Eng vs SA 2nd Test – Preview

2 08 2012

A dominant performance coupled with England’s tendency to bomb out at Headingley has seated SA in the pre-match opinion driving seat. If South Africa underestimate their esteemed opponents, however, it could result in a quick jolt back to earth.

South Africa crushed a frail and seemingly unmotivated England side in the first Test. My worries as a South African ahead of the first  test are yet to be vanquished, however. de Villiers was not heavily dumped with batting responsibility and his ability to juggle the two different types of gloves is yet to be determined. de Villiers is a vital cog in the SA batting line up and a weakened SA will not fair well against an England attack expected to bounce back with determination and the raw aggression of Finn.

My second worry is a bowling attack overreliant on Steyn and Philander. Despite claiming 4 wickets in the first Innings, Morne Morkel didn’t implement the fearsome bowling of which we know he’s capable. Tahir is still hit-and-miss, and Jacques Kallis can’t be expected to bowl heaps of overs at this stage of his career. If Steyn has an off-day, we suffer; this was evident on day 1. Morkel needs to step up to the plate and command fear from the English batsmen.

On the English side, Bopara has been culled with Lions captain James Taylor his replacement. He seems a fair choice what with his reliability – a trait England desperately need in their middle order alongside that of Matt Prior. Finn is expected to replace either Bresnan or Broad, and the affect this will have will be intriguing to gauge.

All in all, a wounded world no 1 Test team is never a nice prospect. England will be fighting against the odds given their lack of form heading into the match and their record at Headingley, but it will be a great test of their character. SA will be looking to develop a killer instinct needed if they hope to gain and maintain a world no 1 ranking. A more intriguing match will be hard to find.

Advertisements




The keeper conundrum – rekindled

14 07 2012

Albie Morkel at a training session at the Adel...

Hopefully Albie’s influence on the Test series will be limited to being a part of practice(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted an entry last year with regards to the South African keeping conundrum that is replacing Boucher. At the time the question involved another question within the question – should Boucher be dropped in the first place? No longer does this sub-question exist; now we need to find a solution and fast.

AB de Villiers is expected to take the gloves, but Thami Tsolekile will be in with a shout too. Tsolekile is deserving of the opportunity and in this blogger’s opinion is the best option at the moment. He looks a good shout to fill the gap while De Kock is groomed for the role in the long term. I’d love to hear (read) your opinion on the matter in the comments section.

Albie Morkel is the other late inclusion into the squad at the expense of an injured Marchant De Lange. Albie? He’s not done enough to keep his spot in the ODI team so why does he get a spot in the longer format (to which he is not suited)? His bowling has been proven ineffectual on the international scene and his batting is overrated. I’d much rather have seen someone who has been performing well domestically or for SA A getting an opportunity eg Kleinveldt or Abbot.

 

Still, he hopefully won’t have to play at all.





SA vs England – a Test Series preview

4 07 2012

Its the biggie. South Africa take on England in a titanic battle between the two premier Test sides of the moment. I’m not sure if its possible for a cricket fan not to be excited!

The SA team are currently in Switzerland at a “bonding camp” after which they’ll arrive in Somerset for their first of two warm-up games. I don’t see why the team couldn’t bond around some more warm up cricket matches rather than chocolate factories but I guess I’ll have to suck it up. Imran Tahir was allowed to play for SA A so as to get some cricket (and hopefully confidence) under the belt. Fair call given his lack of consistency at the best of times.

 

SA Test Squad:
Graeme Smith (c)
Alviro Petersen
Hashim Amla
Jacques Kallis
AB de Villiers (vc)
JP Duminy
Jacques Rudolph
Mark Boucher (wk)
Vernon Philander
Dale Steyn
Morne Morkel
Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Marchant de Lange
Imran Tahir
Robin Peterson

Squads courtesy of Cricinfo

Key Matchups:

Steyn vs Cook

The world’s best Test bowler against the toughest opening batsman-shaped nut in Test Cricket should make for a tantalising duel. Vernon Philander has been the form pacer for the Proteas in their past few series but expect the quality of Dale to shine through in this series.

Anderson vs Smith

Jimmy has been nigh on unstoppable on home territory and will see Smith’s weakness against the swinging ball as a way to get England off to a good start each innings. However, Graeme is one tough nut and loves leading from the front – expect him to try to impose himself early.

Swann vs the SA middle order

South African teams are known to struggle against spin and this outfit is no exception. Rangana Herath was the only bowler that managed to strike genuine fear into the hearts of the SA batting line up when SL toured SA. The outspoken Swann will be eager to have a crack at the SA spin-facing frailties.

 

All in all, its going to be one heck of a series. I’ll be providing updates here so tune in!

I leave you with two questions:

1) What is your prediction for the Test series result?

2) Which player do you back to be player of the series?





2012 Test Cricket Previews: England

1 01 2012

England sit pretty atop the Reliance ICC Test Rankings thanks to a stellar season. After beating Australia in the final Ashes Test to win the series 3-1, England waited until June before their next Test series – a three match series against Sri Lanka which they one 1-0. They then thrashed India 4-0 in the four match Test series against India, known as the Pataudi Trophy. Amazingly, the English did not lose a Test match all year.

In 2012, England will be looking forward towards polishing the solid machine that is their Test team. Anchored by the reliable Alastair Cook, their batting line up is solid and consistent. Jonathan Trott is another rock in the top order, and is well supported by the classy Ian Bell and the dynamic Kevin Pieterson.

Matt Prior has nailed down a position that has been juggling players as a clown would since Alec Stewart retired. A reliable keeper, what has been most refreshing is his batting. England can now rest assured that they have quality batting beyond the top 5, something that has been further assisted by bowling all rounders such as Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan nailing down spots in the line up.

England are blessed with tremendous depth in the bowling department. Anderson, Broad, Tremlett, Bresnan, Finn, Dernbach and Swann all fight for 4 or 5 positions (depending on how England approach the game), and then there are still many more quality youngsters coming through the ranks that can’t get a look in at the moment.

Predictions

Newcomer of the Year: James Taylor, the 22 year old Nottinghamshire batsman has been performing brilliantly for both Leicestershire and the English Lions over the past year. He averages just under 50 in FC cricket, and has hurled his name to the top of the “talented young batsmen” list. Expect him to get an opportunity this year, and expect him to take it with both hands.

Player of the Year: Alastair Cook will have huge pressure on his shoulders to maintain the performances he put out in 2011, and whilst his average of 84.27 will take some beating, I firmly believe that he will perform admirably in the coming year. The clash he has with Dale Steyn when England take on South Africa will be mouthwatering for the neutrals.

End of year Ranking: 1st.

Agree with anything? Disagree with anything? Comment below!








%d bloggers like this: