England v South Africa: Third Test preview - Barmy Army Menu
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England v South Africa: Third Test preview

This is it. After all the talk – and there has been plenty of it – England and South Africa are set to scrap it out in the series decider at the Oval, which just so happens to be the final Test of the summer.

It’s been a phenomenal first summer under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, who will want to finish it in style.

Though there is rain predicted for Thursday and Friday, we’ve seen already in this series that these two only need three days to complete a Test match.

England

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Stokes will be without arguably the player of the summer after Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury but there is a silver lining in that his absence will allow highly-rated youngster Harry Brook to make his debut.

It’ll be a straight swap between the two Yorkshiremen at number five and if his ridiculous form in 2022 is anything to go by, Brook should be a real asset in the middle-order.

Ollie Pope, returning to his happiest hunting ground, has backed the 23-year-old to thrive in the Test arena and he’ll certainly be given the freedom to express himself.

Beyond the change at five, England have stuck with the same team that beat South Africa by an innings inside three days at Old Trafford. Wise move.

Confirmed XI: Lees, Crawley, Pope, Root, Brook, Stokes (c), Foakes, Robinson, Leach, Broad, Anderson

South Africa

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The Proteas will have been wounded by their heavy defeat in the second Test but they’ll still feel confident given how the series opener played out.

Dean Elgar has likened the third and final Test to “the World Cup final” as he looks to pile the pressure on the hosts but he’ll know that if things click for England they can take the game away quickly – such is the nature of BazBall.

He would likely love to go back to the winning formula from the first Test but though he will be able to reunite his four-strong seam attack with the return of Marco Jansen, an injury to Rassie van der Dussen means that the inexperienced Ryan Rickelton is in line to feature.

Predicted XI: Elgar (c), Erwee, Petersen, Markram, Rickleton, Verreynne, Jansen, Maharaj, Rabada, Nortje, Ngidi

Prediction 

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Is there any better way to cap a brilliant summer of Test cricket than with a mouthwatering series decider?

The answer is yes, with an England win.

South Africa will be determined to bounce back but we’ve seen that if things click for the hosts they’re near-impossible to stop.