South Africa vs England: ODI series

Tomorrow, there begins 7 matches – five ODIs and two T20s – against South Africa to finish off the tour.  As is usually the case when these take place after the Test series, there’s a sense of it being a winding down of the trip, as though they were tacked on the end.  Indeed, the Guardian’s preview of the series is entirely with reference to the Test team and what it might mean for that.  Yet, in a month, the World T20 begins, and this series carries far more relevance to that than anything else, particularly for an England team that ought to be in with a shout of doing well in it.

The 50 over game may not be directly translatable, but there are enough similarities for it to be a decent pointer to how the team approaches the one format where England have ever won a global title.  Jason Roy has picked up a back spasm on the eve of play, but assuming he is fit, then the batting line up offers quite some potency all the way down the order.  Whether they come off against a South African team that will pose a stiff challenge is another matter, for while England performed well in the UAE, there’s no sense that it is a settled side.

The core of the team is clearly Stokes and Root in terms of the batting, with the captain Eoin Morgan providing the solidity to the middle order that is now so critical.  Certainly there’s no doubt that shot making is this side’s strength, for of the probable side they bat right the way down to 9 or 10, every one of whom can put bat to ball to explosive effect.

Yet it’s equally true that there’s a brittleness about the line up, with limited experience and form which is essentially unknown.  It makes calling the likely outcome of the series rather difficult, for while England’s approach has been excellent, it’s an open debate as to how much quality is there.

The T20 squad is announced soon, and the 50 over format will be deemed an audition for that.  The notable absentee from the initial squad who could play is Stuart Broad, and while there is logic in managing his workload, it raises the question as to whether he is in their plans at all.  He has been called up as a replacement for Liam Plunkett, but he’s not expected to play the first game at least.

Of course, as far as that tournament is concerned, the spectre of Kevin Pietersen looms large.  The ECB will certainly be hoping that these matches go well, for a hammering will put pressure on them once again.  And so there should be, Pietersen has been a star in the T20 format this winter, and there is simply no getting away from the reality that England would be a stronger side with him than without.  If the ECB were clever, they would select him – and since the exclusion wasn’t on cricketing grounds, the reason it would be clever would also not be on cricketing grounds.  For the Pietersen issue has festered for two years precisely because of the duplicity and ineptitude of the ECB.  Bringing him back for the World T20, in a squad where there are no past issues to be managed, would strengthen the side in a cricketing sense yes, but would also allow a closing of the circle.

Pietersen is highly unlikely to play any more red ball cricket, but making use of his undoubtedly exceptional abilities in T20 would end much of the rancour at a stroke, and allow him to depart the stage with his head held high, and with the bitterness at least partly diffused.  The problem is that the ECB are simply not that clever.  And they almost certainly won’t do it.

And so it is this group of players in the 50 over matches, plus Sam Billings who will probably go into that competition.  Young, unquestionably exciting, and with bags of potential.  Yet with a major challenge ahead of them to win this series, against a very strong side.


57 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: ODI series

  1. Mark February 2, 2016 / 8:59 pm

    KP is not going to come back because of the ECBs stupidity?

    On the contrary, they want to avoid their own nightmare scenario. KP returns, does well, England win the World Cup, and the young players get on, and mix with KP. At a stroke showing up Strauss, and Cook as killjoys.

    You think they are going to take that risk? No way. It would mean everything they have said for 2 years would be proved to be bullshit. In addition Strauss would have the entire media numptys on his back.

    The one good thing about the ODI scene is at least it’s a Cook free zone. So the awfull, crushing dead weight of his presence is removed. The media can judge on merrit and not on agenda. Which will make a refreshing change!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. d'Arthez February 3, 2016 / 6:00 am

    Meanwhile Australia seem set to lose an ODI by 200 runs or so. 41/6 after 9 overs chasing 309. Oh, and they won the toss and chose to field – so the toss can’t be used as an explanation or excuse. Maybe the lower order (Wade, Faulkner, Hastings, Richardson, Hazlewood) can give a bit of respectability to the score, but as a contest it seems pretty dead now.


    • SimonH February 3, 2016 / 9:19 am

      There’s a mention on the Guardian match thread that the game wasn’t shown on Australian TV. More info anyone?


      • dlpthomas February 3, 2016 / 9:32 am

        It was on Foxtel. I don’t think it was on free to air.


      • SimonH February 3, 2016 / 9:42 am

        Thanks. Is this usual for Australia’s away matches? Any idea roughly how much Foxtel costs? Any FTA highlights?

        Liked by 1 person

      • mdpayne87 February 3, 2016 / 10:30 am

        I think a basic Foxtel sports package is about $50 a month. As for highlights, there are brief ones on the website.


      • dlpthomas February 3, 2016 / 10:37 am

        Most, if not all, Australian tours are shown on Foxtel but only tours of England are shown on free to air TV. (at least, I can’t remember when any other tour was shown on free to air)


  3. "IronBalls" McGinty February 3, 2016 / 10:37 am

    I’ve got the gut feeling that this ODI series could be a classic. I’m really looking forward to it!….I haven’t said that for a long while !!!


  4. d'Arthez February 3, 2016 / 11:54 am

    I won’t bother asking in which universe Chris Morris is an opening bowler in ODIs. It is clear that I do not live in the same universe as the South African selectors.


    • d'Arthez February 3, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      Maybe they will find out after today’s game that having two frontline bowlers (Morkel, Tahir), and 3 fifth bowlers (Duminy, Morris, Behardien), coupled with someone who had not played an ODI for a year (de Lange) might not be the best idea.

      Duminy to Buttler. 9 balls, 3 sixes, 2 fours, a single, and 3 dots. Yeah, that is real containment, South Africa selectors (figures up to the 40th over of the innings). They might accidentally get the idea that, you know, picking actual frontline bowlers might help the cause a bit. Then again, I am not counting on that. If there is an idiotic decision to be made, the selectors will find their way to ensure that they’ll make it.

      Great play by England, but if this is the best South Africa can field, they might as well voluntarily suspend their ODI and Test status.


  5. Rooto February 3, 2016 / 12:05 pm

    Could someone pass Simon Hughes a note, telling him to leave the analysing to the man alongside him, and actually do his own job of telling the listeners what the fuck’s happening?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright February 3, 2016 / 12:24 pm

      What, the Hughes who prattled on to listeners about Cook’s exemplary politeness and how he allows people to cross the boundary rope first, while in the actual ODI against Sri Lanka Cook faced eight consecutive balls for two runs? That Hughes?

      He’d just ignore the note anyway.


      • Escort February 3, 2016 / 1:09 pm

        Eight consecutive balls for two runs???? Great batting by a great man obviously 😉


    • thebogfather February 3, 2016 / 12:44 pm

      Oh dear it’s Ebony RB on TMS now, she of the forced laughter before or after nearly every comment, and inane player-speak non information… worst ever TMS summariser


      • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 2:05 pm

        At least its not FICJAM


  6. pktroll (@pktroll) February 3, 2016 / 1:34 pm

    217-2 pff 28 overs so far. Yet it almost feels that they’ve lost momentum since Hales got out.


  7. pktroll (@pktroll) February 3, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    And after Root went, Morgan has gone after a brief cameo. I think circa 370 is on but I wouldn’t put it past England to collapse.


    • d'Arthez February 3, 2016 / 2:30 pm

      In what universe can a combination of Behardien, Duminy and Morris contain?


  8. Sherwick February 3, 2016 / 2:38 pm

    Great 100! 🙂


  9. Ian February 3, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    Highest away ODI score for England now


  10. Alec February 3, 2016 / 2:56 pm

    Anyone else miss the old England way of doing things?

    This time last year, when England were batting I could wander off, do some work, have a spot of lunch, call some friends, work on translating some Tolstoy into ancient Sumerian and then when I got back they would be much where I left them. Now, unless I’m actively paying attention then I can miss 20 or 30 runs in the time it takes to work out which of our abundant printers and copiers is making the incessant beeping noise.

    Yes, England are liable to win a few more matches but if I wanted to be a fan of a team that was liable to win then I’d watch classic Australian innings on YouTube.


    • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 3:12 pm

      Bring back Cook and Moores!!! 😉


  11. Ian February 3, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Infuriating that this approach wasn’t taken a lot sooner when we could have been playing like this for longer than just the last 9 months


    • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 3:21 pm

      Well most people on here have telling them since 2014


  12. Sherwick February 3, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    The questions are:
    1. Why didn’t we have this approach before?
    2. Why did we suddenly change and start batting like this, i.e. what was the catalyst?


    • "IronBalls" McGinty February 3, 2016 / 3:39 pm

      1) Because Captain Darling and Moores were in charge
      2) Because Captain Darling and Moores were sacked!


      • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 3:41 pm

        Exactly what I was going to put, you just beat me to it Ironballs


      • Sherwick February 3, 2016 / 3:56 pm

        To be honest, I would much prefer Tim McInnerny’s snivelling Captain Darling, and indeed his feeble & pathetic Lord Percy, to Cook as Captain.


      • Ian February 3, 2016 / 4:01 pm

        Giles Clarke would be a good General Melchett


      • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 4:22 pm

        Downton as Baldrick. Oh God this is frightening!


