England v South Africa, 1st NatWest ODI, Cardiff August 23, 2012

Another No.1 battle commences


Match Facts

August 24, Cardiff
Start time 10.15am (0915GMT)

The Big Picture

International cricket does not stand still. Four days after the Test mace changed hands the contest now turns to 50-over cricket and, again, the top prize is on offer. England are now ranked No. 1 in ODIs, but will lose that ranking after just one match if they are defeated in this opening game in Cardiff. Top in any format is like a hot potato at the moment.

England have been on a fantastic run in one-dayers this year, beginning with a 4-0 whitewash against Pakistan before beating West Indies 2-0 and another 4-0 against Australia. Alastair Cook is moulding the side under his style, and further pushing his claim to be England's Test captain sooner rather than later, and his leadership is gaining in confidence all the time.

As a batsman, too, he is leading from the front which is where Andrew Strauss has struggled in Tests. Back-to-back hundreds against Pakistan were followed by another against West Indies and useful contributions elsewhere. Ian Bell, meanwhile, has proven a more-than-able replacement for Kevin Pietersen.

It is often quite hard to know how the post-Test series one-dayers will develop, especially when one side, in this case South Africa, have achieved something so momentous. The Test players would have dearly liked more time to soak in their success and it would be understandable if minds were elsewhere. However, AB de Villiers, who captains the limited-overs team, will be keen that his squad sees this as a new challenge.

Form guide

(Most recent first, completed matches)

England WWWWW
South Africa WWWLL

Watch out for...

Matt Prior could not have done much more to stake his claim for a limited-overs recall with his recent performances for England and Sussex but, for now, Craig Kieswetter retains his place as the gloveman and middle-order batsman. Kieswetter has done nothing wrong since the one-dayers against Australia, so it would have been mighty tough to drop him, and he scored a hundred for England Lions against Australia A. But, despite a couple of handy innings, he is still to fully convince in his new role although his keeping is much more consistent.

He spent quite a bit of the Test series prowling the covers but now we will get a chance to see all the sides of Faf du Plessis. He is a dynamic cricketer, whether with the bat or in the field, while his rolling legspin can be a useful addition if de Villiers needs to fill in some overs. He had a successful IPL opening the batting, but will probably be used in the middle order in the longer format. Those who have watched him in county cricket for Lancashire will know how destructive he can be.

Team news

Ravi Bopara is back in the England set-up after his personal problems and is likely to retain the No. 4 slot after his successful series against Australia despite his lack of recent time in the middle. His bowling brings added value. Earlier in the summer Cook was keen to play frontline bowlers wherever possible, but the absence of Stuart Broad may lead to a rethink and a role for Samit Patel.

England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn

Jacques Kallis has been rested for this series ahead of the World Twenty20, while there is no Vernon Philander in 50-over cricket, and a number of one-day specialists have been drafted into the squad, after preparing with South Africa A in Ireland, although the core group of players remains the same. Albie Morkel suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury against Gloucestershire although did bat later in the game.

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Dean Elgar, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Robin Petersen, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Pitch and conditions

Pitches in Cardiff tend to be on the slow side and can help the spinners, but the short straight boundaries also encourage big hitting as Virat Kohli and Jonny Bairstow showed last year. The weather forecast is not great, with the chance of some rain during the day.

Stats and trivia

  • In 2008, after South Africa won the Test series 2-1, England took the one-day leg of the tour 4-0. The final match, at Cardiff, was washed out after three overs.

  • If South Africa win this match they will become the first team to hold the No. 1 position in all three formats

  • Graeme Swann needs four wickets to reach 100 in ODIs

  • South Africa have not played an ODI since March 3 when they completed a 3-0 series win against New Zealand


"For me personally it's obviously a sad situation but as a side we need to put it to one side. We played some really good cricket at Lord's even though we didn't get the result; and to be fair he hasn't been around the one-day squad for a while."
Alastair Cook does not what to be distracted by the ongoing off-field issues

"We want to play attacking, good cricket. I'd like to think of us as a team that has done fairly well under pressure so when we are put under pressure this series we will be looking to attack that's for sure."
AB de Villiers says that South Africa will play bold cricket

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on August 24, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    @daddapc on (August 24 2012, 09:01 AM GMT) I'm not sure how they work it out. As I said before , I'm not sure how we are down as the ICC number 1 ODI side but then again I don't know how we are suddenly dislodged from our T20 number 1 position either. I'd say Australia deserve the number 1 position still as up to the defeat to England I think they were unbeaten for aquite a while. I've not done the stats but I wonder how other ODI sides away records look and how their home records look too.

