Your essential guide to the second Test between England and South Africa, which starts at Trent Bridge on Friday.
It’s been a build-up dominated by selection dilemmas. Kagiso Rabada’s unfortunate and downright unfair suspension, Faf du Plessis’ return, and JP Duminy’s form. There will definitely be two changes to the first Test team, there might well be three. England, on the other hand, are unlikely to make any changes to a winning formula. They’re settled, they’re at home, and they’re about to play on a ground they haven’t lost at since 2007. South Africa haven’t won there since 1965. The odds are stacked against the Proteas.
The last time the sides met in Nottingham was in 2003 in a match the English won by 70 runs. James Anderson remains the only player to have survived from either side, and his record at the ground is staggering, with 53 wickets from eight matches at an average of 19.24. Throw in Stuart Broad’s average of 18.58 there, along with Joe Root’s batting average of 106.33, and they have a venue in which plenty of success has been carved out.
Now that we know the enormity of the challenge that awaits the Proteas, it’s time to look at how the English can be beaten. The tourists will be massively boosted by the return of Du Plessis, whose captaincy is expected to galvanise a side that enjoyed an unbeaten spell under him last season. Dean Elgar can focus on his batting, and Heino Kuhn will be eager to show that he belongs in the Test arena. Temba Bavuma is in a good run of form and he, along with Quinton de Kock, will look to frustrate the English down the order as they did at Lord’s. Rabada’s absence will be a blow, but it could be a huge opportunity for Duanne Olivier to use the pace-friendly conditions and bowl to a batting lineup that wouldn’t have seen too much of him.
The Proteas have plenty of fighters in this team, and they will be spurred on by the underdog tag, as opposed to being bogged down by it.
Hashim Amla: As the most experienced player in the side, along with having one of the proudest records ever seen from a touring batsman in England, Amla has to form the backbone of this batting lineup in order for the side to stand a chance. He is a bit out of form in the longest format, but not to an alarming extent. A rich run of form in the ODI setup, along with his unbeaten 91 against the England Lions, means the runs are there. It’s imperative that he takes that across to Nottingham and shows why he has an average of 66.41 in England.
Stuart Broad: Broad has a knack for producing extremely special spells of bowling. Think back to his spell of 5-1 at the Wanderers last year, and go a little bit further back to the last time he played at Trent Bridge, which saw him take 8-15 in the 2015 Ashes. His delivery to see off Heino Kuhn at Lord’s reminded us of what he’s capable of, and now he’s going to be bowling at his home ground, where he has taken 34 wickets from seven matches at an average of 18.58. He also has a batting average of 42.66 there, fresh off his first Test fifty for England in over four years.
No changes expected for England, with Liam Dawson expected to keep his place after the Lord’s track produced more spin than predicted. Chris Woakes is working his way back to fitness, which leaves Mark Wood under pressure to perform.
Linda Zondi hasn’t given away much, but what we do know, is that Du Plessis is returning as skipper and JP Duminy or Theunis de Bruyn will make way. De Bruyn’s 48 in the first innings might just have pushed him above Duminy. Rabada’s place is between Chris Morris or Olivier, but with the extra batting strength not really required, Olivier might just force his way in.
England: 1. Alastair Cook 2. Keaton Jennings 3. Gary Ballance 4. Joe Root 5. Jonny Bairstow 6. Ben Stokes 7. Moeen Ali 8. Liam Dawson 9. Stuart Broad 10. Mark Wood 11. James Anderson
Proteas: 1. Dean Elgar 2. Heino Kuhn 3. Hashim Amla 4. Faf du Plessis 5. Temba Bavuma 6. Theunis de Bruyn 7. Quinton de Kock 8. Vernon Philander 9. Keshav Maharaj 10. Duanne Olivier 11. Morne Morkel
Faf du Plessis on KG’s absence: ‘It’s a shame, because he is a big part of this team and in a big Test series like this, you want to see your best players compete against each other.’
Dean Elgar weighs in too: ‘I hope he learns from this, he’s missing a game, he’s let the team down and himself down – that could work in his favour as a person.’
Joe Root on the first Test win: ‘I didn’t know what to expect, but what was pleasing was everything I asked of the lads they were very open to do and responded to it.’
Alastair Cook on Root’s captaincy: ‘By playing it a bit more low-key, certainly in the dressing room, his message will grow. It will get clearer and stronger as he goes.’
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