England eying consistency as South Africa seek redemption - Second ODI preview
Second One-Day International - South Africa v England in Port Elizabeth
6th February | 10:00 local | 08:00 GMT
Jos Buttler may be out of England’s Test side but he is fast becoming their one-day talisman. Never has there been a more dynamic player to play white ball cricket for England and with him in the side, the team’s potential is endless.
The first One-Day International in Bloemfontein was further confirmation, should we have needed it, that England’s one-day revolution is here to stay. Posting 399, their second highest score in ODI matches, what stood out was how each batsman who came to the wicket kept attacking, almost from the word go.
England’s batting order is long so each player has comfort to attack but it is still an easy philosophy to talk about but not an easy thing to do.
Eoin Morgan is instrumental in implementing it; in the first game he only scored 23 but his brief innings contained innovative reverse sweeps and power hitting; the template for England’s one-day batting of late.
Buttler has batted at number four in the last two ODIs and has made centuries in each. England’s flexibility in their batting order is sensible and it is likely that Buttler will continue up the order unless England lose early wickets.
His brilliance should not be wasted in the middle order where he may only face a few overs.
Despite England’s excellence with the bat, if rain had not curtailed the finish to the first game it may have been a tight finish. Whilst England’s bowlers bowled steadily, they were expensive, although part of that was down to short boundaries and a lightening outfield, and there is some work to do.
Chris Jordan, a surprise selection over Chris Woakes, had a poor game with the ball. Whilst it is never sensible to drop someone after one game, Woakes, who played in all the one-day games on the UAE tour, should come in to the side. That will be the only change.
Quinton de Kock’s unbeaten hundred in Bloemfontein was his ninth in ODI cricket. The wicket keeper looked untroubled throughout and scored at a better pace than Buttler despite looking as if he was just out for an afternoon stroll.
Without Steven Finn, England’s opening attack of Reece Topley and David Willey lacks pace. Both will have to find other ways to trouble de Kock on flat wickets if the ball does not swing in Port Elizabeth as it did not in Bloemfontein.
Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers both failed in the first game, de Villiers to a quite outstanding catch by Ben Stokes, but both will have a say in this series. With de Kock and Faf du Plessis, it is a strong top order and one that can put England’s bowlers under pressure.
England’s batting order will remain unchanged. Three of the top seven, Alex Hales, Joe Root and Stokes, made half centuries in addition to Buttler’s hundred and it is a well balanced line up.
That does mean that for the moment there is no room for James Taylor or Jonny Bairstow, two fine one-day players. The strength of a side is always judged by the players left out, and Taylor and Bairstow would get in to most international teams.
So too would Woakes and Stuart Broad who also both missed out in the first game.
South Africa must be looking on enviously. They rested Kasigo Radaba from the first game and he is likely to return to the side, but their bowling attack looks short without the injured Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
Radaba’s inclusion will help but Morne Morkel is also in need of a rest and will be left out at some stage.
In general, South Africa’s attack lacks variety and worthy though Chris Morris and Marchant de Lange are, England’s batsmen lined them up in the first game. Spinner Imran Tahir looks to be fighting against the tide of time too.
Farhaan Behardien and JP Duminy bowled 10 overs for 93 runs between them in the first ODI and the lack of a fifth front line bowler is an area South Africa will have to address.
This is why Ben Stokes is such an important cricketer for England. He provides a balance to the side that only genuine all-rounders can do. South Africa do not have that option so any change they make will shorten their batting.
It is one that they are likely to have to make because England will continue to target the part timers otherwise.
David Miller was unlucky to miss out on selection for the first game and if South Africa decide to pick another bowler Miller is likely to come in to the side to replace either Duminy or Behardien.
South Africa have a mixed record at the St George’s Park ground in Port Elizabeth, having lost three of their last five ODI games there. England recorded a comfortable victory on their last visit in 2009 when James Anderson took 5-23.
Early indications are that the pitch will be flat and true so another high scoring game is expected.
England’s rise in one-day cricket continues. South Africa are a good side and have x-factor cricketers of their own but Morgan’s side will take some stopping. It should be another excellent game in Port Elizabeth.
England look to be favourites going in to the second game of the series but South Africa are no pushovers. It should be a tight contest but with England to emerge victorious.
England: Chris Woakes is likely to replace Chris Jordan
1. Alex Hales, 2. Jason Roy, 3. Joe Root, 4. Eoin Morgan (captain), 5. Jos Buttler (wk), 6. Ben Stokes, 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Chris Woakes, 9. David Willey, 10. Adil Rashid, 11. Reece Topley
South Africa: Kagiso Rabada is likely to make a return.
1. Hashim Amla, 2. Quinton de Kock (wk), 3. Faf du Plessis, 4. Ab de Villiers (captain), 5. Rilee Rossouw, 6. JP Duminy, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Kagiso Rabada, 9. Morne Morkel, 10. Marchant de Lange, 11. Imran Tahir
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