South Africa profiles
The Analyst runs his expert eye over the South African squad
Prolific left-handed opener and resolute leader, Smith is the driving force behind South African cricket. Looks a rather heavy footed and cumbersome batsman, but is hugely effective, working almost everything to leg, and looking to deliver his meaty pull, through he does occasionally drive through the offside. Immensely strong, and mentally tough, he shoulders his captaincy responsibility impressively and is universally respected, though not universally liked. A big hundred from him seems to coincide with an England captain standing down. Well it’s happened twice anyway.
Hard-working opening batsman who has been around the traps for some time and only made his Test debut at the age of 29 at Eden Gardens. He celebrated with a century - becoming only the third South African to make a hundred on Test debut. Has had county experience with Glamorgan and this season with Essex, but apart from one hundred against his old team, has struggled in seaming conditions and is a potential weak link for England to exploit.
The first player of Indian descent to represent South Africa, Amla is a fluent free-scoring batsman who is now ranked highly in world cricket. Busy at the crease, he is wristy and adventurous, scoring a large proportion of his runs through the cover point region. Looking to work straight balls through the legside he is an lbw candidate early on but once established has the temperament to play long innings and has a high strike rate in one-dayers. A devout Muslim.
AB de Villiers
Unbelievably talented all-round sportsman who could easily have played professional golf, tennis or rugby, but chose cricket. Seems to be able to do anything in the game - can open the batting, or slot into the middle-order, can play determined, resilient innings or step on the gas and surge towards a challenging target.
Likes driving through the offside and clipping through mid-wicket but has an amazing repertoire in one-day cricket with reverse sweeps and switch hits augmenting deft flicks, pick ups and slog sweeps, as well as stonking drives down the ground and carves over extra cover.
With his incredible left-handed switch hit over the keeper’s head he is the world's first truly ambidextrous batsman giving him a complete 360-degree range of shots. Very fast and athletic and dynamic to watch, he is possibly the most complete one-day batsman ever. Can also keep wicket decently (and will do early in this series) and is a brilliant fielder.
The premier all-rounder in world cricket, Kallis is comfortably the most prolific South African batsman of all time, and also a fast bowler good enough to take the new ball. He has 276 Test wickets, more than any current Englishman. Perennially reliable, Kallis has an immaculate batting technique, playing each ball on its merits, though he favours the offside for his run-making.
Also very powerful slog-sweeping the spinners, but his innings can sometimes be a bit one-paced. His probing outswing can reach 90mph and he is also one of the safest slip catchers in the game. In short a one-man team.
Stylish left-handed opener who didn't have much chance of getting in the South African side while Gibbs and Smith went in first, so migrated to England as a Kolpak player for Yorkshire. Having matured in county cricket with consistent performances, he tried his luck again with his country in 2010 and quickly established himself. A fluent scorer on both sides of the wicket with a good cricket brain, he also catches well in the slips and bowls useful leg-breaks.
Jean Paul Duminy
Sparky left-hander who is liable to be inconsistent, but can turn a match in style, as he did during his debut Test series in Australia with a hundred in his first game. Small, but plays the ball late with deft timing, sending the ball flashing through the covers. Fallible early on, and currently regarded more as a one-day player where his athletic fielding and teasing off-spin are also valuable.
Deputy wicketkeeper drafted in as Mark Boucher's replacement. From the huge Langa township in Cape Town, he was a prodigy as a kid and captained SA Under 19s. Owed his first Test match opportunity to the controversial quota system (Boucher was dropped to accommodate him) and played against England in 2004, but looked out of his depth. Much more experienced now, but may find it tough going in England.
The most potent fast bowler in world cricket, Steyn allies rapid pace to late swing and has the potential to be devastating in all forms of the game. A compact athlete, Steyn is a marauding fast bowler who is a perpetual threat on any pitch. Gliding menacingly to the wicket, he slings deliveries down consistently at over 90mph, most armed with late outswing.
Looking to pitch the ball up, keeping the bouncer as a surprise, he is a weapon of deadly precision with a Test match strike rate of under 40 balls per wicket, one of the best in the history of the game. Regularly uproots stumps and a fierce competitor who never backs down with ball, or indeed bat.
The fastest to fifty Test wickets in history, taking just seven matches and at the paltry average of 14 per wicket. Highly talented opening bowler and hard-hitting lower order batsman who compliments Steyn and Morkel superbly. The 26-year-old Philander had a great firs- class record taking his wickets at under 20, but injuries denied him the chance to play for his country.
Finally picked against Australia in 2011, he won the man-of-the-match award on his debut in the course of taking 5 for 15 to bowl Australia out for just 47! Added two more Test five- wicket hauls shortly afterwards. Not express pace, but bowls insistent out-swing on a probing length and line from close to the stumps at a lively 83mph and hits the bat hard. His strength also comes in handy when giving the ball a decent biff with the bat.
Half of the most potent new ball pairing in world cricket, Morkel asks serious questions of the best batsmen with his 90mph pace delivered from a great height. Rumbles into bowl and whirls down testing deliveries from his 6ft 6in height which often have a hint of outswing. Sometimes inclined to bowl a bit too short, and apt to overstep the front line, but always liable to produce an unplayable delivery and a great foil for his skiddier opening partner Dale Steyn. Has a strange habit of turning round and walking away from the wicket at the start of his run-up.
Reared in Pakistan, Tahir is the ultimate nomadic cricketer, purveying his leg spin to an assortment of 10 teams round the world. Finally granted South African citizenship in late 2010, he was immediately selected for the Test squad and has now played a handful of international matches with reasonable results.
A feisty, bouncy leg spinner with good control, an excellent googly and more than 40 five-wicket hauls at first-class level, he sometimes gets into trouble for following through on the “protected area” of the pitch and may struggle to contain England's top order.. Unadulterated tailend slogger.
Regarded by many as a moderate left-arm spinner mainly famous for conceding the most runs off an over in Test cricket - 28 by Brian Lara. But impressed at the 2011 world cup with control and useful spin, especially at the start of an innings. Peterson has been a fringe player for South Africa ever since his debut in 2002, but is now starting to look the part at least in one-day cricket with sharp fielding and lusty hitting as well as steady bowling. A demon switch-hitter.
A tall left-arm swing bowler, Tsotsobe lacks the pace to be really dangerous at international level but has good control, late swing and his extra bounce is a useful asset. Has a decent first- class record but a poor Test one and will only play if one of the three main seamers is injured.
Brother of Morne, and regarded more as a one-day player. Has only played one Test and that was three years ago, but called up as late replacement for the injured Marchant de Lange. Bustling fast-medium bowler who swings the ball out and can be handy on his day but lacks real pace and menace and doesn't have the height of his sibling.
Bats left handed and is one of the cleanest hitters in the world, regularly clearing not only the rope but the first tier with colossal blows over mid on. -