England seek answers on SA tour

2015-12-10 07:03
Moeen Ali (AFP)

Johannesburg - England's cricketers arrive in Johannesburg Friday, with just over two weeks to prepare for a four-Test series against South Africa.

Two three-day warm-up games will help the tourists to decide on the make-up of their best eleven for a series in which both teams will seek to return to winning ways.

The first Test starts in Durban on December 26.

England will have two three-day warm-up matches against South African Invitation teams, in Potchefstroom from next Tuesday and in Pietermaritzburg from December 20.

One of the key questions for the tour selectors will be to decide on an opening partner for captain Alastair Cook.

Moeen Ali opened with Cook in a losing series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates recently but is expected to bat lower in the order against South Africa.

Other opening batsmen in the tour party are South Africa-born Nick Compton, who made two centuries in nine Tests before being discarded after a series against New Zealand in May 2013, and Alex Hales, whose only England appearances so far have been in limited overs games.

With long-serving Ian Bell having been dropped after the Pakistan series, the number three position also needs to be filled, with Gary Ballance seeking a recall after being dropped during England's victorious Ashes series against Australia this year.

Other decisions include whether Jos Buttler or Jonny Bairstow should keep wicket and the composition of a bowling attack in which James Anderson, Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes are the only established players.

South Africa had their lead on the International Cricket Council's rankings cut to just four points when they were mauled 3-0 in a four-Test series in India which ended on Monday, while England languish in fifth place after being beaten 2-0 by Pakistan in a three-match series in October and November.

Both teams will hope those recent losses in foreign conditions were an aberration.

Before their setback against Pakistan, England defeated Australia, while South Africa's loss to India was their first on an away tour in nine years.

England will be buoyed by their results on recent tours of South Africa. Michael Vaughan led them to a 2-1 series win in 2004/05, while Andrew Strauss' team shared the 2009/10 series.

All 16 members of the touring party will be able to play in the opening match in Potchefstroom, which is not a first-class fixture.

The opposition will consist mainly of young players from South Africa's second-tier, semi-professional provincial competition.

Test Squad

England: Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wkt), Nick Compton, Mark Footitt, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Samit Patel, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Chris Woakes



15-17: SA Invitation XI, Potchefstroom

20-22: SA Invitation XI, Pietermaritzburg

26-30: First Test, Durban


2-6: Second Test, Cape Town

14-18: Third Test, Johannesburg

22-26: Fourth Test, Centurion

Note: Test series will be followed by five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals

Read more on:    england  |  moeen ali  |  cricket

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Under fire Proteas coach Russell Domingo has blamed player workloads and fatigue as the reason for the national team's woeful showing in the Tri Series in the Caribbean. Your thoughts?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.