Tuesday, July 17, 2012

England vs South Africa Preview

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, toddlers, adjudicators, cheerleaders, whoever you may be, wherever you may be, behold... its show time. The unofficial Test heavyweight championship between the two best teams in the world.

In one corner...
We have an overexcited English troupe who after downing some woeful Australians and Indians believe themselves to be the number one team in the world. The hyperbole king Mark Nicholas rambles on about  'Fortress England' and perhaps in desperation of a bandwagon after so many years of rubbish cricket, there is a loud and slightly overbearing chorus that sings out claiming world domination. But how good are they really? Is too much owed to the spectacular collapse of the previous champions?

In the other corner...
We have the touring party who have quietly accumulated success and fixed themselves comfortably in a position to make the next step and rise above England. They have had the goods for a number of years but have never quite established a position of complete dominance, usually thanks to the Australians.

Second best ain't the best matey. © Getty

Arguably and perhaps unfairly they have been ignored as worlds the number two team for too long, and this is their chance to finally strike gold and reach the top of the podium.

How do they compare?
To be frank, the teams are near identical on strength. The few differences are:

  • Rudolph is average
  • Swann is a better bowler than Tahir
  • The Boucher eye incident means that Prior is the superior keeper
  • England has more batting depth with Broad and Bresnan 
England win a few key match-ups there, however...
  • Anderson is not Dale Steyn, no matter how much England love him
  • Ian Bell is overrated, especially against quality bowling
  • South Africa has express pace in Steyn and Morkel, the English rely on swing alone
The bottom line is that comparing them on paper is a fruitless exercise, both teams are more or less dead on with each side having minor holes but are otherwise very strong. They are both led well, coached well, they field well, and strike an ideal balance between donkey-like experience and youthful exuberance.

But who will win?
Its a coin toss really, but as a personal bias I want the South Africans to win mostly to quench the overbearing English ego's, and to keep a lid on Kevin Pietersen. South Africa simply deserve it, they have been tirelessly battling in the shadow of the Australians for two decades and England simply leap-frogged them to the top. Its time to take the crown and become the dominant force of cricket, once and for all.

No more choking. 

THAT word again? © Reuters

I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.

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