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England v South Africa: Second Test preview

England suffered their first Test defeat of the Brendon McCullum/Ben Stokes era last time out against South Africa and will be after an immediate response in the second game of the three-match series at Old Trafford.

McCullum's side were beaten by an innings and 12 runs by the Proteas at Lord's and will need to pick themselves up ahead of Thursday's clash in Manchester.


England v South Africa, 2nd Test

Where:Old Trafford, Manchester

Starts 11:00, Thursday 25th August 2022

How to watch:

Sky Sports Cricket & Main Event


England 1/1, South Africa 21/10, Draw 10/3

England winning run snapped by lively Proteas

It has been a tough summer for England's limited-overs side, but things had been looking up for the Test team after New Zealander McCullum was named head coach and Stokes replaced Joe Root as captain.

The new-look England side began with a 3-0 series whitewash of New Zealand, before winning a rearranged fifth Test against India by seven wickets at Edgbaston in July.

McCullum and Stokes received praised for the aggressive approach adopted, dubbed by some as "Bazball", but they seemed to lose their way against South Africa last time out.

England were bowled out for only 165 in their first innings at Lord's, with only Ollie Pope (73) passing the half-century mark and they then allowed the tourists to reach almost double that total with 326.

The Three Lions posted an even worse total of 149 second time around, as the series-opener was over well within three full days of play.

Issues with openers continue

Following defeat in the first match of the series, McCullum was quick to claim his team did not play aggressively enough, while his comments regarding opener Zak Crawley left many scratching their heads.

He claimed that Crawley's skillset is not be a consistent cricketer, essentially suggesting he does not expect the player to put up decent scores regularly.

Regardless of whether or not that is the right mindset for England's head coach to have, it is true Crawley is not a consistent player with his Test match scores since the start of June reading 43, 9, 4, 0, 6, 25, 9, 46, 9 and 13.

Crawley and opening partner Alex Lees only scored a combined 62 runs across both innings in that last Test, putting England on the back foot from the start.

Indeed, England's first-innings opening stands in their last four Test matches have been 6, 16, 4 and 6.

South Africa should be in high spirits in this one, but England have won 12 of their last 15 Test matches at Old Trafford, so the match result market is best left alone and punters should instead look at backing the Proteas to have the higher first-innings opening partnership at 8/13.

Thinking along the same lines, another worthwhile bet could be Lees to score under 54.5 match runs at 5/6.

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Proteas bowlers make the most of Lord's conditions

Of course, while England's openers looked unconvincing at the Home of Cricket, South Africa's bowlers also deserve a mention for the way they ripped through the home side's top-order.

Pace bowlers Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen were particularly devastating, taking 17 wickets between them in that first Test at Lord's.

Lungi Ngidi, meanwhile, chipped in with the key scalp of Root in England's second innings, while left-arm Keshav Maharaj also put in a decent performance with the ball.

Nortje was South Africa's most expensive bowler in the first Test - he had economy rates of 4.85 and 6.71 - but he was the key protagonist in England's undoing, dislodging Lees, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes in the second innings.

It was his first Test appearance since June 2021, but he looked right at home in the South Africa team and it is worth noting he turned out for the one-day international team at Old Trafford only last month, taking two wickets.

He is worth a bet at 3/1 to be his side's top first-innings bowler, with Rabada 9/4 and off-spinner Simon Harmer 15/4 in that market.

For England, James Anderson is 21/10 to be their top first-innings bowler, with Stuart Broad available at 13/5 and Matthew Potts 3/1.

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