Cricket: England v South Africa

England profiles

The Analyst runs his expert eye over the England squad

England profiles

Batsmen:

Andrew Strauss:
A very solid and dependable left-handed opener, renowned for his ability to cut and pull. Sometimes less certain on the front foot, but always looking to be positive and to unveil a cracking off drive. Very resilient, strong in adversity, supremely fit. Scored two hundreds in a Test match against India in 2008, and has also made England's highest one-day score (158, also v India in the 2011 world cup.)

Hugely respected, if slightly conservatve captain, only England's third after Hutton and Brearley to win the Ashes home and away. Also very safe catcher at slip, or in the ring. Having presided over England's rise to no1 Test team in the world will be regarded in future as one of England's best leaders ever. Very good man-manager and diplomat. Watching him in Asia during the winter of 2011-12, gave the impression his batting may just be starting to decline. But he returned to form against West Indies with two hundreds.

Alastair Cook
Prolific left-handed opening batsman who was the star of England's successful 2010/11 Ashes campaign, making 766 runs (average 127), the fourth most in Ashes history. 'Chef' is basically an accumulator, who scores runs unobtrusively except for a distinctive pull stroke.

Tends to pick up runs mainly through square leg or cover with nurdles and squirts. Rarely drives except if the ball is very full. Has remarkable concentration, can bat for hours at the same pace, is very fit and has the added advantage in hot conditions of not sweating.

Made his Test debut aged 21 and, despite some technical worries in the summer of 2010, will surely go on to break his mentor Graham Gooch's record for most Test runs for England. Scored a marathon 294 against India at Edgbaston, the sixth highest ever score by an England batsman. Now captain of England's one day side, for which he has revinvented himself as an impressive run-maker almost in the manner of the much-missed Marcus Trescothick.

Jonathan Trott
Born in Cape Town and qualified for England in 2009, making a century on his Test debut against Australia. Unflappable batsman who is notable for his methodical routine of re-marking his guard after every ball. Remarkable powers of concentration allied to a simple method of predominantly working the ball on the legside have made him England's most consistent no.3 since the 1930s and he has establishing himself in one day cricket too. Rarely hits the ball in the air (in fact has scored more Test runs than anybody else in history without hitting a six) or changes tempo. A bowler's dream - if he's in your team.

Kevin Pietersen
Outrageously talented batsman who hails from South Africa but has been English since 2004. Looking to score off every ball, with defence as a last resort, uses the huge reach from his 6ft 4in physique to lash the ball through the covers or drill it through mid wicket often on one leg.

The pioneer of the switch-hit for six over cover. Impatience sometimes gets him into trouble, but always compulsive viewing. His form has been erratic of late.

After a relatively disappointing period in one-day cricket stormed back in Tests in 2010/11 with two double hundreds, then failed in the 2012 series in the UAE, seemingly mesmerised by the Pakistan spinners.

Immediately put that behind him with two brilliant one-day centuries against the same opposition followed by a spectacular 150 against Sri Lanka to make him England's leading century-maker with a total of 29 hundreds in Tests and ODIs.

Very athletic fielder and useful off-spinner, having begun his career as a bowler. Was the first US$1m cricketer having been bought by the Royal Challengers Banglaore for the IPL 2010, though was then sold to Delhi Daredevils for whom he was in sparkling form until returning to England in May 2012.

SIan Bell
Supremely gifted batsman, earmarked for the top from a young age. Possesses beautiful balance at the crease, moves elegantly into position and strokes the ball around with silky timing and surprising power. His off drive is a purist's dream.

Used to have a problem giving his wicket away to daft shots, but overcame that and during 2011 was brimming with self-belief and certainty. His double-hundred against India at the Oval was a flawless piece of batsmanship and he finished the calendar year averaging over 100 in Tests. Also a superb fielder in any position. But was not the only one to find his batting technique undermined by Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal and had a poor winter of 2011/12.

Ravi Bopara
The second Sikh to play cricket for England, after Monty Panesar. A wristy and often flamboyant batsman who was first called up to the England ODI team in 2007, before a difficult Test debut in Sri Lanka saw him dropped after a string of three ducks. Batted with poise against the West Indies in 2008, scoring 3 centuries in a row against them but came unstuck against the Australians in 2009. After a spell in the IPL with Kings XI Punjab seems to have renewed confidence and could be valuable down the order to inject impetus. Made a mature 96 in the one day tie against India at Lords. Also a handy partnership breaker.

