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'This tour could be the stuff of legend'

Former England and current South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald runs the rule over the bowling line-ups of both sides

Interview by George Dobell

July 13, 2012

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Morne Morkel's first over of the tour cost 24, Somerset v South Africans, Tour Match, Taunton, 1st day, July 9, 2012
Morkel: bowls in "really ugly areas" © Getty Images

I've been on lots of tours and seen lots of cricket. But this series is special: I honestly feel that those of us fortunate enough to be able to watch it can consider ourselves privileged. We are seeing two excellent teams with the two best attacks in world cricket go head to head in a series that could confirm which is the best. It really doesn't get any better.

How do I see it going? It's too tight to call. It could come down to one session, one dropped catch, one moment of inspiration. I know this is a big claim, but it could be as good a series as the 2005 Ashes.

South Africa have a daunting bowling attack, a formidable batting line-up and the desire and experience. But so do England. And, in all my cricket experience, I've never seen a country with a better crop of young quick bowlers than England have at present. Every tour to England is a joy, but this one could be the stuff of legend. I can't wait.

South Africa

Dale Steyn We all know what Steyn brings to the game: he bowls at good pace, swings the ball and has superb control. He is also a wonderful competitor and a fantastic leader of the attack. His fitness is so good that he is just as quick at the end of the day as at the start, and he is able to bowl long, fast spells. One of the factors that might be unappreciated is his experience of county cricket; it's something that he talks about at length. His experience of bowling on different pitches will count for a lot. His Test record - 272 wickets in 54 Tests - is simply amazing and I truly consider it a privilege to watch him operate at close quarters. What makes him special is his ability to pounce when small threats are imminent, and his five-wicket haul stats - he has taken 17 - prove why he is the world's No.1 strike bowler.

Vernon Philander He will share the new ball with Steyn. He is not the quickest, but he swings the ball both ways and asks question after question of the batsman. Facing him is an intense business: every delivery threatens and he wears teams down with his relentlessness. His Test record is ridiculous - he's really riding the crest of a wave at the moment - and with his experience and in English conditions, there is no reason why he should not be able to sustain it. He wasn't a bowler I knew a lot about when he was first picked - it was 2007 and I was out of the country - but I can now understand what Gary Kirsten saw in him: Philander is a tough nut and a clever bowler and he just keeps getting better.

Morne Morkel He has taken another step forward in the last six months. Maybe there were times, in the past, when he was not aggressive enough, but now he has found a way to harness his inner hostility and has become a truly formidable bowler. He is very tall, very strong and bowls in really ugly areas for a batsman. He is a silent assassin, and sometimes doesn't get enough credit for his hard work in partnership with Dale Steyn. The bounce he gets from just back of a length is horrible. He is a rhythm bowler, and the longer he bowls the better he bowls and, if the Oval pitch is as hard as it used to be, he could be a real handful there. He also complements Steyn in a very effective way: one of them pushes the batsman back, one of them drags him forward. Both of them gain movement. They make a hostile, skilful partnership on any pitch.

"In all my cricket experience, I've never seen a country with a better crop of young quick bowlers than England have at present"

Marchant de Lange What a man to have waiting in the wings. He reminds me of Patrick Patterson: he is a big man, very strong, has a similar action, and he relies on brute force to propel a heavy ball. He really excites me, but he is a player we have to look after. He bowled a lot of overs in the nets during the IPL and he is at an age when he is still developing. He showed on his Test debut - when he took 7 for 81 against Sri Lanka - that he can make an impact at this level, and in a couple of years he could be a really special bowler. I think there is a good chance he will play in the first two-day game on the tour, and even if he doesn't play a Test on this trip, the experience will be beneficial. He will be back.

Jacques Kallis He is relishing this series. Despite his phenomenal record, he is still under-appreciated as a cricketer and as a bowler in particular. Yes, we all know he is a great batsman, but he has nearly 300 Test wickets too. That's incredible. He is a very placid man but, if angry and when required, he can still get the ball into the high 80s easily. He has kept himself wonderfully fit and even if there are times when his body aches a bit, he will never - never - shirk his responsibility for the team. His versatility makes him so useful: he can swing the ball; he can keep it tight with his excellent control and he can bowl with pace and attack the batsmen. He is the ideal third or fourth seamer. How long will he continue? Well, he wants to win the World Cup badly. Very badly.

Imran Tahir He is going to have a huge role to play in this series. He has only played a few Tests, but his first-class career record - with over 500 wickets at an unbelievably good strike rate - underlines the fact that he is a man who can take wickets on any surface. Such is his desire to attack that there are times when he can be a bit costly, but there is nothing better than taking wickets, and he has now learned when to attack and when to remain patient. At some stage in the series, he will find a pitch that helps him, and then watch out England. He has such variation and so many tricks that I think he is going to have a massive series. He is a quality man as well as a quality bowler, so he is an asset off the pitch too, and I think what you'll see on this tour is a man who not only has all the tricks but now knows when to use them. He went to Pakistan recently to work with his hero, Abdul Qadir, and that can only have helped. I can't wait to see him celebrating the wickets: his joy is infectious.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe Lonwabo is waiting in the wings if any of the top three fast bowlers are injured. He has worked very hard on his fitness and his bowling and, while he is not the quickest, he is very accurate and relentless in his areas and can swing the ball with good control. It's fantastic to know that he and Marchant de Lange are in the wings as back-up if we do have injuries.


James Anderson His stats talk for themselves these days. He used to be in and out of the side but now he knows his body and his game. Ever since he became the leader of the England attack, pretty much in 2008, he has been brilliant. He swings the ball both ways, he has incredible control and, while he is not quick, he is quick enough. He asks a lot of questions with the new ball, so South Africa will have to watch him closely. He is going to be one of the keys of the series.

Stuart Broad He has come into his own over the last couple of years and has formed a strong partnership with Anderson; a partnership very similar to Morkel and Steyn. He is tall and has genuine pace and hits areas very heavily. He is similar to Morkel as these two are of similar height and pace. I look forward to the tussle between these two.

Tim Bresnan trapped Marlon Samuels lbw, England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 3rd day, June 9, 2012
"I like Bresnan as a bowler and a man: he just gets on with it" © AFP

Tim Bresnan Bresnan was tipped for big things from a young age but, for a while, it didn't look as if he was going to fulfil all that talent. He has now. He is a hell of a cricketer. I recall him coming through at U19 level. He was talented, but maybe a bit chubby. Now he is solid; a really strong man who is in great shape. I like him as a bowler and a man: he just gets on with it. He is happy to bowl the hard overs and can fulfil several different roles when required. He rushes batsmen a bit more than they are expecting, he can swing the ball and move it off the seam. The England management deserve some credit for the way they have backed him and invested in him. He is paying them back now that he has become the finished product.

Steven Finn I remember the first time I saw him. It was at Uxbridge in 2008 and I was really impressed. He is very tall, very quick - seriously quick - but, even more importantly, his attitude is ideal. He really gets stuck in these days, and it says a great deal for England's strength that he might need someone else to suffer an injury to win a place in the team.

Graham Onions It's crazy how many good bowlers England have. Both sides do, actually. Onions attacks the stumps, gives the batsmen little and constantly asks questions of them. From England's point of view it's good to see him back after the injury problems he has had, and he will be banging at the door to win another opportunity.

Graeme Swann I remember him from the tour to South Africa in 2000. He hardly played and it seemed for a few years as if he would be lost to international cricket. But he has seized his second chance and developed into a fantastic cricketer. The key with Swann is his control: he hardly bowls a bad ball. His record to left-handers is superb, and having taking 13 five-wicket hauls in 44 Tests, he is a player for whom the South Africa team has the upmost respect. He is a genuinely funny man too, but he is no joker on the pitch. He keeps it tight for England and, given any help, can attack very effectively. He really is the man that makes the attack work.

