England vs South Africa First Test predictions: England can continue resurgence

Warren Ashurst
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Ben Stokes will be hoping to guide England to another series win
Ben Stokes will be hoping to guide England to another series win

After a series whitewash against New Zealand, England are looking to build on that success when they play host to South Africa.

The first of three Tests starts on Wednesday, as the two sides go head-to-head at Lord’s and England are seeking a fifth straight win in the red-ball format.

The tourists are one place above Brendon McCullum’s men in the world rankings and will feel they can end England’s recent resurgence.

Fresh bowling attack a major plus for England

Injuries have decimated England’s bowling options in recent months, with the likes of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes all still sidelined.

Jamie Overton has also added to the lengthy list of absentees, although Ollie Robinson is fit again and is added to the squad although he will not be in the starting 11 for the first Test.

As expected, England have named a three-seamer attack – James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Matthew Potts – while skipper Ben Stokes will be the fourth pace option.

James Anderson will be making his first Test appearance as a 40-year-old
James Anderson will be making his first Test appearance as a 40-year-old

Jack Leach is again named as the the spinner, while Joe Root offers a part-time option should the need arise for the former captain to take the ball.

All the bowling attack should be pretty fresh, with Potts the only seamer with limited-overs action since the seven-wicket win over India back in early July.

Selectors ready to stick with England openers

It is pretty much ‘as you were’ for the England batting-line up, following three wins over New Zealand and the one-off Test success against India.

Former captain Root and Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow are certainties at present, after enjoying a stellar summer to date.

Alex Lees and Zak Crawley have not set the world alight, but the selectors seem happy to give the opening partnership more time to flourish.

Lees has two half-centuries to his name this summer, while Crawley has three scores in the 40s since his 121 in the West Indies back in March and scored 66 in the first innings of England’s last Test meeting with South Africa, which helped his side to a 191-run victory in Johannesburg.

The only batting change from the win over India is the return of the fit-again wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, with Sam Billings dropping out of the squad.

Transitional Proteas face stern test

South Africa head to Lord’s having won five of their six Test matches so far in 2022, which includes successes over India and New Zealand.

In December last year, Quinton de Kock announced his retirement in Test cricket and it left many pundits scratching their heads as to who would lead the team.

The Proteas selectors decided to go with veteran batsman Dean Elgar and he has stepped up to the plate in fine style. The 35-year-old opener smashed an unbeaten 96 against India in January and has half-centuries in three of his last four Test innings.

Dean Elgar has impressed since taking over as South Africa's Test captain
Dean Elgar has impressed since taking over as South Africa's Test captain

Another experienced head is South Africa’s main danger with the ball, as Kagiso Rabada tours England currently sat fifth in the Test bowling rankings.

The one and only time Rabada has previously toured England, he picked up 16 wickets in three Tests in 2017 – including six scalps at Lord’s in a 211-run defeat.

Prediction

Despite the weather potentially causing problems on the opening day, both of these teams have been playing with a positive mindset and a result still looks likely.

England’s new leadership team look to have instilled a renewed confidence in the camp and with Root and Bairstow full of confidence, the hosts should be able to take advantage of home conditions.

Lord’s has not always been a happy hunting ground for England but they have lost just two of their last nine Tests at the home of cricket.

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