The South African public is glued to the World Cup. You only have to be in the country a matter of hours to hear the chatter and expectation. But while the host nation kicks off the ICC World Twenty20 against West Indies tomorrow, the tournament everyone is already talking about involves an oval ball and is taking place thousands of miles away in France.

Rugby is still the sport in South Africa and, although the World Cup is running parallel the Twenty20, it won't be a contest over which will draw most attention. The cricket will be done and dusted by the time events in Europe really get interesting, but the clash between the Springboks and England on Friday is whipping up a frenzy in these parts.

"Your boys played well," grinned the man holding my name-board at the airport, with a clear smirk on his face in reference to England's 28-10 win over USA, which was anything but inspiring. Then, in a master of understatement, said: "It's a big one on Friday."

When Jonny Wilkinson kicked England to victory at Sydney four years ago the cricket team was in Sri Lanka. The time difference meant they weren't playing and the squad huddled around a TV in their hotel and roared every kick. This time they will have a prior engagement to deal with first, against none other than their fiercest rivals.

England-Australia in cricket is a clash as eagerly awaited as England-South Africa in rugby, even when it's played over 20 overs. However, a superb piece of planning (or good fortune) means the Twenty20 encounter is due to run between 2pm-5pm (South African time) which should give everyone plenty of time to find a suitable venue before the 8pm kick-off in France. It will be an occasion when everyone will agree that a 'quick game is a good game'.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo