England started their 2020 calendar year with a crushing 189-run win over South Africa at Cape Town to level the series against South Africa 1-1.
With very little to choose between the sides, it is anybody’s guess as to what will transpire in the third Test at St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
It was a disappointing batting performance in the second Test that pegged South Africa back. Although they were holding on for a draw until the last session, their inability to play time hurt their chances. Quinton de Kock remains their best batsman of the series (199 runs. Avg. 49.75), but captain Faf du Plessis will be under pressure to improve (69 runs, Avg. 17.25).
Kagiso Rabada (12 wickets) and Anrich Nortje (ten wickets) have been doing a great job with the ball for the Proteas. However, the poor form of Keshav Maharaj (five wickets) remains a concern.
Dominic Sibley’s scintillating display with the bat at Cape Town makes him the lone centurion of the series – across the two teams. There have been consistent performances from Joe Root (173 runs, Avg. 43.25), although he has struggled to convert those into big scores.
While injuries remain a constant theme among the bowlers, the English attack have hunted like a pack. James Anderson will be out of the Test, but Stuart Broad and Sam Curran (eight wickets each) have shown enough to suggest they can lead them to another win.
Regardless of the loss in the second Test, the South Africans have put in commendable performances. They came so close to claiming a draw, which would have put them in better shape for this match. However, there is still enough confidence in the camp to put in a spirited effort. It will depend on how well the South African batters take on the English attack. For the visitors, the presence of Ben Stokes is always a huge positive. Even the absence of Anderson doesn’t weaken them considerably with Chris Woakes and Mark Wood ready to step in. All in all, another fascinating contest is in the offing, one which might be won by the team batting first.
History & Statistics
- South Africa have lost five of nine Tests against England at this venue (W1, D3, L5).
- South Africa haven’t won at Port Elizabeth against England since March 1957 (D3, L1).
- South Africa have won five of their last seven Tests at this venue (W5, D1, L1), losing just one.
- England haven’t won consecutive Tests against the same side since winning three against Sri Lanka in November 2018.
- England haven’t won consecutive away Tests against South Africa in the same series since 1956-57.
Pieter Malan showed at Cape Town with a second-innings 84 that he has the grit to lead South Africa’s batting. If he can put in another good effort, the Proteas would have one lesser worry.
With Anderson not around, Broad will be itching to lead the visitors. He has shown in the past that whenever Anderson isn’t around, his performances raise up a notch.