London, UK -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/31/2012 -- The tourists destroyed England in the first Test as an inspired bowling display from Dale Steyn swept South Africa to an innings and a 12 run win at The Kia Oval. That was after Hashim Amla smashed a brilliant 311 not out – becoming the first South African to score a Test triple century.
The loss at the Oval was England’s fifth defeat in their last nine matches and a first home Test defeat since Pakistan triumphed here in August 2010. South Africa were also the last side to inflict an innings defeat on England. That was back in early 2010 at Johannesburg and it is a measure of England’s progress as a side that they had been able to avoid heavy losses on their ascent to the top of the world’s ranking.
That lofty position is now under serious threat from the Proteas , who travel to Headingley on Thursday knowing victory will clinch the series and see them replace England as the world’s best side. It remains to be seen how the confidence of a side that was 251-2 before collapsing to 385-all out in the first innings has been affected.
In the second innings only Ian Bell made more than 50 runs and he admitted ‘We [England] have a scrap on our hands’ and responded angrily to suggestions that England were a phoney number one. What is clear is that England will have to improve on a woeful recent record against South Africa at Headingley.
Andrew Strauss’ men need to find improvement from somewhere if they are to reverse a poor recent run at the ground. However, they can draw inspiration from the 1998 series against South Africa when England were one down with two to play and came back to win the series 2-1 at Headingley.
Batsman Ravi Bopara, who scored zero runs in two innings last time, is unavailable for personal reasons so England have named batsman James Taylor in their squad. Nottinghamshire's Taylor has played in a one-day international against Ireland, but is uncapped at Test level. Taylor recently captained the Lions against the West Indians and scored a ton at Derby and this week notched a maiden Championship hundred for his new county, Nottinghamshire.
Graeme Smith’s men played brilliant cricket for most of the first Test and his side must be confident of wrapping up the series at the first available chance. Sporting Index will once more have a whole range of markets available for spread bettors to get involved in. Those who bought Amla’s total runs last time will have been disappointed the South Africans declared as he was making buyers an absolute fortune.
England have played 69 Test matches at Headingley and have won 30 matches, lost 22 with 17 draws. The Three Lions have met South Africa on 12 occasions at the ground and beaten them six times with three losses and three draws. There will be concerns amongst the host’s camp as the Proteas have won their past two Test matches here playing England, including a ten wicket triumph four years ago. Those that fancy another tourists win in Yorkshire can head to http://www.sportingindex.com for all their markets on the crucial second Test.
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