Allan Donald is speaking alongside Mike Atherton and Jeremy Snape at the inaugural Wisden 150 Club Lunch at the Kennington Oval on 16 July. For more information, and to apply for a place at the lunch, click here

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 16, 2012, 13:27 GMT)

Looking forward to Steyn and Philander carving through the United XI lineup like a hot knife through butter. Congrats to SA on fielding both sides, by the way!

Posted by threeslipsandagully on (July 15, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

@Fahii In what universe are Broad and Anderson average? Both were brought into the Test setup far too early and performances from that period negatively affect their averages. Since the start of 2009, Anderson has averaged 26.54 with the ball, and over the winter in Sri Lanka and the UAE was taking his wickets at well under 20 apiece (including 9 @ 21.77 in the two Tests in Sri Lanka). Broad's averaged 27.57 in the same period, including impressive performances on flat tracks in the West Indies, not to mention his 13 wickets @ 20.46 in the UAE this winter and taking his wickets against India at a little over 13 apiece. These are two absolutely outstanding seam attacks and they should both make for some outstanding Test match cricket.

Posted by   on (July 15, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

South Africa definitely superior on paper! Stats prove that,,,,,,but lack of recent cricket and short 3 match series means England could catch em cold and win 1st one! With weather being as it is of recent , may not leave much time for RSA to get into a rythem. Thats best case scenario for England .If they let Proteas off to a good start,,,,then cream will rise to the top!Really need 5 tests to sought out men from boys!

Posted by harshthakor on (July 15, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

With their great talent man -to man South Africa may have an edge but they often lack that crucial match-winning killer instinct.Jacques Kallis will have to play a major role and succeed as a batsman.He will also need support Graeme Smith,Amla ,Devilliers etc.

However I would love to see the Springboks reach their peak and become unofficial test world champions.If they win this could be their best achievement ever in test cricket after coming back in 1991,surpassing their series win in Australia in 2008-09.Never forget that they possess the most devastating pace attack to tour England in recent years.

Posted by harshthakor on (July 15, 2012, 3:45 GMT)

South Africa is carrying their strongest ever bowling attack to England and arguably the best bowling force since the attacks of Australia and Pakistan at their peak.Dale Steyn ranks amongst the greatest pace bowlers of all time while Philanderer is great talent.In terms of raw talent the Proteas have every chance of toppling England from the ranking of the no 1 team and attaining the unofficial test world champion status.

However on form England must be favourites who on seaming tracks have performed on par with the top Australian teams of recent times,beating a top team like India 4-0 last year and Australia down under 3-1.England in addition to a balanced attack has strong batting depth.Infact the South African middle order batting has a degree of vulnerability and has a tendency to collapse.South Africa also lack the crucial killer instinct to win test matches and series like against Australia last year.

Posted by FAnon on (July 14, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

Allan Donald - 'but I can now understand what Gary Kirsten saw in him'

And now i understand why Vernon was finally picked after years of outstanding performances in the First Class arena. Trust Kirsten to do the right thing. Yes there is a quota system but not for most people think. The likes of Prince and Tsotsobe know well the meaning of 'last in, first out'. Well I suppose its better than D' Olivera's experience of 'never in, always out'.

And wow, this will be like the South Africa A vs South Africa B series, with a sprinkling of Englishman making the numbers. And ironically, there will frequently no Englishman actually on the field through the series, when SA bowl

Posted by Fahii on (July 14, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

how stupid to call it stuff of legend?& mentioning about bowling only? Jamez Anderson & Stuart broad both are average bowlers both have bowling avg 30+ in test matches, only Dale Steyn you can say will be the legend & he has to prove in ODIs as well, as he has not as good avg in ODIs. J Kallis no doubt is a legend in batting if not in bowling. other bowlers have lot to prove

Posted by theswami on (July 14, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

Methinks that this tour will be resolute batsmen vs. peristent high quality bowling .... most ordinary batsmen ho don't have a good defensive technique will be snuffed out by the bowlers ..... SA has Amla & Kallis, England has Cook & Trott .... the rest will be cannon- fodder for the bowlers ....

