Well where to start…..
I was keen on England keeping up the pressure on South Africa at Trent Bridge especially after they had inflicted such a heavy defeat on the tourists at Lords but what they got was an unbelievable performance from South Africa to flip this series on its head.
All credit to them and you have to think Faf du Plessis is due a lot of the plaudits. He has galvanized them and cut out all of those mistakes that cost them so dear in the first test and that shows you what they are capable of when the pressure is on and they have strong leadership. In fairness it was a walloping victory so England fans will be hoping the little break between then and The Oval will give Root’s side time to regroup and bounce back.
I’m really looking forward to The Oval, a place where historically the toss is so crucial. I know we often say it but at this ground runs on the board usually set you up perfectly to take advantage later in the match when it swings a bit more and they will get turn in the latter innings. I think having seen the first two games that you can safely rule out the draw here (unless weather gets in the way) because we’ve seen a fragility in both teams when the opposition get on top.
The South African bowling line up looks strong, Rabada will be back which when added to the likes of Philander, Morkel and Morris whipping it down then you can be sure they have 20 wickets in them this week. England will make changes, Tom Westley is coming in at three with Ballance out due to injury and the possibility of more to make if going longer in the batting order is the call.
It’s going to take a big ton in the first innings from someone, if England bat first then a big one from Root ( 11/4 ) or Cookie ( 3/1 ) could get them right in the ascendancy but the same can be said for South Africa with possibly Dean Elgar ( 7/2 ) able to grind the England bowlers into the turf in the Oval sun. I remember last time at this place Amla ( 11/4 ) knocking up 330 in about 13 hours, that was pretty special.
So win the toss and get runs, get the initiative and take control of the game, that’s what we have seen so far so it’s the first body blow landed that seems to send either of these sides to the wobbles.
Joe Root will be wondering what happened to his honeymoon period, just the one game, but that’s what it is all about, welcome to the world of Test Cricket. One minute your up and the next your down but I don’t doubt he can handle it. The team have to perform and bounce back, it’s a very good test of them this week.
It is very hard to call but I’d probably just side with South Africa ( 9/5) here on the basis of their sure to fire bowling attack, but this has been a wildly contrasting series so far hasn’t it!
One thing is for sure it will be a belter of a game, look out for spinners wickets in the last innings as this place will turn towards the end and we are all set for another brilliant contest!
Best of luck
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