The other major concern is the lack of form of their other major batsman, Herschel Gibbs. They will have been desperate for Gibbs to get runs n the batsman’s paradise that is Taunton, but he did not spend long out in the middle against Somerset so he goes into the series lacking both form and confidence.
The tourists have a young and inexperienced squad made up of unknown quantities and a few ho know what the international game is all about. But one of them, Sean Pollock appears to have lost the cutting edge that made him among the best in the world. The will be relying heavily on Ntini because there is nobody else likely to make our batsmen quiver.So for once – and t is a rarity – we will be going into a series against South Africa as favourites and the way England are progressing I expect them to win a series which starts in Edgbaston tomorrow (Thursday). All of our batsmen are in good form and when you have a player of Freddie Flintoff’s pedigree coming in at 7, it just shows how strong we are in that department.Our bowlers are also in good nick and looked a cut above the South Africans in the one-day series and it will be interesting to see how Darren Gough performs on his return to the five-day game when many thought he would never play it again.Captain Nasser Hussain returns with plenty to prove after the success of Michael Vaughan and the one-day side while wicketkeeper/batsman will want to end his international career on a high.Stewy’s been in the top echelon for 15 years – a magnificent achievement in itself – and he’s been the ultimate professional. He will be sadly missed.It’s not going to be easy, but I wish all the lads well and expect to see them sailing towards further success.