Ed Hawkins says South Africa should not be discounted under lights at Newlands against the world champs on Tuesday...
"We recognise South Africa are in transition and they very much have an ‘invitational XI’ feel, but under lights Ngidi, Phehlukwayo, Beauran Hendricks and Lutho Sipamla are skilled operators"
South Africa v England
Tuesday 4 February 11.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
South Africa start again
At the start of a new World Cup cycle, South Africa have had a clear out. Now is the time to build an energetic, fearless ODI team who can banish miserable memories of their disappointing campaign in England.
They at least ended that tournament with two wins (Sri Lanka and Australia) but Aiden Markram, Faf Du Plessis, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius and, crucially, Kagiso Rabada won't feature this time. Du Plessis, significantly, has been replaced as captain by Quinton de Kock.
De Kock and Reeza Hendricks, a sort of low-watt Jason Roy, are charged with fast starts. Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma and David Miller are the middle-order engine room. Andile Phelukwayo is a superb all-rounder. Lungi Ngidi will have to do much of the heavy lifting in the pace attack.
It is an extremely inexperienced squad and, just like in the Test arena, South Africa are in for some difficult times.
Possible XI R Hendricks, De Kock, Smuts, Van Der Dussen, Bavuma, Miller, Phehlukwao, Shamsi, Ngidi, Sipamla, B Hendricks
Stokes and Buttler unavailable
England are the world champions. As if you'd forgotten? They blitz with the bat like no-one else and despite significant and justified concerns about how they consistently leaked big runs in the field, they sorted that when it counted.
Or rather, Jofra Archer sorted it. Archer is not fit. Mark Wood is not risked and Liam Plunkett has been dispensed with. So England are rebuilding with the ball. Saqib Mahmood, rapid and expensive, could get a game. Lancashire team-mate Matt Parkinson is auditioning to be the main spinner, eventually, when Adil Rashid steps away.
Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes will bring important know-how. Moeen Ali, returned to the international fold, likewise with Ben Stokes having a rest. Jos Buttler is also given time off.
Possible XI Bairstow, Roy, Root, Malan, Morgan, Moeen, T Curran, Jordan, Woakes, Rashid, Mahmood
Huge toss bias
Newlands is home to one of the biggest toss biases in world cricket under lights. A whopping 75% of matches under the beams are won by the side batting first. Who can forget Jimmy Anderson wrecking Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup? And then Nasser Hussain's face in the knockout against India at the same venue when he lost the toss?
In the last 10 years (eight matches), the pitch hasn't been exactly full of runs. The run rate is 5.3 per over and five teams have failed to bust 250. Still, the batting first team are going to have to go hard. Totals of 240 and 225 were not enough in the last two ODI under lights for victory.
England a bad pre-toss wager
But that's a terrible price if the toss goes against them, particularly with the likes of Stokes, Buttler and Archer unavailable. That is the spine of the team.
Eventually, England proved they were the best team in the world last summer but on wickets and in conditions which reduced the gulf, they struggled badly. This is far from an ideal situation to be backing such short odds.
We recognise South Africa are in transition and they very much have an 'invitational XI' feel, but under lights Ngidi, Phehlukwayo, Beauran Hendricks and Lutho Sipamla are skilled operators.
Bairstow back to blitz
Roy and Jonny Bairstow both scored centuries in warm-ups and we expect them to reprise their destructive opening partnership. Tom Banton, also available, may have to wait. Roy is 16/5 and Bairstow a chunky 7/2 for top England bat with Sportsbook. With no Stokes, who dominated this market, Bairstow is likely to receive support.
For South Africa, De Kock is hugely reliable and is the right favourite at 12/5. We expect Reeza Hendricks to accompany him in top slot. Hendricks is 4s but Jannie Malan, who has been in fine form, could also get the nod. He's the same price. Look out for Miller at 11/2.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l