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A date at Lord's awaits





Since readmission, South Africa have done well at Lord's, but this time the Proteas will find it even more challenging against a strong England combination.

This will be the first test match for England super star Joe Root as the new England captain. The England selectors picked an interesting combination with potentially seven lefthanders in the England batting line-up.

This may backfire on England. The Proteas will field a number of bowlers who bowl well to lefthanders. Both Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have had success against lefthanders over the years. They won't mind bowling to seven of them in the English line-up.

Garry Ballance makes a surprise return to the England line-up. Ballance struggled towards the end of his previous stint with England. His last tour with the team was in Bangladesh where he had a miserable time. By his own admission he thought that the opportunity to play for England wouldn't come again. To his credit he went back to county side Yorkshire and has been scoring heavily in the county championship. He earned his recall through weight of runs.

South African-born Keaton Jennings, another left-handed player retains his opening spot alongside Alistair Cook. Jennings hasn't scored as many runs so far this summer as he did last season, but he cemented his spot in the team with two half-centuries against South Africa A.

Cook, on the other hand, has been in prolific form. He no longer has the burden of captaincy which will no doubt free him from some of the pressures he felt towards the end of his captaincy career.

The rest of the England batting line-up is solid with the in-form Jonny Bairstow and the exciting Ben Stokes in the team. Moeen Ali, the England offspinning allrounder, should bat at seven. This line-up is strong under English conditions and won't be bowled out easily.

On the bowling front the old firm of Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson will be reunited. Newcomer Toby Rowland-Jones will make his debut as the third seamer. Allrounder Ben Stokes will get the fourth bowling spot and Moeen Ali should be the sole spinner.

The jury is out on Broad and Anderson. Both are recovering from injury and Anderson in particular is not as quick as he used to be. It is not the best England attack the Proteas batsmen have faced, but still good enough to cause problems under English conditions.

The Proteas selection is up in the air at the moment. It looks like Heino Kuhn will open the batting. He deserves his selection in the squad. He earned his call-up through weight of runs over many seasons. He has shown courage and perseverance when all looked lost.

It is uncertain at this point whether Faf du Plessis will make the first test. If he doesn't, Theunis de Bruyn will probably fill the middle order spot Du Plessis will leave vacant. In his only test to date, De Bruyn was made to open against New Zealand, which was a poor decision. He will be more familiar and happy in the middle-order.

The bowling attack selects itself with Morkel, Philander, Rabada and Maharaj expected to do the honours.

England rightly think the South African team is there for the taking. This first test match is crucial for the touring team in particular. A strong performance at Lord's will inject some much-needed belief into the Proteas. Should Faf du Plessis not play, stand-in captain Dean Elgar will be sure to emphasise that point.

Hopefully this team will maintain the fine record established by previous South African teams at Lord's.


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