ENG vs SA 3rd Test: Stage set for series decider between England and South Africa
ENG vs SA 3rd Test: With the series intriguingly tied at 1-1 following convincing victories by both teams, England and South Africa enter Thursday’s last test at The Oval without key batsmen.
South Africa defeated the visitors by an innings and 12 runs in the first test match at Lord’s before England, under the captaincy of the brilliant Ben Stokes, destroyed them by an innings and 85 runs at Old Trafford.
Both teams have lost a key middle order player since that match, with South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen recovering from a fractured finger and England’s Jonny Bairstow suffering a freak leg injury while playing golf.
The third test in a row is likely to come down to the bat and who can score the most runs in the first innings. Because both seam attacks are of the highest calibre.
Ben Duckett has been added to the team by England to take Bairstow’s place. But since Harry Brook is already there, it’s possible that he’ll get to play in his first test match. This is especially likely after Brook scored 140 off 170 balls for the England Lions against the tourists before the series began.
It’s possible that Brook was already being considered to take the position of struggling opener Alex Lees.
“I feel like I’d do a job batting anywhere to be honest,” Brook told reporters. “But I do like batting five. If you spoke to other people about batting (there) they would probably say. ‘I don’t like it because I like to get out there straightaway’.
“But I like coming in (from the field) and chilling a bit.”
Given the relatively long 11-day gap between tests, which has allowed the seamers to rest. England expected to have the same bowling attack that was so lethal at Old Trafford.
Van der Dussen’s injury has probably given Aiden Markram a break, therefore South Africa has to find a replacement. Ryan Rickelton and Khaya Zondo, who both inexperienced at test level, appear to a clear cut decision.
“Obviously we have to replace Rassie, so that’s a definite change,” captain Dean Elgar said.
“But whether that’s the only change, we’ll have to see. The bottom line is that we need runs from the middle-order and they have let us down quite a bit. The guys know it already.”
The visitors also need to decide whether to go with two spinners. Or switch back to the four-pronged seam attack that worked so well for them at Lord’s.
The only victory South Africa has had at The Oval in 15 games came in 2012, by the same score as the opening test of this series: an innings and 12 runs.