England v South Africa: 2nd Test Preview

It’s curious how a single win can change both the narrative and the expectations for the next game.  England won at Lords at a canter, but South Africa certainly had their chances, and better catching and the ability to stay behind the popping crease could have made a material difference to the outcome.  Test matches are all about that kind of thing – the key moments that swing the game, although very often they are apparent afterwards rather than at the time.  Few remember the errors of the side who wins the game.  But the feelgood response to England’s win has led to an expectation of more of the same, and this is by no means a certainty.  England have a new captain, and that always engenders feelings of a fresh start, but with a recent record before this match of losing five of the previous six Tests, it is hardly a recent history to terrify the opposition, notwithstanding India being a tough place to tour.

One of the most interesting comments Trevor Bayliss made after the first Test was that Moeen and Stokes allowed the side to be balanced in almost all conditions, meaning that England quickly confirmed the same team for Trent Bridge and thus will play two spinners while at the same time having four seam bowlers.  There’s certainly a logic there, and handled properly, it could grant England the ability to ease new players into the side without taking risks as to the bowling attack.  This is a rare privilege for any side, a single all rounder tends to be the hope, as it allows a five man attack with seven batsmen.  England have three, including (and he certainly should be included) Jonny Bairstow.  Whether the selectors make best use of the opportunity afforded is a different matter.

If South Africa shot themselves in the foot repeatedly in the first Test, the cost of that is still to be found in the second.  The loss of Rabada is unquestionably a blow, and as self-inflicted as the future loss of Ben Stokes is likely to be when he falls foul of the same regulations.  Timing is everything, and if Stokes can ensure he gets himself banned for a couple of end of season ODIs then few will complain – except the ticket holders of course, and they never count.  Rabada may be out, but the return of Faf du Plessis certainly strengthens the batting, and of course having the captain back should in itself allow some stability within the side.  Rabada will certainly be replaced by Duanne Olivier, but there have been suggestions that two quicks could come in instead, with Chris Morris becoming the fourth seamer.  Should they do that, Theunis de Bruyn would most likely miss out and South Africa will go into the match with only six batsmen.

Du Plessis himself comes in to replace JP Duminy, a player who recently has provided more work for the umpires than the scorers.  It may be the end of his Test career, but he has come back before, and South Africa are rather light on batsmen this tour should there be injuries. Still, even with the unsurprising news of that particular change, six batsmen would represent something of a gamble.

Trent Bridge has a reputation for offering swing and seam to the bowlers, but in recent times the pitches have tended towards the slow, and sometimes downright turgid.  Two spinner in the England team may not be as unusual as might initially be thought to be the case.  Recent rainfall may have lessened the dryness of the ground beneath the immediate surface, and should the pitch assist the seam bowlers, then South Africa will feel confident they have the weapons to challenge England.

It is 20 years since South Africa last lost a series in England.  Lose this match and that proud record is under serious threat.  But despite missing the likes of Steyn and De Villiers, for differing reasons, they are a good enough side to cause England problems.  Quite simply, they just need to play better than they did at Lords.

Comments on Day One below:


40 thoughts on “England v South Africa: 2nd Test Preview

  1. metatone Jul 13, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    My fear is that Philander just isn’t fit and SA are going to find out the hard way that being a bowler down in Test cricket is a hiding to nothing. I say “my fear” because I’d like a competitive series. This connects to my fear that beating weakend opposition allows us to fool ourselves into thinking we can carry players like Ballance and Dawson – and only find out it’s a problem when we get to a hard series abroad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prime.Evil Jul 13, 2017 / 6:35 pm

      Don’t think Philander has been fit in ages. I expected him to break down on the first day and leave SA fending off England with 2 quicks.

      The SA selectors got very lucky against Aus in Perth when Steyn left SA with 2 quicks and a rookie spinner. We had no right to win that test with 2 bowlers. Aus cricket at the time was in a shambles.

      My thoughts after England’s visit to SA, 5 quicks: Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Rabada and Morris. Not to be. SA and spin bowler in the same sentence is a joke. We haven’t had a decent spinner in a life time. Part-timers yes.


