The potential loss of Steve Harmison to the England cause may not be felt as much as that of Shaun Pollock to the South African side.
While Harmison is struggling with injury, Pollock has opted to return home for the birth of his child… and although the Englishman bowled well at Trent Bridge, Pollock is without doubt the best bowler in the visitor’s team.
The loss of Pollock and the result in Nottingham means that England have regained a bit of psychological ground and Michael Vaughan will be looking to push that home on his home track
in Leeds. The weather forecast and what we have already had could well mean that Headingley offers a better batting option than normal so it will not surprise me if whoever wins the toss elects to bat.
It is interesting to see that the England selectors have recalled Martin Bicknell 10 years after his first Test in case Harmison does not recover in time. They have opted for experience and somebody in form - something that worked in the last Test as Ed Smith brought the boatload of runs he has been scoring for Kent into the international arena and looked the part despite a second innings blob.
Bicknell will not be fazed by anything that happens and will also bring added depth to the batting so it may not be too great a loss if Harmison is allowed to rest and prepare for The Oval where we will need all our bowlers firing on all cylinders.
England may be in the ascendancy, but Graeme Smith has moulded South Africa into a side of battlers and with two Tests to go it is going to be very close… although the loss of Pollock could be pivotal tomorrow.
I believe Vaughan has settled into the captaincy very quickly and did an excellent job of revving up his troops for the South Africa second innings when England defended a lead of little more than 200. They may have been lucky to get Smith cheaply, but fortune favours the brave and England were full of brave hearts, none more so than James Kirtley who bowled superbly to take six and cement his place after being on the outside for most of the summer.