Cricket Betting: England v South Africa – Third Test Preview



The Fall-Out

With all the hullaballoo surrounding the dropping of Kevin Pietersen this week, one would be forgiven for overlooking that England need to win the final Test of the summer in order to level the series and retain their coveted No.1 Test cricket status.

Even though the South African-born batsman divides opinion, one thing is for sure: England, odds outsiders this week at 3.55, are a better side with him in their line-up, whatever the format. His 149 at Headingley in the last Test may well have been one of his best innings in an England shirt but his antics since that glorious performance have been enough to make even archetypal footballing renegade Pierre van Hooijdonk blush.

An embarrassing press conference last weekend was followed by a sudden limited overs u-turn amongst allegations that Pietersen had sent texts to the South African players that included disparaging comments about his skipper Andrew Strauss. The tourists were quick to dismiss these messages as “banter” but it appears the England selectors have grown tired of Pietersen’s hot and cold attitude, and have thus decided to move on without him for the time being at least.

Team News

Jonny Bairstow is the man tasked with replacing Pietersen, although it is likely he will slot in at six with Ian Bell stepping up to four and James Taylor in at five. This batting line-up has a much more inexperienced feel, so the pressure will be on the top-three to perform in this all-or-nothing final episode.

On the bowling front, it is assumed Graeme Swann will return having been inexplicably left out at Headingley. As such, the England selectors once more face their customary challenge of trying to fit four strong seamers into the three available places. Geoff Miller and his fellow selectors are known for their consistency in selection, so it is likely they will stick with Tim Bresnan – as ineffective as he has been of late – with Steven Finn resuming his twelfth man duties.

There is not much to say on the South Africa team news front, with the tourists certain to name the unchanged team that has served them so well in the first two Tests. The 2.70 match favourites do have Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith both struggling with minor injuries, but it would take a lot more than niggles to rule those two out of this crucial encounter.

Good omens?

England will have to make-do without Pietersen in their quest to salvage their No.1 status, but there are some omens that suggest home fans should not be all doom and gloom. As Graeme Swann pointed out in his newspaper column yesterday: England have been undefeated in all limited-overs cricket since Pietersen’s self-imposed exile. Moreover, while it has long been thought that England do struggle at cricket HQ, the facts are that they have not lost a Test match there since losing to Australia in the first Test of the 2005 Ashes series.

Bets

With all that has happened in the last week I would expect South Africa to win this match and wrap up the series 2-0. Andrew Strauss will be desperate to lead his side to a series-levelling victory in his 100th Test match but I expect the tourists will prove too strong and take the No1 Test mantle.