By Danny Carrington
Last Updated: 15th January 2020
South Africa and England meet for the third of four Tests in Port Elizabeth on Thursday with the series finely poised at 1-1. We preview the clash and pick out some of the bets worth taking a look at.
Sibley to pick up where he left off
England’s dramatic 189-run victory over South Africa last time out in Cape Town, much like on a number of occasions, was mainly down to one man – Ben Stokes. The all-rounder whose heroics last summer inspired a World Cup win and an Ashes Test for the ages at Headingley was at it again against South Africa, claiming the final three wickets after a stunning 72 runs from 47 balls in England’s second innings to draw the series level.
It was the work of Dom Sibley, however, that laid the platform for Stokes to go on and work his magic, with the former’s excellent 133 not out in the second innings putting England in a position to go on and set up a declaration.
Sibley, batting alongside Zak Crawley at the top of the order, displayed a calm and patient style in his performance that has been missing from most England batters in recent years and one which will be a blueprint for the 24-year-old and his teammates to use moving forward.
The Surrey opener, who also hit 34 in his first innings and was able to dig in for 108 minutes, has improved greatly from the first Test as well as from his displays in England’s tour of New Zealand last year – and he will be full of confidence heading into Thursday. Back him to be the tourists’ top first innings batsman at 11/2 as well hitting over 25.5 runs in the first innings at 5/6.
Archer to provide the X-factor?
Playing his part in England’s second Test win from a bowling point of view was James Anderson, who claimed seven wickets overall as well as a five-fer in the first innings – his 28th five-wicket haul in Tests, a new England record. Sadly for the tourists, Anderson went on to sustain a rib injury that will keep him out of the rest of the series.
Set to take his place in England’s bowling attack for the third Test will be one of Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer or Mark Wood. The Port Elizabeth wicket is believed to be a pretty slow one and England assistant coach Paul Collingwood feels his side will need the X-factor on Thursday.
The man to provide that could be Archer, who is only out of the team after injury ruled him out of the second Test. That injury came after the 24 year-old had taken five second-innings wickets in the first Test and six in total, though his overall display was a little lacking. Archer will be out to prove a point if he is included so back him to be England’s top first-innings bowler at 5/2 if he does get the nod.
Talking of bowlers, either Kagiso Rabada or Vernon Philander to finish up as the clear top South Africa bowler in both innings is at 9/4. Given Rabada is currently ranked the fourth best Test bowler in the world and has 12 wickets to his name this series, more than any of his team-mates, that also looks a bet worth taking.