 5wombats on May 29, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    @IronCobra on (May 29 2012, 03:04 AM GMT) - there is nothing whatsoever that we agree about.... except IPL.

  • Saffie1987 on May 29, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    England wish they could beat Sa!!!! it seems everyone here thinks England is going to win!!! England arn't good enough to handle Steyn, Morkel and Philander!!!! I'm sorry to say, just pure fact!!! I don't see our batting line up having any trouble handling " the great England" attack, like Saker said, an England attack just as good as the Mcgrath and Warne! Hahahah you English are a bunch of funny dude's!

  • subbass on May 29, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    For all the chat about SA playing fewer matches, well that certainly does not mean they are 'better' it's like in football, you want the points in the bag not games in hand, so that one is a load of rubbish.

    That said SA are a very good side.

  • Long-Leg on May 29, 2012, 16:06 GMT

    Not sure that England's home advantage counts for much. Most of the current South African team have played seasons in county cricket so will be very familiar with English conditions. England is a second home for most of them. I still back England to beat them though.

  • YorkshirePudding on May 29, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    @ballonbat, when you add on the 3 games against the WI's that england are currently playing will put them pretty much level pegging with India & Aus, AS Far as I'm aware both teams dont have any tests before the end of the year, where England will have played an additional 3 tests, giving them 50 to Aus/India's 46....What may count against SA is the lack of Tests since the NZ series in mar/apr, so they may be pretty cold in regards to time in the middle, except for Phillander whos been in the LVCC.

  • brittop on May 29, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    @dogcatcher: The ICC have nothing to do with the number of tests played in a series - that's down to the two countries' boards. The ECB have invited the Aussies for a pointless 5-Match ODI series this summer, so that's the reason for only three tests. As you can tell, I think this is a ridiculous decision, and I will be paying no attention to the Aussie games.

  • ballonbat on May 29, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    kh1902, I'm going to haul out some stats just to prove your point that people will always produce them. That's part of what cricket is about for lots of followers of the game. Kallis might well have a record skewed by lots of runs scored at Newlands, but his Test average outside of SA is still over 53, which I reckon is pretty enviable. And it is not all against WI, Zim and Bangladesh. He's got excellent away records against Pakistan, India and NZ and an average of 45.75 in Australia is better than most batsmen around. He has got a terrible away record against England but look at KP's in SA (25), Trott's (27), Prior's (23). It's rare for away records to be higher than home (only Strauss bucks the trend against SA), so England better watch out for SA. Aves in England: Smith (72), AB (64), Amla (45) ... um Kallis 29, Boucher 27 and Rudolph 14. So, the stats prove nothing much except that Kallis does produce perfectly identical averages against all teams. Let battle commence.

  • YorkshirePudding on May 29, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @dogcatcher, well put, but I as an England fan put SA slightly ahead of England, and it will be key sessions that deterimine the series results. as for Reserves theres De Lange who did a good stint as a stand in bowler when Philander was injured...As for a 3 Test series, its sad that there couldnt have been 4 or 5 tests, but with the Olympics in the UK its sort of screwed up some of the schedules, especially with Lords being used for Archary.

  • CricketingStargazer on May 29, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    @HankasHarry, it could be that you are right. However, how many people would have bet on Australia coming back and sharing that series? I also remember the bewilderment of the CricInfo comms last Autumn as South Africa had the chance to take the #1 spot, but seemed to lack the belief to do so. Series over the last 10 years though have always been tight, with unexpected twists (who would have bet on South Africa starting so dominant in 2003 and, after such an amazing start, only sharing the series?) Just like the last series in South Africa was a test of progress, this one will be a real test of how good England are against strong opposition. In 2008 England were descending into chaos and at a very low point of form and confidence, but even then the series ended 2-1. This series promises to be a cracker. It is a pity that it is only 3 Tests. My guess is that it will end 1-1, but I don't rule out 2-1.

  • ZiggyMarley on May 29, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    SA v England will be a great contest. On the face of it, SA has better star players but England I feel have more players who can contribute meaningfully to the side. I feel SA rely very heavily on Amla, Kallis and ABdV from a batting perspective, whereas England bat all the way down to 10. In fact, going on averages alone, SA's top 6 would have to be about 60 runs better than England's top 6 simply due to England's superior batting depth. Also, English conditions will reduce the gap in the quality of the bowling attacks. In England, Steyn, Philander and Morkel are probably only slightly better than Anderson, Broad and Bresnan, and I reckon Swann is definitely better than Tahir. So to me, SA will indeed hinge on the all-round contribution of Jacques Kallis. If he doesn't fire, England will win this series.

  • din7 on May 29, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Eng may or may not deserve no1 tag. But they surely are the best bowling side in the world. Its the balance that they also have worlds no1 spinner right now which SA didn't. It would be the best series of recent times ENGvs SA. I m just waiting for it. I want to see steyn and co bowling in eng and english bowl against SA.

  • big_al_81 on May 29, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    @ Momin Hashmee. Do you really think it's possible score over 5000 runs as a partnership without playing all the best teams - that's a bit daft surely? In a sense the stats are all the more impressive given the fact that Strauss has failed to cash in against some of the dross that weak bowling teams like India and SL sent his way in the last 18 months. The WI new ball attack is significantly better than either of those.

  • on May 29, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Once someone asked me what was the funniest joke I had ever heard. So I replied "Whenever an English cricket supporter makes fun of the Proteas regarding choking". The irony in it is staggering.

    @BennieLovesCricket, can you do a comparison between England and Pakistan...

  • big_al_81 on May 29, 2012, 11:10 GMT

    Loving the hype. Hope the series lives up to it but I think it will. It really is the two best teams against each other. Thankfully we don't need to worry about the dreary 'England are at home so it doesnt mean anything' argument this time around, for the simple reason that being away suits SA better than being at home where they're not really very good. They're certainly the best side away from home over the last couple of years while in that period England are good in Tests everywhere except the Middle East it seems (at Tests). While we're at it can anyone properly explain why SA play so few Test matches - it's very poor. Too much emphasis on balancing it with ODIs and T20s? If so it hasn't done them much good yet so their board ought to get it together.

  • dogcatcher on May 29, 2012, 10:55 GMT

    Being a saffa, I would suggest England hold the edge. History shows that the recent SA team are very very slow starters which for me again means coming back from 1 nil down after the first test, which as always makes me loath the ICC obstinate scheduling years in advance. Three test series is a waste! On paper and stats it seems to me that SA have the edge but one injury to the front line bowling attack and the SA attack is considerably weakened where England have Tremlett, Finn and Onions waiting in the wings. As suggested in the article the England boys have had a decent work around and batting pratcice so will be rady where a few county games will definitely not suffice. I for one cannot wait.

  • rahulcricket007 on May 29, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    @bennie loves cricket . that is because in the recent time english batsmen have failed to make runs . for example in uae broad made a half century in second test to give england a lead . mean while sa has kallis, amla , devillers who r good batsmen not to mention they all are right ahnders . so the swann factor cancels here .

  • BennieLovesCricket on May 29, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Just to fuel the Eng vs SA debate, a quick analysis of the player ratings on the ICC website reveals that England currently outgun SA in both departments. Thanks to England's tail we have a total batting rating of 5652 points vs SA's 4545 and our average ratings points per bowler (England's 4 vs SA's 5) is 744 vs SA's 621. Even dropping Tahir (the weakest of the bowlers currently ranked) from the bowling averages leaves SA with an average points of 713. So, taking that and the home advantage into consideration, it's fair to say that South Africa don't stand a chance :)

  • ballonbat on May 29, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    What no one here has mentioned is what is happening off the field. Ok, obviously the game is finally won or lost by the players, but in SA's case particularly, the effect of the coach is going to be critical. No need to mention the 'c' word. Gary Kirsten is undoubtedly a brilliant coach and possibly the best around right now. The mental preparation, team dynamics, all that sort of stuff as well as skills preparation will be a whole new ball game for SA. He is vital to their success.

  • HankasHarry on May 29, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    CricketingStargazer, I think the Aussie loss was due to rustiness. Am not trying to make excuses, but don't forget the last time they played any cricket before that series was at the WC. I know what you mean tho, but still think the team has matured a lot, especially now with a set team & new coaching staff. The SA team of the 90's were in similar vain, but easily collapsed when the top 3 were dismissed cheaply. Now we have a Kallis at 4 & an AB at 5 who have the BMT to stem a collapse. The guys now have a lot more confidence in their abilities in all formats of the game (see AB, Kallis, Steyn, Morkel performances in the 2012 IPL). As mentioned, I just wished for them to have played more closely scheduled test series before coming in to the UK...

