Jul 28 2012
England are not expected to spring any surprises on Sunday when they name their squad to face South Africa in the second Investec Test.
Despite suffering an innings-and-12-run thrashing in the opening match at the Kia Oval, the selectors are set to stick with the policy of consistency that has served them so well over the years and name an unchanged squad.
Steven Finn and Graham Onions will be waiting in the wings after England's frontline seamers James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan failed to fire, taking just two wickets in 189 overs.
Knee-jerk reactions to heavy losses have not been commonplace in the Andy Flower/Andrew Strauss regime and the trio are likely to be given an opportunity to claim revenge against the Proteas batsmen, despite looking utterly bereft of ideas last week.
Hashim Amla's triple century - the first South African to reach the landmark - allied with hundreds from Jacques Kallis and captain Graeme Smith, who is expected to arrive back in England on Monday after flying home to attend the birth of his first child, saw the tourists notch up an unprecedented 637 for two.
Finn and Onions should take their place in the squad, yet they are not expected to be called upon barring injury - and there had been suggestions Broad and spinner Graeme Swann are not fully fit, a claim dismissed by captain Strauss after the humbling reverse.
A defeat in the next Test, which gets under way at Headingley on Thursday, would mean South Africa moving above England to the summit of the International Cricket Council rankings in the five-day format.
Strauss' side claimed that position as their own last summer after trouncing India 4-0. However, they have since gone on a run of five defeats in their last nine Tests and while the bowlers can rightfully say this was the first match in which they had underperformed during that time, the batsmen do not have that luxury.
Ravi Bopara would appear to be the most vulnerable following a pair of flaky dismissals on his return to the five-day side. However, jettisoning the Essex man would make little sense, with previous number sixes Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow given whole series to prove their worth.
Probable England squad (v South Africa in the second Investec Test at Headingley, starting on August 2): AJ Strauss (captain), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, RS Bopara, MJ Prior (wkt), SCJ Broad, GP Swann, ST Finn, JM Anderson, TT Bresnan, G Onions.