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Investec 3rd Test review - England and South Africa.


Another test, another one sided result. Does this one finally give us a clear indication on the standings of the two teams?

The result naturally suggests it does, with the home team staking its claim as the stronger unit. But with more perspectives we can gain greater insights on the matter.

England take a 2-1 series lead into the final test at Old Trafford with this recent 239 win, but there is more to the result than that.

The class of Cook

With the batting order in tatters after Trent Bridge, there was only one man that could fix it for England. It wasn’t the captain Root, and it wasn’t any of the new comers. It was England’s most prolific run getter in the history of test cricket, Allister Cook.


Batting first on a green top was not going to be easy, as the rest of the English top order showed, but Cook batted with a purpose not yet seen in this series. The spearheaded effort kept the scoreboard ticking, and laid a platform for Stokes to work his magic later on.

The Proteas lose more than one player when Philander is not there

As great as Cook was, the absence of Vernon Philander throughout this test match due to a serious viral infection helped the English cause. Nobody troubles Cook quite like Philander with his nagging line and length. With the pressure off, Cook worked the other bowlers around the ground in helping his team get to a very respectable first innings score on a bowlers’ wicket.


With the bat Philander has also become the ideal number 7 batsman, someone to take the score further after a good start, or restore order after a collapse. He was sadly not there in the first innings for the latter, and though he heroically went from hospital to the crease at no.11, the disaster had already taken its toll.

When the selection mix clicks

In the second test at Trent Bridge, the Proteas XI looked brilliant and balanced in all departments. It clicked together for an incredible win, showing what the team is truly capable of.


The very same thing happened in the 3rd test for England. They boldly made 3 changes to the team, and with that it was a team that fired on all cylinders. Test cricket is a ruthless place were weakness is revealed in no uncertain terms, suddenly all the weakness was on the side of the visitors, despite them looking like they had their selection mix sorted. Clearly not.

The Proteas bowling balance

When a team loses big, the questions are equally sized as to why. Naturally the illness of Philander compromised the team effort, but adapting to such things is what balanced teams do. Someone from the bowling lineup needed to step up to limit the scoring and build pressure. Morkel, Rabada and Morris more fit the ‘strike’ bowler role, so while they missed their lengths at times in search of breakthroughs, the scoreboard ticked over for England enabling them to take the game away with the bat. Maharaj tried, but the seamers needed to apply the pressure desperately

The English bowling balance

The obvious threat is the Anderson and Broad new ball pairing, but in this last test England knew they needed more consistency from their first change options. Toby Roland-Jones is all about hitting a good length, and on that Oval wicket, something as simple as that can make you deadly.


He got stuck into the Proteas after the openers failed to take a wicket, meaning the threats didn't end with the new ball. In the second innings the Proteas did what they could to counter the new ball plus Roland-Jones threat, only to then come unstuck from the pace and aggression of Ben Stokes. The balance of the four seamers meant there was never a soft option to score off, and the pressure this created ultimately won the game for England.

What does this result tell us about the 4th test?

If results are anything to go by, the Proteas are set to win the last test in four days by 200 runs. This series has been positively bi-polar in nature. What looked to be a tightly contended series, it’s been anything but from a match to match basis.

The above perspectives suggest we are set for a more predictable outcome in this final match though. Many could argue the Trent Bridge result was an anomaly, and that England are going to prove that in no uncertain terms with their new and improved lineup.

The Proteas can naturally claim that they will bounce back again, only this time round they may have to do so with some new players in the mix. Pressure is on Kuhn and Morris, but replacing them could result in welcoming some debutants into the mix. Is there any merit in this though, considering that the tougher English conditions could break rather than make a debutant?

The Investec Test Tracker

These are just some of the perspectives worth considering right now. For more insights, click on through to the Investec Test Tracker for more. 


Here you can catch up on the 3rd test scorecard, then also see how the players have been getting on in the series in the player profile section.


You can also compare players which makes for interesting viewing in light of the recent results.

Click here to access the Investec Test Tracker.

The 4th and final Investec Test between England and South Africa starts on Friday the 4th of August.

Tags: engvssa, the oval, investec cricket, investec test tracker, test match cricket, joe root, dean elgar


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