South Africa v England T20: Returning Stokes big value to top score for tourists

Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes is 13/2 to top score against South Africa in the T20 series

After the ODI series ended all square, England end their tour of South Africa with three T20 clashes and Jason Pettigrove can't believe the price on Ben Stokes to be top series scorer for the tourists...

"A player who thrives on the responsibility at the crease and the opportunity to smash his opponents all around the ground, in this case Buffalo Park, Stokes will help spearhead the charge for the tourists."

It's been a long winter for England's tourists, but it's finally coming to an end with a short series of T20 matches against South Africa.

After the ODI series was drawn, the shorter format gives England the opportunity to go home unbeaten in all three series in which they've taken part, and that will certainly be the aim for Eoin Morgan and his side.

Steyn returns for the hosts

In what might be considered a surprise move by Quinton de Kock, South Africa's one-day international captain, Dale Steyn has been brought back into the fold.

After almost a year out of the game, the only doubt over the 36-year-old will be his fitness. A keen eye for a wicket hasn't deserted him, and with 61 in 44 T20 internationals, his threat to England's top order is obvious.

Pite van Biljon and Sisanda Magala have also been drafted into the 16-man squad, and will hope to earn their first caps over the course of the three-game series.

Magala, a right-arm fast-medium specialist, styles himself on Brett Lee, but he has been known to lack confidence if things aren't going his way.

Morgan to reverse losing record

At the time of writing, England still have a negative record in T20 internationals against the Proteas.

In 15 matches going back to September 16, 2007, South Africa have the edge with eight wins to England's six, and one game finishing as NR.

However, Morgan has brought all the big guns out for this one, in the hope of making a huge statement in the east London opener.

Joe Root has already flown home, but Mark Wood, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes will all slot into the side as the tourists look to bed down their preferred XI ahead of an exciting T20 World Cup later in the year.

Adil Rashid returns too, after a man-of-the-match performance in the third ODI. His three for 51 in his 100th ODI game helped the tourists to their target of 257 with 40 balls still to spare.

Moeen Ali also enjoyed an excellent end to the ODIs, bowling De Kock and catching both Temba Bavuma and Andile Phehlukwayo lbw. His athleticism saw Beuran Hendricks run out, and he was unbeaten with the bat on 17.

Being the difference maker is what Morgan will be after from his men once again, and with big-hitting Ben Stokes recalled, as well as Jason Roy, Joe Denly, Jonny Bairstow and Morgan himself all able to put runs on the board early, South Africa's attack have their work cut out.

Stokes to go for broke

Never one to go hiding, as has been proven on more than one occasion during the last 12 months, Stokes' inclusion clearly hands England an advantage.

A player who thrives on the responsibility at the crease and the opportunity to smash his opponents all around the ground, in this case Buffalo Park, Stokes will help spearhead the charge for the tourists.

Opener Roy will be expected to score well on a notoriously flat pitch, though South Africa's seamers do enjoy the length and line they're able to fashion here.

The tourists, therefore, have to ensure that they don't go gung-ho too quickly, particularly if they bat first and the pitch is conducive to a big total.

At 5/2 in the Top England Series Runscorer market, there's not too much value on Roy, but he's still worth more than a cursory glance.

In two of his last three T20 innings, South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen posted scores of 34 and 64, and his stubbornness at the crease could see his 7/1 odds to top score for the hosts could see some hefty backing.

Particularly as this first T20 match is on a wicket he loves and one where he bagged 56 from 44 balls on his T20 debut back in 2018.

Stokes comes back in with a point to prove though, and with a decent supporting cast, he won't have to be front and centre alone this time.

And a relaxed and fresh Stokes spells danger for the Proteas. His odds of 13/2 to end the series as the top England run scorer look very attractive, even though he bats down the order.

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