ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
England v South Africa, World Cup 2011, Group B, Chennai
Can England restore their pride?
March 5, 2011
Match FactsMarch 6, Chennai
Start time 9.30am (0400 GMT)
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.
(completed matches, most recent first)
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.
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."
"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."
Also: the fastest Indian to 50 wickets, and Yasir Shah's unwanted "double-hundred"