England make the trip to South Africa for a limited overs series later this month and the contest will pit two of the world’s most exciting teams against each other.
England have been the busiest team since cricket made its return following the COVID-19 lockdown, hosting the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia in quick succession. They will now head to South Africa for the second time this year, and will go up against the Proteas in a series that will see the two sides play 3T20s and 3ODIs. The tour will begin with two intra-squad tour matches for England, before the T20 series begins on November 27. An ODI series will then follow, with the games scheduled for December 04, 06 and 09. All matches will be played in Cape Town and Paarl.
This will be the second time England and South Africa go up against each other this year. England toured the rainbow nation from late December to February, and tasted a comprehensive 3-1 win in the Test series. The two teams drew the ODI series 1-1, but England once again came from behind to win the T20s 2-1.
The 2019 World Cup winners will also go into this series as heavy favourites, owing to their excellent all-round quality, strength in depth and more recent match practice. South Africa haven’t played since March and could be a bit rusty as a result. Although a number of their key players have been playing in the IPL, and have been some of the tournament’s best performers. Cricket South Africa is also going through a bit of a turmoil at the moment, after all its board members stepped down last month. But the players will be aiming to ensure that events off the pitch don’t affect performances on it.
England haven’t released their squad yet, but they could look to rest a few key players who were heavily involved over the Test summer, and then left to play in the IPL immediately after. Although the likes of Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Joe Root and Jofra Archer will almost certainly be involved. While South Africa’s form of the last 18 months makes for grim reading, England certainly cannot afford to take them lightly.
The Proteas enjoyed a 3-0 whitewash against Australia just before lockdown, thrashing their star-studded lineup with relative ease. They have a very balanced team, led by star batsman and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. But their biggest strength is undoubtedly their bowling unit, which features leading IPL wicket taker Kagiso Rabada, the menacing Lungi Ngidi, and the lightning-quick Anrich Nortje. Add all-rounders Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj to the mix, and South Africa have one of the most destructive bowling attacks in cricket.
England have a star-studded batting line-up that is capable of taking the fight to any bowling attack in the world. And their bowlers will certainly look to exploit the few weaknesses that exist in South Africa’s rather inexperienced batting line-up. Series in South Africa always tend to be feisty affairs, and this one has all the ingredients to be another thrilling contest, even without fans present.
Players to Watch
Anrich Nortje announced himself to the world during South Africa’s series against England last summer. The electrifying pacer burst on to the scene and quickly established himself in both the test and limited overs set-up for his country. Nortje averages 20.21 with the ball in one-day cricket, and his snorting deliveries saw him get the better of world-class batsmen like David Warner, Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne during South Africa’s last white-ball assignment. He has taken 16 wickets in this edition of the IPL so far at an economy rate of 7.94. His performances in the IPL have shown that he is the real deal. And South Africa can expect another exhibition of deadly pace bowling from the 26 year old against England.
Billings goes into the series as one of England’s most in-form batsmen. The aggressive batsman scored a fighting (and nearly match-winning) hundred against Australia in the first ODI of the three match series in September. And he followed that up with a hard-fought 50 with his side in deep trouble when he arrived at the crease. The 29 year old has scored 315 runs in his last six innings, with only Jonny Bairstow getting more runs for England over the last 12 months.
England are spoilt for choice when it comes to batting options, and despite his excellent form, Billings may find opportunities hard to come by if he fails to impress against South Africa. But a good series with the bat will go a long way in helping him cement his spot in the team going into next year’s T20 World Cup.
Dawid Malan’s performances over the last 12 months may have helped him become the number one ranked T20 batsman, but he still remains on the periphery of the England set-up. The 33 year old has been limited to just 16 T20s and 1 ODI, and the South Africa series could well be the final chance to stake a claim to be in selection contention for the upcoming T20 World Cup, as well as the 2023 ODI World Cup. This will be a big series for him if he gets selected, and he will be determined to make a big impact.
Malan averages an incredible 48.71 in T20 cricket, and has a strike rate of 146.66. And his power hitting at the top of the order will certainly be a useful weapon for England at the smaller grounds in South Africa.
England Full Touring Squad
Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood, Lewis Gregory, Liam Livingstone, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, Chris Woakes.
Jake Ball, Tom Banton, Tom Helm.
Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Ben Stokes have been rested for the three-match ODI series and will return home after the IT20 series.
South Africa IT20 Squad
Quinton de Kock (C), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Jon-Jon Smuts, Glenton Stuurman, Pite van Biljon, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne
Monday 16 November: Touring party departs from London to Cape Town
Saturday 21 November: 50-over intra-squad practice match. Newlands, Cape Town.
Monday 23 November: Two T20 intra-squad practice matches. Boland Park, Paarl.
Friday 27 November: 1st IT20 South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town
Sunday 29 November: 2nd IT20 South Africa v England, Boland Park, Paarl
Tuesday 1 December: 3rd IT20 South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town
Friday 4 December: 1st ODI South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town
Sunday 6 December: 2nd ODI South Africa v England, Boland Park, Cape Town
Wednesday 9 December: 3rd ODI South Africa v England, Newlands, Cape Town
Thursday 10 December: Touring party departs from Cape Town to London