ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

England v South Africa, World Cup 2011, Group B, Chennai

Can England restore their pride?

The Preview by Andrew McGlashan

March 5, 2011

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Match Facts

March 6, Chennai
Start time 9.30am (0400 GMT)

James Anderson waits for his turn to bat during practice, Chennai, March 5, 2011
James Anderson has struggled throughout the World Cup © Associated Press

The Big Picture

There have been plenty of mismatches so far in this World Cup, but whenever England have taken the field something extraordinary has occurred. Firstly Netherlands pushed them close, then there was the epic tie against India before they were humbled by Kevin O'Brien's stunning hitting. What happens next is anyone's guess, but matches against South Africa are rarely dull affairs.

It's not quite do-or-die for England but it's getting close after they reached the half-way point of their group campaign with three points instead of the expected four. Two wins should take them into the quarter-finals, but that's not an easy task with Bangladesh and West Indies to follow this game. South Africa have far fewer concerns after two clinical victories set up their campaign nicely.

As with every meeting between these two teams there will be the pre-match talk of England's contingent from South Africa. Kevin Pietersen has often lifted his game against the country of his birth, but South Africa have yet to see the best of Jonathan Trott. Despite the strong performances from England's top order there are still issues over the batting, both in terms of soft dismissals like Pietersen's against Ireland and the lack of impact from the middle order which twice cost them dear in Bangalore.

They will be up against the most rounded attack of the tournament. The threat of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel was well known, but the inclusion of Imran Tahir has given South Africa an additional edge. Not that they are short on batting, either, and AB de Villiers has started the World Cup with back-to-back hundreds; the one against West Indies was elegant, the ton against Netherlands brutal.

Under Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, England have shown an ability to bounce back following shocking defeats. Often the sight of formidable opponents focuses their mind in the way that being favourites against the likes of Netherlands and Ireland doesn't. However, all aspects of their game will have to fire on the same occasion - which it hasn't at any stage of the tournament - otherwise an early flight home will be an even greater possibility.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
England LTWLL
South Africa WWWWL

Watch out for...

Although Steyn and Morkel form the best new-ball pair in the world, it's Imran Tahir that England need to watch out for. He was held back by South Africa as a surprise weapon for the World Cup and so far it has worked perfectly. He started with a match-winning 4 for 41 against West Indies and helped himself to some cheap scalps against Netherlands. An attacking spin bowler, and especially a legspinner, is something South Africa have long lacked and Tahir is making a huge difference. England are better than they used to be against leg spin, and most of the batsmen will have seen Tahir in county cricket, but unlike previous occasions when facing South Africa it's about more than just seeing off the quicks.

Kevin Pietersen has looked in fine form during the tournament which makes his three innings of 39, 31 and 59 even more frustrating. His move to the top order was two-fold; to give England a brisk start and to allow Pietersen to build an innings. At the moment he's only doing half the job. His reverse-sweep against Paul Stirling was just one of many sloppy pieces of cricket England produced at the hands of Ireland and, as much as Pietersen may shrug it off as 'the way he plays', it's a waste of his immense talent to not be building hundreds in such favourable batting conditions. No better place to perform than at the against South Africa.

Team news

Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Paul Collingwood picked up niggles against Ireland but are expected to be fit. However, Collingwood's place could come under pressure from Ravi Bopara with England needing power in the their middle order or Michael Yardy could be replaced. James Anderson continues to struggle so Ajmal Shahzad is an option.

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson

Morne van Wyk was a surprise selection against Netherlands, prompted by the cloudy morning in Mohali, and ended up keeping wicket with de Villiers having strained his back. Johan Botha was left out against the Dutch but his experience could be useful against England and he may be preferred to Robin Petersen.

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Morne van Wyk, 7 Francois du Plessis, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

Stats and trivia

  • The last time these two sides met in one-day cricket England secured their first series win on South African soil with a 2-1 success in 2009-10.

  • South Africa knocked Michael Vaughan's team out of the 2007 World Cup with a crushing nine-wicket victory in the Super Eight clash in Barbados after England were skittled for 154.

  • Graeme Smith hasn't scored an ODI century for 23 innings


"The Ireland game would have hurt them a lot. It was terrific for the spirit of the World Cup but they will be looking to bounce back."
Graeme Smith

"It is very dangerous to think about how much cricket we have played in the last couple of months. I think the breaks in between games were enough for people to be able to recover and to perform."
Jonathan Trott

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 35 
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Posted by Bakhtiar on (March 6, 2011, 7:44 GMT)


Posted by Dummy4 on (March 6, 2011, 3:53 GMT)

I am an English supporter but if had money on the game, it would be on SA. Peiterson has so much to offer but rarely shares it. The English batting middle order is fragile to say the least and the bowling has been woeful. Swann has been the only one who has even looked remotely professional. I am surprised Yardy has kept his place, he needs to step his game.Jimmy Anderson has had a shocker, why keep him, Tremlett couls step into his shoes instead. I am a fan of Paul Collingwood, but he had a bad tour of Australia and is not performing in the sub-continent. On the other hand, SA are on a role and my favortes to win the world cup (would love to see them take it off the Aussies!

Posted by Tone on (March 6, 2011, 3:39 GMT)

I hope it's another tie:)

Posted by Hugo on (March 6, 2011, 3:06 GMT)

I think england should thrash the southafricans! England have been very unlucky so far in thiscworld cup so I think they should win tonight.I reckon if Anderson and broad bowl well tonight and trott,Kp,Strauss and bell bat well tonight England should be the favorites. it will be a very good match indeed! England thrashed Australia in the ashes so I reckon they should beat SA tonight,Come on England!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 6, 2011, 3:06 GMT)

Proteas to smash the English today/ tonight!

Posted by Farooq on (March 6, 2011, 3:04 GMT)

Among all the test nations, England has the bleak chances of making it to Quarter Finals. It will be an easy victory for SA. Whatever total ENG will put SA can chase it easily because ENG bowling is very weak.

Posted by Amol on (March 6, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

SA has only one import in Tahir, ENG is a team of imports.

Posted by Amol on (March 6, 2011, 2:45 GMT)

Chokers tag has been attached to SA because they ARE EXPECTED to deliver. Nobody calls ENG chokers. Not that I'm a fan of Spain, Spain did deliver finally at last during last year. May be it's time for SA too.

Posted by Amol on (March 6, 2011, 2:13 GMT)

chokkashokka - I hope you remember England's record in the WCs.

Posted by umair on (March 6, 2011, 2:13 GMT)

Another Amla and De Villiers Century adding on the SA historic batting combo. However Imran Tahir might not be that effective against England only because most of the english batsman have faced him in county and know what the guy has got to offer them. Aspect english bowling attack to continue their struggling streak. If ajmal shahzad gets a chance in the match then he might actually live up to his expectation. Kevin Pietersen will be the x-factor in the game and Jonathan Trott will have to play supporting role till the end. At the end, SA will win a hard fought match.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Deputy Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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