England's Chris Woakes
Chris Woakes Image Credit: Reuters

Centurion: England head coach Chris Silverwood has said that his side might opt for an all-pace attack against South Africa in the first Test beginning on Thursday in Centurion.

“Obviously in Hamilton, we looked at all the stats of who took wickets at the ground, and it showed that spin didn’t really play much part in the games, or certainly have much effect on the games,” Silverwood was quoted as saying by ICC.

England did go for a similar strategy in the Hamilton Test against New Zealand last month, bringing in Chris Woakes in place of Jack Leach.

And as the Centurion wicket traditionally offers more assistance to seamers, the Three Lions might be tempted to to field an all-pace line up.

“We look at the stats for this ground, it’s the same thing, you’re looking at wickets taken by seam, wickets taken by spin and the averages that go along with them, it suggests that seam is the way forward, and the thing that has most effect on the game here, so we’re certainly looking at that,” said Silverwood.

On their spin arsenal, Silverwood said they have good resources. “We’ve got some good resources in the spin department.”

“Leachy is coming back to fitness now, we’ve got Dominic Bess here as well, Parky who bowled nicely in Benoni (in the practice game). So we’ve got the resources but we’re looking at it for what it is, what has most effect in this game. We’re not definitely going down the road of all seam, but it’s something we’ve got to discuss over the next few days.”

Silverwood also provided an update on fast bowler Jofra Archer, whose participation in the first Test is in doubt due to illness.

“We saw how he was running in and bowling fast in those nets,” said Silverwood. “He bowled a few overs with me the day before and he just backed it up again, so if we can see a few more sessions like that then he’d throw his hat in the ring.

“Maybe there’s a little bit more caution around it, if I’m brutally honest, but more than anything it’s for his well-being as well. If he’s going out on the pitch we need to make sure he’s 100 per cent, but equally, he’s played a lot of cricket as well — albeit maybe not at Test level,” he added.

South Africa, meanwhile, will seek a happy end to what has been a miserable year for the country’s cricket team. They will be playing at a ground, which has been a fortress for the hosts, where they have won 19 of 24 Tests.

England, though, have bucked the trend, being involved in four of the five matches at the ground, which have not ended in victory for South Africa — a win, albeit in contrived circumstances, and three draws.

Only once have South Africa come out on top against their oldest foes at Centurion, on England’s previous tour four years when Kagiso Rabada, then aged 20, had match figures of 13 for 144 in what was a dead rubber game, with England having already won the series.