JOHANNESDURG (Reuters) – England is facing a selection dilemma when the fourth and final test against South Africa is about a 3-1 victory for the Wanderers.
England's Ollie Pope and Dom Bess celebrate when they leave the field with a stump after winning the third test. REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko
After the lost opening test, England made up for their fortune with two wins in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root have to make tough decisions in the bowling department before Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes start on Friday to join the game.
If Archer proves his suitability, England will have to decide whether to use him on a fast wicket in the air of high altitude or to continue with the off-spinner Dom Bess, who made a five-wicket move in the first innings in port scored Elisabeth.
Archer's pace is valuable, but at the expense of the runs.
England secured success against South Africa by miserably handling the runs that made the hosts nervous.
Mark Wood made an impressive comeback at real pace in the last game to rattle home batsmen who fell like nine pens in one innings and a 53-run loss. It would be hard to take it out.
Silverwood also said Woakes was impressive on the networks. "We have options again, which is great," he told reporters.
In contrast, the home team looks rather light, as top bowler Kagiso Rabada is banned.
His exaggerated celebration after picking up Roots Wicket last week earned him one failure point and triggered a one-hour ban because he had accumulated four failure points within 24 months.
His absence is a major blow to South Africa, as the attack on a ground where bowlers usually frighten the opposition with uninterrupted wildfire is meager.
You either have to choose Dwaine Pretorius with only two previous test appearances or Beuran Hendricks, which is uncaped.
The hosts are also expected to drop batsman Zubayr Hamza and retrieve Temba Bavuma, who was canceled at the start of the series due to lack of runs, but responded with 180 points last week in the national competition.
The game is probably the last home game for captain Faf du Plessis, who said he would rethink his role after two away games in the West Indies mid-year.
It will also be the last time Vernon Philander, who is retiring from test cricket, will switch to Somerset.