England are 2-1 down in the series and struggling to take 20 wickets in a match so we need something really special at The Oval this week. Hopefully we will have learned from our mistakes of Headingley where we had South Africa in two or three great positions and were unable to finish them off. We have to look forward and be positive and hopefully Captain Vaughan and Leiutenant Trescothick can fashion a big opening partnership on Thursday morning to give
a platform to the team and the rest of the game. The Oval pitch is usually a very good one to bat on so winning the toss, although not vital, can get you heading in the right direction. The thing is to get in, get 20 and then look to get 150 although itís easier said than done.
I can not see many changes to the team and expect Steve Harmison to replace the injured James Kirtley. The Durham pacemanís extra height will be useful in south west London because The Oval usually offers extra bounce. Graham Thorpe returns in place of broken toe victim Nasser Hussain and although that is a straight swap of experience, the Surrey batsman offers variety through being left handed.
Hopefully there will be a bit of swing for James Anderson because we will need him at his best. Even though he was not firing on all cylinders at Trent Bridge he still picked up seven or eight to emphasise just how much a key he is to the side. James was in London last week to collect his Young Player of the Year Award from the Cricket Writers Association and I am sure he will go on to pick up many more honours in the game.
Ashley Giles will probably return to the side while South Africa will also have Shaun Pollock back in harness after returning home for the birth of his first child. It should be a thrilling encounter with plenty of runs. Hopefully most of them will be scored by England.