England vs South Africa preview

As I walked out my front door this morning, there was something different in the air. It wasn’t the fact that there was sunshine as opposed to rain for the first time in weeks or that it was Thursday and our rotten bin bags were getting collected. It was the simple smell of the first day of the most anticipated and talked about test series in recent years was about to get under way.

This is a sporting event that some believe, and I obviously agree with them, is far more important than some other event going on in the capital this summer… Something about jumping into sand, running around a track, diving into a swimming pool… all sounds a bit juvenile to me, but apparently us normal London folk are expected to deal with an extra 1 million tourists each day clogging up our tubes, causing frustration and delays and oh God help me when I want to punch an American in the face for standing on my foot in a hot and crowded Central Line train!! As far as I have heard, the only decent event is the Woman’s Beach Volleyball, no prizes for guessing why.

You don’t have to be Michael Holding to realise that this test series is going to come down to which batting line-up can deal with the new ball the best. Can Smith, Amla and Kallis hold their own and pick off the bad balls and defend the good ones from Anderson, Broad and Bresnan. And can Strauss, Cook and Trott, deal with the pace and swing of Stein, the bounce of Morkel and the accuracy of Philander! You also feel that the middle and lower order will need to eek out a few more runs than usual, if for nothing more than the frustration factor, holding out against that second new ball and keeping the opposition in the field a little bit longer.  

Smith has a great record against England, having slayed his last two opposite numbers in test series in 2003 and 2008, leaving them in tears (Wimps). The Proteas are in great form having not lost a test series in recent years, but they have had a massive blow in loosing Boucher to a freak injury who not only had a great cricketing brain and was a go-to man for Smith in trying circumstances, but was excellent behind the stumps and in the middle with the bat… Can AB deliver behind the stumps and still keep his head with bat in hand? This will be the biggest test of his career by far! England do hold top spot in the world rankings, and have everything to loose… This will be just one of the driving factors behind Smith and co. wanting to knock their rivals off top spot and take it for their own.

As for the supporters, it gives us Saffers a special type of bragging right should we win. You see cricket is the Poms sport and even though half of their modern side is made up of native South Africans, they dont care… They just want the win. When the Boks beat England in a recent tour of SA it wasnt a big issue for them, they expected to loose, but this is different. They are confident they can win, arrogant even! As a Saffer living in London, for us to win this test series would be a bragging point like no other. We could walk into a pub and open our gob and as soon as they hear the accent, a new found respect/hatred will befall us, but nobody would dare question our ability and competitiveness as a sporting nation, we would own the place, men amongst boys, alpha males amongst timid Bambi’s. Bragging rights beyond imagination, greater than even the likes of Harry Potter or the pomp Yul Brynner! In fact if you had to ask me what I would rather have to brag about to a Pom in a pub – a threesome with Megan Fox and Kate Middleton or a series whitewash in this test series against England, it would be the sweet taste of victory and national pride of a Proteas victory! (not by far though)

So before a ball is bowled in this series, before a sip of golden lager touches the thousands of pairs of lips while watching in pubs and lounges around the world, let it be known that this is no ordinary test series, not for the players, not for the supporters. This is bigger than the ashes, bigger than that other event in London this summer (woman’s beach volleyball comes a close second) and even bigger than Rosie O’Donnell in her prime! This is more than a cricket series, this is WAR! And we all know what happened the last time the British took on the Boers… Let the Banter Begin!

England vs South Africa 1st test preview

 

As the South Africans LOOK TO GAIN TOP SPOT on the world rankings one could be forgiven for thinking they are up against the blind school.
England seemed to be mucking about in the lead up to the most anticipated series of the year. South Africa, like England, also have a renowned pace attack and Strauss confirmed he was expecting a tough time.

“South Africa have a bowling line-up as good as anyone in the world and that’s a good challenge for us,” he said. Strauss is looking forward to playing against his fellow country men and enjoys the opportunity to chat in the local dialect something frowned upon in the dressing room when KP, Trotters, Prior and himself get going. The lads think we mocking them he insinuated when probed.

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Jacques Rudolph, 7 JP Duminy, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

The weather forecast is perfect English Summer weather – bet on a draw as we likely to lose vast amounts of time to the weather. 

It will be an interesting struggleand the players to watch are: 

Vernon Philander - averaging just 13 and some change in tests, already collected 50 wickets he is a danger man. 

Alistair Cook – Run machine and no signs of letting up, he will be seen as the corner stone of the top order

Matt Prior/John Trott – Keen to stick it to the Saffas these lads will be fighting with all they have to ensure Smithers and the boys know they made the right decision. 

Dale Steyn – Arguably the best bowler in the world, hasnt got much of a chance to pick up wickets as Vernon mops up the top order like its the tail.

Biggest disappointment: KP – lots of turmoil in the mans life as he resigns from the short format then changes his mind. The weather conditions and the SA bowlers will be too much for him to trouble the scorers in both innings. Will be lucky to make 25 in both innings combined.

 

Result: Draw


Cricket: South Africa vs England Fixtures 2012

July

6 South Africa arrive in England

9-10 v Somerset, Taunton (10:00 BST)

13-15 v Kent, Canterbury (11:00 BST)

19-23 1st Test, The Oval (11:00 BST)

27-28 v Worcestershire, Worcester (11:00 BST)

August

2-6 2nd Test, Headingley (11:00 BST)

10-11 v Derbyshire, Derby (11:00 BST)

12 ODI: Scotland v England, Edinburgh (10:45 BST)

16-20 3rd Test, Lord’s (11:00 BST)

22 v Gloucestershire, Bristol (50 overs) (10:15 BST)

24 1st ODI, Cardiff (10:15 BST)

28 2nd ODI, Southampton (d/n) (14:00 BST)

31 3rd ODI, The Oval (d/n) (14:00 BST)

September

2 4th ODI, Lord’s (10:15 BST)

5 5th ODI, Trent Bridge (d/n) (14:00 BST)

8 1st Twenty20 international, Chester-le-Street (14:30 BST)

10 2nd Twenty20 international, Old Trafford (d/n) (18:30 BST)

12 3rd Twenty20 international, Edgbaston (d/n) (18:30 BST)

Sri Lanka thrash England – SA to top the rankings?

Despite a heroic final innings total of 264, England were bambooooozellled by Herath who spun a web around the English taking 6 for 97 in 38 overs. A fine effort by the boy who seems to be following in the twinkling footsteps of the great Murali.

An outstanding effort by South African born Jonathan Trott who managed 112, a fine effort by the man who is one of many England players who learnt his trade in South Africa but like so many other rejects, couldn’t make the cut and barge his way into a very strong Proteas squasd, and so opted to join the SA ‘B’ side, which has a few locals in it to make up the ‘quota’ of English born players to make sure they can technically call it the English cricket team.

England are on a slippery slide after getting dominated by Pakistan (who also spun a massive web around the English batting line-up) and now losing to Sri Lanka, are set to lose their number 1 test ranking to South Africa in a few weeks, with South Africa on a very good run of form, comprehensively beating New Zealand away from home in the recent test, one day and T20 series.

South Africa are looking forward to the upcoming test match series in England, with test match captain Graeme Smith quoted as saying “It will be nice to see some of the boys again. Its almost like playing a domestic match back in SA, so our boys will feel right at home, its the only place where we go on tour and cant speak about on-field tactics in Afrikaans.”

Just a reminder, if England lose the next test match against Sri Lanka, they will slip to 2nd place in the world rankings, with South Africa, who are on a great run of form, taking their rightful place at the top of the world rankings and we can finally have a team there who is actually winning.