Two things are certain with the first being that after a long period of sustained excellence the current English Team has plenty of credits in the bank and the forgiveness that goes with it. But a similar performance here at Leeds will see the knives come out and a few heads being loaded onto the guillotine to roll.
Which will make the theatre for the 2nd Test compelling
The English have already replaced the out of depth Ravi Bopara at 6 with the precociously talented James Taylor. Which already adds to the Team for Bopara at Test level is about as useful as a water proof tea bag. The only other point of contention is the composition of the bowling with many calling for the wily defensive paceman Tim Bresnan to be replaced by Steve Finn. Which after the struggles of the English bowlers to make any head way into the South African batting in the first Test seems a foregone conclusion to happen
Leaving the Team like this
Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Taylor, Prior, Broad, Anderson, Swann, Finn,
The Keys for England to Win
In England's rise to the top many have brought into a potential dynasty being born with them being regal in all departments with plenty of depth
But after being flogged by Pakistan, struggling in Sri Lanka and this current belting from South Africa on home turf it made you question whether their reputation was built around beating up on the weaker Teams.
3 wins and 5 loses from 2012 has exposed some real worries for Team England
The key one being the batting going from being super human in 2011 to being ordinary in 2012.
The figures tell the tale
Ian Bell- 118.75 ( 5 centuries )
Alastair Cook- 84.27 ( 4 centuries )
Kevin Pietersen - 73.10 ( 2 centuries )
Matt Prior - 64.87 ( 3 centuries )
Jonathan Trott- 40.55 ( 1 century )
Alastair Cook - 40.46 ( 1 century )
Kevin Pieterson- 36.93 ( 1 century )
Andrew Strauss- 36.23 ( 2 centuries )
Jonathan Trott- 35.93 ( 1 century )
Ian Bell- 32.61
That means in the space of a year the top 5 performers in the batting have dropped an astounding 200 runs per innings with 10 less centuries.
Whatever way you dissect these figures you cannot ignore how much it has stifled the Team and the fact that the English need to rediscover some of the past excellence to challenge South Africa.
If the batting gives English fans palpitations then the bowling has not been that much better...
In a Team where it is widely acknowledged that the have the best pace bowler in the World in James Anderson and the best spinner in Graeme Swann to only take 2/637 made a laughing stock of those reputations.
I am being a tad unfair on the English duo for they have been stellar for so long, but their limpness against the regal South African bowling stood out like dogs balls. The fact that the recently superlative Stuart Broad had a shocker and Tim Bresnan followed suit made getting the South Africans out Mission Impossible
You know that the English bowling unit will lift, but the question is whether they can lift enough to unsettle the South African batsmen???????
A huge factor on this will be Andrew Strauss and his tactics.....
There was little doubt that the South African batting was flawless in the first Test helped greatly by the off display by the English bowlers.
But to be frank, Strauss was like the 12th man for the opposition
To see him employ 7/2 off side dominated fields when defence minded batsmen like Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla were in was just brainless.
Taking away any hope of a dismissal and making the duo feel as though they were on a massage bench getting a rub down.
For the key in this is that unlike most of the Worlds batsmen who have been beset by the T20 style of batting the South Africans are traditional to the core. Meaning they will leave ball after ball after ball, and then just pick of the bowlers at their leisure.
Point Fucking Blank, Strauss's tactics need to be better in the field or the English have no chance of getting the South Africans out
Win the first Test with a leg in the air means there will be no changes
Petersen, Smith, Amla, Kallis, AB Devilliers ( wk ), Rudolph, Duminy, Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Tahir
The Keys for South Africa to Win
The one thing that South Africa needs to do after their astounding 1st Test performance is to pass it off as a freak result.
Meaning take pride in their own display, but know in the back of their minds that England will hit back, and hit back hard.
Making it imperative that they put in a better display here to maintain their dominance.
They have that in them to do that too
For their bowling was just stellar with the defensive bowling of Philander being of such a calibre that he made the short sharp attacking blitzkriegs of Steyn, Morkel and Tahir even more threatening
Then King Kallis was the bowling ace up Captain Smith's sleeve with him being that perfect 5th option that England so crave.
Away from the bowling might, the batting just over matched and out thought the English. There were no soft as butter dismissals given by the South Africans which have become so the norm in Test cricket these days.
Meaning the English had to get 20 wickets through their skill, but failed dismally with only 2...
You can expect the English to improve for their bowlers are choc full of class, but dismissing the South Africans twice if they keep on batting in a traditional manner will be very difficult indeed
They are making a nice green pitch for this Test making it a game where bowlers should dominate and batsmen struggle
So with this in mind whose batting do you have more faith in at present?
For me South Africa
Meaning they should win here and take the series 2 nil with one to play