  • ballonbat on May 29, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    Agreed, HankasHarry. I don't know how the allocation of Test matches works, how the calendar is set up and who is responsible - each country's cricket board or the ICC. But look at the rankings list to see the disparity in number of games: Australia and India 46, England 44, SL 38 and SA way down in 7th place with 32 matches. Only NZ and Bangladesh have played fewer in recent years. This is absolutely not on when you consider SA are joint first with England. You could argue that India and Australia are overplayed, but I think good player management, rotation and fitness training take care of that. What players need is time in the middle and SA is deprived of that. That, if anything, might decide the series. Kallis, AB, Morkel, Steyn & De Lange have been messing about in the smash n grab stuff (so SA will probably have the edge in Twenty20) and it seems Smith, Boucher, Amla and Tahir are resting. This means only Philander, Petersen, (Prince) & Rudolph have played 1st class since March.

  • on May 29, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    I think the SA Vs Eng series will decide who is the undoubted No. 1. Till the time India was winning abroad this past decade, it was a force to reckon. This was achieved primarily because we had the better of the methods teams like England and Australia employ. For e.g. Australian fast bowlers till the series' before the last one used the short ball to great effect and length swing was a potent english weapon. Batsmen like Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman ameliorated that threat to an extent while carrying match winning fast bowlers like Zaheer, Sreesanth, Ishant, Srinath and others along with them. But the change of tactics the last series changed all that and result was a 4-0 score line. traditionally teams have reworked their strategies at home and like England, even India have not been defeated at home for long. So the Eng Vs SA series will be a test of skills and technique for Eng while their series in India will tell whether they deserve the world champion tag or not... !!

  • CricketingStargazer on May 29, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    England also have the advantage that they regularly finish off opponents when on top. South Africa have not got a good record over the last 3 years of winning series (remember how they rolled over Australia for 47, but then lost the next Test?) They have also had three opportunities to go top of the Test rankings in the last three years and blown two of them (both in the last 9 months - some of it is down to bad luck, but sides make their own luck too); the one time that they did go top it was a very brief, testimonial appearance that they lost at the first opportunity. It will be interesting to see how South Africa copes with the pressure of expectation, knowing that nothing less than a series win will do.

  • HankasHarry on May 29, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    Don't forget that SA have only recently finished with their test team rebuilding. Players like Alviro Peterson, Rudolph & Phillander were no automatic choices until the NZ series, but now the first XI are set. IMO of the current top performers SA stand higher in AB, Amla, Kallis, Steyn & Phillander over Cook, Trott, Bell, Anderson & Broad, but homecrowds will be Englands 12th man on the field. Another concern I see for SA is the long breaks they have had between series. No test cricket played after the WC until the Aus series in SA many months later. The SL series followed shortyly afterwards, but then NZ 2 months later...no consistency in test series for SA.

  • khurramsch on May 29, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    i think problem is not playing with SA.it will be good series both bowling units are good & batting england slightly ahead in home conditions.& the out of forms are back into runs like straus bell & KP since SL series . major thing remain how to play in sub continent.series win vs WI in england doesnot solve problem for series vs india coming up. India lost to england & after went back & played with WI in home won then fans were saying that england loss was just 1 time afair but again went to AUS & same result. same thing happeening here. england vs SA series will be good but England has edge.

  • on May 29, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Taking nothing away from these Eng players, but would love to see against which attacks Cook and Strauss have compiled all their runs...I would say mediocre bowling at best. The only one decent attack Eng have come against so far was against Pak and they crumbled - Their true quality thus exposed. Yes, they can only play against what is put in front of them so not doubting their performances over these recent years - However, don't go overboard with your judgements on how they good they are. This isn't a 'magnificent' team full of 'great' players. Some perspective please.....

  • on May 29, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    Wow, should South Africa bother to pitch up, it looks like England are so good it will be pointless to go. There is a couple of things that are laughable 1) People saying that there is only Jacques Kallis in the Protea team and nothing else 2) England batsmen can play seam well - I remember when Pakistan toured England recently England batsmen really struggled. 3) The last time England played the Proteas they really struggled to bowl the Proteas out with there so called Super Duper bowling attack (stats are there for all to see).

