The winner of the series will finish as number one in the world, but if South Africa win by one Test they will be top by only 0.16 points. A drawn series will see England top, but by a reduced margin.
If England win the series 3-0 they will move to 126 rating points, which would be their highest since 1890 when they had 127 after having beaten Australia 2-0 under the leadership of WG Grace.
South Africa have never won in their 13 Tests at The Oval, the worst record for any team playing at least 10 Tests at any ground. England's worst record is at the WACA, where they have won just one of 12 Tests.
|South Africa||The Oval||13||0||6||7||0.00%|
|Bangladesh||ZAC Stadium, Chittagong||10||0||8||2||0.00%|
|Zimbabwe||Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo||19||1||11||7||5.26%|
However, South Africa are undefeated in their last eight Test series away from home. They last lost on their travels series in Sri Lanka in July/August 2006.
The five current batsmen with the highest batting averages in their last 20 Tests are all playing in this series:
|AB de Villiers||20||32||6||1751||278||67.34||4|
Graeme Smith will be playing in his 100th Test (but 99th for South Africa). He is the sixth South African to play that many Tests.
Opposing skipper, Andrew Strauss, needs one more catch to become England's leading Test catcher among fielders:
|Name||Matches||Catches||Catches per match|
Strauss is 42 runs short of overtaking Len Hutton's 6971 Test runs and 70 runs short of becoming the eighth England batsman to reach 7000 Test runs. Another century would equal Wally Hammond, Geoffrey Boycott and Colin Cowdrey's England record of 22 Test centuries.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad will lead England's bowling attack at the Oval, while Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will head South Africa's. Here is how the strike pairs have performed in matches when they have played together.
Vernon Philander reached 50 Test wickets in his seventh Test, a feat matched or bettered by only two other bowlers. He got there in just 1240 deliveries - the quickest in history. Johnny Briggs is next with 1523 (in 16 Tests).