South Africa’s summer tour of England begins with a 3 match ODI series that serves as a warm up for the ICC Champions trophy at the beginning of June.
The matches are as follows:
Both teams have 15 man squads for the games and the Champions trophy and both sides are vastly improved since disappointments in the 2015 world cup.
For England, there is a far more modern and aggressive approach in this format, a now settled side and they have one of the deepest and most powerful batting line-ups in world cricket with Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan, Buttler and Bairstow complemented by all-rounders like Stokes, Ali and Woakes.
Of course, this series is being played in early season English conditions and good swing bowlers like Willey and Woakes suit these conditions, complemented by the likes of Wood, Plunkett, and Ball. England’s Achille's heel has been restricting opposition on good batting pitches because of the absence of an “x-factor” bowler but that may not be a factor in England in May. In any case, the format favours the batsmen so much nowadays that the onus is on England’s line up to hit big totals whether compiling or chasing a total
South Africa are ranked No.1 in the world, have won their last four series, and are traveling with a squad that looks like it covers all bases. They have a solid top six, in which the only concern was Hashim Amla, who surged back to form in the IPL in which he scored two centuries.
AB De Villiers was in poor format the IPL with 216 runs from nine matches but when in form is one of the best players in this format. Quinton de Kock (finger injury) and JP Duminy (personal reasons) sat out the IPL while, Faf du Plessis' only batted once in two games and David Miller's top score was 30 in five matches so this vaunted topsix has something to prove.
In the bowling department, South Africa have packed four all-rounders into the squad to accompany the two frontline quicks, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada, and they have two specialist spinners for variety.
De Kock and Rabada, in particular, are developing into world class cricketers and could be amongst the stars of the English summer with a Test tour to follow the champions trophy.
Prices set for the series in our green listed bookmakers are quite interesting. Ladbrokes have England 4/6 and South Africa 5-4.There shouldn’t be much between the sides and South Africa match England for potential match-winners. I like South Africa at 5/4 and the 2/1 about a 2-1 series win too.