    I just hope that all these people who are saying that England just need to pitch up to win will comment if they dont win.

    South Africa is a much better team than what toured last (how dare someone talk positively about another team besides England - I know).

    Lastly if England should lose none of this "still learning", that conveniently gets thrown around when England lose a series they were suppose to win easily (Pakistan series springs to mind)

  • Sanjiyan on May 29, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    England are really good at home, SA are a really good touring team. This shapes up to be a cracker. Seems this WI tour was just what the England batsmen needed to get some form...which will make the saffers bowling a little harder. England will have to play out of their skins to beat SA and the same goes for SA. SA are still my favourites to win it tho.

  • kh1902 on May 29, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    ballonbat: I guess we'll soon find out about Kallis. When I mentioned he would be talked up based on stats, I meant his career stats. However I doubt his ability to step up at times when SA are in trouble. The example of this was against Australia late last year when Cummins made him look like a schoolboy cricketer. He is a prolific scorer against weaker teams and particularly in Cape Town. He hasn't really been challenged over the last 12 months, that's why he has scored so many runs. If he couldn't score runs in England when he was younger, I doubt he can do it now...although anything is possible I guess. Ultimately it's a team game and individuals don't really matter. SA have more than enough bowling firepower and a couple of fine batsmen which might be enough to overshadow Kallis' underperformances.

  • on May 29, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Sa has the better team on paper and should repeat 2008 and crush england like the SA rugby team are also going to do to England in July.

  • ballonbat on May 29, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    kh1902, I think just the opposite about Kallis. He won't be talked up based on his stats but down. His record in England is abysmal. But it is very dangerous to write him off. He last played in England in 2008 and since then his role in the team has changed considerably: the Proteas' top order is really solid and Amla and AB especially give it muscle. Look at Kallis's recent performances and you'll see how this confidence in his fellow batters has allowed him to express himself more at the wicket - a double ton finally, then another. He is a great player and his overall stats underline that. I reckon he's going to make every effort this tour to improve his English batting stats massively. One thing, though. He would have done better to forgo the IPL circus and play first class cricket for a county.

  • pommyadders on May 29, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    @landl47 "the question is, can Bresnan bat well enough to play at #7?"

    I say yes.....for nearly 2 years Eng have been carrying a non contributing No6 batsmen; Colly in the 10/11 Ashes, Morgan, Bopara and now Bairstow and we've been wining test matches. If we had anyone knocking down the door that would be different, but I'd back Bressy to score as many or more runs than those mentioned.

    A bowling attack of Jimmy, Broad, Bressy, Finn and Swann will send shivers down the spines of the Saffer batsmen!!

  • natmastak_so-called on May 29, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    @ snick to bacward point : thanks for enlightening us on england's record , be at peace with it if you want . Still my money is on england this series because of their batting resolve .

  • its.rachit on May 29, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    @snick_to_backwar_point - you seem to be a victim of selective memory ... prior to the england serie last year, India had drawn and beaten England in England (02 and 07) .... Drawn with SA, beaten NZ in NZ ... won their last 2 series in WI ... if that is nothing to u .. then i wonder what u wud say about england not beating india in india in the past 28 years ... surely they do not deserve to play cricket in that case ... and england did go down 3-0 to pakistan in their 1st series after becoming no.1 ... speaks a lot abt they ability ....

  • natmastak_so-called on May 29, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    @ ironcobra : "2 months of utter crap that is IPL." If that's so, then why bother watching or even comparing .

  • RednWhiteArmy on May 29, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    Home track bullies, Georgyboy?

    Remember 3 Innings win v Australia in Australia?

  • RednWhiteArmy on May 29, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    England will crush SA like a paper cup!