Posted by tjsimonsen on (July 14, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

My gut feeling gives England a sligth edge, but weather permitting, it can really go either way. Unfortunately, my more realistic senses say Rain 3 - Cricket 0. I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by SaracensBob on (July 14, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

Mr Donald, how can you say that Jaques Kallis is under-appreciated? Every cricket fan I know admires him for his batting, bowling, competetiveness and all-round good-blokeishness! I think every follower of our great game would like a Jaques Kallis in their side! Having got that off my chest, this has the makings of being an absolute cracker of a series. Hope England have the courage to select a 5 man bowling unit. Anderson, Broad, Finn, Swann and Bresnan could give us the variety and intensity to really put RSA's fine batting line-up under pressure. Fear we'll be conservative and pick Bopara instead of Finn or Bresnan. However, it's going to be enthralling - bring it on! And let's hope it stops bloody raining!

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (July 14, 2012, 0:10 GMT)

Personally I think South Africa is a much better team than England. If this series was being played anywhere else in the world I would say SA hands down. However given that England has had a wet summer. The ball is definitely going to move around a lot more and seam off the deck than probably anywhere else. South Africans are are brought up playing cricket in good weather. So the major challenge I see if they cope with the England bowling attack in this wet summer. If they can do that they should win the series though it will be close contest, like Alland donald said a dropped catch or session could decide it all. If this summer had been a sunny summer. Then South Africa should win. Because they have a better team than England. But in English conditions its too close to call.

Posted by Vilander on (July 13, 2012, 22:34 GMT)

I think the rankings in test should be like this based on skill levl.

1, Pak 2, Eng 3, SA 4, Aus 5, BD 6, WI 7, SL 8 Zim 9,Ind

Posted by MattyP1979 on (July 13, 2012, 21:48 GMT)

Just spent an hour pouring over stats and trivia. In the end I have come to the conclusion that I have no idea who will take this one. Both are extremly good, SA probably have the better 'stars' and stats, but Eng depth and SA lack of cricket could see the opener go to Eng. Mouth watering stuff this and I hope for a very good series. Home advantage counts for nothing against SA who play better away. Neck out...2-1 ENG.

Posted by Kaze on (July 13, 2012, 19:31 GMT)

I have to say it looks in favour of England. The SA side struggled with the Aussies at home, their batting although it looks good on paper can be very fragile. England's batting can be fragile too but they are at home, runs on the board will put SA under a lot of pressure especially with Smith looking out of form.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 19:28 GMT)

Everyone seems to be making a big deal about England's late order batsmen. They will be snuffed out by Steyn and co without much difficulty in my humble opinion.This series will be Amla vs Broad & Trott vs Philander .Mmmm... mouth watering clashes .

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (July 13, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

Now normally I despise test cricket. I am not a test cricket fan one bit. However it's series like these that also appeal to me. The ICC should realise that more iconic test series = more public interest. This will be a good series and a far cry from the 'Indian summer' last time. England's bowling arsenal against SA's middle order. SA's deadly pace duo Steyn and Morkel vs England's batting. Hmm.. yummy prospect in hand.

Posted by Kirk-at-Lords on (July 13, 2012, 18:57 GMT)

As an RSA supporter I did not have a good feeling about the side's chances in England. Everything seemed to tilt in favour of the home side: filthy weather even by English standards, England's run of form in all departments at home, the thumping of the Old Aussie Enemy in an ODI series that nearly put England top of the table in all forms of the game, and RSA sharing with Aussie in being a southern hemispheric side out of season and undercooked. I think Mark Boucher's tragic loss will change all that. As Jacques Kallis said, it is not about cricket anymore. RSA will pull together, go to the next level and put it over the English. I predict a 3-0 whitewash, with England holding the blob.

Posted by AK_25 on (July 13, 2012, 17:33 GMT)

yes both side hav good bowling attack...even batting is also evenly matched.....bt the main reason that gives eng an edge is the batting ability of their tail.....i m sure which ll be great advantage for them......

