England vs South Africa Preview

All the talking is over and we’re ready for the opening game of the 2019 Cricket World Cup as hosts England take on a dangerous South Africa outfit.

Eoin Morgan’s side have produced a scintillating brand of cricket in recent years and have consequently propelled themselves to the top of the ICC World Rankings.

They start the tournament as favourites and boast a side packed full of firepower with the likes of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in their ranks.

The ability to consistently put scores of 350+ on the board has been crucial to their success in recent times, and they just might have found the missing ingredient to their side with the addition of a world-class pace bowler in Jofra Archer.

Barbadian-born, Archer only qualified to play for England this year and has already shown his capabilities as he forced himself into the squad at the last minute.

The preparations for the World Cup have also been promising after a convincing 4-0 series victory over Pakistan. They then suffered a narrow loss to Australia in a warm-up match without a couple key players, before a resounding victory over Afghanistan.

England’s side largely picks itself for the opening game with Roy and Bairstow opening the batting, whilst Joe Root, Morgan, Stokes and Buttler complete a formidable top six. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid will start the tournament as the two spin options, with Liam Dawson waiting in the wings if the latter’s recent injury issues persist.

Archer and Chris Woakes are almost certain to line up at the Kia Oval, and it seems that the only selection decision rests with the extra seam bowler. Liam Plunkett is probably in the driving seat to get the nod initially if Mark Wood isn’t deemed fit enough, but it’s a long tournament and both of those two will feature along with Surrey’s Tom Curran at various stages.

England are favourites to win the opening game but they face a South Africa who shouldn’t be underestimated. They may be without the star quality of AB De Villiers from previous tournaments but the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis are more than capable against any attack.

In Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir, they possess two of the best limited overs bowlers in world cricket over the last few years and England will have to be wary. South Africa have always been highly fancied going into previous tournaments but they have come unstuck on each occasion, usually from a positive position where they have failed to get themselves over the line.

This tournament is slightly different as all the talk beforehand has been about whether England can deliver on home soil, and the likes of India and Australia have also been touted as potential winners. Not many people have mentioned South Africa but there is still a core of players there that can deliver on the biggest stage and they are more than capable of progressing to the semi-finals.

It promises to be a fantastic match to start the tournament, and if both teams have aspirations of going all the way then they won’t want to get off to a losing start.

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by Matt Gibbs at Rewards4Cricket

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