  • KXIP_is_underestimated on May 29, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    Carberry is my choice at no. 6 and kick out bairstow...i dont know why he got selected since most of his runs have come against university sides . But against SA bopara is a must

  • YorkshirePudding on May 29, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    SA is certainly the series that most fans are looking forward to this summer, just as India were the main event last year...I also agree with George Dobells last comment in the article, the WICB needs to get its self sorted out just as the ECB sorted its self out, by shifting focus so that the Islands become the feeder for the national team. May be its time for Hillare and other members of the WICB to be removed by the Islands.....Shillingford didnt have a bad match, considering the pitch, but was needed to get the Over rate up, I felt that in Englands second innings he didnt get enough balls into the footmarks which would have caused Strauss and Cook more problems than he did, Edgbaston is another wicket that wont help spinner until the 4th/5th day.

  • landl47 on May 29, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    JG2704 has long championed the 5-man bowling attack. Here's another argument for it. Having a 4-man attack means that those 4 have to put in all the serious work, including the 'nothing' overs when there is no swing or spin and the plan is simply to bowl tight. That works against each individual bowler's ability to bowl full out whenever they are called on- they have to get through 90 overs in a day and bowling at full throttle for over 20 overs a day is very hard work. A team with 5 bowlers has the 'spare' bowler to take a good bit of the load while the strike bowlers recharge. Kallis, for SA, is a prime example of a 5th bowler who can bowl 12-15 overs a day and keep the others fresh. One effect of this is on the strike bowlers' averages; Anderson and Broad would have averages 3 or 4 runs lower if they weren't having to be stock bowlers as well as strike bowlers. It's a good argument for a 5th bowler; the question is, can Bresnan bat well enough to play at #7?

  • BigDataIsAHoax on May 29, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    Really looking forward to this series. Breath of fresh air after 2 months of utter crap that is IPL. Should be a cracker!

  • dsig3 on May 29, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    Will be very interesting indeed. I will be hoping SA give England a shock, but should be a cracking encounter any which way. I love to rubbish England but they are a very good side, especially at home. Only one superstar (KP), but he is surrounded by good players who always chip in. If Philander continues his form, England may be in for a surprise. He certainly surprised Aus when we faced him in helpful conditions.

  • kh1902 on May 29, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    snick_to_backward_point: probably inaccurate to say India have done nothing away from home. prior to the disastrous tours of Australia and England, India managed a creditable draw against SA in SA, won in the WI and did manage to beat England the last time they were there. India's away performances against Australia and England prior to the two 4-0 drubbings were actually quite creditable.I think the point is that England have often looked out of their depth on the subcontinent and if they aspire to be a great team, they have to win everywhere, not just where conditions, both on and off the field, suit them

  • kh1902 on May 29, 2012, 2:36 GMT

    South Africa have the bowlers to win so the question is which batting line-up can stand up and be counted. My money's on England. South Africa will rely heavily on A B Devilliers, Smith and maybe to a lesser extent Amla. Kallis doesn't know how to bat in England and as usual will be a non-event. People will talk him up based on his stats as usual.

  • MattyP1979 on May 29, 2012, 1:32 GMT

    Yes SA have a very good side but I still expect a Eng victory. In fact I will go on a limb and say a comftable one. Have to agree with maximum6 here and say its a great opportunity for us to establish a legacy. No.1 and staying there lol.

  • rahulcricket007 on May 29, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    @JG2704 . I CAN BET YOU THAT MAY BE GAYLE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO WIN MATCHES , BUT AT LEAST HE WILL PROVIDE SOME SOLIDITY TO WI TOP ORDER , CUREENTLY THE WI TOP ORDER BATSMEN ARE FALLNG LIKE NINE PINS .

  • JustOUT on May 29, 2012, 1:14 GMT

    @jb633- good analysis.. you missed a point. After the series, it will be time for Strauss to retire from Cricket. It was Nasser and Vaughan before and now it will be Strauss. SA has got Steyn & Morkel, who are supremely ahead of Anderson & Broad by skills & stats. I am not taking anything away from Anderson & Broad, they are coming along good. Its a shame to hv only 3 tests in this series. Hopefully no rain.

  • Selfishkar on May 29, 2012, 1:12 GMT

    The westindies have already proved that they are better than India who went 0-4 ,some under 4 days.

  • on May 29, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    "the West Indies team is trying to climb with an anvil tied to its back. They deserve so much better."

    Well put and so very true !

  • on May 29, 2012, 0:37 GMT

    @SagirParker. England have won in Pakistan and Sri Lanka back in 2000/2001 under Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher, but that was their only success. All other times, they were clueless to the subcontinent pitches. India will be one frontier that's yet to be conquered.

