Ben Stokes, England’s captain, is set to continue the team’s new offensive strategy, but they will face a potent seam attack from South Africa in the three-match series that begins on Wednesday.
While Stokes’ strategy has rankled Test purists, “Bazball” helped England defeat New Zealand and India in June and July while chasing down intimidating victory targets in flamboyant fashion.
Stokes has stated that he wants to alter the way that Test cricket is played, urging his squad to score runs quickly and always take an aggressive attitude to pursuing wickets.
Dean Elgar, the captain of South Africa, made a provocative call to arms in the lead-up to the series: “I’d want to see them do it against our seamers.” However, South Africa has lost Duanne Olivier to a hip injury and is concerned about the health of its star bowler Kagiso Rabada, who has been battling an ankle issue. The 27-year-old seamer’s fit was Elgar’s team’s first focus, he stated last week.
They also lost by an innings and 56 runs to the England Lions, the hosts’ reserve team, in the four-day warm-up game last week at Canterbury. The Lions’ bat-and-ball assault on the South Africans served as a vivid example of what fans might anticipate at Lord’s and in the ensuing two Test matches at Old Trafford and The Oval.
South Africa enters the series with wins against India and Bangladesh at home, the latter of which was accomplished with a depleted squad after allowing important players time off to play in the Indian Premier League.
South Africa had won seven of its last nine games since Elgar took over as captain in March 2021, leading the World Test Championship table and on track to face Australia in the final the following year.