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South Africa v England – the recent ODI series

This series has somehow slipped under the radar with all the spending in the football transfer window and the forthcoming Six Nations.

Yet it was an important series to assess the fitness of Jofra Archer and England’s chances of retaining the World Cup in India this October.

The South African Board missed a trick by not choosing Cape Town as a venue as it’s a popular tourist venue at this time of year.

The two grounds selected – Bloemfontein and Kimberley – were pretty, tree lined stadia reminding me of Sussex’s outer grounds like Horsham and Arundel, but not tourist attractions.

He bowled the full quota of overs but was not the Archer of yore, taking only one wicket and going for runs.

He was rested in the second ODI but recalled yesterday at Kimberley. He took 6 wickets and we could say – barring any further injuries – ‘Archer is back’.

England will have a selectorial problem in the middle order with the forthcoming Ashes.

In the four batting places from 3-6 they must somehow accommodate Harry Brook, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, (if fit) Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes – which makes 5.

One solution may be to use Pope or Bairstow as wicketkeeper but this is harsh on Ben Foakes.

On the assumption that Crawley and Lees open and that all 5 are selected, then to select Foakes leaves only 3 bowling places for Archer, Mark Wood, Jimmy Andersen, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Sam Curran, Olly Stone and Jack Leach. This factors in that Moeen Ali will be unavailable.

Not that the Aussies will be a pushover.

They have a hostile pace attack in Pat Cummins, Hazelwood and Mitchell Starc, a wicket-taking spinner in Nat Lyon and impressive batting depth with David Warner, Steve Smith and Labuschagne.

Game on with the intriguing question as to whether Stokes and McCallum will go at them at 7 an over.

As for the World Cup, England will miss the leadership of Eion Morgan.

Jos Buttler is one of the finest white ball batters in the world but without Morgan’s leadership skills.

Jason Roy, coming back to form, and Sam Curran and Moeen Ali provide the necessary depth.

Back to Archer’s fitness; let’s not forget his death ball bowling at the World Cup final v New Zealand 4 years ago.

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About Douglas Heath

Douglas Heath began his lifelong love affair with cricket as an 8 year-old schoolboy playing OWZAT? Whilst listening to a 160s Ashes series on the radio. He later became half-decent at doing John Arlott impressions and is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club. He holds no truck at all with the T20 version on the game. More Posts