proteas on fire

LONDON - South Africa will display bowling firepower reminiscent of the great West Indies side of the 1980s at Lord's as they start their campaign to win a series in England for the first time in the post-apartheid era.

LONDON - South Africa will display bowling firepower reminiscent of the great West Indies side of the 1980s at Lord's as they start their campaign to win a series in England for the first time in the post-apartheid era.

There is a steely confidence in the South African ranks before the teams clash today in the first of four Tests.

Graeme Smith, still only 27, is the most experienced captain in world cricket and he believes he is at last fielding a side comprising the best cricketers in multi- racial South Africa.

The batting combines the flair of AB de Villiers with the solidity of Hashim Amla batting around the supreme accumulator Jacques Kallis and backed up by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

But it is the pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini that excites South Africa and their supporters.

Each of the three strike bowlers reaches speeds in excess of 145km an hour, the difference between fast and seriously quick.

Steyn, the speediest of the trio, has had a phenomenal start to his Test career, capturing 120 wickets from 23 Tests at an average of 21,60 with a strike rate of 35,8, the best by some distance for South Africans who have taken 100 wickets or more.

Morkel is tall, only marginally slower and extracts threatening bounce.

Ntini, the veteran of the attack with 344 Test wickets, angles the ball awkwardly into the right-handers.

England are likely to field the same 11 for the sixth Test in a row though their batting has been inconsistent and middle-order batsmen Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood face the axe if they fail to deliver.

England opener Andrew Strauss, who will be playing his 50th Test, told a news conference the fast bowling would be a challenge.

Probable South Africa team: Graeme Smith (captain), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn. - Reuters

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