CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - A buoyant South Africa will seek to drive home their advantage at a favourite venue as they host an England side facing a big selection question in the second test of the four-match series starting at Newlands on Friday.
The home team ended a run of five straight defeats with a commanding 107-run victory in the first test in Pretoria as the winds of change through their camp, on and off the pitch, brought immediate success.
Coach Mark Boucher appears to have brought some steel back to the squad as they subdued an England side battling with illness and which has recently struggled to pick up wins on the road.
South African opener Aiden Markram is definitely out with a finger injury and that should mean a debut for Pieter Malan, 30, at his home ground in what is an iconic test on the fixture list which could see as many as 10,000 England fans in attendance.
South Africa must also decide whether to accommodate a fit-again Temba Bavuma in the middle-order, with his replacement Rassie van der Dussen scoring a second-innings half-century on debut in Pretoria.
England have not won at Newlands since 1957, though their last two visits in 2010 and 2016 ended in draws.
It is a traditional stronghold for South Africa, who have lost only one of their previous 18 tests at the venue, picking up 13 wins in that time.
The illness that spread through the tourist’s squad in the build-up to, and during, the first test appears to have eased, providing them with more options.
Fit-again middle-order batsman Ollie Pope is likely to replace Jonny Bairstow in what should be the only change in the top seven, but the make-up of the bowling attack is far from certain.
The wicket in Cape Town is expected to be less seamer-friendly than the first test, which could mean the introduction of a specialist spin option, with Dominic Bess or Matt Parkinson in contention.
Left-arm spinner Jack Leach still has a fitness question-mark hanging over him, which could mean Bess gets a run having not been part of the original touring party.
The question would then be who to leave out, with one of the four-prong seam attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer or Sam Curran to miss out.
Anderson and Broad have 1053 test wickets between them, but England coach Chris Silverwood concedes that their places will be up for discussion.
“In Jimmy and Stu we have a wealth of experience and we’d be really stupid not to take that into consideration every game,” Silverwood told reporters after the first test.
“But, equally, you want your youngsters to come through and if we’re going to make room for a spinner we’ve got to have a look at which seamers are right for this pitch.
“If there’s a big decision we’re not afraid to make it.”
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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