      • thelegglance Jul 13, 2017 / 6:46 pm

        I’m going to wind you up here, I know it! If there’s no real point having the spinner, then you may as well use Duminy as an extra batsman and use him to fill in in a few overs to rest the quicks…Er, you’ve thrown something at me haven’t you? I’ll start running…


        • Prime.Evil Jul 13, 2017 / 7:55 pm

          I’m not knocking spinners or part-timers. Didn’t Sir Geoffrey Boycott deny SA victory in 1964/1965 in SA? I might be very wrong year-wise. Anyway, spinners are the rage in the IPL.

          Don’t know how much you know about SA spinners (part-timers, sorry).

          Paul Adams got his wickets (0 – 100) because the batsmen were dumbfounded by his action. Once the coach explained to the batsmen to watch the ball rather than the bowler, his wickets dried up. I’m sure I saw a bowler with Adams’ action in the IPL – shocking. Quickest way to get your arm out of its socket.

          Please don’t mention Paul Harris to me. That’s fighting talk 🙂

          The last spinner of note SA had, was Hugh Tayfield.

          Why would I want to use Duminy? Didn’t Bavuma and new man de Bruyn bowl quite a bit? What about Elgar? SA’s best bowler in India? 🙂

          If I’m captain and I have 5 quicks, they will bowl. If they can’t, they are more than welcome to take up snakes and ladders.

          SA has done better with quickies (don’t mention the SA women). Anyway, what’s better than thinking you’re Allan Donald trying to take Michael Atherton’s head off?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sean B Jul 13, 2017 / 9:03 pm

            Ah yes, Paul Harris. The poor man’s Ashley Giles or even Nicky Boje. I’ll start running now…:-)


          • man in a barrel Jul 13, 2017 / 9:04 pm

            What a shame John Traicos never got a chance to show what he could do


          • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 8:38 am

            There are just so many of those (I know you’re referring specifically to a spinner) aren’t there? Clive Rice, Graham Pollock, Barry Richards…


        • d'Arthez Jul 14, 2017 / 6:31 am

          The problem with that idea is that Maharaj would probably outbat Duminy, if he was given that role.


          • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 8:30 am

            Ah, you’ve spotted my minor flaw…


  2. man in a barrel Jul 13, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    My sense from the first Test is that Philander is overweight. His run up was ponderous and, though bowling at 75-80 mph, he looked very tired. If he cannot manage more than a 5 over spell, he must be carrying an injury… Or maybe Cook’s wife


    • metatone Jul 14, 2017 / 4:20 am

      Apparently he has an ankle injury. It’s a sign of desperation IMO that they keep picking him. They are risking his long term.


    • "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 14, 2017 / 11:35 am

      I’m awake your leggyship! It’s blowing a bloody gale here in the Cumbrian foothills, therefore I am indoors listening and thinking the saffers are doing well against some very good bowling…until Stokes got on…hmmm!


      • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 11:46 am

        They have done pretty well so far, it’s not easy out there. I was thinking this morning that if it goes wrong people will line up to slag South Africa off for batting first!


        • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 2:44 pm

          Just putting a marker down viz the above to see if any of our journalist friends criticise Root because he would have fielded…


  3. thebogfather Jul 14, 2017 / 11:59 am

    Selfry Sagacity Alert…


    • man in a barrel Jul 14, 2017 / 12:23 pm

      It feels so good to have real experts to tell us the bleeding obvious. Welcome back Mike. How did we ever evaluate the play without you?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 12:45 pm

    I thought England had got out of the habit of burning their reviews with vain speculative appeals. Guess not.


  5. Benny Jul 14, 2017 / 1:00 pm

    Late night, late morning. Did just watch the piece about Monty. So enjoyed his bowling for England. His faults should have been addressed by the much lauded management. Has Nasser ever believed Fletcher is other than the greatest coach in cricket history? Loved that all-knowing expert Nasser said he gave Monty lots of advice but felt it went in one ear and out the other while Geoff Boycott advised Monty to tell all the advisors to f*** off. Wise man that Boycott.

    Don’t know if it’s relevant but I used to be a rubbish deep fielder and a talented short leg. Eventually discovered I had a myopia problem. I notice Monty wears glasses now so I wonder.


    • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 1:02 pm

      I think he wore contact lenses when he played professionally.

      Most frustrating thing for me was how the media ran with Warne’s comment about playing the same Test 50 times. Irresponsible from Warne to begin with, but he kept repeating it.


