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South Africa Vs England Preview
A brief South Africa vs England Preview that looks at the possible results of 2 Twenty20s, 5 ODIs, and 4 test matches. England’s tour of South Africa gets off to a strong start today in Johannesburg with the first of two T20 internationals. These are amuse bouche about before the trip hors d’oeuvre of the five international one-day series is the best course of the four Tests, which begins with the first Test in Centurion on 16 December.
Andrew Strauss’s side have a tough task in all three directions to defeat a strong South African team who are ranked No. 1 in the world, and who before their success in the Champions Trophy were also at the top of the ODI table. too. The test is an exciting prospect. Will England be able to bounce back from a lucky Ashes victory and repeat their 2004/05 top level success? Alas, the Test is still a long way off, so today’s focus is on previewing this part of the journey.
A sign of England’s slow pace in the T20s is that reports suggest they are anxiously waiting to see if Alastair Cook, who is suffering from a sore throat, will be able to take his place in the line-up today. In Cook’s case which international (or regional) side would be most worried if he is not in their T20 line-up? Chris Gayle, Graeme Smith or Virender Sehwag certainly, but not Cook. England have also been weakened by the absence of Kevin Pietersen, who is being kept out of the ODI series, and the shoulder injury of Stuart Broad, giving the side a chance to be led by Paul Collingwood in Strauss’s absence.
Fortunately, Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Graham Anyezi have all been declared fit after their injury concerns and should take their place in the XI. Onion impressed Mickey Arthur during the recent Champions Trophy match where the South African coach told The Wisden Cricketer that Onion “…is the equivalent of Harmison’s replacement”. On a whim, Arthur continued to say “Harmy would be few and far between and most of his fighters would be glad he wasn’t coming…”
With the need for early consolidation and the T20 World Cup looming this spring in the Caribbean, the T20 series is more important than ever. Assuming Cook is eligible to take his place at the top of the order with Joe Denly – not the two to take advantage of the ban for the first six games – England should be this way with the final decision. Adil Rashid or Tim Bresnan:
Cook, Denly, Jonathan Trott, Collingwood (C), Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Luke Wright, Rashid/Bresnan, Swann, Anderson and Onion.
In terms of predictions, one can look no further than a comfortable 2-0 win for the Proteas, who could forget that they were the most impressive team in the World T20 before entering the semi-final against Pakistan.
The Champions Trophy win against South Africa shows that England should have a better chance in the next ODI series. Of course the batting will be greatly boosted by the return of Strauss and Pietersen and hopefully Broad will return to strengthen the bowling and the side’s well being.
However, a warning may be required. South Africa can continue to underperform and sometimes choke in major ICC limited overs tournaments such as the World Cup and Champions Trophy, but they are an impressive team with an excellent record in one-day series especially at home. Although England’s 2004/05 Test winning team lost easily 4-1 to the Proteas in the one-day series following the Test; even three centuries after Pietersen. Any side that has Smith, Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy, AB De Villiers, Albie Morkel and Dale Steyn will be very difficult to beat on their own.
However, despite the Proteas’ clear dominance, England must strive to win the ODI tournament, even if they lose 3-2 or 4-1. Assuming Broad returns and England want to maintain some flexibility in their bowling line-up, the following line-up could be a strong one for Strauss and Andy Flower:
Strauss (C), Trott, Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan, Prior, Wright, Broad, Swann, Anderson and Onion.
This meant that Denly would have missed out unfortunately. On the other hand, if Strauss and Flower are comfortable with Collingwood as the fifth bowler, then Denly could go back to Wright.
The fun begins.
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