England are expected to reprise their new attacking approach instilled by captain Ben Stokes, but will come up against a powerful South Africa seam attack in the three-Test series starting on Wednesday.
Stokes’s approach has ruffled the feathers of Test purists, but "Bazball" brought dramatic victories and great entertainment as England beat New Zealand and India in June and July, chasing down imposing victory targets in swashbuckling style.
Stokes has said how he wants to change the way Test cricket is played, calling for his team to score quick runs and always look for wickets in an aggressive approach.
There is no reason to expect anything different at Lord’s on Wednesday as England bid for a fifth successive Test win, against a team whose strength is their pace bowling attack.
"I’d like to see them do it against our seamers," said South Africa captain Dean Elgar in a provocative call to arms in the build-up to the series.
South Africa have, however, lost Duanne Olivier to a hip injury and are sweating on the fitness of lead bowler Kagiso Rababa, who has been struggling with an ankle injury. Elgar said last week that getting the 27-year-old seamer fit was his team’s top priority.
They also suffered defeat by an innings and 56 runs against the hosts’ second string, the England Lions, in the four-day warm-up match at Canterbury last week.
The Lions attacked the South Africans with bat and ball in a vivid illustration of what they can expect at Lord’s and in the following two Tests at Old Trafford and The Oval.
South Africa go into series on the back of home successes over India and Bangladesh, the latter achieved with a weakened side after giving key players time off to compete in the Indian Premier League.
Since Elgar became captain in March, 2021, South Africa have won seven of nine matches and top the World Test Championship table, on course for a meeting with Australia in next year’s final.