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Faf gets Proteas back on track





What an amazing turnaround by the Proteas during the second test match at Trent Bridge.

This ground has been a fortress for England over the past ten years so the last thing England would have expected was to be outplayed at a venue where they have ruled the roost for a long time.

The Proteas looked like a different team to the one that was well beaten by England during the first test match at Lord's. All credit must go to Faf du Plessis for this victory. His absence was clearly visible at Lord's during the first test where the Proteas looked lost.

Upon his return to the test team he selected the right combination, restored a professional, calm approach and led from the front like he always does.

The selection of four fast bowlers for the second test was absolutely the right decision. This strategy gives South Africa a varied and balanced bowling attack with four quick bowlers and the impressive spin of Keshav Maharaj.

Du Plessis now has enough bowling options at his disposal. This is the way forward for the team.

The elevation of Quinton de Kock in the batting order was also a good move.

Having De Kock bat in the top six means that he won't run out of partners and that he can control the tempo of the innings once he gets going.

His partnership with Hasim Amla in the first innings was one of the determining factors during the test match.

De Kock batted four in this match. That may be one position too high for him considering that he has to keep wicket as well. I would like Du Plessis himself to bat four and De Kock five. This will give De Kock enough respite in case South Africa have to spend a long time in the field during their first innings.

The other bold decision that paid dividends for Du Plessis was to bat first in overcast conditions that appeared perfect for bowling on day one.

Du Plessis took the initiative by taking the game to England with this positive decision. That put England under pressure and on the back foot straightaway.

The most notable difference of having Du Plessis back at the helm was the composure of the team in the field and with ball in hand.

The discipline that was sorely lacking at Lord's was back straight away.

There were no dropped catches, no no-balls and none of the indifferent passages of play that was evident during the first test.

Like all good captains Du Plessis has the knack of getting the best out of his players and the team functioning as a complete unit.

No one would have thought that after their convincing win at Lord's, just a week later England would be searching for answers.

There are serious questions around the England team selection, particularly on the batting front where the England top order, with the exception of Alastair Cook, have a brittle look about it.

Selecting three left-handers in the top three plays into the hands of the South African bowling attack.

Both Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel have excellent records against left handlers.

The jury is also out regarding Mark Wood who hasn't bowled well during the first two test matches and left-arm spinner Liam Dawson. Dawson has been out bowled by Maharaj and has looked innocuous during the first two test matches.

There must be pressure on coach Trevor Baylis as well. His bland, laid-back coaching style is not what this England team's needs right now.

They need someone with energy who can make a positive contribution in the areas where they need to improve.

England have a poor test record over the last 12 months and the English press will be ruthless in putting pressure on team England after this disappointing loss.

It is a pity that there is a break now before the third test at the Oval.

The Proteas have got momentum and England are truly on the back foot.

The test series is set for a fascinating conclusion.

It's not easy to predict a winner, but suffice to say at this point I would rather be in South Africa's position.


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