  • VillageBlacksmith on May 28, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    RSA will certainly be a much more difficult proposition under Kirsten than they were under Mickey 'Mouse' Arthurs... Kirsten knows how to make a No 1 side, Arthurs can only dream. Arthurs has since gone on to work his magic with the aussies which is great news! It will be as much Flower vs Kirsten as Strauss vs Morkel

  • StatisticsRocks on May 28, 2012, 23:04 GMT

    @Kirstenfan: I doubt that. Especially beating this Eng team at their own backyard is not going to be easy for any viisiting team.

  • on May 28, 2012, 22:58 GMT

    @ JG2704. I feel sorry for Shillingford. He's come up bowling on trashy West Indian wickets that turn even average slow bowlers into Warnesque demons. The WI-Australia series was played on some very poor wickets. Had either side had a real experienced slow bowler playing, serious damage would have been done. Both Shillingford and Lyon didn't make full use of those conditions. One shudders to think what a primed MacGill and Warne would have done on those tracks. So Shillingford plays on those wickets, gets some success, comes over here and gets to bowl on a track the like of which I doubt he's seen for a long time in the West Indies: hard, flat, true, not breaking up like mad, against batsmen with time and patience. Bowling on poor wickets doesn't help bowlers develop nor does it help top order WI batsmen develop. I'd say this Test has done a lot to show that the state of Caribbean pitches has contributed to an overall lack of skill.

  • on May 28, 2012, 22:54 GMT

    @JG2704. I don't think much will change for South Africa. Initially we'll go for the same four man attack with Prior at 7. The Oval is generally a decent wicket with some help for the slow bowler so Swann should get a lot more overs there than he has at Trent Bridge. Bell will start at 5, the top order picks itself. I don't believe Bairstow's technique is ready for international cricket. The crouched wide stance means he pushes hard at the ball and we saw him get into some poor positions against Roach. I'd give Nick Compton a go based on form. If he can come through then I'd consider him for India at 6 if we aren't going for a five man seam attack. There's a few possibilities like Bopara, possibly Morgan, maybe even James Taylor, but I'd go for Compton. He's not unlike Trott, very certain about his game, and totally Test-orientated to my mind unlike Bopara, Morgan, and Bairstow who seem to be more naturally ODI inclined.

  • Nerk on May 28, 2012, 22:24 GMT

    The Windies have a problem in the top three, that is for sure. What is needed is an older player to lead the youngsters. Gayle would be good here, and is not just a slogger. When captain in Australia, he played with maturity and determination, and put a high price on his wicket. Another option is to call up B Nash, who has scored with consistency for Kent, averaging 61 in trying conditions, or Sarwan whose average this year is less than Nash but has performed well enough. Calling up one of these three old hands might bolster the top three, and allow them to develop without as much pressure. One old player amongst three youngsters who are rotated would help the Windies far more than just letting the youngsters get thrashed everytime they walk out to bat.

  • jb633 on May 28, 2012, 22:02 GMT

    I think Engand should just go into this series as favourite as they possess the killer instinct that holds back the SA cricket side. I think Philander may struggle to live up to the hype surronding him, as the Eng side are decent players of any sort of seam bowling. Swann is a far better spinner than Tahir and he shoud be able to take a few wickets against the SA left handers. Kallis is the standout player from either side, but I think he may struggle against the away swing of Anderson and Broad. I think Steyn will have KP for brekfast with his huge front foot lunge. Should be a quality series though. Looking for to wathcing AB (IMO best bat in world cricket) and Steyn up close, and the battles that will develop throughout the series.

  • hhillbumper on May 28, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    it will be fun playing the saffers.Which ever team wins will have some happy proteas in it.

  • JG2704 on May 28, 2012, 21:08 GMT

    @Chuck_Nunchuck on (May 28 2012, 19:44 PM GMT) 1 - do these guys actually want to play test cricket 2 - What did Bravo and Gayle contribute last time they were in England 3 - Pollard is overrated as an ODI/T20 player , what makes you think he'd do anything in test cricket in English conditions? Narine might have done something but these are not turning wickets as proved by Swann and Shillingford.

