Proteas in England

England, SA battle for No 1

2012-07-18 11:25
Jacques Kallis (Gallo)
London - England will defend their ranking as the top test team in the world when they come up against a strong South African side in the first of three Test matches at the Oval on Thursday.

GALLERY: CSA unveil new mascot

The pre-match build-up has concentrated on two outstanding fast bowling attacks - but, as England fast bowler James Anderson and South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis pointed out on Tuesday, the bowlers will have to get past some outstanding batsmen.

"It's the two best teams in the world," said Anderson. "Both bowling attacks have been successful over the past 12 to 18 months but if you look at both batting line-ups they're potentially as strong as well. It's going to be a clash of two really good teams."

Meawhile Kallis added: "It's going to be an interesting battle to see who comes out on top. Both sides have got good batters as well. It's going to be a fantastic series."

South Africa edged England 2-1 in 2008, the last time the two teams met in England, but England have been unbeaten at home since then, rising to No 1 in the world rankings under captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.

However, South Africa have not lost an away series since they were beaten in Sri Lanka in 2006. They are ranked third but will take the top place from England if they win the series.

Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan have become a formidable fast bowling force for England.

But South Africa have some heavy artillery as well in Dale Steyn, the world's top-ranked bowler, the tall Morne Morkel and the accurate Vernon Philander, who has taken 51 wickets at an average of 14.15 since making his debut against Australia last November.

England may have an advantage in spin bowling, where offspinner Graeme Swann has a superior record to South African legspinner Imran Tahir, who has yet to make a major impact at test level.

South Africa will go into the series with minimal preparation.

They had a three-day camp in Switzerland, during which they climbed mountains and got out of their normal 'comfort zones', followed by a two-day match against Somerset and a three-day match against Kent.

Both matches were affected by rain and the tourists were unable to dominate against two relatively weak teams.

But Kallis is convinced the preparation has been ideal and that South Africa are ready to hit form from the start of the series.

South Africa have never won in 10 matches at the Oval and have lost all three Tests at the venue since returning to international cricket in 1991.

Remarkably on each of the latter occasions they lost despite winning the toss and batting first. All three Tests were the last matches of a series.

Kallis regards the record as nothing more than a statistical oddity but it is a puzzling statistic, given that the Oval normally provides pace and bounce for fast bowlers, which has long been a South African strength.

An unusually wet summer could mean the pitch may not have the hardness normally expected by this stage of a season, which could in turn lead to swing and seam may prove more important than outright speed.

The weather could be a factor, with some rain expected on each of the first three days of the match.

South Africa will hand wicketkeeping duties to vice-captain AB de Villiers following a career-ending eye injury to Mark Boucher in the first warm-up game.

Although the loss of the experienced Boucher is a blow, it gives the tourists a chance to field an extra specialist, with batsman JP Duminy set to feature.


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk
Breaking News

Previous Results

Date Match Result

The Proteas' three-Test tour of Australia is:

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

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


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

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.