Philander out to go bug free for Old Trafford Test

Philander out to go bug free for Old Trafford Test

The performance at The Oval, where England batted patiently in hard conditions to post what proved a match-winning first-innings total of 353 was a significant improvement on what they produced in the previous Test at Trent Bridge, where they were unable to bat out even 100 overs in the entire match. One pragmatic argument for playing an extra batsman, and again omitting Liam Dawson, is that at least it leaves room for more Ashes batting auditions.

The Test series still holds the most gravitas, of course, and sharing the honours there would go quite some way to atoning for the disappointment of successive 2-1 reverses in the one-day global and Twenty20 series.

Philander was admitted to hospital during the third Test at the Oval after a virus left him extremely dehydrated.

The 26-year-old hit a sparkling 112 in England's first innings and took three wickets in the match, prompting paceman Stuart Broad to compare Ben Stokes with Flintoff. That is the world of Test cricket unfortunately and it is about trying to be as consistent as you can.

The skipper is eager to maintain the Proteas excellent away form. He will have to be wary of Philander and Morne Morkel. Then when they dropped it short or tossed it wide, he cut or pulled the ball to the boundary. "It makes the guys who have played a lot realise how special it is to play a Test match", Root's predecessor Alastair Cook told BBC Sport.

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After England were justifiably criticised for their reckless batting during their embarrassing 340-run defeat at Trent Bridge, they needed to find a No. 3 with a sound technique and an excellent temperament to replace the injured and incapable Gary Ballance.

They did make a better showing in the second innings, with opener Dean Elgar making their first hundred of the series in a total of 252.

"Having to go from the loo, to then bowling, it was draining from a fluid point of view because I couldn't really keep anything down".

But Faf du Plessis and company still have plenty of incentive - if they can muster the end-of-tour desire and suitable standards to play - to earn a 2-2 outcome, which would represent a praiseworthy enough achievement after a "difficult" three months in the so-called Green and Pleasant Land. That said, Philander's participation for this game is uncertain. "They got 100 runs too many". He is now the leading the wicket-taker in the Test series with 18 wickets to his name including a 10-wicket haul in England's series-opening win at Lord's where he also made 87. They should have given Duanne Olivier or Andile Phehlukwayo a chance instead.

Manchester has suffered a deluge of heavy rain in the build up to Friday's final Test prompting the players to prepare indoors and further bad weather is forecast.