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ENG vs SA: Despite Gloomy Roads Ahead England And South Africa Hope For A Cracker Test

ENG vs SA: After a  hiatus of 19 years, England is hosting South Africa for a one-off test match at Taunton on Monday, in the tour opener. Taunton is staging its second Test in three years, having been the venue for the Women’s Ashes Test in 2019. It was also where England and South Africa played their last Test against each other – 19 years ago. While South Africa have played only 2 tests after their test against England in 2003, against India in 2014 and against the Netherlands in 2007, England played 17 test matches at the same time. Test matches have been the part of regular Ashes and they have played tests against India and New Zealand.

The last three test matches in 2021 and 2022, though, ended in a draw, it did not bar any excitement. Despite the rain and a day short, India batted for two days to save the test match against England. In their first-ever day-night test, India took the upperhand against Australia in their own backyard. And in the Ashes, while Australia dominated the majority of the match, England almost chased down the target in the last session before Australia find their way back in the last 10 overs of the test.

England Coach has challenged Emma Lamb to show England “what she’s got” by putting her in the frame to open alongside Tammy Beaumont in next week’s one-off women’s Test against South Africa. Lamb who has made her debut in 2021, played one T20I against New Zealand in September before making two ODI appearances, during this year’s Ashes and World Cup. Apart from a top-order bat she is also a gun fielder and a part-time off-spinner. She has been awarded for her stellar domestic performances and is one of the faces to make her debut in England’s 100th Test Match.

Along with her Tammy Beaumont, who has scored a half-century against India will look forward to a solid start once again, forgetting her Aussie outing. Middle-order will be taken care of the players like Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, and Amy Jones. Knight, the England captain, was the player of the match, achieving her highest Test score with an unbeaten 168, in a thrilling draw against Australia in January. It was her second match-saving century from nine appearances and she added 48 in the second innings after other notable scores of 95 against India last year, and fifties in each innings of the 2017 Ashes Test.

Nat Sciver who had hit two centuries against Australia in the recently concluded World Cup, both against Australia, will look to continue her momentum in this match as well. She can find inspiration from the inning she played against Australia in Canberra. Her 58 in 62 balls gave England areal a chance to chase down 254 in 48 overs in the last session. Amy Jones despite having a couple of steller session n the domestic circuit, have failed to live up to her reputation with the bat in the international matches. She along with Sophia Dunkley, who is the first Black women cricketer to score a half-century for England need to play a more crucial role in the lower order.

The Test retirement of Katherine Brunt and the international retirement of Anya Shrubsole have opened the door for uncapped seamers Lauren Bell, Emily Arlott and Freya Davies, while Alice Davidson-Richards has been selected ahead of Georgia Elwiss, who performed the seam-bowling allrounder role when England drew with India last June. Both Brunt and Shrubsole have been the pillar of the England seam bowling attack for ages. Their omission from the attack means Kate Cross will have to spearhead the new-looked English fast bowling comprised of Lauren Bell, Issy Wong, and Freya Davies.

Though Sophie Ecclestone picked up only one wicket, giving away 142 runs against Australia, at Bristol she picked up 8 wickets in th test match against India. Her left-arm spin has caused destruction when both the sides met at the World Cup semi-final, Sophie picked up 6 wickets to knock South Africa out of the World Cup. If England decide to go with two specialist spin bowlers then Charlie Dean, who has picked up 11 wickets in the World Cup 2022, can be an option. And if England can rely on the part options like Lamb, Knight and Dunkley they can go with the three-seamer option.

Probable XI: Beaumont, Lamb, Knight, Sciver, Jones, Dunkley, Davidson-Richards, Ecclestone, Cross, Davies, Lauren Bell/Wong/Dean

Playing a test after 7 years, South Africa has been dealt a major triple blow ahead of the women’s Test against England, with Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, and Chloe Tryon all ruled out. Seamers Ismail and Khaka were expected to form part of a much-vaunted bowling attack, eight years on from the Proteas’ last Test. Ismail, who is nursing a calf problem, is widely considered to be among the fastest bowlers in the women’s game, while Khaka has developed into a skilful operator – only three players took more wickets during the recent World Cup. She has not been deemed to be available for Test selection.

Tryon, the vice-captain to Sune Luus, has been ruled out with a hip injury. South Africa are also without regular captain Dane van Niekerk, who has been absent since January with an ankle injury, as well as Mignon du Preez, who retired from Test and ODI cricket following the World Cup. Masabata Klaas, who picked up a shoulder problem at the World Cup earlier this year, is also unavailable. For South Africa, only five of their squad have ever played Test cricket before, while Trisha Chetty is the only member of the travelling party with two caps.

With no more multi-day format matches in South Africa’s domestic scenario and a lack of international test matches, South Africa looking to start with a clean slate. While most of their prominent faces are down with injuries, coach Hilton Moreeng, who has been part of the South African structure for a long, is keen to learn from the past.

Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo he said that his side will learn from the last test match that they have played back in 2014. “It showed what a lack of concentration can do and what losing a session does – how critical that can be. Those who were part of it understand what happened and it’s now an opportunity to show they can put it right against a team that has been playing consistently in this format.”

Of the players who had played against India, Chetty spent almost three hours at the crease while scoring a first-innings 56, and then spent two hours and 25 minutes in the middle while scoring 35 in the second. Tryon batted for two hours and 27 minutes for an unbeaten 30 in the second innings. Their experience will be crucial to a line-up that is still finding its feet in the longer format.
Moreeng said the batters were having a more difficult time adjusting than the bowlers but have progressed well from their training camp last month. “The ones that are battling with it currently are our batters, because we’ve just come from a white-ball tour in Ireland,” he said. “What has helped is the prep we had prior to the Ireland tour. We had a three-day and four-day game where we introduced most of them to red-ball cricket.”
Against England A, Woolvaardt, known for her longer format specialisation scored her first red-ball century. Goodall made 51 at no 3 and Steyn hit 63 in the 2nd innings. These three along with all batters like Chetty and Lee and rounders like Sune Luss and Marizanne Kapp will make the fruitfully top 7 for the Proteas.  While in absence of some prominent names like Ismail and Khaka, seam bowling will heavily dependent on Kapp.
If they bring in players like Anneke Bosch who picked up three-wicket and Tumi Sekhukhune who picked up 2 wickets in Arundale, it will still be a question regarding their ability to pick up 20 wickets of England batters. As Mlaba remains the only South African spinner, Luss, who really bowled in the World Cup need to come in handy.
Probable XI: Wolvaardt, Lee, Goodall, Steyn, Kapp, Luss, Chetty, Bosch, Sekhukhune, Mlaba, Nadine de Klerk

Despite ICC chair Greg Barclay’s feeling that women’s Tests won’t form a big part of cricket’s future, this test looks to be a cracker of a match.

ENG vs SA Squads:

England: Heather Knight (c), Emily Arlott, Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver, Issy Wong (travelling reserve)

South Africa: Sune Luus (c), Anneke Bosch, Trisha Chetty (wk), Nadine de Klerk, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Lizelle Lee, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon, Laura Wolvaardt

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