Welcome to the Wanderers, where the Proteas must win this third Test if they are to take the series.
At 1-0 up, England need only to draw the match to put all the pressure on the hosts in the last Test in Centurion, just to save the series.
Known as the ‘Bullring’ because of its intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams the Wanderers has a rich history and is famed for its fondness for pace. It could be considered a ‘fortress’ in the sense that since readmission, in 1992, of the 24 Tests South Africa have played there, only eight have been lost, and of those, five have been to the Aussies. South Africa have won 10 and drawn six. They really need an 11th.
Recent history is encouraging. The last time England played there, they were soundly smashed by an innings and 74 runs. It was pace that did for them, although bizarrely, JP Duminy was brought on late in the day and removed the stubborn Paul Collingwood (71) and Ryan Sidebottom within 1.5 overs. The bad news is that Dale Steyn took a five-for and then another two, but he is not there this time. Morne Morkel, though, has fond memories of it, taking 3-39 and 4-59. Graeme Smith got a hundred and Mark Boucher 95, but they, too, are not there. Hashim Amla (75) and AB de Villiers (58) will remember the occasion.
The Proteas did it again in 1999, when Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock took 19 of the wickets on the way to a win by an innings and 21 runs.
That was sweet revenge for the unforgettable Test of 1995, when Mike Atherton resisted all that Donald and Co could throw at him. Having been demolished for 200 in their first innings (Eksteen 3-12, Pollock 3-44, Donald 2-49) England were set a target of 479. But Atherton stood like a lighthouse while the waves of fury launched themselves at him for nearly 11 hours. He ended unbeaten, figuratively and literally, on 185, with a lot of bruises coming from 492 balls. Donald bowled 35 overs that innings, most of them to Atherton in one of the greatest contests the game has ever seen.
The last time England won there was back in 2005, when Matthew Hoggard produced a one-man show of swing. A spark of hope for South Africa, perhaps? The rest of England’s attack was rubbish, but Hoggy smashed through the top order in the first innings, taking 5-144 (out of 419) and then 7-61 (out of 247) and engineered a 77-run win for the visitors.
Weather forecast: Thursday: Thunderstorm threatens, high of 26 deg C; Friday: Thunderstorm threatens, high of 26; Saturday: Thick cloud cover, high of 23.