I’m really looking forward to the holiday Test cricket season.
It’s been a really long time since the prospect of Test cricket has evoked any positive emotions for me, let alone excitement. I’m the first to admit I’ve become a bit jaded by the lack of success in the one day arena, specifically the failure to succeed at a World Cup despite often being ranked the top team before the competition starts.
It’s not to say that I am confident that the Proteas will dominate the series against England starting tomorrow, in fact I think the English are probably going to make a decent fist of the series. I am expecting a competitive tour extending to the one day matches and possibly even the T20s towards the end of February, 2016.
Check out our events pages for the dates and venues of all the English tour matches. Tickets are available from Ticketpro online, although it looks like the New Year test in Cape Town is approaching sold out rapidly, so move quickly.
I’m still sore about the recent Test series in India in which the home team literally spun the Proteas off the dusty pitches with some controversial pitch preparations. The first away defeat in 9 years for us. We’re at home now though and we expect AB and Hashim Amla to dominate with the bat while Steyn, Morkel and co turn the ball into a little red missile.
The English have only won one series in SA since re-admission and that was in 2004/5 when Michael Vaughan lead his charges to an Ashes win after beating the Proteas in a 5 match series. The difference though is South Africa are missing the likes of Smith, Kallis and Boucher, mentally tough characters, who were able to resurrect an innings when all about them were failing. There’s no shortage of skill in the Proteas but the resounding hiding we suffered in India must raise some pretty tough questions about our mettle when faced with an arduous target in unpleasant conditions.
Hopefully Durban provides a bit of zip for our bowlers to torment Cook and his crew allowing us to set the tone for the other faster pitches in the series. A four match series with matches in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria promises quite a few short pitched deliveries and at the very least, some new ball pace and bounce.
James Anderson is facing some fitness issues so it’s not clear yet when he will return to the action but England will miss his pace on the greener South African wickets. South Africa are not ranked 1st for nothing in Test cricket and coming out here is a real challenge for most teams. England will have to bat well, field well, bowl well and hang onto any chances that come their way to push the Proteas on their home patch.
Durban isn’t the best hunting ground for the Proteas. We have lost 4 of the last 5 tests at Kingsmead. Before the 10 wicket win against India in 2013, the Proteas had lost to Australia, England, India and Sri Lanka.
The team sheet’s are most likely as follows:
England 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Nick Compton, 4 Joe Root, 5 James Taylor, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8 Moeen Ali, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Chris Woakes, 11 Steven Finn.
South Africa 1 Stiaan van Zyl, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Temba Bavuma, 7 JP Duminy, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Dane Piedt, 10 Kyle Abbott, 11 Morne Morkel.
Another thing to look forward to is the Barmy Army. What could be better than a horde of lager swilling English cricket fans bringing their 23 to 1 Pounds to spend on.. well I guess just about anything you want at that rate. If this series doesn’t excite you, the Aussies are hosting the West Indies and the Kiwis are playing Sri Lanka. It’s going to be a great season of test match cricket!
We have our tickets for the Johannesburg test and hope to see you there too!
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