  • 2.14istherunrate on May 28, 2012, 21:06 GMT

    Is SA a shadow looming or an opportunity beckoning??? We should be cooking by then given that we are not yet there. Remembering the past it would be foolish to do anything other than play our best team in 3rd Test I do not remember WI ever doing that. if someone is bit injured then it's obviously silly to play them , but in the case of rest which fast bowlers usually do not want, then ODI's and t20's are the time for it. Anyway Anderson will want to get to 300 wkts asap, and I do not really see the possibility of resting Broad as viable except at gunpoint at least. We should take no prisoners at Edgbaston and aim to win by the highest margin of the series!! re G.Smith adding a third captain to his list I would suggest that the boot may be on the other foot by the end of August. Let us look forward to that and beating SA comprehensively.

  • JG2704 on May 28, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    @Andy Plowright on (May 28 2012, 19:27 PM GMT) Interested in hearing what your team for the 1st SA test should be. Could we go for 5 bowlers? If not who would be your 6th batsman?

  • phendel on May 28, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    a great article for WI fans to read.....we certifiable have the worst top order in test cricket right now......& the worst part about is tht we are going to go into the 3rd test with that same top order......& honestly expect to win.....i say scrap the entire top 3 & place the middle order higher up.....our all rounders (Bravo, Russell, Narsingh etc) are going to do significantly better thn the scores of our top 3 by a mile

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on May 28, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    SagirParkar a good home record goes against them because they have done NOTHING away from home,england may not have got to grips with sub continental conditions but theyve beaten and drawn with saffers in last 2 away series, beaten aussies away too.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 28, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    It will be very interesting to see what team SA field against England. My team would be: Smith, Kallis, AB de Villiers, Steyn, VD Philander, Amla, Boucher, M Morkel, Gibbs, Imran Tahir, JA Rudolph (not in any particular order of course). A good spinner in a test team is a must for me, so I'll pick Tahir every time over the part-time so-called all-rounders that throw off-spinners (and get away with it!). I also think Rudolph has earned his stripes and deserves another shot. England team should stick with current team beating WI now, with Finn 12th man.

  • Paul.Power on May 28, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    @Kirstenfan: Seems unlikely. Even if the series goes horribly for England, Strauss is far too phlegmatic to fall on his sword the way Hussain and Vaughan did, and there's no real "straw that broke the camel's back" factor this time either - Hussain had just come off a disastrous tour of Australia and World Cup, Vaughan had to deal with a chronic knee injury and a divided team.

    And that assumes that England do horribly in what should be a very closely-fought series.

  • on May 28, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    I do not agree with Otis Gibson's statement about coming to beat the number one team - England. How long has Otis being the coach. He created a division in the team before taking it apart. He disposed of the most expeiernce players. He set up a very young and experience team to play top level cricket with an inexperience captain. What do you expect. Some people blame IPL for a soft WI team, still there is no excuse for their performance. Where is batting the coach Desmond Haynes? This is test cricket. For heaven sake stand up, defend your wicket. Play yourself in until you can almost read every deilvery. Wait for the loose ones. I ask again, why take Fudadun and Deonarine to England when the second test was crucial for a win or draw for the WI? Chanderpaul did bat at number four but under the circumstance of the top three continuous failure did you really expect him to chalk up a 100? Excuses and more excuses. Chanderpaul should have batted at number four since the first test. "Come On

  • Chuck_Nunchuck on May 28, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    seriouslly what are the top 4 guys are doing in the windies team..surely if you replace them with gayle, pollard, dwayne bravo, and narine as the spinner..they wont do worse than the current team out in the field. My goodness it was just appalling to see the top batsmen getting out after their bowlers put in so much effort and must have hoped wished and prayed that the windies batting unit would play out of thier skin to win this one or atleast give the english run for their money..but alas...its just the same. Its about time the WICB does something good for the Caribbean Islands.

  • Kirstenfan on May 28, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    Graeme Smith has ended 2 England captain's careers, reckon it's time for the 3rd!

  • on May 28, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    @George Dobell. If some doubt remains over who bats at 6, then what has happened to remove the doubt over the number 5 position? Ian Bell's a strange case in this series. Two nice fifties, a good start here, yet there's still the sense of 'Is he going to be the man to nail down that spot?'. To my mind, the SA home series and India away will determine the futures of many men, Bell included. He needs to perform in both series to finally lose the 'Nearly man' tag.

