International Cricket – Can England Defeat South Africa Before the Champions Trophy Begins?
England’s ODI series against South Africa begins this week, giving both teams’ fans a final chance to see them in action before their ICC Champions Trophy campaigns commence. So how well have the two nations been performing in the run-up to the series and how significant will the results of these matches be?
England v. South Africa ODI Series – Can the Home Team Triumph?
Eoin Morgan’s men looked impressive in their ODI series against Ireland at the beginning of the month. They beat the visitors by seven wickets at Bristol’s Brightside Ground in the first of their two ties. The result was largely thanks to a superb performance by Adil Rashid, who bowled 5-27 from eight overs. Following the match, the team captain told the Guardian that it was “Adil’s day”.
“His was a magnificent effort after a tough winter,” he added. “He bowled with huge confidence using all his variations.”
Morgan’s side went on to cause additional heartache for the Irish fans by winning the second match at Lord’s, two days later. The star, on this occasion, was Joe Root, who made 73 off 73 deliveries and took three wickets to help the home team win by 85 runs.
The host nation’s coach, Trevor Bayliss, downplayed the victory, when he spoke to the BBC:
“We know we have sterner tests coming up” he said. “We can do no more than play and win well.”
There’s no doubt that England have been a team on the rise since they were dispatched from the group stages of Cricket World Cup by Bangladesh in 2015. However, despite having won seven out of their nine fixtures since then, they’ll face a tough challenge when they take on the South Africans.
Will South Africa Achieve Series Success?
The Proteas are currently top of the ICC’s Men’s ODI team rankings, while the English lie in fifth place; Australia, India and New Zealand separate the two. So far this year, the South African One Day International squad has beaten Sri Lanka in five out of five meetings, and won a five-match series against New Zealand by 3-2.
Like England, they’re one of the bookies’ picks to win the 2017 Champions Trophy tournament, which is being held in England and Wales from the 1st until the 18th of June. Therefore, they certainly won’t be easy to beat.
However, A.B de Villiers, the South African team captain, recently admitted that the way in which the English squad have fought back since their World Cup disappointment has been impressive.
“They are a really talented group of players – the way they came back from that earned a lot of respect around the world,” he told the BBC.
Talking about their opponents’ Champions Trophy prospects, he added:
“They must be one of the favourites, in their home country and playing some really good cricket of late.”
With the prestigious ODI tournament set to start just three days after the final match of the series, both teams will be keen to ensure that they head into the competition on a high. The boost of confidence gained from a series victory so close to the competition could help the English improve their chances of winning the famous cricket trophy for the first time ever – or enable the Proteas to clinch the title for the second time.
Which team do you think will win the series? Who will seize the silverware in June? Add a comment or let us know your opinion on Twitter or Facebook.