Second Test preview: Proteas v England


KP: Why is Bavuma in the Proteas’ side?


South Africa and England have played six completed Test series against each other this century, and England have won only one of those, but their chances of adding a second have never been this good.

England lead the series one-nil after winning in Durban by 214 runs, and with the Proteas' batting order in disarray, and the loss of key senior bowlers to injury, it could be two nil before 6 January.

It's rare that the number one ranked Test side are the underdogs, but that is very much the case here, with Dale Steyn missing the Test with an injured shoulder, and Vernon Philander out of action too thanks to a football injury during warm-ups.

Added to this, their top order is suffering a drought on a par with the farming regions of South Africa right now, with Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, and Hashim Amla desperately in need of a big score or two, or three.

Only Dean Elgar showed any application in Durban, scoring a century, but his colleagues offered no support, not even AB de Villiers. He had the wicketkeeping duties to deal with too, adding to the pressure on him.

The selectors have seen sense at last and called up keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, both for his glovework and his good form with the bat, having scored a ton as recently as 27 December. His absence in the first Test was glaring. Whether Stiaan van Zyl or Temba Bavuma makes way remains to be seen.

As for the bowling, a huge burden is on Morne Morkel's shoulders no as he is by far the senior paceman now that Steyn is injured. Kagiso Rabada will replace him, leaving Chris Morris to carry the drinks.

Meanwhile, Lions paceman Hardus Viljoen has been called up as cover for Kyle Abbott, who has a slight hamstring worry. Viljoen has taken 20 wickets in his past two matched for the Lions this season.

Spinner Dane Piedt will hope to retain his place despite going for plenty of runs in Durban, as Newlands is his home ground and he has an excellent record there. England will be pleased if he's picked, we reckon.

As for the Three Lions, they could have James Anderson back in the attack after he missed the first Test through injury, which will be a massive boost for them, and take some pressure off Stuart Broad.

Moeen Ali will continue to pose a threat as the Proteas' struggle against spin, horrifically demonstrated in India, continued in Durban. Moeen will look to add to the six-fer he bagged in KZN.

Key players

For South Africa, the return of Quinton de Kock will be key. He was dropped and told to go find form domestically, as he has done so with aplomb, and his good nick could inspire the rest of his more lacklustre colleagues.

England will look to Nick Compton again, after his belligerent efforts in Durban. His experience came to the fore, and he will hope to keep making the most of his return to the side.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results

2015 first Test: England won by 214 runs in Durban
2012 third Test: South Africa won by 51 runs at Lord's
2012 second Test: Draw at Headingley
2012 first Test: South Africa won by an innings and 12 runs at The Oval
2010 fourth Test: South Africa won by an innings and 74 runs in Johannesburg


South Africa: Hashim Amla (capt), AB de Villiers, Kyle Abbott, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Morne Morkel, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl, Chris Morris, Quinton de Kock, Hardus Viljoen

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Nick Compton, Mark Footitt, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Samit Patel, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Chris Woakes


Dates: 2 – 6 January
Morning session: 10:30-12:30 (08:30-10:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 13:10-15:10 (11:10-13:10 GMT)
Evening session: 15:30-17:30 (13:30-15:30 GMT)

On-field umpires: Bruce Oxenford and Aleem Dar
Third umpire: Rod Tucker
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle