England vs South Africa - Crucial Third Test Awaits as Ben Stokes Chases Series Win

England Vs. South Africa cricket

England captain Ben Stokes will hope to see his side build on their innings victory in their second test victory over South Africa. The third test at the Oval is a decider in the series, and England were hoping to name an unchanged squad for the vital encounter but plans to name the same XI have been shelved.

If you are looking to back England in the Oval test, then check out our sports bookmaker reviews to find the provider offering the most competitive odds for what is sure to be an explosive clash in South London.  

On a Roll

Ben Stokes has been a breath of fresh air for the England cricketing set-up, with his time as skipper proving very effective. The all-rounder led his team to four successive wins, coming against New Zealand and India before they suffered a surprise loss in the first test against the Proteas.

However, England bounced back to thump the South Africans at Old Trafford, with Stokes leading from the front with a fine century. Captain Dean Elgar mistakenly elected to bat first in the second test and saw his team reduced to 92-7 before a cameo from Kagiso Rabada offered some respectability to their 151 total.

England’s reply began in faltering fashion, with their top order skittled away before the usual suspects steadied the ship. First, Jonny Bairstow weighed in with a competent 49 before Stokes, and Ben Foakes put on an effectively game-winning partnership of 173 for the sixth wicket.

Foakes also bagged a century, and the tail offered exciting resistance as England put 415 on the board before declaring and sending South Africa out for a second innings with little hope of saving the game. 

Ollie Robinson and James Anderson did most of the damage as South Africa were bowled out for 179, giving England the second test with a victory by an innings and 85 runs, a great response to their disappointing display in the first test.

Bairstow Out

Sadly, hopes Stokes may have had for naming the same XI that dealt with South Africa at Old Trafford have been scuppered with in-form batsman Bairstow out of contention following what has been described as a ‘freak golf injury’ this week.

The 32-year-old, who has been scoring runs for fun thus far in 2022, has been hit by a lower limb injury, something he’s commented on via his Instagram account;

“Unfortunately, I am going to be unavailable for all games/tours in the immediate future,”

“The reason being is that I have injured my lower leg in a freak accident, and it shall need an operation. The injury came when I slipped on the golf course this morning.”

“I am gutted and want to wish everyone for this week at The Oval all the best, firstly and the boys that are going to Australia for the T20 World Cup. Absolutely gutted!”

It’s not yet immediately how long the Yorkshire star will be out, but his summer is certainly over, and Stokes will have to rethink his line-up for the third test.

As a result of Bairstow’s injury, England have called up Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett to the test squad, and the loss could prove even more pivotal to England’s Twenty20 World Cup plans, which starts in Australia in October.

Duckett may also replace Bairstow for the short-form squad also. Dawid Malan and Phi Salt may also be brought in to open in the T20 tournament.

Bairstow has scored a mammoth 1061 runs in 10 tests in 2022, including six centuries, and he will be sorely missed for the South Africa decider. 

Absolute Freak

Even without Bairstow, it would take a brave punter to back South Africa to win the series, given Stokes’s amazing impact as captain of the England team. The way the Durham man has rejuvenated the set-up is undeniable, and the fact the sea change has been so rapid after the horrific displays in Australia and the West Indies is particularly pleasing.

It’s a mindset that the players have bought into, and veteran James Anderson is especially grateful given that Stokes brought him back into the set-up after he was left out of the winter tour of the West Indies. 

Anderson was full of praise for Stokes after his delightful century in the second test;

“It’s frightening. He’s just an absolute freak,” 

“He does that day in, day out; he’s just got a hundred as well yesterday. He batted for however long, and then to be able to put in that sort of spell and get the wickets that he did.”

“That was the key, being able to break them open before the new ball made a huge difference,” 

“And imagine if he had a body that actually functioned properly, he’d be absolutely frightening. He’s an absolute machine, and he leads by example as well. He’s not just a good captain on the field. The way he just shows us how to play the game is a real credit to him.”

England fans will hope Stokes can dig even deeper into his reserves to do the damage with both bat and ball in the final test decider, which starts on Thursday, 8th September.