Preview | Proteas face on and off-pitch challenges in England ODI series

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Cricket World Cup champions England start as strong favourites when they take on a South Africa side struggling on and off the pitch in a three-match one-day international series starting at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.

The first delivery is due to be bowled at 13:00.

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In their most recent ODI series, South Africa beat Australia 3-0.

But that was a long time ago, as coach Mark Boucher pointed out in the aftermath of South Africa’s 3-0 trouncing by England in their T20 series which ended with a nine-wicket defeat at the same Newlands ground on Tuesday.

The series against Australia was back in March and much has changed since then, not least a lengthy, coronavirus-induced break for the South African team and upheaval in the boardroom and offices of Cricket South Africa.

CHALLENGES ARE BOTH MEDICAL AND POLITICAL

It was perhaps symbolic that an announcement was made by the recently-appointed interim board of CSA during Tuesday’s match that the organisation’s company secretary, Welsh Gwaza, had been suspended and will face a disciplinary hearing on December 14. 

Gwaza was mentioned numerous times in a forensic report which led to the firing of chief executive Thabang Moroe in August.

The challenges facing Boucher and the national selectors are both medical and political.

It has been reported locally that the racial transformation targets for the national team are to be increased so that by 2023 no more than four white players may be picked in an XI.

“Someone above me needs to answer that,” said Boucher when asked about the targets.

The South African teams that played in the T20 series lacked balance in the form of all-rounders, with Andile Phehlukwayo unavailable and Dwaine Pretorius injured in training. 

Leading fast bowler Kagiso Rabada missed the third match and was ruled out of the one-day series with a hip injury, while Faf du Plessis has been rested from the 50-over series.

Also unavailable was the powerful left-handed batsman, David Miller, which Boucher said affected the effectiveness of the top-order batting.

BOTH SQUADS ARE MUCH-CHANGED

CSA have consistently refused to name the two players who tested positive for Covid-19 before the series, but both Phehlukwayo and Miller will be available for the one-day games, according to a CSA spokesperson.

Both teams will be much-changed for the one-day series.

Star England players Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran are being rested, while T20 player of the series, Dawid Malan, and all-rounder Chris Jordan were not selected for the one-day games.

South Africa will surely welcome back Miller and Phehlukwayo along with several – or all – of Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kyle Verreynne and Keshav Maharaj, who played in the winning series against Australia.

England’s batting will be bolstered by Test captain Joe Root, while there will be a new-look bowling attack in which all-rounder Chris Woakes and fast bowlers Mark Wood and Olly Stone could feature.

SQUADS:

South Africa

Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Glenton Stuurman, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne

England

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wkt), Tom Curran, Lewis Gregory, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND ODI FIXTURES:

Friday, December 4: 1st ODI South Africa v England, Newlands – 13:00

Sunday, December 6: 2nd ODI South Africa v England, Boland Park, Paarl – 10:00

Wednesday, December 9: 3rd ODI South Africa v England, Newlands – 13:00

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