x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Jacques Kallis and James Anderson in drive for redemption

Veteran all-rounder and matured bowler are looking forward to test of 'the best in world' in what pair predict will be 'a fantastic series'.

South Africa's Jacques Kallis throws a ball during a training session before the first cricket Test match against England.
South Africa's Jacques Kallis throws a ball during a training session before the first cricket Test match against England.

The South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis and the England bowler James Anderson will look to put their troubled past behind them when their teams clash in a high-profile series starting with the first Test today at The Oval.

South Africa's Test series victories on their last two trips to England have included defeats, by nine and six wickets, at this venue in 2003 and 2008.

Kallis's last attempt, in particular, brought paltry returns for the world No 3 side - barely 100 runs in seven innings, featuring five single-figure scores, and resulting in an average under 15. The 36 year old is not about to fret about historical statistics, though.

"I'm not someone who worries too much about what happened in the last innings or on previous tours," he said.

"You don't get a head start if you've done well in a previous innings or previous tours.

"You start with nought behind your name. It's not like Formula One, where you get pole position. It would be nice to have a good tour here. But if I have a bad tour and we win, I'll take that."

"They are two good attacks, certainly as good as any in world cricket at the moment. It's going to be a fantastic series."

Leading the attack for England will be Anderson, who insists where once he might have cracked under the strain of raising his game and keeping it at the optimum against top-quality opposition, these days he relishes the prospect.

So it should be, of course, for world-beaters England - who need a draw or better to remain at the top of the ICC Test rankings.

"In the past, maybe, the pressure might have got to me in particular - maybe a few other guys," said Anderson, who will be 30 just before the second Test in Leeds.

"Now it's more exciting. You want to play in big games.

"You want to test yourself against the best in the world, which is going to happen in this next few weeks."

The individual honours in this three-Test series aside, Kallis is predicting a wonderful spectacle. "I don't think there is a reason why we haven't played well here," he said of South Africa's winless run in their 10 Test visits to the The Oval to date.

"We've got to do what we've been doing for the last couple of weeks and not worry about the ground or the opposition."

Meanwhile, England selectors seem to have closed the doors on Kevin Pietersen's attempt to come back into the side for the World Twenty20 in September when they omitted him from the provisional 30-man squad.

Pietersen's representatives have been in talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board, aimed at agreeing a compromise deal for him to cancel the shock retirement he announced last month from the shorter formats of international cricket.

But those negotiations have not come to fruition in time for Pietersen to be named in a preliminary squad, which will be pared down to 15 next month.

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