South Africa will be desperate to maintain unbeaten streak in England - Fourth Test Preview
Fourth Test - England v South Africa, Old Trafford
4th August, 11 am local, 10 am GMT
South Africa will be desperate to come up with a spirited performance as they meet England one final time this season in the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Friday.
The last time South Africa lost a Test series in England was in 1998 when the hosts claimed a 2-1 victory. The 2003 series following that ended in a 2-2 draw while the Proteas emerged victorious in the 2008 and 2012 series in the country with convincing performances. A lot will be at stake for the visitors, who faced defeats in the One-Day International and Twenty20 International series against England along with an ordinary Champions Trophy tournament this season.
The fact that Vernon Philander was struggling with a viral infection did not help their cause at The Oval and the 32-year-old will undergo a final fitness test before the game and if declared fit, he will prove more than handy along with Kagiso Rabada., Morne Morkel and Chris Morris, while Keshav Maharaj was impressive as well. However, their biggest concern has been the batting unit, which lacked consistency.Heino Kuhn, despite, his failures has been backed by the coach while the likes of Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla should fire, if South Africa are to overcome the England attack. Dean Elgar's fighting century in the fourth innings of The Oval game will be some respite for the Proteas.
On the other hand, England have already retained the Basil D'Oliveira Trophy but a series victory will be an ideal start for the new skipper Joe Root. The success of Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali with both bat and the ball gives England the flexibility to field an additional batsman or bowler depending on conditions. Alastair Cook and Tom Westley showed a lot of promise in the previous game but it was Toby Roland-Jones, who stole the show at The Oval with his eight wicket haul. Not to forget Moeen's hat-trick that wrapped the game for England in the final innings.
Pitch and Conditions:
Rain has been a concern in Manchester and even the day before the game saw huge puddles of water in the outfield. Wet weather is likely to intervene play every now and then and it will be more concerning for South Africa more than England.
Both teams are likely to retain the combination from The Oval game.
England: 1. Alastair Cook, 2. Keaton Jennings, 3. Tom Westley, 4. Joe Root (captain), 5. Ben Stokes, 6. Dawid Malan, 7. Jonny Bairstow (wk), 8. Moeen Ali, 9. Toby Roland-Jones, 10. Stuart Broad, 11. James Anderson.
South Africa: 1. Heino Kuhn, 2. Dean Elgar, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. Quinton de Kock (wk), 5. Faf du Plessis (wk), 6. Temba Bavuma, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Vernon Philander, 9. Keshav Maharaj, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Morne Morkel
England will head into the fourth Test having enjoyed a 10 match unbeaten streak in Manchester in which they managed eight wins and two draws.
South Africa's hopes of levelling the series isn't encouraging considering they have won just one Test against England at Old Trafford in their last eight outings.
However, the Proteas will be encouraged by the fact that the last five games between these two teams has seen alternate winners with England being the victorious team in their last encounter at The Oval.
The last 14 games involving England has seen just one draw and they registered five wins and eight defeats in it.
Joe Root has the chance to become the fifth fastest England player to 5,000 Tests runs, if he manages 46 runs in the fourth Tests.
The last time, England played at Old Trafford, Root went on to record his career highest score of 254 runs against Pakistan.
Morne Morkel, who dismissed Alastair Cook in both the innings at The Oval is the most successful South African bowler against the former England captain after having managed to remove him 11 times previously.
© Cricket World 2017