Ricochet News

PREVIEW: Proteas need strong high-order stands to topple England

By Marc Jacobson - Aug 4, 2017
PREVIEW: Proteas need strong high-order stands to topple England

South Africa will be heading into the fourth and final Test against England, remarkably humbled after a thorny tour saw them slump in opening the ODI Series, a first round exit from the ICC Champions Trophy, a defeat in the T20 Series, and now where they stand, a 2-1 regress in the four-match Test Series.

Test matches speaking, the Proteas have recently showed a failed lapse of opening batting stands, which extends 12 innings’ back since they toured New Zealand just a couple of months ago.

In those last 12 spells, the Proteas failed to produce more than 21 runs in all respective opening partnerships against highly standardized pace attacks such as England, which will be a discerning factor if they aspire to draw the Series 2-2 at Old Trafford.

South Africa’s opening stands average a meek 12.92 runs per innings in those same 12 outings, whilst against the likes of more non-attributable pace attacks such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, their average stands at around 40.13 runs per innings over the last four years.

Evidently, the Proteas openers have buckled more against the likes of pacing specialists NZ, England and Australia – this a foresight worth rendering for more succession as they mentally prepare themselves for the fourth Test.

Opener Dean Elgar though, produced the highest score of the match in the third Test against England, scoring 136, but for most parts was not partnered well in the middle.

"Hopefully the batters can respond well because he showed us how you need to bat in Test match cricket," captain Faf du Pluessis said of Elgar in a statement.

"We will try to make sure that we can do exactly what he did in the last Test at Old Trafford," he added.

What counts for South Africa’s stakes is their proud away Test record since 2006, having only lost one Series (against India in 2015), while winning 13 and drawn five in a total 19 Series since. After being massacred by 239 runs in the third Test at The Oval last week, a Series draw will certainly be on the cards.

“Coming to England and drawing a series is not a negative. England are a good team at home and to draw a series against them will be important for us. We have a proud record away from home, something I believe is not spoken about enough,” du Plessis said.

“Our record away from home over the last eight years is remarkable and as a team we are motivated to keep the away losses to a minimum.”

Specialist pacer and all-rounder, Vernon Philander, is set to go through a late fitness test to be availed to play.

"Vernon at 100 percent fit means we can look at playing three seamers and play seven batters,” du Plessis said.

“Vernon at 90 percent doesn't mean you can play three seamers because you don't want to be in a position where you have a seamer break down and then you only have two, because that is basically the Test match over right there."

The fourth Test at Old Trafford is set to start at 12:00 (SA time) on Friday.