Posted by getsetgopk on (July 13, 2012, 17:33 GMT)

Now this is cricket at its mighty best, doesn't get better than this, Swann against Tahir, Anderson, Broad and Bresnan against Styne, Morkel and Philander, Legendary indeed!

Posted by whatawicket on (July 13, 2012, 17:14 GMT)

i expect the 8/9/10/11 in the batting order to make the difference. on paper eng looks the better. but i think tahir will be englands undoing. i dont expect him to get much joy from engs top order as i think they will go after him from the off but expect the leggie to get late order wickets picking up 2/3 . i have just a feeling that SA will win 1 - 0. i hope not as an eng supporter. mind im never right i thought eng would be defeated by the aussies in the odis . lol

Posted by subbass on (July 13, 2012, 16:15 GMT)

I make it about 55/45 in England's favour but the SA team are going to be hugely motivated to take the Test mace off us, but perhaps England will be even more motivated to keep it ! Should be a thrilling series and I have tickets for the 1st day of the Headingley Test, really can't wait for that one ! The home support will need to be right behind our lads..And they will be, of that I have no doubt. This could give our bowlers that extra bit of motivation..But all in all a mouth watering series if you love good quality Test bowling.

My final plea is to the weather - Please don't ruin it !

Posted by rajnish.sinha on (July 13, 2012, 15:46 GMT)

but the advantage lies with England because of their batting and home conditions. their top 7 is amazing. as good as any anytime in the world. especially with strauss back in business. and then bresnan and broad to follow. even swann is the best no 10 in the world. SA would want smith to regain form and yet the other opener and no 6 to no9 dont match up to England at all. plus advantage of playing at home. mind it though that SA has Kallis, Amla and Devilliers in their line up. but at least on paper england should win comfortably. yet SA is the closest anytime in the world can get today challenge Eng at home

Posted by tjsimonsen on (July 13, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

@KingOwl: Let me refresh your strangely selective memory. It was England's BATTING faliures that lost them the series against PAK. The bowlers performed supremely (much against expectation).

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (July 13, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

The best bowling duo in Steyn and Morkel. Can't wait for the series to begin.....A new rivalry in the making...Hope it lives upto it's expectation unlike when India toured England..Good luck to both the teams.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Somehow i feel this seems set for a big let down because its such an exciting prospect. does that make sence?....id be terribly dissapointed if it ended up one sided

Posted by venkatesh018 on (July 13, 2012, 13:05 GMT)

The best 7 or 8 bowlers in the world at present, all in a single series. What a mouth-watering contest. South Africa have a slightly better batting line-up, but if pitches remain flat (as they are expected to be at the Oval and at Lords) the presence of Swann will give a definite edge to England and how South Africa will tackle him will determine the result of the series.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

I agree that this series will be a cracker. One should not forget or diminish the roles of the "supporting" batsmen and bowlers in this series. Most likely the runs scored by numbers 8 to 11 on both sides will have a significant bearing on the game with players like Broad and Swann on the Eng side and Philander and Steyn having the potential to make more than useful contributions swinging the balance of the match. Similarly the wickets taken by Duminy or Trott will be a huge bonus. Further, catches win matches and every catch will be crucial. In this regard, I hope the Proteas will not rue the injury to Mark Boucher. I feel to much weight is put on AB's shoulders especially standing up to Tahir. My heart is with South Africa but my mind says it will be very, very close.Luck will surely also come into play .....

Posted by jb633 on (July 13, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

It is always compelling viewing when both sides have a better bowling attack than batting line up. I think these two sides fall into that category. SA, are a greatly overrated side but still they are a good side. England in England have become very difficult to beat and I think they just sneak into the series as favourites. I think the two key men for SA, will be AMLA and Philander. SA must ensure that AB is not exposed to the swinging ball. He has the potential to be a match winner but a platform must be set before he comes in. I think Smith and Peterson will struggle against this seam attack as both have suspect techniques. Cook is the biggest wicket for England. If he gets past 30 England will make a big score. Generally once he gets in he makes it count. I must admit I am worried about Strauss and Trott as they can struggle against pacey swing. Like AB for SA, it is essential that KP does not go in at 25-2. Should be a good series, good luck England.

