The eagerly anticipated test series between South Africa and England gets underway tomorrow at Lords. England have beaten New Zealand home and away in recent months, while the South Africans have won 6 of their last 7 test series, the other being a drawn series in India. Added to that South Africa have won all three Tests at Lords since readmission. England may be at home, but South Africa will fancy their chances of a first series win in England since returning to international cricket.
Much has been made in the English press of the South African pace attack, and it is this weapon that will need to be fully utilised if South Africa are to win the series. The English press has described the attack as the best in the world, in terms of balance and penetration. Mark Boucher, the South African wicket keeper, does not necessarily agree with this. While he sees the potential to be the best attack in South African history, and in world cricket, he does say it is not the best he has kept to – yet. While this may seem like down playing his attack it must be remembered that Boucher has kept to an attack made up of Donald, Pollock, De Villiers, McMillan and Mathews. This attack has the potential to be better than that, but they are not the finished article. Firing on all cylinders they could be too much for the England batsman to handle, particularly of conditions help them.
The attack will be lead by Dale Steyn. who’s speed and late swing have propelled him up to number two in the Test bowling rankings, and garnered him 78 wickets in the last calender year. Supporting Steyn will be opening bowling partner Ntini, who picked up his first 10 wicket haul the last time South Africa toured England. Ntini, who has lead the attack for the last few years, has switched to a supporting role to the prolific Steyn, but can be equally as effective. The new boy in the block is Morne Morkel. Morkel, having played only a half a dozen Tests thus far, is somewhat unknown to the English as an international bowler, but could be the most dangerous of the trio. At 6’6 the tall pace bowler couples his raw pace and aggression with alarming bounce that has so far made everyone in England watching the warm up games sit up and take notice.
South Africa will go into all their matches with a spin bowler, Harris, and when conditions favour him he will play a big part in their attack, particularly in the 2nd innings. But it is the pace trio, with Andre Nel and Monde Zondeki in reserve, who will form the basis of plan A for the Proteas.
While South Africa has always been blessed with an immpressive pace attack, the likes of Donald, Pollock, De Villiers, Schultz, Mathews, McMillan etc, these three have the potential to be the best attack the country has seen. They have a chance to begin that journey to greatness against England – starting tomorrow. All of South Africa will be looking forward to that battle.