  6. BoredInAustria Jul 14, 2017 / 2:01 pm

    Just managed to switch on – I was travelling. Shocked at the score – Why is Duminy not batting @ 4? Did I miss something?

    PS – I am all fine Dmitri!


    • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      Although De Kock is clearly good enough to bat at four, it’s endlessly amusing to hear the likes of Botham spout drivel about not being able to understand why he wasn’t there before.

      Because he’s the wicketkeeper, you imbecile. And keeping for 120 overs then padding up first wicket down is a ridiculous ask for anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez Jul 14, 2017 / 2:35 pm

        To be fair (although I doubt Botham actually knows this) de Kock used to open for his franchise in domestic cricket. Oh, and his batting as an opener was not too shabby either.

        I honestly would not be surprised if he bats at 5 or 6 in the second innings, especially if England manage to bat 120+ overs.


        • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 2:36 pm

          Yes, and it’s the kind of thing players can manage for a little while, but it grinds them down with the endless concentration without any kind of mental or physical break.


    • d'Arthez Jul 14, 2017 / 2:25 pm

      Duminy finally got dropped. After yet again a series of 8 scores of less than 50. I mean, in 2015 and 2016 he had a string of merely 11 scores of less than 50 (starting from the series in Bangladesh), and he got dropped for all of 2 Test matches, before he finally made a 50 against New Zealand (although, he came in at 151/2, so not exactly high pressure situation), fully 13 months after that amazing 55 against Zimbabwe (and before that, he had another three single digit scores in Sri Lanka).

      So, if anything, I am wondering why Duminy did not get the chance to at least match that string of useless contributions …


      • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 2:31 pm

        I’m extremely disappointed you didn’t pick up on my dig about causing the umpires more work than the scorers. For shame sir!


  7. pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 14, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    Amla and de Kock looked majestic until the latter has played a really dumb shot to the first ball of the last session. However already Hussain has tried to overly defend Cook’s drop. In truth all slip chances are never easy but that one was reasonably regulation by that standard.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if there is a bit of a collapse from here. One thing that disappointed me earlier on was Ali not being introduced until just a few overs before tea and now it is both Broad and Anderson. Could have kept Ali on after a few decent overs.


  8. Mark Jul 14, 2017 / 3:51 pm

    There is still 28 overs to go. Has there been a weather delay toady? I haven’t seen any of the cricket. Or are England bowling at a snails pace?


      • Mark Jul 14, 2017 / 4:16 pm



        • LordCanisLupus Jul 14, 2017 / 4:39 pm

          Been umpiring a work game today so seen nothing. Interested to hear the summaries.


          • thelegglance Jul 14, 2017 / 4:59 pm

            Currently Keaton Jennings is looking lethal!

            Yep, you read that right.


    • "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 14, 2017 / 5:08 pm

      Listening to the shellacking he’s getting from the TMS commentators, it seems, neither do they!


      • oreston Jul 14, 2017 / 7:21 pm

        Obviously he MUST be a much better cricketer than Adil Rashid. Stands to reason. Otherwise why was he selected? The only other explanation would be that he has admirers in high places who seem to view attacking leg spin as somehow an alien skill set. Oh wait a minute…

        Interesting that Keaton Jennings was the “surprise” bowler. Will the captain not be bringing himself on for an over or two? Maybe he thinks that would be too undermining for Dawson – especially as Root has a habit of taking wickets.

        Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Jul 14, 2017 / 6:57 pm

      I don’t really see what Dawson adds to the team to be honest. Certainly not what he adds to the team in addition to say what Adil Rashid would offer. Sure, Dawson is bound to pick up the occasional wicket, especially if he gets helpful wickets / conditions / batsmen who don’t bother to play themselves in on a slower surface.

      Yeah, Rashid might be a bit more expensive. He is also quite a bit more dangerous with the ball. But if you already have four seamers, and a spinner, and then some part-time offerings of Jennings (in case of need), then surely, it would not be beyond England to take Adil out of the attack, and use the other options judiciously?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. man in a barrel Jul 14, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    Mind you, Dawson’s first class record doesn’t suggest that he might run through a side. 155 wickets in 126 matches! Ali has 268 in 166 matches. Dawson has a slightly better average – 36.56 against 40.74 – but there is nothing between them in economy – 3.08 for Dawson, 3.57 for Ali. All this talk of the control that Dawson gives is just the usual nonsense and propaganda


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