OLD TRAFFORD is the venue for the Fourth Test Match between England and South Africa that gets under way today (Friday), although all depends on the weather in Manchester.
All three previous matches have seen crushing runs victories for either side, with England taking a 2-1 lead courtesy of a 239 run win at The Oval and England off-spinner Moeen Ali’s hat-trick to end the game. In doing so, he became the first England spinner to take three-in-three since 1938.
The Test was filled with historical significance – this was the 100th Test at The Oval – and from a South African perspective, the visitors made their own bit of their own unwanted ‘history’ by becoming the first team in Test history – in the 2,266th Test ever played – to suffer four first-ball, or ‘golden ducks’, in their innings. This was confirmed by renowned cricket statistician Andrew Sampson.
Captain Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel were all dismissed by the first ball they faced in South Africa’s second innings.
Another England hero also hoping to improve on his eight wickets on debut in London is Toby Roland-Jones from Middlesex. “I approach every game in the same way,” Roland-Jones said, on the eve of the final Test in which England need to avoid defeat to take the series. “It’s a case of just reverting back to type, and starting from scratch again.”
In view of England’s fluctuating Test form, the need for consistency among the bowlers has been a topic of conversation in the England group. In Roland-Jones, that vital cog in the wheel may well have been found. “There’s been a bit spoken about how this team has responded to winning games and trying to stop that up-and-down nature of results,” he said. “This game seems like as good a time as any to try to change that and really cement the series win.”