England have wrestled the initiative in the Test series against South Africa and now head into the third match in Port Elizabeth in the driving seat.
The Three Lions will be high on confidence after a famous victory at Newlands but they have to expect a backlash from Faf du Plessis and his team, and Chris Silverwood’s side must be prepared for that whilst also dealing with problems of their own. With that in mind, here are three changes England could consider ahead of the third Test:
1. Bring Archer in for Anderson
First and foremost, Jimmy Anderson needs to be replaced after being ruled out for the rest of the series with a rib injury. The most obvious replacement is Jofra Archer, who missed the second Test with an elbow injury, but is expected to be passed fit, and should make his return in Port Elizabeth.
England will miss Anderson, but they equally missed Archer’s raw pace in Cape Town. What they lose in their leading wicket-taker, they gain in the X-factor that the 24-year-old brings.
2. Bring Jack Leach back into the team
Dom Bess may have been a surprise call-up to the England squad following an illness that ravaged the team, but the 22-year-old did not shirk the challenge he faced in Cape Town.
After going for an all-seam attack in Centurion, Bess was called upon for the second Test, with his Somerset teammate Jack Leach was still ill. Although only two wickets across both innings may not flatter him, an economy rate of 1.73 over 33 overs in the second innings, and a haul of 60 overs in total in the match shows the workload he got through and how much his captain Joe Root relied on him.
While Bess did nothing to warrant being dropped, a fit-again Leach deserves to be called back into the team. However, with a series in Sri Lanka on the horizon, both these two could line up together.
Missed our breakdown of Dom Sibley’s maiden Test century? Check it out here.
3. Move Ollie Pope up the order
Now it is nothing short of sacrilege to criticise Ben Stokes at the moment, and rightly so. But while this is nothing against the all-rounder, it was unfortunate to see Ollie Pope run out of partners in the first innings after making 61*.
The 22-year-old is tipped to be one of England’s key batsmen over the next ten years and although it seems unlikely he will displace Root at four, where he bats for Surrey, it could be interesting to see him get his chance higher up the order.
Stokes in no way deserves to be bumped down but bat according to the circumstances in front of him is one of his great talents, which makes him the player he is and capable of batting at six.