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July 29, 2008
Edgbaston represents England's best opportunity of levelling the series after their crushing defeat at Headingley. In 42 Tests here, they have won 22 and lost just seven, giving them a win-loss ratio which is by far their best among all home venues. England's recent form here has been impressive as well: they haven't been beaten in their last five Tests, winning four of them - two against Sri Lanka, a cliffhanger against Australia in 2005, and a more convincing victory against West Indies the year before that.
The venue is also likely to produce a decisive contest: only 13 out of 42 matches, and three of the last 16, have been drawn. The last two drawn games, though, have both involved South Africa, in 1998 and then again in 2003. (Click here for a list of all Tests at Edgbaston.) In fact, South Africa haven't won a Test here, losing two and drawing three.
|England since 2000||7||4||2||1|
|South Africa since 2000||2||0||0||2|
England have a pretty good record at The Oval as well, which is the venue for the last Test, but draws have been the order of the day there - the last three Tests have all been stalemates.
|Venue||Tests||Won||Lost||Drawn||W/ L ratio|
Unlike Headingley, where the team winning the toss has won the last six Tests, Edgbaston doesn't favour the side which calls correctly - of the last 13 games which have ended decisively, eight were been won by the team which lost the toss. During this period - 16 Tests in all, since 1990 - teams have chosen to bat and field eight times each, but only once has a side elected to bat and won, when England beat West Indies by 256 runs in 2004. The team batting first has won only three times and lost ten Tests in the last 18 years.
Among the England batsmen, Kevin Pietersen has been the standout performer, while Andrew Flintoff hasn't done badly either - the 167 he scored against West Indies in 2004 remains his highest Test score. Andrew Strauss has struggled, though, with a highest of just 48 in six innings.
Only two of South Africa's current specialist batsmen have played a Test at Edgbaston: Jacques Kallis made 61 in his only innings, while Graeme Smith feasted on the England attack in 2003, scoring 277 and 85.
|Kevin Pietersen||2||246||61.50||1/ 1|
|Andrew Flintoff||6||438||48.67||1/ 2|
|Michael Vaughan||4||264||37.71||1/ 0|
|Alastair Cook||1||57||57.00||0/ 0|
|Andrew Strauss||3||129||21.50||0/ 0|
|Ian Bell||1||27||13.50||0/ 0|
|Paul Collingwood||1||22||11.00||0/ 0|
Apart from Flintoff, none of England's current bowlers have had much success here. Steve Harmison might not mind missing out of the final XI: in his three Tests here, he had only taken five wickets. Makhaya Ntini is the only South African bowler to have played a Test here, finishing with match figures of 4 for 152 in 2003.
|Andrew Flintoff||4||16||30.68||0/ 0|
|Monty Panesar||1||3||26.67||0/ 0|
|James Anderson||2||3||63.00||0/ 0|
|Steve Harmison||3||5||68.20||0/ 0|
Monty Panesar took three wickets in his only Test here, but since 2000 spinners have done plenty of damage here. Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan both average less than 18 in their two Tests, while Ashley Giles has taken a five-for too.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper