A shift in momentum?
In truth, England have been battered from pillar to post this summer, on and off the pitch, by a South African side determined to prove they are the best side in all forms of world cricket. Few would have argued against this until England finally fronted up at the Oval last Friday and produced a performance worthy of their reclaimed No.1 status.
The selection of Jade Dernbach gave the England bowling attack some much-needed variety last time out, as they skittled the tourists out for 211 inside the distance, before high quality knocks from Jonathan Trott and Eoin Morgan saw them home.
There was then a certain symmetry to Sunday’s game at Lord’s, with South Africa again labouring to a below-par 220, which was knocked off for the loss of just four wickets as England went 2-1 up with one to play in this five match series.
The Kallis Factor
When it was announced that Jacques Kallis would sit out this series in order to prepare for the upcoming World T20, it was widely considered a shrewd move by a team vastly outplaying their opponents. At 36, Kallis may represent a precious commodity that must be used sensibly, but if South Africa really wanted to take both World No.1 rankings then his absence must be questioned. Dean Elgar, JP Duminy and Francois Du Plessis are poor imitations of one of the best batsmen of his generation and so it has proved with the three of them contributing just 181 runs in nine combined innings this series.
The only expected change in this England line-up is forced upon them as Jonathan Trott has been ruled out with a hand injury. The Warwickshire batsman, who scored 142 runs in the series was struck on the hand by a Dale Steyn bouncer at Lord’s on Sunday and has failed to recover in time. Somerset rookie Jos Buttler has been drafted into the squad as cover, although it is more likely that Jonny Bairstow will deputise after his own impressive performances in the Test series.
Despite struggling in the last two games, you wouldn’t expect wholesale changes in the tourists’ line-up, with the recalled Albie Morkel expected to be the only change. The big-hitting all-rounder will likely replace Ryan McLaren in order to give South Africa's middle order some much needed depth, while also contributing a few overs of useful medium pace.
England have left it late to produce their best cricket of the summer, but having found form I would expect to see them claim another win at Trent Bridge (1.95). The fast-scoring Eoin Morgan always represents top batsman value (5.50), especially with Trott out, while Hashim Amla (3.50 to top score for the visitors) is the undoubted class act of the South Africa line-up.