Talking points ahead of the England v South Africa cricket test series include ‘Bazball’ fears
An element of dread was always present when looking forward to an England Test series.
England has not been consistently good at red-ball cricket for some time, which has now extended to its shorter formats.
With Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow putting together an exceptional third-wicket partnership, England defeat India by seven wickets to complete their highest-ever run chase in Test cricket.
We also came into this series after a 3-0 series whitewash over New Zealand earlier in the summer, when ‘Bazball’ took off.
Having just a year ago seemed unimaginable, England quickly chased down scores of 277, 299, and 296.
Even though the general apprehension persists (it will be quite some time before that overwhelming dread disappears), this next Test series against South Africa seems to have an air of excitement, unlike anything England fans have seen in the past.
Which key talking points should we be watching for in this series over the next few days?
James Anderson’s big hit
He crossed the big four-zero milestone recently, becoming England’s most successful bowler ever.
The passion, pace, and most importantly, wicket-taking talent of Jimmy Anderson have proven to be unaffected by his advancing years.
He has significantly improved his average over the years. His 2003 average was 34.84, and his 2007 average was 40.78.
However, Anderson’s average for last year was just 21.74, and now that he is sitting on an average of 22.16 for 2022, there is no doubt that his age is anything but a blessing for his team.
As his captain, Ben Stokes, put it: “To play at 40 is phenomenal.”. His ability to perform at that age has earned him the nickname ‘the freak.’ Besides being a great ambassador for the game, he’s also an excellent example of fast bowlers of tomorrow.”
As Jimmy continues to rack up wickets until he reaches 700 Test wickets, we can expect him to plow through the South African batting line-up in a manner we expect from him.
We still don’t have Harry Brook
What else needs to be done to make it into the top squad?
Perhaps his 107.49 average in first-class cricket wasn’t enough for the selectors, or his 140 for England Lions against South Africa last week was too low for the selectors to consider.
Considering Stokes, Root, and Bairstow occupy those middle-order positions, it is understandable why you wouldn’t want Brook to be moved to the bottom of the order.
The Yorkshireman recently announced that he would be prepared to open for England if asked, which makes sense given how things are going in the squad.
Only twice has Zak Crawley reached 40 in eight Tests this summer.
It may be time to shift the order again with him taking his guard at the crease because he does not instill confidence in England fans.
During an interview with Sportsmail, Brook said, “If I get the opportunity to play Test cricket opening the batting, obviously I’m going to take it.”
The 23-year-old might be at the top of his game in England’s second Test if the inevitable happens with the towering Crawley once again.
Too busy talking, South Africa
All opposition to the term ‘Bazball’ appears unfazed by its existence since June.
In spite of the ban on using the phrase within his squad, Dena Elgar couldn’t resist putting his foot down when the opportunity arose.
In a pre-Test press conference, Elgar stated: “I have talked long and hard about Bazball; I don’t want to waste time on it anymore.”
It is time to put an end to mud-slinging around the game. We are not going to take it back and forth any longer.”
According to Stokes, South Africa would benefit from talking even less about it and focusing on the critical issues.
To maintain their lead in 2021-23, the Proteas must fight hard to remain on top.
Stokes expressed England’s intention to focus on what it does when discussing its approach. It’s a style of play we have; it’s a style of play they have. When it comes down to it, all that matters is who plays better throughout a Test match.
Despite Dean’s disinterest in the proposal, I support the South African team’s continued discussion about it.”