Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Into The Lions Den

With some considerable irony, England jetted off to tour South Africa at the weekend. England might have won the Ashes, but as Australia fell off the top of Test Crickets ranking’s it was those South African’s who displaced them. This will not guarantee then a warm welcome though as England participate in the itinerary of 2 Twenty20 internationals and 5 one-dayers before the test series starts on 16th December at Centurion.

The contrast from 5 years ago could not be more stark, as England start as clear second favourites. When England last toured South Africa 5 years ago, they had won series against the West Indies (home and away) and New Zealand at home winning 10 tests out of 11. After winning 2-1, with wins in
Port Elizabeth and Johanasburg, England would go on to beat Bangladesh and Australia in that series.

This time around, South Africa start as favourites, having won the
Basil D’Olivera Trophy in England 18 months ago. They went on to beat Australia in Australia before being undone slightly by Australia at home. They have 2 batsmen in the shape of captain Graeme Smith (above - saluting his 154 not out which clinched the 2008 series at Edgebaston) and Jacques Kallis in the top 10 rankings. Crucially they have 3 bowlers in the top 10 rankings, the slow bowler Paul Harris and the paceman Makhaya Ntini are behind the current number 1 bowler in the world Dale Steyn.

England go into this series with an Andrew Flintoff sized hole in their team, with Stuart Broad looking the likely person to fill those Freddie sized boots. Kevin Pieterson should be back from injury just in time to play in his home country in a test series for the first time. Bizarrely both Andrew Strauss (who was player of the series 5 years ago - 656 runs @ 72.88) and James Anderson (who played in the win at the Wanderers) are the only survivors from that test win (Pieterson, Collingwood and Bell were in the squad and played in the one-day internationals). More worryingly perhaps is the lack of experience of hard wickets throughout the bowling. Anderson was in South Africa 5 years ago, and I think Plunkett might have toured Australia in 2006/7. Apart from that, the bowlers look too reliant on trying to find swing, which is difficult in dry hard conditions.

To sum up, South Africa will win this series, probably by 2-1.

No comments:

Post a Comment