As on date, South Africa have never seen a batter in their ranks score a World Cup century against England in the ODI format.
South Africa also play England today. Boring fact.
How about South Africa are playing England today on a ground where they once mauled India in scoring a 400 plus total, a game wherein not one but three of their batsmen scored tons? Perhaps boring and banal only to those who live under a rock.
Well, you know that rock of ignorance where it’s perhaps been forgotten or barely remembered that England too haven’t had a batsman with a World Cup century against the Proteas yet.
As two well rounded and powerful sides prepare to take each other head on, who’ll be the one with the decisive head butt?
Probably, South Africa led by Temba Bavuma would want to remember that the last they met England in an ODI World Cup, which, lest it is forgotten, was the 2019 campaign opener, Eoin Morgan’s side crushed the Proteas. The hugely and often underrated Faf was captain back then and he couldn’t do much on that occasion, scoring eventually the only ton any Protea batsman made in that edition of the World Cup (v Australia).
However, the only man who was able to tackle the big English attack somewhat was Quinton de Kock, who made a 68.
Rather interestingly, de Kock, South Africa’s most experienced campaigner as of now alongside David Miller will remember the mauling his team delivered India back in 2015 for it could well motivate him, although, England not so much.
Implicit in the then 438 run mammoth score conjured by the Proteas, De Kock fired a 109 off just 87, something he’d like to do today to England.
Meanwhile, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis too produced tons back then; as a matter of fact, du Plessis, the former Proteas captain, top scored with 133.
Surely, today the Proteas are without those two big names but can England actually breathe a sigh of relief in that the South Africans have Aiden Markram, fresh from a ground breaking World Cup century, and Heinrich Klaasen in their ranks?
Moreover, there’s Killer Miller, with 4100 plus ODI runs to his name? The trinity of Mark Wood, who’s hardly played one dayers versus the Proteas, the evergreen Chris Woakes and Reece Topley, 12 wickets from 9 games v South Africa, will do well to remember the classic rule against Miller: “If it’s in the V, it’s on the tree, if it’s arc, it’s out of the park!”
Having said that, the Proteas batting quartet of de Kock, Markram, Klaasen and Bavuma would do well to remember that they’ll be up against a brilliant spinner in Adil Rashid, who we sadly don’t get to read a lot being written about- do we?
If there’s a turner of the ball who the Proteas would like to do well against given it’s not always that easy, then it’s Rashid: 21 wickets from 16 ODI’s against South Africa. Markram, who’s perhaps the best batter of spin alongside de Kock, will know that maybe going akin to a ballistic missile may not be the only way to operate on a wicket that could have something for the spinners. Ditto for Klaassen, who despite his incredible 174 off 83 that came just ahead of the World Cup, is yet to get a single big score under his belt. If at all Jos Buttler, 540 ODI runs vs South Africa, was concerned about the dashing Heinrich Klaasen, then he’d breathe a little knowing that the right hander’s scored knock like 32 (SL), 29 (Aus), and 28 (Ned) up to this point. Markram’s role, too, in that sense becomes crucial in that thus far the man with that elegance about him with the bat has managed 213 runs from 7 one dayers against England.
Just how much can-or will- de Kock score in a situation, for instance, if Markram and Klaasen don’t come good with the bat today? But in an age obsessed with numbers, here’s one for the Protea supporters to obsess about. All de Kock needs to reach 1000 ODI runs against the defending champions England are 92 more runs. Is Wankhede going to witness those? Even better, is that going to happen courtesy a third World Cup century? Who knows? Cricket, cliches be darned, is a funny game, is it not?
In 2015, batting giants Rohit, Kohli, Dhoni and Raina could only manage 62 runs among them in reply to South Africa’s imposing 438 at the Wankhede.
And likewise, the very mighty South Africa, who still had Amla, Faf, and de Kock in the 2019 World Cup opener failed to put up much of a fight when that shouldn’t have been the case. But today’s a different day.
A great one at that, isn’t it? Sunday’s just around the corner.
Should Saturday’s contest be one in the first place and a belter at that, there could be nothing better than entering the next big game lined up for tomorrow- as hosts India meet the BlackCaps.
But first up, we’ve got this classic battle on our hands. It’s a battle where Root with 681 runs v South Africa, the man with most runs for the Buttler-led team against this opponent will be hoping for a big win. At the same time, the men from the Madiba-land will look to provide fans with the spark that lights the Protea fire.