England v South Africa, 1st NatWest ODI, Cardiff August 24, 2012

England stay top as rain ruins opening ODI

England 37 for 0 v South Africa - Match abandoned
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Only 33 deliveries were possible before rain forced an abandonment of the first ODI between England and South Africa in Cardiff. The result means that England, who were presented with what looked remarkably like a hub-cap but was actually the ICC's ODI Shield before play, retain the newly acquired No. 1 ranking in this format for a little while yet.

Had South Africa won, they would have usurped England as the No. 1-ranked ODI side just as they usurped them as No. 1-ranked Test team with victory at Lord's just five days ago.

The weather flirted with spectators for much of the day and, as the covers were taken on and off with each passing shower, there was little to entertain the crowd other than 50 shades of grey sky. When play eventually began, the game was reduced to 24 overs a side, with another over deducted after a further interruption after just one delivery.

England, who selected Chris Woakes for his first home ODI in place of the rested Stuart Broad, and retained faith in Ravi Bopara, despite his recent absence from the game for personal reasons ahead of the in-form Jonny Bairstow, were inserted when South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss at 9.45am. South Africa recalled left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell in place of the rested Dale Steyn.

The first passage of play last only one delivery - a leg side wide - before rain forced the players from the pitch and, on the resumption, batting proved hard work. Alastair Cook might have been run-out before he scored had Parnell, at mid-off, hit the stumps with his direct hit and, after three power-play overs, England had scored only four runs.

The next two overs cost 28, however, as Ian Bell, in particular, launched an attack that hinted he may yet have something to offer as a Twenty20 player. Cook signalled the acceleration by cover driving Lonwabo Tsotsobe for four before, later in the same over, Bell skipped down the pitch and lofted another four over mid-off.

It was a tactic Bell was to employ even more impressively in the next over. Skipping down the pitch to Morne Morkel, Bell was able to turn perfectly reasonable back of the length deliveries into length deliveries and, having heaved one six over midwicket, drove another over long-off.

But then, with 33 runs having come from 15 deliveries, the rain returned and, with time running out to fit in the minimum 20-overs a side to constitute a game, the umpires too the inevitable decision to abandon the game. Spectators will receive a full refund minus a handling fee.

The second match in the five match series will take place in Southampton on Tuesday.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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