South Africa v England: 5 things to look out for
England travel to South Africa for three T20s and three Betway ODIs, starting on Friday. Here is everything you need to know about the tour.
1. England at full-strength
England captain Eoin Morgan has had a wealth of talent at his disposal in limited-overs cricket for several years now, but very rarely has everyone been fit at the same time in limited-overs cricket.
This series against South Africa presents a unique and exciting opportunity for Morgan, then, with the vast majority of his options available to him.
In the batting department he has Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan all vying for a place in his top three.
With the ball he has IPL MVP Jofra Archer at his disposal, with Chris Jordan, Mark Wood, the Curran brothers and Reece Topley all offering quality options.
With the T20 World Cup on the horizon, Morgan will be keen to work out his best team as soon as possible, and this series gives him the chance to do so.
2. South Africa are untested
All cricketing nations have been affected by a disrupted calendar this year, but South Africa more than most.
The Proteas haven’t played since March, while only a few of their biggest stars were able to compete in competitions like the CPL and IPL.
Domestic cricket got up and running at the beginning of November, but many of their players will not have played much competitive cricket at all coming into this series.
England, on the other hand, managed to hold international series against West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia over the summer months, while many of their biggest players featured heavily in the IPL.
Will South Africa be able to shake off the cobwebs against a strong England side with plenty of momentum?
3. Pace is key for Proteas
If South Africa are to challenge England across the three T20 and three Betway-sponsored ODIs, their pace attack will be key.
In Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, the Proteas are developing a world-class seam unit that will trouble any batsman in the world.
The emergence of Nortje, who recently took 22 wickets in his debut IPL campaign, has added some raw pace and a bit of fire to their bowling lineup.
That trio are ably backed up by the likes of Lutho Sipamla, Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks and debutant Glenton Stuurman, all of whom have performed well in domestic cricket.
If their pace attack strikes early and strikes regularly, then the Proteas will trouble England.
4. South Africa need batting boost
Their strong bowling attack will put South Africa in positions to win games, but questions remain over whether their batsmen can take advantage.
Captain Quinton de Kock and former skipper Faf du Plessis are proven performers at the very highest level, but inconsistency dogs the rest of their batting lineup.
Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma and Heinrich Klaasen have shown glimpses of their quality without really proving that they are undroppable at international level.
The hole left by AB de Villiers in the Proteas batting order is yet to be filled, and while Mr. 360 may yet return to the international fold, that is nowhere near a guarantee.
South Africa really need someone to step up in his place, and this series is the perfect opportunity.
5. Sam Curran set to star
Despite regularly making a big impact on matches, Sam Curran has been in an out of the England side since he made his debut in 2018.
He has featured most regularly in the Test team, playing 19 times, and has been selected for just five ODIs and five T20s.
That is surely set to change in the coming months after his starring performances for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, where Curran took 13 wickets and scored 186 runs.
A strong performance in an intra-squad warm-up match – hitting 45* from just 18 deliveries – proves that Curran is in irresistible form heading into this series.
He is surely a more attractive option than Moeen Ali at No.7, and could end up playing his way into the team ahead of the T20 World Cup next October.
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