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @JG: absolutely. We're top-heavy with accumulators in the top four. What marks out Trott from the other three, however, is that he seems totally unable (or, perhaps, unwilling) to accelerate. By his own admission, he bats within a Boycott-like bubble: while, for obvious reasons, this is very rarely a problem in Tests (in fact, more often than not it's a virtue), in ODIs it often defines the difference between winning & losing.

  • John on August 24, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    @Si Baker on (August 24 2012, 08:34 AM GMT) We think too much alike. I said Jonny or Jos for Trott. Trott seemed to have slowed in the last ODI series and one thing I noticed about Jonny (in the tests) which also applies to Jos is that he is not only a decent hitter but also a far better runner than Trott - plus they are both better in the field.

  • Allan on August 24, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    As an England fan I must say I don't think many of us really believe we are no.1 but then whoa re no.1 other than SA? We just tonked Australia and Pakistan. India couldn't make the finals of the CB trophy with Aus and SL and got whitewashed by England at home last year, although they returned the favour at home which is why England fans probably doubt their own worthiness. All that said I think it means that these are the top two teams because no one else is actually doing very good. So England are top two by default.

    I think England play a batsman light, they need someone who can bowl like Colly used to and bat in the top 6, otherwise they play five bowlers and hope the batsmen keep it going. I guess if KP comes back then Bopara and KP can take care of the fifth bowler duties. Patel is unlucky but should play a part during the series. Surprised they couldn't fit Bairstow in today but again he will come in as well.

    Funniest comment of the day award goes to #AnujKu.

  • Goddadda on August 24, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    @SteveColeman - you haven't read my comment carefully - I specifically mentioned "away" series - does not include neutral matches (like the WC for instance) - well anyway, let me grant you your argument and include neutral matches and let's leave the small matter of 0-5, 1-6 drubbings in India and Australia aside - even after that the record of "the world's best one day side" in the past 2 years outside home :- P- 21, L- 13, W -7, T-1. Win percentage outside home : 33.33 % - lol

  • Rayner on August 24, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    I'm actually looking forward to this! I think it will be interesting, We're shaping up to be a half decent one day side these days, especially witht he introduction of 2 new balls and the next WCs being in Aus and Eng. Eng, I believe, have won about 3 times as many as they've lost in the last year or so(15 won, 6 lost) that even includes away matches in Asian condituions! For all those who just think India should be the No1 odi side, I would have a look into your record in the last year, it appears that you've been beaten twice by Bangladesh, didn't get through to the tri-series final with Aus and SL, in Aus and that was before the two new balls. I don't think that playing all your cricket in India for the next 2 years is going to help you prepare for the WC either... I would find it very suprising if you don't loose the WC crown.

  • Prasanna on August 24, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    seconding greg22lol - tendulkar is the most overrated - scored a lot of easy centuries unlike Kallis or Ponting.

  • Gerald on August 24, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    I can't believe SA are no.1 in T20s. That said I actively boycott watching T20s so maybe it is not surprising I didn't know that.

  • Dummy4 on August 24, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    To my mind, England's astonishing 10-match ODI winning streak provides yet more justification (if any were needed) for Cook to replace Strauss as Test captain forthwith. That aside, my only reservation about the current ODI line-up lies in the makeup of the top four. Granted, they've all been admirable in our recent rise to the top, but how would they fare chasing 350 on a flat pitch at Calcutta, Bombay or Colombo? We need a KP-like power hitter to mix it up a little at the top, so I'd favour trying Jonny Bairstow at three in place of the one-paced Trott, switching Morgan & Bopara around at four & five, &, under overcast skies at Cardiff, giving Chris Woakes a go at seven in place of Patel. I very much doubt this'll happen, as Andy Flower's only Achilles Heel, his rigidity in team selection, will no doubt win the day yet again, but we can always hope. As for South Africa: while it's no doubt a good move to save Kallis for the T20 World Cup, where on earth are Philander & Petersen?

  • VaRUN on August 24, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    @ hammond - I understand your frustration and lack of interest in ODIs. It takes a certain type of skill to perform well in ODIs which the English team lacks which is very evident from no world cup wins. Every format needs different set of skills. I can totally understand why you may be not interested in ODIs as you guys have empty shelfs yearning for some silverware even though you have played ODIs for 40 years.

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