Clouds are gathering. It looked like a tricky toss to win when the sun was out a few minutes earlier. It’s quickly morphed into what seems like a bowling paradise. England will fancy this. There is, however, a certain Laura Wolvaardt to contend with. Ella she’s the big wicket, that’s for sure.
Debutants aplenty for both teams.
For England, Lauren Bell, Alice Davidson-Richards, Emma Lamb and the exciting 20-year-old quick bowler Izzy Wong pull on the whites for the first time.
For the Saffas, Andrie Steyn, Laura Wolvaardt, Lara Goodall, Sune Luus, Anneke Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Sinalo Jaffa, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nonkululeko Mlaba all play their first Test. Though that’s to be expected as the Proteas last took part in this grand old format back in 2014.
Heather Knight has won the flip of the coin and decided. “Looks a good, hard pitch, but if we’re going to get anything out of it it will be this morning,” she says. Sune Luus, the South African skipper, is happy to bat and can’t wait to get stuck in: “It’s an amazing opportunity for South African women’s cricket. We’ve got nine debutants to excited to get going.”
Everyone’s a newbie of sorts
John Price makes a great point: “I have read one or two comments that debutants ‘haven’t played much red ball cricket’. I think that is misleading – there is no women’s two innings cricket in the country outside Test level whatsoever. So debutants will have played precisely nil. I think that is the point about the problem with women’s Test match cricket. Tests are supposed to be the pinnacle of the first class game. If there is no first class game, it becomes something on an anomaly – skills, style of play etc are not developed to this format.”
Good morning, dumela, sawubona, goeie more, howzit!
Welcome to start this one-off Test between South Africa and England. There’s cloud and gloom overhead here in Taunton but I can tell you that bright, illuminating anticipation blankets the County Ground. Days like don’t come round very often. The South Africans last played a Test back in 2014 and the English have only donned the whites on six occasions in that time. The inequities in the game are plain to see, but those battles are for another time. The next four days are for celebrating.
The Saffas are without a clutch of their golden generation. Speedster Shabnim Ismail, metronome Ayabonga Khaka and big hitter Chloe Tryon were ruled out yesterday. They join regular skipper Dane van Niekerk on the spectators list.
England embark on a new chapter themselves. They start a Test without either Anya Shrubsole or Katherine Brunt. That’s 421 international wickets, in case you were wondering.
Play starts at 11am BST, toss is at 10.30am. My name is Daniel (but you can call me Dan). I’m delighted to be making my OBO debut. Do drop me a line on Twitter @danielgallan or email me on [email protected] Catch you in a few.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism