By News Team
2nd December 2020
After dominating the T20 section of the tour of South Africa, becoming the number one ranked side in the process, England now turn their attention to the fifty over format.
The South Africans looked rusty in the shortest format, with England’s dominant nine-wicket win in Tuesday’s final game wrapping up a 3-0 series victory.
We preview the upcoming ODI series as Eoin Morgan’s men look to build on their form and South Africa look to wrestle back the momentum.
Root to remind doubters of his quality
There are few questions for this fifty over side left to answer. If anything, Eoin Morgan is blessed with multiple options in his batting and bowling unit.
With the bat, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow are well established as one of the best opening pairs in the game, with lower order contributions from Morgan, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler also all but guaranteed. Although Stokes is rested for this series, perhaps the only spot really under question is Joe Root’s role at number three.
The issue is not with Root’s quality, that is without question, but whether England can squeeze another ‘gun’ batsman into their top six. The likes of Liam Livingstone, who is included in the squad, as well as Dawid Malan, Tom Banton and Alex Hales are all knocking on the door with their swashbuckling performances across the world.
Better than anyone though, Root’s natural tempo and ability to rotate the strike have so often been the foundation from which those ‘gun’ players have been able to build mammoth totals. In fact, only Morgan has ever scored more ODI runs for England than Root, with the Yorkshireman’s 50 over average of 50.4 far exceeding that of his colleagues.
England risk forcing Root into a Test match-only role at their peril. He may not be England’s most powerful batsman, but in form he’s definitely the most consistent and he could well remind everyone of his class by being top run scorer in a victory for the tourists in Friday’s opening game at 11/4.
Amongst the bowling ranks, opportunities to impress are a little more plentiful, especially with Jofra Archer and Sam Curran taking a well-earned break following their IPL exploits. The likes of Olly Stone will look to fill Archer’s sizeable shoes in the early overs, with Lewis Gregory looking to stake a claim for the bowling all-rounder role in the younger Curran’s absence.
Fit-again Mark Wood will likely step into the strike bowler role, with Adil Rashid to continue his holding role in the middle overs. Both are excellent shouts to be England’s top bowler in the opening game at 3/1.
Du Plessis to shine for South Africa?
Despite having not played an ODI game since their 3-0 series victory over Australia in March, that performance will give South Africa some confidence going into the series.
The addition of David Miller will give their batting line-up a bit more depth than in the T20 series and he should be able to provide middle-order support to the in-form Faf du Plessis. The former skipper hit four 50s at an average of 40 during the IPL season, and followed that up with two 50s in the T20 series. He’s currently 11/4 to be the hosts’ leading scorer in the opening match of the ODI series.
Rassie van der Dussen also impressed in the T20 series, particularly with some of his ball-striking in the third game. Alongside Du Plessis, he blasted 74 off just 32 balls in a 128-run partnership. If he can roll that form into the ODI series, he will be a dangerman in the lower-middle order and is currently a 9/2 shot to be top South African batsman in the opening game.
With the ball, the Proteas will be without their main man Kagiso Rabada after he picked up a groin injury in the T20 series. This will heap a lot of pressure on Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi to fill his shoes. Ngidi especially impressed during the last ODI series between the two sides, with his 3-63 in the final game his standout performance, and he’s now 3/1 to be South Africa’s top bowler in the first ODI game.