Proteas mull over changes

South Africa agonise over squad ahead of crucial third Test against England.

    England welcome in the new year with a training session at Newlands [GALLO/GETTY]

    South Africa are set to make at least one change in their team as they go into the crucial third Test against England, starting on Sunday in Cape Town.

    The pressure is on for the home side who trail 1-0 in the series and are facing calls for wholesale changes to the team.

    "We're all under pressure," admitted South African coach Mickey Arthur, who said 'tough decisions' would have to be made about the composition of the side following their crushing innings and 98 runs defeat in the second Test in Durban.

    "We're 1-0 down in the series and we've got to take 20 wickets and win this Test match," said Arthur.

    He said: "There may be one change, there may be two."


    Asked whether veteran fast bowler Makhaya Ntini faced the axe, Arthur said Ntini had not been at his best in Durban, but cautioned that did not necessarily mean the only black African in the squad would be dropped.

    But he also said that if Ntini won a reprieve it would not be simply because of his status as a standard-bearer for racial transformation.

    "He's an icon cricketer and you tend to give icon players a longer run because they deserve it."

    England, meanwhile, are concerned about the fitness of batsman Paul Collingwood, who suffered a dislocated left index finger during fielding practice in Durban.

    Coach Andy Flower said Collingwood had made good progress, which included batting in the nets on Friday.

    "I was pleasantly surprised because we hadn't factored in him batting today," said Flower.

    "But he's still doubtful. He didn't face the quicker bowlers and he didn't do any robust fielding practice."

    Collingwood, centre, is expecting a decision on his finger on Saturday [GALLO/GETTY]
    Decision pending

    Flower said a decision would be made after Collingwood was exposed to more rigorous practice on Saturday. He said the final decision would be taken by team management.

    "He's desperate to play, which means we can't just leave the decision up to him."

    If Collingwood does not play, the tour selectors will have to choose between Hampshire's Michael Carberry, who was added to the squad as cover for Collingwood on Wednesday, or all-rounder Luke Wright.

    Flower said he expected the Newlands Test would be tough, citing South Africa's record of 14 wins in their last 18 Tests at the ground, including three out of three against England.

    "They're a very good side and it is still a huge challenge for us," he said.

    "They'll come hard at us but we'll come hard at them too.'

    Flower said he did not believe there was a parallel between the current series and the Ashes series against Australia last year, when England went from a win in the second Test to an innings defeat in the fourth Test at Headingley in Leeds.

    "I think in that Test there was an anxiety to wrap up the series quickly. I don't feel there's any anxiety from this team. We have probably learnt from that experience."


    South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (captain), Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher, (wkt), Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Friedel de Wet, Alviro Petersen, Ryan McLaren.

    England (likely): Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood or Michael Carberry or Luke Wright, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wkt), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions.



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