South Africa v England, 7th ODI, Centurion February 12, 2005

Last act in a compressed carnival of crcket

Ian Bell: time for an opportunity up the order? © Getty Images

After the Durban drizzle decided the series - it's still 3-1 to South Africa with just one to play - the final match at Centurion won't quite be the nailbiting occasion the marketing men would have hoped for. Instead, assuming the fickle weather holds off, it will be an entertaining end to a compressed carnival of cricket.

No tour has ever had an itinerary quite like it: since the five-Test series started the only non-international game was a one-day warm-up for the seven-match ODI series. Marcus Trescothick has played in every match of te tour, and although he probably wants to hang on to that record he has looked increasingly tired in the last couple of matches, and may be given an overdue break.

England have persisted with Geraint Jones as a pinch-hitting opener, and although the experiment hasn't been an abject failure the feeling remains that he is a better bet as a perky presence down the order. He also disrupts a top order packed with people used to opening - Vikram Solanki and Andrew Strauss, as well as Michael Vaughan - and also pushes Ian Bell down (when he plays) to No. 7, behind the find of the series, Kevin Pietersen. It's time for Bell to be given a chance to show what he can do.

And, with the series decided, there might be an outing for that loyal drinks-waiter Gareth Batty, and a recall for the former golden boy James Anderson.

Similar thoughts will be going through the minds of the South African selectors. Will Adam Bacher be given another - and surely last - chance? Or does the precocious AB de Villiers come back in on his home ground, where he collected 92 and 109 in a final Test that seems an awfully long time ago now.

South Africa's bowlers have done a sterling job, but Nicky Boje is likely to return at Centurion, to give the spin option that Graeme Smith might well have missed if the rains had held off at Durban.

There's not much previous history to go on. England and South Africa have only played one previous ODI at SuperSport Park, back in 1995-96. South Africa won that one, overhauling a decent England total of 272 with two overs to spare, mainly thanks to an opening stand of 156 between Gary Kirsten (116) and Andrew Hudson (72). Three of the survivors of that match are likely to play again here: Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis (who was in at the end of that first game nine years ago) for South Africa, and the seemingly ageless Darren Gough, who has been easily the most impressive of England's faster bowlers in this series. Gough, however, is in some doubt after reporting slight breathing difficulties when he woke up on Saturday.

South Africa (from) Graeme Smith (capt), Adam Bacher, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp, Jacques Rudolph, Nicky Boje, Mark Boucher (wk), Andrew Hall, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel.

England (from) Marcus Trescothick, Geraint Jones (wk), Vikram Solanki, Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan (capt), Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Ashley Giles, Kabir Ali, Gareth Batty, Alex Wharf, Darren Gough, Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, James Anderson.