Eyes on the skies as South Africa aim to keep England at bay

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After the dampest of squibs in Durban, the three-match series concludes at the Wanderers, a ground known for its fireworks. But with another poor forecast for Sunday’s pink ODI – normally a vibrant affair in support of breast cancer awareness – there is unfortunately every chance of this contest fizzling out to an unsatisfactory end.

The Kingsmead washout left South Africa sitting on the 1-0 lead they carved out in Cape Town, and means that Quinton de Kock will start his tenure as ODI captain with either a win or a draw against Eoin Morgan’s world champions. England haven’t been beaten in a multi-match bilateral series since the India tour of 2016-17, so the tourists will be hopeful of getting a game in between the thunder-showers up on the Highveld.

That said, Morgan stressed after the abandonment on Friday that this series is “not about immediate results” for England, with priority given to handing experience to the young players in their party. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have sat on the sidelines so far, with Matt Parkinson entrusted as the frontline spinner, while up-and-comers such as Tom Banton, Sam Curran and, ahem, Joe Denly push their cases for middle-order/allrounder spots.

The T20 World Cup in Australia later this year looms as the white-ball focal point for 2020, and that places greater emphasis on the three T20Is to come next week. For that reason alone, Morgan said, Moeen and Rashid could come into the XI in order to give them game time (both last played competitively at the Abu Dhabi T10 in November).

After defeat in the Test, not to mention the disappointment of last year’s World Cup, holding off England in the ODIs would provide a timely lift for South Africa. They have Dale Steyn back for the T20Is, when de Kock will continue as Faf du Plessis’ stand-in as captain, and will hope for more encouraging signs from the likes of Temba Bavuma, Jon-Jon Smuts and Tabraiz Shamsi in Johannesburg. So long as the weather plays ball.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa WWWLL
England LT*WWW

In the spotlight

He looked good in between the showers in the second ODI, and Reeza Hendricks would doubtless love another chance to impress his credentials as the heir apparent to Hashim Amla at the top of the order. A century on ODI debut against Sri Lanka in 2018 was followed by a stop-start run of form and omission from the World Cup squad. With Bavuma and the uncapped Janneman Malan also options at opener, and the potential for du Plessis to return at some point, Hendricks will be hoping to nail down his spot alongside de Kock.

With England having moved on from Liam Plunkett after the World Cup, they are in need of a middle-overs partnership-breaker. Could Tom Curran be that man? He has most often been used at first or second change during his 19-ODI career, but the majority of his wickets have come during the death overs, when his variations (and chutzpah) come to the fore. A canny competitor, in good form after his time with Sydney Sixers at the Big Bash, he is a good bet to make his mark at some stage in South Africa.

Team news

Lungi Ngidi sat out the Durban “game” as he continued a staged comeback from recent injury – although his replacement, Bjorn Fortuin, didn’t see much more action himself on debut. Ngidi reclaiming his place at the Wanderers is perhaps the only likely change.

South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (capt, wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Temba Bavuma, 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Jon-Jon Smuts, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Beuran Hendricks, 9 Lutho Sipamla, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Lungi Ngidi

Given the stated aims for this series, England must weigh up the benefits of bringing back a couple of senior players ahead of the T20Is. Tom Banton has only had one opportunity with the bat so far, and isn’t part of the T20I squad, so seems likely to keep his place, while in the spirit of fact-finding there could be a debut for Saqib Mahmood. Moeen, Rashid and Dawid Malan all wait in the wings.

England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Denly/Moeen Ali, 6 Tom Banton, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Tom Curran, 10 Saqib Mahmood, 11 Matt Parkinson/Adil Rashid.

Pitch and conditions

The ball flies at the Bullring, venue for the highest-scoring ODI in history, and this game has been sold out since the Test there a couple of weeks ago. However, the weather looks pretty ordinary, with a high chance of rain throughout the day, as well as the usual Highveld thunderstorms. Expect Duckworth-Lewis-Stern charts to be at the ready.

Stats and trivia

  • Five of the last six ODIs at the Wanderers have been won by the chasing team, including South Africa’s one-wicket win over England in 2015-16.

  • No South African has scored more than de Kock’s three ODI hundreds against England.

  • If Rashid is included, he will win his 100th ODI cap.

  • England, who share a kit manufacturer with South Africa, will also sport pink in Johannesburg, with their World Cup jerseys given a fuchsia refit.


“It’s a big day for the team. It’s one of the days we look forward to at this time of the year. Obviously, we are representing quite a big thing and we’re excited to get out there and do our bit. Everybody is going to dress up in pink, guys bat stickers are going to be pink and it’s going to be an awesome day.”
Quinton de Kock is up for pink day at the Wanderers, whatever the weather

“Yes, we want to win, but we also want to know a lot more about other guys come the end of the tour, with a longer-term plan in place.”
Eoin Morgan on the thinking behind England’s selection so far