South Africa: Kagiso Rabada to Dean Elgar – what explains the resurgence of tourist testing? | Cricket News

James Anderson and South African coach Mark Boucher discuss new style of cricket

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James Anderson and South African manager Mark Boucher discuss England’s new ‘bazball’ style of cricket under Brendon McCullum

James Anderson and South African manager Mark Boucher discuss England’s new ‘bazball’ style of cricket under Brendon McCullum

England are back in action on Wednesday, with Ben Stokes’ side keen to replicate the exhilarating, attacking brand of cricket that won them four straight wins to start the summer. But what can we expect from their opponents?

South Africa are a very different side to the one that toured England five years ago and the one beaten at home in 2019-20. Gone is former captain Faf du Plessis, star hitter Quinton de Kock – both lost to retirement from the longer format, the latter being just 29.

Other recognizable names, such as Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have also retired over the past five years, leaving this South African side in a state of flux – which England have capitalized on beating them 3-1 in these two most recent meetings.

England v South Africa

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However, after looking lost in that home defeat to England two and a half years ago, South Africa have won four of their six series since and present a significant challenge for their hosts in the next series. of three games. Here’s how…

Rabada leads a fiery attack

South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is expected to be available for the first test against England at Lord's

South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is expected to be available for the first test against England at Lord’s

There are concerns over Kagiso Rabada’s fitness heading into the series, with an ankle injury preventing him from competing on the ODI leg of the tour. But on Monday, head coach Mark Boucher said he expected the fast bowler to be available for selection.

Good news: Rabada has consistently proven a problem for England batters over the years, taking 52 wickets in his nine Tests at an average of 25.80 – including his career-best numbers of 7-112 in one innings and 13- 144 in the same game at Centurion in 2016.

If Rabada isn’t ready to go to Lord’s, then Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje – both intimidatingly quick, themselves – are more than capable assistants, or provide superb depth if he plays.

Fast left-arm bowler Marco Jansen has impressed in his first five Test caps

Fast left-arm bowler Marco Jansen has impressed in his first five Test caps

Also watch out for the quick option of 6ft 7in left arm Marco Jansen – just 22 – who has taken his wickets at 20 so far in his five Test caps so far, hugely impressive in his first series against India and away to New Zealand.

The confidence that comes with winning

It’s precisely those two series, against India and New Zealand – the two teams that played in the final of the World Test Championship last year (and which, admittedly, England swept this summer) – who stood out from South Africa’s recent string of results.

Since that loss to England at home, South Africa have comfortably swept a struggling Sri Lanka side in a two-match series, before the same fate was meted out to them on a tour of Pakistan.

But, since then they have won in the West Indies – no easy feat (ask Joe Root) – edged India 2-1 at home and then tied their tour of New Zealand 1-1 more early this year.

South Africa's Dean Elgar celebrates his team's victory over India at home last winter

South Africa’s Dean Elgar celebrates his team’s victory over India at home last winter

South Africa lost heavily in the first Tests of both series but bounced back with two over 200 chases against India, while Rabada and Jansen combined for 15 wickets to even things up against the BlackCaps.

Bangladesh were then supported 2-0 at home in their final Test leading up to this series.

New lineup of hitters looking to cash in

South Africa’s batting is still, at times, a bit in the works, capable of a few hiccups – as evidenced by their 95 and 111 in their series-opening loss to New Zealand.

However, led by their nugget skipper, Dean Elgar, they have an unwavering determination about them that ensures they often represent more than the sum of their parts on first inspection.

Sarel Erwee will likely partner Elgar at the top of the order, having landed his first Test ton in the second Test victory in New Zealand, while Keegan Petersen – who anchored the second of the pursuits in India – his 82 after a first run 72 – sits at number three.

Aiden Markram is the most talented of the bunch, the easiest to watch, but now is the time for him to still realize his undoubted potential. He scored two of his five Test tons in his first four innings, but averaged only a modest 35.23 over his 31 Tests.

Rassie van der Dussen, meanwhile, who has enjoyed a stunning streak in One Day International cricket – averaging almost 70 from his 38 caps – is still on the hunt for a first hundred Tests. Lord’s would be the perfect place to rectify that.

Harmer’s success on English soil

To complement their dauntingly paced attack, South Africa have the rotation options of Keshav Maharaj – who, in the absence of Temba Bavuma, replaced the captain so well for the clean-ball portion of the tour – and Simon Harmer .

Keshav Maharaj (L) and Simon Harmer (R) are the spin options for South Africa in England

Keshav Maharaj (L) and Simon Harmer (R) are the spin options for South Africa in England

Maharaj would appear to be in possession of the shirt, with the 32-year-old left-arm spinner having played 42 Tests for his country, taking 150 wickets at an impressive average of 30.67 – as he took two 7-fors in each of his last two tests against Bangladesh.

Harmer played alongside him in those games, returning to the international fold for the first time in seven years – the non-spinner having had great success in county cricket with Essex in the years since, even flirting with a change of allegiance to England in this period.

Both are highly unlikely to play in England, especially at Lord’s, so who will South Africa go with? Although Harmer is now back in the side, his numbers in England make a compelling argument for selection.

When Essex won the County Championship in 2017, they took 72 wickets at an average of 19.19, while the County’s other successes in 2019 and winning the Bob Willis Trophy in 2020 saw Harmer top wicket-taking tables with 83 (avg: 18.28) and 38 (avg: 15.86), respectively. This season, his 46 at 23.73 is good enough for third in the Premier League.

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