Posted by Naresh28 on (July 13, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

I see England ahead in the pace attack. Watching Anderson reminds me of McGrath. Good accurate bowler. Englands rise to the top is a result of them producing a potent pace attack. India lacks this one quality that has driven Eng, SA. Oz and Pak to the top. Thus India will linger in the middle trying to relie on batting talent alone.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

Perhaps at the end of the day England's late order batting depth may prove to be the difference, having said that, Kallis' skill with the ball is unmatched amongst the English batsmen. Maybe it wil be South Africa's slips fielding, Bresnan's reverse swing, a stunning display from KP, Steyn or AB, a doughty marathon from Cook and Trott or a quick cameo from JP. Whatever it is it's hard to imagine it not being exciting!

Posted by HumungousFungus on (July 13, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

For me, even with all the talk of the bowlers, this series will be won and lost by the batsmen. Both teams have phenomenal bowling attacks, and extraordinary depth (both De Lange and Finn are massively Test quality), and I expect both attacks to have success. Whichever team scores 300+ more regularly is going to win, and in what may well be a low scoring series, given the effect that the abysmal weather will have had on pitch preparation, and how this will help the bowlers, I am backing England to win, purely because, UAE notwithstanding, they are far less prone to a massive collapse (this is an SA batting line up that has been skittled by the popguns of India and Australia in recent years, lest we forget), and are now as near to unbeatable at home as makes no difference...

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 11:44 GMT)

What a contest! As a neutral i'm looking forward to this more than any other series in a long time. It's so hard to predict what will happen, so much depends in my opinion on how well the Africans are prepared, showing up half baked like the Aussies did simply will not cut it. One big difference to other recent series England has played is the quality and experience of RSA's top order. Batsmen such as Smith, Amla and Kallis can become immovable objects and Devilliers coming in behind them could bury an attack in good batting conditions. I think a three pronged attack of Anderson, Finn and Bresnan offers the best balance and continued threat for England. Flipping the coin and there's not much difference, England too have an excellent top three with the threat of KP to follow, but again, England will face a far stiffer challenge then they have in recent memory with Philander and Steyn's ability to move the ball into the left hander through the air being key.....

Posted by KingOwl on (July 13, 2012, 11:35 GMT)

What superb hype! This is the England bowling attack that could not get the flimsy Pakistani batting line up out just a few months ago. If the late Summer is dry, they will struggle. If it is wet and miserable of course they will be effective.

Posted by BifferSpice on (July 13, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

"I know this is a big claim, but it could be as good a series as the 2005 Ashes. " unfortunately, allan, it can't possibly be, and that's nothing to do with the quality of the two sides. it's down to the horrendous planning that results in this being only a three match series. a classic series has to have ups and downs. this will be nearly finished soon after starting. all so we could shoehorn some miserable meaningless one-dayers in against the aussies.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

Excuse me Mr. Dobell but I think you forgot about Chris Tremlett who destroyed the Aussies in the last Ashes. I know he's not in the said but he can't be forgotten. He'll be back cant keep him out for too much time A little support guys would be nice :)

Posted by pranab708 on (July 13, 2012, 11:08 GMT)

It doesn't get any better than this. The clash of the best bowling attacks. And I believe this could easily turn out to be the best series in the last decade or so. Both teams are at their peak and are evenly matched in most areas. Freak injuries apart, both teams are matched man-to-man. Though I feel, England's reserves bowlers are better than SA's

Posted by Romanticstud on (July 13, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

Unfortunately there has to be a loser ... But No 1 is playiong No 2 ... and thats always a good thing ... to sort the men from the boys ... What about the batsmen ... lots has been sais about Smiths good fortune in England and Kallis not so ... but what about England's top 6 ... Cook, Strauss, Trott, Pieterson, Bell, Prior ... against SA top 6 ... Smith, Petersen, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers, Duminy ... Pity about Boucher as it would be interesting if Boucher vs Prior ... but then Tsolikile/de Villiers vs prior behind the stumps will be interesting ...

