Jason Pettigrove evaluates the early Third Test markets as James Anderson returns home with a rib injury...
"Having been ruled out of the Second Test along with Rory Burns, the latter of whom also misses the rest of the series, it was expected that Archer would be sent home too. However, his elbow injury isn't as bad as first feared"
England head into the Third Test against South Africa at the St. George's Park Cricket Ground in Port Elizabeth with their tails up.
Ben Stokes' dramatic three wickets in 14 balls late on the fifth day of the Second Test at Newlands saw the tourists level the series, and with it gain some renewed optimism for the final two tests.
A first win in Cape Town since the 56/57 test under Peter May isn't to be sniffed at, however, the hard work is only just beginning.
Anderson's injury a blow
England suffered a setback when it was announced that James Anderson had been ruled out of the final two tests with a rib injury, though they have been buoyed by the news of Jofra Archer's imminent return.
Having been ruled out of the Second Test along with Rory Burns, the latter of whom also misses the rest of the series, it was expected that Archer would be sent home too. However, his elbow injury isn't as bad as first feared, and with a nine-day gap between tests, all of the signs for the 24-year-old are positive.
With Durham's Mark Wood likely to join him, England would certainly have pace in their attack, but it would see either Sam Curran or Stuart Broad miss out. On balance, you'd have to say that Curran would be the fall guy.
Wicket could favour the tourists
Chris Silverwood will be heartened that the St. George's Park wicket could favour his England side, but he'll want Joe Root to bat first, given the chance. Before the cracks begin to appear at the crease, there's generally a good chance of scoring big here, and many of the sides who've batted first have gone on to win.
The ground has always been renowned for being conducive to spin and that hasn't changed, so Dom Bess, who masterfully took out South Africa captain, Faf du Plessis, in the second test, will be asked to step forward again.
Dom Sibley might be brought in as a second spinner if Silverwood's pacey attack isn't bearing fruit, but there will be some carry and bounce for the fast bowlers, who'll spearhead the charge.
For the hosts, they might be tempted to include left-arm paceman, Beuran Hendricks, although with Vernon Philander's spot being non-negotiable and both Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada having done well to this point, not to mention the selectors looking for continuity, Hendricks may well have to wait until the fourth test before making his bow.
The weight of history is against South Africa too. They've not beaten England in a test match in Port Elizabeth since March 1957 when they triumphed by 58 runs. Three of the next four were draws with England winning by seven wickets the last time they met here in 2004.
No splitting between the two
The Proteas will at least be heartened in the knowledge that apart from their collapse against Sri Lanka at this venue last year, they went unbeaten in six tests stretching back to 2013. With decent arguments to be made for both sides, there's no splitting the teams in the market with both at 13/10 to take the lead in the series. The draw is at 9/2 and is worth a look at that price.
Though he's only managed a best of 29 in the two tests so far against England, St George's is the happiest of hunting grounds for du Plessis. He's scored a ton and a fifty in some of the innings he's played in Port Elizabeth so his Sportsbook odds of 4/1 still offer value. Rassie van der Dussen at 6/1 on a wicket he'll enjoy shouldn't be missed either.
For England, Joe Root is again the favourite, and that's reflected in his odds of 11/4. After a reasonable tour so far, Joe Denly's price of 5/1 offers slightly better odds, but further down the order Jos Buttler has been ticking along nicely with the bat and 8/1 is a steal if you get in quick.