Wicketkeeper

Matt Prior
High energy wicket-keeper batsman whose pugnacious batting and agile work behind the stumps have made him a pillar of the England set up. Relentlessly busy and encouraging on the field, vastly improved with the gloves and aggressive with the bat, especially cutting and driving through the offside.
A little compulsive with the hook shot which sometimes gets him into trouble, but never holds back and hits the ball in unusual places. Scored a hundred on his Test debut against West Indies at Lords in 2006 and, after a mixed first series with the gloves, has rarely looked back.

All-rounder

Tim Bresnan
Combative and muscular all-rounder who has a head for the big occasion. Wholehearted bowler who hits the bat harder than it looks and can surprise with a quick bouncer but despite Yorkshire upbringing seems more effective reverse swinging the ball on dry pitches. Nerveless, uncomplicated lower-order batsman with a happy habit of seeing his team home. Very dependable. Incredibly, has played 11 Tests for England and won all of them, so clearly is England's lucky mascot.

Bowlers

Stuart Broad
The son of former England opener Chris Broad, his baby face conceals a similarly combative nature which he has adapted into his lively seam bowling. A highly intelligent and thoughtful cricketer, he can deliver outright pace from his 6ft 6in frame, but is perhaps best when bowling controlled spells of brisk fast medium like his idol Glenn McGrath. Very adaptable with good variety.

An emerging all-rounder after his forthright 167 at no.9 against Pakistan last summer. After a slight loss of form in early 2011, came back with a vengeance against India to take a brilliant hattrick at Trent Bridge and turn the game round with calculated hitting down the order. England's man of the series. Had a number of injury problems which have reduced his impact.

James Anderson
The premier swing and seam bowler in the game following his cool but clinical destruction of the Australians in 2010/11 and more outstanding bowling in the summer of 2011. Cruising to the wicket, his easy action unleashes wicked deliveries that can swing late either way with no discernible change of action. Now allies this to great control and supreme stamina.

Recently overtook Alec Bedser's record of 236 wickets for England which was once a world record and during the winter of 2012 also overtook Brian Statham's tally of 252 victims. Now fifth-highest wicket-taker for England and number three ranked Test bowler in the world. Has taken Sachin Tendulkar's wicket 7 times in 9 tests. Also highly accomplished in one-day cricket with clever changes of pace and length, and a brilliant all-round fielder.
 
Steven Finn
Highly talented young fast bowler, 6ft 7in Steven Finn made a name for himself in Brisbane, taking five wickets on his Ashes debut. With a pulsating run-up and an energetic action, Finn, who made his debut for Middlesex when only 17, generates a lively pace and has benefited from working with former England bowler Angus Fraser to enhance his accuracy.

A keen observer of the game and a quick learner, Finn had a successful first 15 months in Test cricket taking 50 wickets at a strike rate of 40, one of the best in Test history. Became the youngest English bowler to 50 Test wickets as part of England's tallest-ever attack against Sri Lanka at Lord's 2011 alongside Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett, and potentially one of the fastest bowlers England has produced, regularly notching 92mph.
 
Graeme Swann
Very much the talisman of the England team, the off-spinner is a virtuoso character with a knack of taking important wickets. A late developer who could always spin the ball, he has now acquired superb control and subtle variety and is particularly dangerous against left handers. More than 50% of his wickets are lbw, helped by the advent of Hawkeye and the Decision Review System.

Also a superb second slip and freescoring late order batsman and highly superstitious - will always go through the same routine before bowling his first ball, for instance. Invaluable in any form of the game. Destined to become England's most successful ever spin bowler.

Graham Onions
Very dependable seam bowler from Durham who is always there or thereabouts both in terms of the England team and on the pitch itself. Bowling from very close to the stumps, rather in the mould of Glenn McGrath - his idol - Onions nags away on a consistent length and nips the ball mainly in to the right handers and away from the left handers, therefore he is particularly dangerous against the latter.

Although wiry, he is very fit and can bowl long spells, though has recently returned form a serious back injury. Has saved England twice with the bat in valiant last-wicket partnerships and with his surname is a headline writer's dream - 'South Africa fried by Onions' etc, especially when playing with his Durham colleague, wicketkeeper Phil (Colonel) Mustard.