Posted by Munkeymomo on (July 13, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge: I was just thinking when reading that it's a shame Tremlett is not in contention for a spot. He has been back bowling for Surrey following his injury.

Posted by Smahuta on (July 13, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

South AFrica love playing in England. SA to win 1-0. 2 matches rained off. Eng gonna get blown away by quality they have not faced before.

Posted by Selassie-I on (July 13, 2012, 10:09 GMT)

Really looking forward to this, less thana week to go, with tickets to most of the headingly test... lets hope it doesn't RAIN!!

Posted by coolindianfan on (July 13, 2012, 10:02 GMT)

Spot on Allan sir.I think in English conditions Englishmen will exploit the bowling conditions better .But RSA cant be underestimated.I thimk it will be like the contest of Australia vs Westindies in 80s and 90s.Expect some really good cricket.I want RSA to win.But England in their own backyard results can be in their favour.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 13, 2012, 9:45 GMT)

This series has the same feel as the India series last year, lots of anticipation and forecasting about the outcome. Most of which is hyperbole. both teams are evenly matched England with home advantage negating much of SA's perceived advantage in batting and bowling. In the end the Number one spot will switch hands over the next couple of years as the FTP cycle progresses and results come in and drop out of the reckoning. All this means is that we have the scope for some great cricket over the next few years, who ever wins or loses.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (July 13, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

What about Tremlett? Ask the Australian fans what they think of Tremlett, he destroyed them along with Anderson and co not long ago. Both teams have strong bowling units and exciting batsmen. It will be a case of who has the better match at times, who gets injured. Lets hope for a good series of cricket between the top two teams in the world.

Posted by brusselslion on (July 13, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

Re this series: Yep, should be a cracker. I hope the weather holds (especially as I've got tickets for 3 days of the London Tests!).

Re Tremlett: He has just (mid June) started bowling again following back surgery. He bowled 16 overs in the 20/20s and took 7 wkts for 113 (best 3-19). Currently playing his first 4 day match since his return.

The SA series is probably too early for his return and Finn and Onions are now (rightly) ahead of him in the England pecking order. However, if he returns as good as new then I would certainly take him to India this (English) winter. Most England supporters would probably disagree but - if Tremlett is at his best - I would play him ahead of Broad in India. Finn caused problems to the Indian batsman with his height and pace in last years ODIs and Tremlett could do the same.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

This battle of the heavyweights should be top billing at Madison Square Gardens.

Posted by danmcb on (July 13, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

Yeah, it's gonna be full on I think. For England, a lot depends on their batting. This is the biggest test for a long time. They need to be tough and dependable, particularly the middle order.

Posted by mahjut on (July 13, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

landl47 ... i think Tahir's record in England is pretty good - you cannot dismiss 500 FC wickets with "some of the teams he has played for in the subcontinent" and then quote his Test record. He's played very little Test cricket even if he's done little more than ok when he has. However, he has played a hell of a lot of cricket in SA and England and his FC record is very, very good. I very much doubt his role will be any bgger than Swann's but i do imagine he'll be every bit as effective for his team. Huge call leaving broad out - i would too - i very much doubt many others would agree; he does have a knack of taking wickets when they're desperately needed ... This SHOULD be a great series - hope it is!!

