England v South Africa: Changes the hosts must make for second Test
William Roe looks at three changes England must make if they want to bounce back and win the second Test against South Africa
Finn should be given his 15th Test cap
After an ineffectual bowling performance in which England’s four-man attack managed to take just two wickets in 189 overs at the Oval, Middlesex’s Steven Finn must be recalled to the side. The tall 23-year-old is a genuine strike bowler, and with the reserves of pace bowling currently available in the country, England cannot afford to take to the turf in Leeds with the same attack that saw the Proteas’ batsmen smash countless records in the London sunshine. The 6ft 7ins bowler has taken 22 wickets, at an average of just 20 this season, in only four matches for his county. Despite having a poor game, Stuart Broad should remain part of England’s attack as he has the ability to change a game with a spell of accurate bowling. Unfortunately, Tim Bresnan’s good luck has run out – the 27-year-old had never lost in an England shirt until Monday – and the hosts cannot afford to keep him in the side despite Headingley being his home ground. The Yorkshire all-rounder does the hard yards with the ball but should stand aside for Finn, who has the ability to make inroads into South Africa’s top-order.
Give Bopara backing
Ravi Bopara’s return to England’s Test side was ultimately a failure following an impressive run in the One-Day team. However, dropping the Essex right-hander would be a knee-jerk reaction without an effective ‘plan B’ in place. England’s No6 spot has not found a long-term suitor since the retirement of Paul Collingwood in early 2011. Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Bopara himself have all been given the chance in the position but none have impressed enough to make it theirs. England must stick with the 27-year-old simply because they have no other option. Leicestershire’s James Taylor is waiting in the wings but now is not the moment to thrust the 22-year-old prodigy into the limelight – and dropping a player recently recalled to the Test fold would signal a management lacking confidence in its own team selection. On top of this, such a decision would be reverting to the same policy that saw the careers of Graham Hick and Mark Ramprakash ruined during the 90s. Bopara must be backed with actions, not just words.
Strauss must rally his troops
He has won Ashes series home and away, but now is time for captain Andrew Strauss to show leadership of Churchillian proportions so that England level the series. His side’s display, on a ground where they had never lost to South Africa, was beyond disappointing. The batsmen, barring Alastair Cook, lacked concentration while the bowlers could not find any penetration No excuses can be made for the state of the pitch. It may have been flat and favoured the bat, but South Africa managed to take 20 wickets – including England’s last five for just 37 runs on the final day – compared to the hosts pitiful two. Following the match, Strauss told his players to take a long hard look in the mirror as right now the team are a defeat away from losing their No1 ranking. The last time the Proteas played at Headingley they secured an innings defeat, so Strauss will need to find his inner Lion to make sure his men are motivated and up for the fight that was so lacking at the Oval.