Proteas coach Mark Boucher thinks he has a plan to beat the English ODI team, which plays a very aggressive form of cricket, and wants to start creating a more relaxed environment for the next 50-man World Cup in just 15 months.
The ODI form in South Africa is less convincing than the other two formats and they are currently languishing at 11th a place in the qualifying Superleague of the World Championship. However, they are better than that, having won 50% of completed ODIs in the last two years, including the commemorative 3-0 whitewash of India in January this, unfortunately, did not count towards Superleague points.
England currently top the table and Boucher knows how challenging their three-match streak against world champions will be when it kicks off on 19 July at Chester-le-Street.
“England are a well-prepared team,” Boucher said on Monday. “We all know how hard it is to play with them in England and we expect them to play with the same very aggressive brand.
“I’m sure we have the right players. We’ve just been a bit lacking in form and continuity – we’ve lost players to the IPL three times and twice for series deciders against Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“We need to understand that the World Cup is just around the corner and we need continuity and the presence of players. I think we have good plans and hopefully in this series we will be able to build on them and implement our combinations,” Boucher said.
Bye multi-format players the likes of Rassi van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Anrich Nortier, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj have a long tour ahead – the last match is the third Test ending on 12 September – there are others who only have a short time to impress.
Riza Hendricks and Janneman Malan lost their places in South Africa’s T20 squad, and the absence of injured captain Temba Bavuma opened up a top tier spot for them to shine.
Markram is another player who could benefit from Bavuma’s absence and the Proteas will play two warm-up matches against England Lions on Tuesday and Thursday to work out their squad.
“Temba is a huge loss, both for the player and the captain, what he brings to the team is huge,” Boucher said. “But we have support guys who can come in and not be out of place.
“Aiden’s success is good for the Proteas. He didn’t play in India, but before that he had a long season. Now he had time to think, and he worked on part of his game.
“We have 17 players and we will try our best to give everyone a chance, but we only have two warm-up games so it’s quite difficult. We will try to give all batsmen a bat and all bowlers a bowl.
“I hope everyone gets a chance to put forward their case. In the second game we will play XI, which I think will be close to what we choose for the first ODI,” Boucher said.