Home advantage, guile and talent will see England defeat South Africa
By Shane warne | The Daily Telegraph
18th July 2012 12:27 PM
The main cricket event of the summer starts at the Kia Oval on Thursday and with world No 1 Test status on the line there is a pretty big incentive for England and South Africa to perform.
I am leaning towards England winning 1-0 or 2-0 with rain washing out the other Test. England have had a good summer so far. They have been outstanding in all forms of the game. The 4-0 win over Australia will make them feel good about themselves and they also demolished the West Indies quite comfortably.
There are no weak links in the side. Everyone is in good touch. South Africa have been doing OK recently but England in their own conditions will be very tough to beat. South Africa will have to play their best cricket at all times to beat England in their backyard.
We have had only about 10 days of sun since March. Any team coming over here at the moment face overcast, cloudy conditions with the ball swinging and seaming. The wickets are not flat so there is a lot on offer for the bowlers. England’s attack know their home conditions very well and are the best at exploiting them. That is where they have the advantage over South Africa.
England will look at South Africa and see they are strong in the middle order and the key to South Africa posting big scores is the axis of Amla-Kallis-De Villiers at three, four and five. England have to try to strike early to expose that middle order to the ball when it is still swinging and seaming around.
If you bowl well to Graeme Smith you can cut off his scoring. He went something like six Tests against us and his highest score was 18. If you bowl full and wide to him, he struggles because he can’t drive. If you go for lbw you have to be careful because he clips you through midwicket, but bowling wide ties him down.
Hashim Amla is a very patient player and he has a bit of flair as well. He is a wristy player and dangerous. The key is to stop him scoring and build up pressure. If you do that you can get him nicking off. With Jacques Kallis, England will look to work him over with the short ball followed up by some good hostile, quick-length bowling.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Stuart Broad comes straight on to bowl as soon as Kallis arrives at the crease. AB De Villiers struggles against spin a bit. Bringing on Graeme Swann early to De Villiers is an idea. He can sweep, use his feet and likes to dominate spinners. Those kind of players give you a chance. If Swann is bowling well he can nick De Villiers early a few times.
South Africa also have a number of left-handers in their top six – Smith, J P Duminy and Jacques Rudolph – which will bring Swann into the game generally. Swanny has been bowling pretty well this summer but in the couple of one-dayers I saw, he looked a bit frustrated. But the South Africans generally don’t play spin that well which could make this his series.
South Africa are very regimented and disciplined. What I always found playing against them was that the more imagination and flair you showed the more successful you would be. Unorthodox tactics unsettle their rhythm.
They are used to three slips, gully, backward point, bowling outside off stump and wearing each other down all day. That is the type of cricket they play but whenever you step out of that by having two catchers at midwicket and three gullys, for example, or start bowling slower ball bouncers and mixing it up a little bit, they start to struggle.
Without being disrespectful, I think South Africa are very good front-runners but if you get them under pressure they don’t like it. England can do that with strong top-order batting. The top four have done well in Test cricket and they can lay the foundations by making big scores that immediately put South Africa under the pump when they face England’s good attack.
South Africa are here with a strong, well balanced team. They have good fast bowlers with variety and leg-spinner Imran Tahir as well.
I have had a few sessions with Tahir and he is pretty good. He can be a bit impatient but he has got all the toys. He can spin the ball, he has a very good wrong ’un and a very good straight one.
I know he played for Hampshire but England players do not play a lot of county cricket so they are probably working from video footage of him. There is a big difference between footage and then actually facing someone.
It was the right call by the selectors to drop Jonny Bairstow. It could have done him more harm than good playing against Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Ravi Bopara, his replacement, will have a little bit of confidence from the one-dayers but I still have question marks over him in Test cricket.
You can get away with mistakes in one-dayers and Twenty20 but not Tests. You have to have a good temperament and I hope the penny has finally dropped with Ravi. There is no doubt about his talent. It is just the way he thinks upstairs. He has been a bit too relaxed in this past but hopefully this time he grabs chance with both hands.
All three Tests are going to be close between the two best Test teams in the world. The only shame is this is not a five-Test series. Both sides warrant that. They could have cut back on a couple of one-dayers to squeeze in more Tests. But there is a lot of hype about this series. That is justified. The summer starts at last.
- You are aiming high, but beware of marketers selling you as an FMCG
- With Advani visit, Modi begins charm offensive
- Social media goes martial over High Court's marital ruling
- Slum removal scheme tweaked to make it more effective
- Ready to tune in the lord, catch him up on Twitter
- 95 per cent stolen goods not recovered in Kerala, says NCRB
- Karnataka MLAs were frugal in their poll spending
- Now talcum powder linked to ovarian cancer
- Thousands missing near Kedarnath shrine
- Indian Coast Guards help rescue 26 crew from shipwreck near Yemen
- Army Major captures 'UFO' in Kerala
- Flaws in Koodankulam plant
- Prices of 348 drugs to come down drastically from May 15
- With Advani visit, Modi begins charm offensive
- Callgate: Doctors were prime target for Biju, Saritha Nair
- Congress to vote in Nitish government's favour today