2nd Test: England’s top rank at stake

Hosts look to bounce back as South Africa eye Test summit.

Afp August 01, 2012

LEEDS: England will seek to bounce back after what spinner Graeme Swann described as a ‘public humiliation’ when they face South Africa in the second Test starting at Headingley today.

England’s ranking as the number one Test team is under threat after they were beaten by an innings and 12 runs in the first match at The Oval last week, with the hosts taking only two wickets as South Africa piled up 637 runs in their only innings. Swann revealed that the England players spent two hours analysing their defeat immediately after the game and England coach Andy Flower insisted that team could come back strongly.

“We get ourselves into the right frame of mind by doing the things that we have been doing very well for the last couple of years,” said Flower. “I have confidence in our players that we can come back and play good cricket.”

England will also draw comfort from recent South African defeats that have come after innings wins.

The Proteas beat India by an innings in the first Test in an away series in 2009-10 and a home series in 2010-11 only to lose the second Test each time, with the feat being repeated at home against Sri Lanka in 2011-12. They also won the first Test against Australia last summer, albeit not by an innings, only to lose the second clash.

With conditions likely to be more bowler-friendly at the Yorkshire ground than they were at the Oval, England will seek to exploit the potential weakness of South Africa’s batting below number six. Specialist batsmen Jacques Rudolph and JP Duminy did not bat at the Oval and failed to strike form in four innings apiece in warm-up games against county teams, while the South African tail does not have the batting credentials of the England lower order.

However, Rudolph, who spent five years playing for Yorkshire, brushed aside concerns.

“The way we play the game we are not too results orientated,” he said. “Going into the game we just have to make sure we stick to the same processes which I thought we did brilliantly in batting and bowling down at the Oval.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2012.