England v South Africa: Hosts look to save Test ranking

Third Test: England v South Africa

  • Venue: Lord's
  • Date: 16-20 August
  • Start time: 11:00 BST

Coverage: Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 LW and via BBC Sport website (available worldwide); updates on BBC Radio 5 live; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobiles

England start the third and final Test on Thursday knowing only a win will stop opponents South Africa from overtaking them in the world rankings.

The Proteas lead the series 1-0, and could bring an end to England's year-long reign at Lord's.

"In the next five days, if we play well enough, we will earn that ranking," South Africa captain Graeme Smith said.

England are without Kevin Pietersen, dropped for sending "provocative texts" to some of the South Africa team.

Pietersen, who has since apologised, has been replaced by Jonny Bairstow after captain Andrew Strauss said it would have been "untenable" to have him in the squad.

Smith - Pietersen situation 'disappointing'

A drastic improvement will be needed to the Yorkshireman's current average with the bat of 12.66 in three Tests  if he is to fill the void left by Pietersen.

Despite the turmoil surrounding him, the 32-year-old has excelled in the series, with his 149-run knock in the first innings of the rain-effected second Test helping England to a draw after they had been beaten by an innings and 12 runs in the opener.

There are no such concerns for the Proteas, who are expected to name another unchanged side for the Third test running on British soil.

The Test is also a landmark for Strauss who is set to make his 100th appearance for his country in the unlimited overs form of the game.

"I think it is a game to savour and to be proud of," the 35-year-old said. "We do not have a lot of time throughout our careers to look back on what you have done as you are always looking forward to the next game.

"In a lot of ways, this game is no different, but I am very proud of the fact I have hung around long enough to get to 100 Test matches, and hopefully there are a few more there as well."