From three fairly forgettable ODIs to the format that matters most in the lead up to the T20 World Cup this October. That’s the case for both sides with fixture lists stacked accordingly until they all fly to Australia for the next major tournament.
It all begins in East London on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, this the first of three short-form matches to finish off England’s long and largely successful tour. They welcome back Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jason Roy – all of whom were rested the last time they played a 20-over international in New Zealand last November.
Word from the ground is that Buttler and Roy will open with Bairstow – dumped (or rested, if you believe that) from the Test squad yesterday – coming in at three. That should mean Malan at four, who has been an excellent T20 option. We’ll see. Eoin Morgan is in a good position with a lot of combinations to trial this week.
As for the hosts, skipper Quinton de Kock had a fine ODI series with Reeza Kendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller all looking the part. But most eyes will be on Dale Steyn with the ball. Can he make it this October? England will rotate their quicks, led by Mark Wood the Curran Brothers and Chris Jordan. Saqib Mahmood was also frugal in his ODI debut on Sunday.
A lot of people are very cross that Joe Denly is still playing for England. In turn, I hope he makes a ton. But that probably says more about me than them.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, JJ Smuts, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi.
England: Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (wk), Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (c), Ben Stokes, Joe Denly, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, Mark Wood.