  • SagirParkar on May 28, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    just a reflection on the statement "England are excellent in England"... if that is a declaration of merit then why does a good home record go against the sub-continental teams ? are they not good enough if they have a strong record at home and are poor overseas ?

  • Robster1 on May 28, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    All involved in West Indies cricket would do well to read, digest and act upon the final paragraph.

  • pigeotto99 on May 28, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    i feel it harsh to say none great, the clear and obvious candidate being james anderson. His control of swing bowling stands him up with the best of all time, and, injury permitting, he will go down as the top english wicket taker of all time.

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  • pigeotto99 on May 28, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    i feel it harsh to say none great, the clear and obvious candidate being james anderson. His control of swing bowling stands him up with the best of all time, and, injury permitting, he will go down as the top english wicket taker of all time.

  • Robster1 on May 28, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    All involved in West Indies cricket would do well to read, digest and act upon the final paragraph.

  • SagirParkar on May 28, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    just a reflection on the statement "England are excellent in England"... if that is a declaration of merit then why does a good home record go against the sub-continental teams ? are they not good enough if they have a strong record at home and are poor overseas ?

  • on May 28, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    @George Dobell. If some doubt remains over who bats at 6, then what has happened to remove the doubt over the number 5 position? Ian Bell's a strange case in this series. Two nice fifties, a good start here, yet there's still the sense of 'Is he going to be the man to nail down that spot?'. To my mind, the SA home series and India away will determine the futures of many men, Bell included. He needs to perform in both series to finally lose the 'Nearly man' tag.

  • Kirstenfan on May 28, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    Graeme Smith has ended 2 England captain's careers, reckon it's time for the 3rd!

  • Chuck_Nunchuck on May 28, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    seriouslly what are the top 4 guys are doing in the windies team..surely if you replace them with gayle, pollard, dwayne bravo, and narine as the spinner..they wont do worse than the current team out in the field. My goodness it was just appalling to see the top batsmen getting out after their bowlers put in so much effort and must have hoped wished and prayed that the windies batting unit would play out of thier skin to win this one or atleast give the english run for their money..but alas...its just the same. Its about time the WICB does something good for the Caribbean Islands.

  • on May 28, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    I do not agree with Otis Gibson's statement about coming to beat the number one team - England. How long has Otis being the coach. He created a division in the team before taking it apart. He disposed of the most expeiernce players. He set up a very young and experience team to play top level cricket with an inexperience captain. What do you expect. Some people blame IPL for a soft WI team, still there is no excuse for their performance. Where is batting the coach Desmond Haynes? This is test cricket. For heaven sake stand up, defend your wicket. Play yourself in until you can almost read every deilvery. Wait for the loose ones. I ask again, why take Fudadun and Deonarine to England when the second test was crucial for a win or draw for the WI? Chanderpaul did bat at number four but under the circumstance of the top three continuous failure did you really expect him to chalk up a 100? Excuses and more excuses. Chanderpaul should have batted at number four since the first test. "Come On

  • Paul.Power on May 28, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    @Kirstenfan: Seems unlikely. Even if the series goes horribly for England, Strauss is far too phlegmatic to fall on his sword the way Hussain and Vaughan did, and there's no real "straw that broke the camel's back" factor this time either - Hussain had just come off a disastrous tour of Australia and World Cup, Vaughan had to deal with a chronic knee injury and a divided team.

    And that assumes that England do horribly in what should be a very closely-fought series.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on May 28, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    It will be very interesting to see what team SA field against England. My team would be: Smith, Kallis, AB de Villiers, Steyn, VD Philander, Amla, Boucher, M Morkel, Gibbs, Imran Tahir, JA Rudolph (not in any particular order of course). A good spinner in a test team is a must for me, so I'll pick Tahir every time over the part-time so-called all-rounders that throw off-spinners (and get away with it!). I also think Rudolph has earned his stripes and deserves another shot. England team should stick with current team beating WI now, with Finn 12th man.

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on May 28, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    SagirParkar a good home record goes against them because they have done NOTHING away from home,england may not have got to grips with sub continental conditions but theyve beaten and drawn with saffers in last 2 away series, beaten aussies away too.