      • northernlight71 February 3, 2016 / 6:22 pm

        But who could be Speckled Jim? Allen Stanford? David Collier?

        Alistair Cook perhaps?


    • Mark February 3, 2016 / 4:52 pm

      It beggars belief doesn’t it?

      The idea we had a laptop score of 230 to aim for,and a ‘hope for the best’ mentality is like moving from the Bronze Age to the Jet Age.

      It’s all vey well the ECB patting themselves on the back, but they were employing a set of people on very big contracts to serve up the dogs vomit we were getting before. Of course you can’t expect scores of 400 every time, and the SA bowling attack is not top notch. However, England should be looking to score par totals of 280- 325 most of the time now.

      It’s a team you want to like and follow. I wonder if Mr Cook would like to offer an apology for his petulant remarks about Morgan being the wrong choice as captain with the benefit of hindsight.

      Well Mr Cook, I Didnt need the benefit of hindsight to know you should never have been ODI captain in the first place. A shocking appointment.


    • Escort February 3, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      Perhaps somebody like Simon Huhges could write something on the subject for his cricket publication?


  13. SteveT February 3, 2016 / 3:57 pm

    Amla gone, played on, WIlley the bowler. Great start.


  14. SteveT February 3, 2016 / 4:43 pm

    Faf and de Kock giving it some tap at the moment (97-1 in the 13th) . A few more overs of this and it’s game on


  15. rpoultz February 3, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    Simon Hughes in a nutshell on that LBW review –

    On FAF being given out –

    “I reckon he’s out.”

    After it was overturned –

    “In a way, it’s slightly surprising he took so long to review out, given how much it turned.”

    The bloke is a complete muppet!!


    • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      Had a little snigger to myself I must admit. He’s also been on his high horse about Mankadding as well (he hates that sort of thing)


      • Mark February 3, 2016 / 5:21 pm

        But it’s in the rules Mr Anyalist. It is astonishing how may of these so called cricket experts don’t know the rules. Why don’t they campaign to have the rule changed if they don’t like it?

        I think you could see more of it in ODI cricket with batsman trying to steal quick runs. I hate this woolly concept of the spirit of cricket. It’s like when a fielder throws at the stumps, and it misses, but hits the batsmans pads and flys off to third man. There is nothing to say you can’t run. It has become a sort of spirit of cricket by default.

        One day in a World Cup semi final someone is going to run the extra runs to win a big game.,and all the cake munchers will come out to say how terrible it is. Yet these people have no problem with players strutting around calling everyone a c***. Strange people!


      • Rpoultz February 3, 2016 / 6:04 pm

        The sprit of cricket doesn’t exist at the level I play. So I cannot see why it would excused at top level international cricket. Just something for people to moan about and get morally outraged for like the Chris gayle incident. I’ve said and a few others have said there is so much other shit stuff in cricket to get pissed of about than something that has taken place within the rules. Problem is because tits like Hughes and selvey spout their brand of filth to the masses on their platforms people just concentrate on trivial issues such as mankad rather than things that could see the end of counties playing cricket, you know important stuff.

        I made that point to someone who was complaining about yesterday’s mankad. I said just enjoy it it will be on of the last times you see Zimbabwe vs West Indies in an under 19s match. This person didn’t care and kicked off some more about the mankad. Just feel this is the general nature of most cricket followers which is truly a sad thing


    • SteveT February 3, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      There’s a storm brewing, need to get them overs in to get up to 20, we’re ahead on D/L


      • Sherwick February 3, 2016 / 5:14 pm

        Don’t tell me. South Africa need 22 runs off 1 ball again?


      • Escort February 3, 2016 / 5:40 pm

        The 22 runs off 1 ball was just reward for cynical gamesmanship in England’s batting innings wasn’t it?


      • Sherwick February 3, 2016 / 6:05 pm

        Spirit of the game etc.


  16. d'Arthez February 3, 2016 / 7:27 pm

    Well, England are set to win on Duckworth / Lewis, unless the rains abate. That seems unlikely.

    Though the difference in scores at this juncture (246/3, vs. 250/5) is not that big – especially with some teams batting all the way to #10. So, what was the point in picking two allrounders, if they can’t get a bat – teams fielding allrounders instead of specialists are penalised on D/L, since D/L makes a boatload of assumptions on batting qualities of batsmen who have not had a bat … So, whether it was a bowler with the batting qualities of Chris Martin or Kallis (or say a Faulkner / Morris / Moeen / – it is all the same.

    Well deserved win it would be for England. I won’t repeat myself on the shambolic selections that South Africa have made. And will probably continue to make.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) February 4, 2016 / 8:35 am

      If SAs selection follow a similar pattern to the tests, they’ll probably get the balance right near the end of the series and it will all be too late.


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