SA in last chance saloon

WHEN the South African and England cricket teams step out on to the Wanderers pitch for the all-important fourth Test match on Thursday, they will have completely different mindsets.

WHEN the South African and England cricket teams step out on to the Wanderers pitch for the all-important fourth Test match on Thursday, they will have completely different mindsets.

The Proteas will be wondering how it is possible they are going into the game 1-0 down in the series and needing a win to share the spoils.

The English must be silently chuckling about the fact that, after being outplayed at Centurion Park and Cape Town, they have nothing to lose and enter the game in a position they could only have dreamed of when the tour started in November.

Comparing the players in each team is quite difficult. Why? Well, there isn't really much of a comparison.

If you were to select a World XI today, the number of Englishmen in it would probably be zero.

For South Africa, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and a fit-again Dale Steyn would all push hard for places.

But when England take to the field they play as a team. The superstars are not there but somehow coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss have put together a team that will, to use that well-worn cliché, "die for each other".

Their body language is that of a close-knit unit. What they lack in all-out skill, they more than make up for in guts and determination.

South Africa, on the other hand, have often looked like they are going through the motions.

Maybe the long break in their Test match programme caught them out when the series started, but even as it has progressed it seems the English have been one step ahead.

With a Wanderers pitch likely to suit pace bowling, one can't help but wonder if it is not a Test too far for the visitors.

They have managed to get out of jail on two occasions in the series. A third time might be pushing it too far.

South Africa will be looking to up the ante in the bowling department.

Paul Harris has not fired yet. Jacques Kallis still looks troubled by his rib injury and Dale Steyn is still short of a yard in pace after a leng-thy layoff.

Opening batsman Ashwell Prince has also had an awful time of it lately.

Maybe this is the Test for him to turn it around.

l Play starts at 10.30am and will be screened live on SuperSport2 and SABC3.

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