The first test has told us that it’s not been good luck for bowlers so far. Spectators have been eager to watch the battle between two of the world’s best pacemen, but injury seems to be keeping them apart. So far though England’s bowlers, and team have enjoyed more of the success. The only things South Africa had to shout about was Dan Piedt’s five for, and Dean Elgar’s exquisite century which were undermined due to England’s collective performance as a unit.
There simply wasn’t just one performer for England, as we have seen in the past, but there were 5 or 6 contenders for man of the match, which Moeen Ali picked up for his 7-144 throughout the test. He will be looking forward to Cape Town, as he found some bounce, grip and turn on an interesting Durban wicket. England’s bowling unit of 4 seamers and a spinner looked the right combination, as they helpfully backed up a splendid batting performance after losing the toss.
England will most likely only make one change with Woakes making way for the fit again Anderson, but won’t want to change much to a winning side, and hope to keep the consistency. I say ‘hope’ but with more performances like that, they won’t need any hope. Anderson has 426 test wickets to his name and will give England an edge in their bowling attack over an unconfident South African team, but maybe Trevor Bayliss won’t want to risk aggravating the injury, and make sure he is fully fit to return for the last 2 tests.
South Africa’s performance looked very tired, and one lacking creativity and motivation from their two experienced players. Hashim Amla looks a totally different player since taking the captaincy, and might be best for himself and the team to hand it over to de Villiers, who looked depleted with the bat after having to wicket keep for the first test. The injury to Dale Steyn clearly knocked the whole team, who lacked the passion, energy and fight that Steyn brings to the field. South Africa will most likely bring in Kagiso Rabada, and Quinton de Kock for Steyn and Bavuma or van Zyl respectively.
The second test will no doubt tell the tale for the rest of the series, and maybe even settle it. England will be looking to add to the benchmark that they made in the first test, and add to South Africa’s pain by beating them again, especially after a very short turnaround from the first test, so South Africa wouldn’t have had much time to change and prepare.
South Africa will have to provide an inspirational performance to get themselves out of their current slump, and without Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Ab de Villiers will have to step up and help Morne Morkel lead the attack with some better fielding they produced in the first test. They will have to give confidence to their team, and will have to make sure everyone chips in for it to give them a chance, and make it effective for them to win the test, and get back in the series. South Arica shouldn’t be hoping, and waiting on the return of Vernon Philander to return for the third test, as it could be all too much for him and Dale Steyn to do on their returns.
England will only be looking for consistency now, as they haven’t in the past, as for very much of last year they had back and forth wins to loses. A win in Cape Town will damage South Africa’s hopes and chances of at least a series draw, and England want to win convincingly to show they are now becoming the real deal within international cricket.
South Africa need to prove that they really are the number one test team in the world, as their performances haven’t shown it recently, and unless they want to fall to 6th in the World rankings, they will need to sort themselves out quickly, to save a whitewash defeat. Coverage of the test match starts at 7:30am UK GMT.