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England vs South Africa - 1st Test preview.


At the start of 2017, the England and South Africa test series was always set to capture the imagination of the cricketing world.

Two proud cricketing nations, locked in battle over four Test matches at some of the game’s most iconic grounds.

South Africa have been in the United Kingdom for quite some time already, with England coming out on top in the ODIs and T20s, but all of that is forgotten as we move into the main event.

The magnitude of this contest aside, the timing of this series could not be better as these two sides look wonderfully well matched all things considered.

As we move into the much anticipated opener at Lords, let’s look at some of the key areas of analyses then as there’s certainly more than one way to look at this test series.


Home ground advantage.

England naturally go into the series as favourites on the back of home ground advantage. This is a big deal in test cricket, and with it the pressure is on the Proteas.

The first match will take place at Lords however, a ground where the Proteas haven’t just played well at in the past, but where England have faired rather poorly at. In the last six Tests played there since 2014, the home team have only recorded one victory, with three losses and one draw. 

Against South Africa their record is even poorer. In the five tests between the two teams at the ground since 1994, the visitors have been the victors four out of five times, with a draw in 2008 being the best result for England. 

A win in the first test of a series gives a team a tremendous advantage, but whether the home team will claim it is far from a certainty.

Leading from the front.

Captaining your nation in test cricket is the highest honour in the game. You are bestowed with a great amount of responsibility, and with that much is expected of you. Joe Root and Dean Elgar could not be any more inexperienced in the role though.

Joe Root has recently taken over the captaincy from long standing skipper Alistair Cook, and Dean Elgar steps into the fray as South Africa’s 12th Test captain since readmission as Faf Du Plessis remains at home following the birth of his first child.

Though taking control of their teams in two very different circumstances, both captains do have one thing in common. That is of course in the need to lead from the front as batsmen. Elgar has to be the rock at the top of the order for the Proteas, especially in a lineup without Faf Du Plessis and AB De Villiers. Failure to do so will put a huge amount of pressure on a batting lineup where only 4 of the 16 squad members have played Test cricket in England before.

Similarly Joe Root’s need to perform is just as important. He is now very much the star player in this team, and now in the role of captain, he will have to put his stamp on a new era for this group of players.

The all important new ball.

To those that don’t follow the game, test cricket could be a slow and overly drawn out affair. For those that do follow the game though It’s obviously more a contest defined by pivotal moments, and there are none more so than when the new ball is in play.

Especially when playing in England, where the Duke ball is used. This ball is generally a harder ball that tends to move more laterally in the air and off the pitch. For a top order batsman, this ball makes playing in England a tough prospect. When in the hands of the experienced Stuart Broad and James Anderson, tough can quickly turn to impossible if they are further aided by cloudy overhead conditions. Here swing and seam movement can make batting feel like a new thing for you, even for players at this level.

This isn’t to say the English batsmen are going to have it any easier however. Kagiso Rabada has risen to the top of the bowling world with his pace and skill, and can be as dangerous with the new ball as his English counterparts. Morne Morkel’s pace and bounce presents another serious threat off the pitch, and the fit again Vernon Philander and his ability to swing the ball rounds off what can easily be seen as a new ball masterclass waiting to happen between these two teams.

Considering the above and the potential of other exciting elements at play, this test series promises to be everything we are hoping for.

Investec test tracker

Tags: engvssa, lords test, investec cricket, investec test tracker, test match cricket, joe root, cricket


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