Anderson and Broad to give England upper hand in bowling battle on lively pitch

Chris Tremlett
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Anderson and Broad have close to 750 Test wickets between them (Source: Getty)

Bowlers from both sides will have been praying for a pitch with more life in it after the second Test in Cape Town was played out on one of the flattest wickets you are ever likely to see.

Pitches at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, where the third Test begins today, always tend to have more pace and bounce, as well as an initial green tinge.

Conditions will be quite similar to those in England and the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad will be licking their lips at the prospect of performing there. South Africa will have some momentum from the second Test but in a battle of the bowling units, I believe the experience of those two gives England the upper hand.

The duo have close to 750 Test wickets between them whereas South Africa, who will once again be without Dale Steyn due to a shoulder injury, only have Morne Morkel as an experienced performer.

Morkel has 234 Test wickets but he’s a bowler that comes in and bangs the pitch and doesn’t really rely on his skills like Anderson and Broad do. Furthermore, England’s top six will take a boost from Steyn’s continued absence.

Anderson is brilliant when there is assistance in the wicket. He doesn’t try to try bowl too fast. Instead he brings it down a notch to around 80-85 per cent and puts the ball in the right areas, utilising his skill.

Broad does the same, although in the past I think he bowled way too short with the new ball. Probably the side that wins the toss will bowl first and try and get early wickets. The first hour or so could be pivotal.

Opener Alex Hales yesterday emerged as a doubt for what is a potentially series-clinching Test for England with a stomach illness. After chalking up a half-century in Cape Town he will not want to miss out.

I recall being one of a number of players to go down with a stomach problem during the 2011 World Cup and there is no magic formula. You cannot take a couple of painkillers and hope to get through.

If Hales misses out, it makes sense for Nick Compton, who has recovered from his bout of illness, to open and Gary Ballance, who will be hungry to play Test cricket again, to bat at No3.

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