• All-time England in SA XI

    England made their first trip to South Africa to play Test cricket way back in the 19th century, and through the ages have had plenty to celebrate on their tours.

    Comparing different eras of the game can be difficult, considering the surfaces and conditions of play as well as myriad other factors.

    However, here we have put together an all-time England in South Africa XI:

    1. Michael Atherton (captain)

    The first name on our team sheet gets there, not through weight of runs or brilliance of strokeplay, but rather through dogged determination.

    On England’s first tour of South Africa in the post-isolation era, Atherton was a source of immense frustration for the Proteas pace attack.

    There is no better example of this than his 185 not out at the Wanderers in November 1995. Atherton spent over 10 hours at the crease.

    South Africa ultimately won the 1995-96 series, but only after victory at Newlands when Atherton was nipped out early in both innings.

    2. Andrew Strauss

    The South African-born opener stands head and shoulders above any other opener of the modern era when it comes to making runs for the Three Lions in the country of his birth.

    In the 2004-5 series, Strauss scored three centuries as the tourists earned a 2-1 series win over five matches.

    Strauss was Man of the Match in the first Test of the series at St George’s Park in a victory which gave the visitors a vital edge.

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    3. Wally Hammond

    Widely considered to be England’s greatest-ever batsman, Hammond put South Africa to the sword in 15 Tests played on our shores between the World Wars.

    Hammond is the only English batsman to have scored over 1,000 Test runs in South Africa, doing so in a variety of positions in the order.

    4. Phil Mead

    Mead played 10 of his 17 Tests for England in South Africa and might have been more in action had play not been suspended during the Great War.

    He scored a century on every visit to South Africa, playing in a dominant England side.

    Mead was noted as a crisp strokemaker with a solid defence and away from South Africa was notable for scoring more first-class runs for one county. His number of runs for Hampshire (48,892) is the greatest number any batsman has scored for a single team.

    5. Ben Stokes

    Stokes needs no introduction to South African cricket fans, not just for his exploits on the current tour, but also for his memorable contribution to Alastair Cook’s 2015 touring side.

    His double ton at Newlands will long live in the memory of all who were fortunate enough to witness its brutality.

    Stokes gives England quality performances with bat and ball and is likely to become one of the best all-rounders to ever play the game.

    6. Ian Bell

    With Stokes in our top five, it affords us a luxury at No 6 – the position he was deployed in during the 2009 Test against the Proteas in Durban.

    Bell piled on the misery for a South Africa attack that had toiled hard to reduce England to 297-4. He was the last man out when the tourists declared on 574-9, giving the side a 231-run first-innings lead and setting up a thumping win.

    7. Jack Russell (wicketkeeper)

    Immediately recognisable from the state of his floppy hat and somewhat disheveled wicketkeeping pads, Russell played a big part in making England’s first post-isolation tour to South Africa great.

    A dogged and determined batsman and brilliant gloveman, Russell combined with Atherton to frustrate Allan Donald and the Proteas at the Wanderers.

    8. Graeme Swann

    England haven’t always used their spinners well on tours of South Africa, but Swann’s performances went a long way toward turning that around.

    He claimed a valuable 21 wickets in his four Tests in South Africa on the 2009-10 visit. Those displays included a nine-wicket match haul at Kingsmead.

    9. Stuart Broad

    Broad had taken 39 wickets in South Africa before the start of the third Test – figures that include one of the most devastating spells of seam bowling ever at the Wanderers.

    In a single session, Broad reduced the Proteas to dust, bagging 6-17 in just 12.1 overs. He has had to toil hard for the other 33 wickets, but if things go his way, he could end the current tour as the first Englishman to take 50 wickets in South Africa. 

    10. James Anderson

    The most prolific wicket-taker among all fast bowlers, James Anderson would walk into almost any England XI.

    Anderson played his part on the current tour before injury cruelly robbed him of the opportunity to add to his impressive tally.

    11. Sydney Barnes

    Barnes took 49 wickets in just four Tests in South Africa, bowling little more than military medium, but making use of his cutters and variations to torment South African batsmen on the uncovered pitches used in 1913-14.

    Although Barnes picked up his first-class career after the war, the final Test of the series against South Africa in Durban in 1914 was his last appearance for England.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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