SA vs. ENG: 1st ODI – My Playing XI

South Africa’s summer of international cricket is in full swing now as they start their ODI series against World Champions, England tomorrow afternoon at Newlands.

The T20I series was a big disappointment but with a change in personnel for the ODIs and with those new faces coming in having been playing games in the local four-day series competition, a renewed energy can hopefully also be brought into the team.

The team I would like to see play on Friday afternoon is as follows. I have given this some thought and given the players available in the squad, this is who I feel should play.

Janneman Malan had a good season earlier this year against Australia, scoring his maiden ODI century, and he would want to build on this. He bats well with Quinton de Kock and is not afraid to be aggressive and show intent. Something South Africa need at the top of their innings, as it can’t all rely on De Kock.

With news that Faf du Plessis has been rested from the ODIs, this means South Africa are a genuine batsman down, and as South Africa’s most capped ODI player with 143 ODIs under his belt, that is a lot of experience missing.

Despite my hesitation and reluctance to play him, David Miller, with his experience of 132 ODIs has to come into the team, and word is that both he and Andile Phehlukwayo will have ended their quarantine by the time the ODI series start. Phehlukwayo was sorely missed in the T20I series and will make a significant difference to the balance of the team in the ODIs.

Rassie van der Dussen is in good form at the moment having scored his highest T20I score just a few days ago, and showed his ability to score quickly. Temba Bavuma is a nuggety cricketer, quick between the wickets and a fighter, just what South Africa need in those important middle overs where you still need to tick the scoreboard over without taking too much risk.

Kyle Verreynne is a tough character and one full of so much promise and potential, his series against Australia prior to lockdown was incredible, and he deserves to have a decent time in the team.

George Linde and Keshav Maharaj are my two spinners. Linde showed his fight, passion and skill, with both bat and ball in the T20Is against England, and showed he belongs. He has the potential to be a genuine all-rounder for South Africa. Maharaj is a world class spinner and deserves his chance in the limited overs format. Tabraiz Shamsi has been the preferred option, but his performance in the final T20I left a lot to be desired. Give Maharaj a chance.

Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi make up the rest of the bowling attack. Nortje has been in good touch, his pace is excellent and more importantly, he has control. Ngidi’s record in ODI cricket is good, and with Rabada injured, South Africa need someone with some experience, that rules out Dala, Stuurman, Sipampla & Hendricks.

Admittedly, it is risky going in with just five bowlers, if one of them has a bad day, Quinton will be stuck, but I am keeping faith that all the five bowlers will stick to their plans, bowl accurately and consistently in the right areas.

It’s going to be a tough series, but stick to the basics, focus and play smart cricket. That’s all we ask for.

Catch all the action of the first ODI from 1pm on Friday afternoon.

Posted in The Popping Crease.