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England v South Africa: Third Test preview

With the three-match series tied at 1-1, England and South Africa head to The Oval for the third and final Test match, with the hosts doing so without Jonny Bairstow.

The 32-year-old Yorkshire right-hander faces a lengthy spell out of action after injuring his leg while playing golf, with Bairstow also ruled out of the T20 World Cup later this year.

His absence means that either Harry Brook or Ben Duckett will be drafted in for the crucial clash with the Proteas, as England aim to add to Test successes against both New Zealand and India earlier on in the summer.


England v South Africa, Third Test


The Oval, London


Thursday 8th September - Sunday 12th September, 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Cricket


England 21/20, South Africa 5/2, Draw 5/2

Opportunity knocks for Brook

Brook seems set to replace county colleague Bairstow for decider and that change may not be as huge as it would have seemed a couple of months ago.

Bairstow was in the form of his life against the Black Caps and India, making three centuries in four innings to give new skipper Ben Stokes a perfect start to his time in charge.

However, runs had been harder to come by against the Proteas, with Bairstow making 0, 18 and 49 in his three innings before injury struck - being dismissed by express paceman Anrich Nortje in all three of those knocks.

The main issue for the richly-talented Brook is likely to be a lack of recent red-ball cricket, with his last first-class outing having come in mid-July.

However, Brook has the ability to deal with that issue, being widely seen as the most talented batter to emerge at Yorkshire since Joe Root, who is 21/10 to be top team batter in the first innings at The Oval.

Bowling in fine fettle

England have few issues to worry about with the ball, especially given the way that seamer Ollie Robinson returned to the international stage at Old Trafford.

Robinson looked fitter and stronger than he had previously and was rewarded with five wickets in the match as the tourists were swept aside by an innings and 85 runs inside three days.

Should the Sussex ace continue in the same vein, the loss of veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the not too distant future may not be as big a blow as it might have seemed recently.

Robinson, 3/1 to be top team bowler in the first innings, took five wickets against India in his only previous Test appearance at The Oval almost exactly a year ago and should enjoy the harder, bouncier wickets on offer in south London.

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Proteas have batting problems

Everything seemed rosy in the South African garden when they took the series opener at Lord's by an inning and 12 runs but, with the roles having been reversed in Manchester, they have serious questions to answer about their batting.

Opener Sarel Erwee is the only player to register a half-century for the tourists across the opening two Tests and an inexperienced middle-order were badly exposed at Old Trafford.

That situation will not be helped by Rassie van der Dussen having returned home after breaking a finger in the second Test defeat and it appears that plenty of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of captain Dean Elgar.

And old-school nuggety left-hander, Elgar has gone 35 innings without a Test century, although he has passed 50 seven times in that run.

A big knock at The Oval almost seems like a necessity if his side are to prevail and he is 15/4 be top team batter in the first innings.

Spearhead Nortje needs to shine

Paceman Nortje has been the fastest bowler on either side in the first two matches and his explosive efforts have seen him claim three wickets in each of the three innings in which he has bowled.

More of the same will be needed at The Oval, while fellow fast bowler Kagiso Rabada needs to regain the form which saw him claim seven wickets at Lord's before he was a little below-par at Old Trafford.

The tourists may well opt to go back to the four-man pace attack which served them so well in the series opener, with off-spinner Simon Harmer the man to give way and giant left-armer Marco Jansen taking his place.

Weather set to play a part

Wet weather is expected at The Oval on both Thursday and Friday, but the weekend is set to be much clearer and, given that the opening two Tests have both been over inside three days, a positive result is still a strong possibility.

However, neither side will want to get caught having to bat amongst the showers on the opening couple of days and the toss could have a crucial impact on the final outcome.

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