After England slumped to an in innings defeat in the first Test match against South Africa, Sportsvibe caught up with former South African cricket captain Kepler Wessels to give us a preview on the second Test at Headingley. Wessels, an ambassador for ESPNcricinfo.com offered us his views on where England need to change their plans, and ultimately his prediction for the second Test match.
What do you expect to change between The Oval and Headingley in terms of conditions?
The Oval was particularly flat which caused problems for Andrew Strauss and his bowlers as their plans failed to take shape. Headingley is notoriously a bowler-friendly wicket, a far-cry from the type of pitch that South Africa plundered runs on at The Oval. Wessels added, "In the second Test, England have to prepare a pitch that is livelier. I know it's a risk if you take on South Africa in those conditions with their bowling attack but you've got to bring the teams closer. So to bring the teams closer you've got to give the England bowlers an opportunity to get wickets, otherwise you go for another flat one they (South Africa) are going to out-bat you again. England absolutely have to go for a pitch designed for the Test match to finish in four days as a bit of a shootout and back themselves in that way otherwise it is going to be tough.
Do you expect any changes to the England side?
"England have to bring (Steven) Finn in. I think the England tail against ordinary bowling works from a batting point of view but against the likes of South Africa's attack, (Tim) Bresnan, (Stuart) Broad, and (Graeme) Swann aren't likely to score too many so for them. Therefore to win the Test they would rather sacrifice that better batting and bring in Finn who bowls well at left-handers, bowls a bit quicker, and he bowls long spells. England could try to strengthen their attack with a bit more bite in that way.
Should there be any changes to the batsmen in the England team?
"I wouldn't say that they can afford to drop a batsman and bring in a fifth bowler, I don't think that will work. They've got to get the surface right so it decks around so you only need four bowlers and then try to do it like that."
Since speaking to Kepler, the England squad was announced in which James Taylor of Nottinghamshire has come into replace Ravi Bopara due to personal reasons. It is expected that Taylor will slot in at number six and earn his first Test cap at Headingley.
What are they keys for South Africa at Headingley?
"South Africa have to guard against a bit of complacency. I think coming off such a convincing win, it is always, as hard as you try, easy to come in without quite the same intensity so I think that is their biggest enemy right now. I think they are designed to play on all surfaces. They've got such good balance and variety in the side. Provided conditions ket them play, they need to come off this high and make sure they have their preparations spot on again, and just avoid complacency."
How do you see the game at Headingley shaping up?
"Providing conditions are seamer friendly it will be the bowling attacks competing strongly with one another and then the discipline at the top of the batting order. I think the most disciplined top order will prevail and I think that's what England need to work on and they need to have a far more ruthless approach to batting and give nothing away. From a bowling point of view, when I say bowl more aggressively, I don't mean run in and bowl bouncers, but more importantly their body language, intensity, and attitude has to change because that wasn't great in the first Test. If they get conditions at Headingley that will fire them up then from that point of view they to improve as well."
What is your prediction for the second Test at Headingley?
I think you have to go with the fact that South Africa have got the edge and I think they'll be disappointed if they don't come away from Leeds with a win so I'd say that they are the hot favourite but England are not out of it. We were all surprised by how easily South Africa won the first Test so things can change but I think on the balance, you've got to say that momentum and the odds are with South Africa.
With Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan both resigning the England captaincy after losing to South Africa, is there concern that the same will happen to Andrew Strauss?
I hope it doesn't happen to (Andrew) Strauss because I like him as a bloke and as a player. I think he's done a good job so I hope he can stand up. The best thing he can do is to get some runs, set a good example and leade from the front and I hope he's not seen off by another South African series as well. He is under pressure because he's got Cook breathing down his neck but let's hope for his sake it goes well.
'Catch all the latest cricket news, analysis, results and ball-by-ball coverage on ESPNcricinfo.com and via the new ESPNcricinfo iPad App available to download in August'.