By Neil Leverett
- South Africa face England in the first ODI of a three-match series on Tuesday at Newlands, Cape Town
- After Test series win, World champion tourists look to flex muscles in shorter 50-over game
- Proteas begin potential new era under Quinton de Kock, with Faf du Plessis handing over captaincy reins
NEWLANDS, CAPE TOWN – As England lock horns with South Africa in the first ODI on Tuesday, can the tourists carry on their Test series momentum and complete a tour clean sweep?
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Tourists seek tour monopoly
After completing a 3-1 series defeat of South Africa, England will look to continue their momentum over the shorter form of the game, as Eoin Morgan‘s World champions travel to Newlands for the first ODI on Tuesday in Cape Town.
Sharing the spoils in a 2-2 T20 series draw with New Zealand in the Autumn, this will present the tourists’ first chance to boast their tag as the best in the world in the One Day form of the game, just under seven months on from their Lords heroics against the Black Caps.
Winning three Tests back-to-back against the Proteas last month, the chance to complete a tour whitewash in all forms of the game is now dangled before England, as they begin a new four-year arc with the goal of defending the World Cup in India in three year’s time.
With the Proteas themselves keen to avenge their loss and re-build after being outclassed, outfought and outplayed in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, the return to Newlands here presents the South Africans themselves with the chance to turn a corner.
World champions’ chance to shine
As Root hands over the captaincy baton to Morgan for his leg of the tour, England will compete in their first 50-over match since July last summer at Lords, when the country and indeed the sporting world were brought to a standstill in spectacular fashion.
With memories of the Irishman lifting the World Cup trophy over his head, the Middlesex man leads his charges into a new era, with a plethora of new faces queuing up to impress for the tourists.
So much so in fact, that Morgan is faced with balancing his side out ahead of the three games within the space of a week – albeit against a Proteas side that failed to progress from the Group stages in England last year.
So where might the changes come in? Jason Roy remains the golden boy of England’s top order and the Surrey man hit a typically explosive ton against a South African Invitational XI in Paarl only days ago. As did Jonny Bairstow, who despite his rather failing position in the Test game remains one of the most brutal hitters in world cricket at ODI level.
With Root and Morgan also making up the open to middle order – but with Ben Stokes afforded time off – could that prompt Tom Banton into a place in England’s XI at Newlands?
Having risen to prominence with a number of swashbuckling showings for the Brisbane Heat during this winter’s Big Bash in Australia, the 21-year-old Somerset wicket-keeper is set for his debut in the IPL in the spring, but beforehand could impress in the Southern hemisphere for his country.
Moeen Ali‘s all-round status may prevent that, however after being phased out during not only this series but during England final games in the World Cup, does the right-arm spinner still have a berth to count on? Joe Denly would be the other consideration, but with chances beginning to dwindle for the Kent batsman, is Banton simply the better option?
With the ball, Chris Woakes looks set to be the tourists’ main threat with the Kookaburra in the absence of the injured Jofra Archer, backed up by the likely figure of Chris Jordan and one or both of Sam Curran and Tom Curran. Adil Rashid should also be drafted in on what could a be a turning deck in the shadow of Table Mountain, although Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson is an added alternative for Morgan to ponder.
De Kock leads Proteas into new era
For the hosts meanwhile, the re-building process starts here after seeing Faf du Plessis lead the Proteas for possibly the final time in his career – not to mention the chance of the 35-year-old’s retirement from the game not being far off.
The first outing of which begins in the sternest of fashion against a buoyant opponent, now looking to put the stamp on an excellent series. However under the leadership of Quinton de Kock, South Africa are in good hands to right the ship.
With David Miller the favourite to open the batting, the 30-year-old is at somewhat of a crossroads in his career and needs a big performance against the tourists. Rassie van der Dussen was one of the rare silver linings of the Proteas’ three-match capitulation, and in a form that arguably suits him more could play a big role at number four. As is the case for Temba Bavuma who played in the fourth Test at the Wanderers.
As Kagiso Rabada sits this match out, the return of Lungi Ngidi is vital and at times showed glimpses of his potential in white ball cricket during the World Cup. Beuran Hendricks who was also part of South Africa’s radical squad shift in Jo’burg and will carry a sizeable burden to prevent another English batting rampage.
De Kock would probably be philosophical bout the chances of his side at Newlands, however the first cut is the deepest and the newly-crowned skipper will want to see a shift in efforts and mindset in Cape Town.
South Africa face England in the first of a three-match ODI series on Tuesday at Newlands, Cape Town.
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