South Africa v England, 3rd ODI, Cape Town November 26, 2009

Rattled South Africa aim to bounce back

Match facts

Friday, November 27, 2009
Start time 14.30 (12.30GMT)

Big picture

Six wins from seven starts ... a statistic that looked like an anomaly is starting to take on a life of its own, as England continue their improbable dominance of South Africa in 50-over cricket. At Centurion on Sunday, Paul Collingwood marked his national-record 171st appearance with a sublime allround performance, as England exacted satisfying vengeance for their humiliation in the previous week's second Twenty20.

Their seven-wicket victory showcased the unfamiliar vein of confidence that is running through the squad at present, and while Andrew Strauss has made caution a watchword throughout his impressive tenure as England captain, it's fair to suggest that they have got their opponents a little bit rattled at present.

Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, has not been short of a word or two in this series, but his attempts at psychological warfare have so far fallen on impassive ears. Jonathan Trott, the principal object of his ire, ignored the boo-boys and fronted up with a critical 87 to anchor England's run-chase at Centurion, and though Arthur's other target, Adil Rashid, has been rather subdued in his two appearances to date, he can hardly be regarded as a pivotal figure in England's plans just yet.

The same, however, cannot be said of Jacques Kallis, whose absence with a rib fracture has necessitated something of an overhaul of South Africa's team balance, especially after he had been earmarked to open the batting alongside Graeme Smith. Hashim Amla proved an able understudy in the Centurion match, but as Arthur himself admitted, there's no way to replicate the experience and allround ability that Kallis provides for the side. Herschelle Gibbs has earned a reprieve from the selectors and could yet play, but the call-up for the swift but erratic Morne Morkel underlines the concerns about the lack of penetration in South Africa's attack.

England had plenty concerns at the start of the tour when they were barely able to rustle up 11 fit men, but one by one the wounded are returning to the fray. Stuart Broad has overcome his shoulder problem and seems likely to slot in in place of Sajid Mahmood, while Graeme Swann has resumed training after a side strain, and could yet replace Rashid, unless the management take a punt on the uncapped offspinner, James Tredwell. Meanwhile, the unexpected success of Tim Bresnan as a new-ball sidekick to James Anderson has expanded the options available to his captain.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa - LWWLW
England - WLLWW

Team news

Alviro Petersen produced a composed half-century at Centurion to enhance his claims to a middle-order berth, but Gibbs' return to the set-up highlights the concerns about South Africa's middle-order inexperience. It would not be a surprise to see him reintroduced, along with the promising left-arm seamer, Wayne Parnell, who made his name during last summer's ICC World Twenty20, but has been out of the reckoning lately with an ankle injury. Charl Langeveldt has a shoulder problem, and could also miss out.

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 JP Duminy, 5 Herschelle Gibbs, 6 Alviro Petersen, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Ryan McLaren, 9 Roelof van der Merwe, 10 Wayne Parnell, 11 Dale Steyn

England's decision to push Trott up to No. 1 paid handsome dividends at Centurion, and they are sure to repeat the experiment on his old home ground at Newlands, with Joe Denly and Alastair Cook missing out once again. Broad's return will bolster the lower-order batting, and allow Sajid Mahmood to slip out of the firing line after a difficult couple of weeks. Swann could also return as the frontline spinner, although Tredwell remains on standby.

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

Watch out for

Jonathan Trott grew up in Cape Town and played his early cricket in the shadow of Table Mountain, but his excitement about returning to his old stamping ground has been tempered this week by his touching, if slightly over-egged, claims that Birmingham is now the centre of his universe. No matter what his true feelings may be, he will surely seek to bury them in order to continue the domineering run of form that has marked him down as one of the key batsmen to watch for the rest of the winter.

AB de Villiers launched his international career against England back in 2004-05, and his recent promotion to No. 3 in the ODI side reflects the fact that he has since developed into one of the most exciting batsmen in the world game. Against England, however, he hasn't quite been able to display the full extent of his talents. Collingwood's pluck in the gully sawed him off for 2 on Sunday, taking his tally in 12 matches against England to an unworthy 182 runs at 16.54. His time will doubtless come, but will it be now?

Stats and trivia

  • If Gibbs does play at Newlands, he will have happy memories of the last time he faced England on his home ground, in 2004-05. Back then he scored a century in a total of 291 for 5, as England in turn were bowled out for 183.

  • Newlands is, by some distance, South Africa's favourite home venue in ODI cricket. In 27 matches since 1992, they have won 24 and lost just three, most recently against West Indies in the opening match of the 2003 World Cup.

Quotes

"South Africa are going to come back hard at us, there's no doubt about that. They are always competitive anyway, but they won't have enjoyed losing that first game."
Andrew Strauss braces for the backlash after England's victory at Centurion

"Jacques is a two-in-one cricketer, and his skills affect the balance of the side. We will either be one batter light or a bowler right, and that's going to be our challenge."
South Africa's coach, Mickey Arthur, acknowledges a huge hole in his team's resources

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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