The ECB has announced that the England Men’s cricket team will travel to South Africa to face off against one of the toughest sides in the world. The tour begins in November, with three T20 internationals to be played on the 27th and 29th of the month, with the final match-up on the 1st of December.
As www.wisden.com reports, there will be three One Day Internationals in December, on the 4th, 6th and 9th. However, there will be no test series as the teams kickstart their bids for Twenty20 glory in the T20 World Cup next October. There’s a long way to go until then, so the big question is, how will England fare away from home in the Southern hemisphere?
England start both competitions as favourites, which is unusual in modern-day cricket. Such is the advantage of playing at home that you might expect SA to be firm favourites to come out on top. However, when you take into account England’s recent and long-term form in the white-ball format since 2015, it’s not hard to see why the likes of www.stsbet.co.uk believe they’ll be the victors.
After a devastating World Cup in 2015, England have played 27 ODI series and not lost in 20 of them. In all, they have won 18 times between 2015 and 2020, including an inaugural World Cup, propelling them to the head of the ICC rankings, and rightly making them the team to beat regardless of the location.
Question marks have been circulating around the SA squad for the past couple of years, and they haven’t done much to dispel the gossip. Since 2018, www.stats.espncricinfo.com points out they have only won two series against the top-ranked sides in the world – Australia in 2018 and 2020 – and the rest have been against the likes of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Without the likes of AB de Villiers, the batting line-up is a little short, and it could get worse if rumours about Faf du Plessis retiring are true. England have real pace in the likes of Wood and Archer, and Woakes will be sure to get nip from the surface, which could put South Africa under real pressure. However, de Kock does add a steady and spectacular presence to the team, and Nortje and Rabada are rapid with the ball. However, the feeling is that they are light in both aspects and should be there for the taking.
England also have current history on their side. In the past meetings between the two cricketing nations, England haven’t lost, home or away, since 2016 when they were two-nil up in a five-match series and managed to lose 3-2. After that, England came out on top 2-1 in 2017 and drew 1-1 in February 2020.
Plus, there was a huge 104 run-defeat that occurred in the World Cup when the sides met, with England comfortably the winners at The Oval. With the addition of Ben Stokes, who has been reintroduced into the squad after time off for compassionate leave, the ECB will no doubt be confident that their men can keep up the great form in their preparation for more white-ball dominance.
No-one knows until the first ball is bowled later this month, yet it’s clear England will be the favourites as they are a world-class outfit with a very strong and extensive squad.