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

every match will be to close bt england will win all of them at the end, remember south africa beaten twice to SL and AUS at home last year, and whenever there is pressure, we all know how SA play, the more pressure applies, the more ordinary they become, but england,, they do so well under pressure, they just dont like to get beaten at home,,more hype, more pressure for SA and more fun for england,, 3-0 england

Posted by Lara213 on (July 13, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

The two batting line ups are fairly evenly matched, but England's bowling will give it the edge; they have more variety and it's more suited to playing English conditions, and this looks like it will be an unsettled summer: 2-1 England.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

its gonna be a tough series for both teams but England have a slight edge. If you go back 3 to 4 weeks you can see that westindies too created some problems or england. South africa on the other hand lost to zimbabwe even though it was t 20 but even then it was cricket they also lost boucher and because of that they will lose there momentum.We can not rely too much on AB as he will be doing keeping for more time

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (July 13, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

Lovely description by allan. I still feel de lange should play ahead of morne becos he bowls a full length and gets late outswing. Morkel is very tight against mediocre batsmen, but he is not good enough to run through high class batting line ups at least in tests .May be he will do well later dis year in Aus.

Posted by stormy16 on (July 13, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

Agreed this is one of those perfect storm scenarios and what better prize than the #1 test ranking. Almost impossible to call and yes it could be another Ashes 2005. The difference in the series could come to the wicket keeper with Prior way ahead with both bat and gloves. Given the quaility of the bowling attacks there is a strong possibilty that early wickets will be lost to the new ball and the lower middle order will have to do alot of work and Prior will be a key factor specially without Boucher. Another dark horse could be Tahir as Eng really dont play spin well but any wicket that Tahir will play a role there is the Swan factor. All adds up to a great series to look forward to.

Posted by khulasta on (July 13, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

i hope its very enjoyable .......................

Posted by S.Jagernath on (July 13, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Is Chris Tremlett forgotten already?England's bowling lineup is quite old fashioned & will suit the pitches that will have very little grass but will have some pace.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2012, 6:01 GMT)

That being said this is probably gonna be the greatest series since the 1999 Frank Worrell Trophy or the 2001 Border - Gavaskar trophy or maybe the 2005 Ashes

Posted by JustOUT on (July 13, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

Well, England main & reserve bowlers looks good. Same is with SA's TOP 6. They can bring in FAF at anytime and JP is in good nick. Eng is in good form, but I hope SA retain this trophy.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (July 13, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

For me this tour will have spotlights on Philander, Tahir, Tsotsobe, and Bresnan. Also Keven Pietersen and De Villiers will have big roles. Its amazing what the ICC Ranking system has done to Test Cricket. We have top battles and close battles. The Test Matches being played these days are way better than the ODIs or even T20s. India vs England, India Vs South Africa, India Vs Australia, Pakistan vs England, Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Vs England, West Indies vs India, and New Zealand vs Australia. All those test tours happened within the last 2 years and were all amazing test series. The England vs South Africa tour is going to be a huge one

Posted by NanoTechnology on (July 13, 2012, 4:19 GMT)

Man, talk about whet the appetite. I can't wait to watch a bit of these guys going after each other. Far too close to call. England have done great things at home over the last few years, but that South African attack is a thing of beauty. The only thing the English fans can hold onto in my opinion is that Philander has yet to face a really hard fought game (skittling Kiwis like bowling pins doesn't count). Steyn vs Cook, Anderson vs Amla, etc etc... phew! Can't wait!

Posted by landl47 on (July 13, 2012, 4:16 GMT)

Interesting article. I'd take issue with a couple of things: if Tahir does have a 'huge role to play in this series', South Africa will lose. His strike rate is easily explained when you look at some of the teams he has played for on the subcontinent. His strike rate in tests is 68 and his average is 37 and I wouldn't expect those numbers to improve against England. Now that he has ABD instead of an experienced test W/K behind the stumps, his effectiveness is likely to be even less. For England, I think Finn has to play. I'd leave Bresnan or Broad out sooner than Finn. If Bopara is picked, as I think he will be, to bat #6 and bowl some relief overs, England will only pick 3 specialist seamers. I believe Bresnan will be the unlucky bowler; tough on him, but the other three are better bowlers and England need the best they have in this series. Donald's right, though: with Tremlett (playing again), Woakes, Meaker, Coles and several others, England has a wealth of talent, mostly young.

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