25 Jan South Africa v England: Four key battles that will decide the ODIs
Quinton De Kock v Jos Buttler
Though the two teams’ star batters fulfil different roles in their respective ODI teams, they have a similar influence.
De Kock opens the batting and is the eighth-highest ODI run-scorer in South Africa’s history, only below a string of legends. In 14 ODIs since the beginning of 2021, he has passed 50 six times, including scores of 120, 124 and 92*.
Buttler’s return will always be limited by batting at five or six, but he still sits ninth on England’s all-time list. While he’s struggled for runs in this format since taking on the captaincy in July, his remarkable T20 form means he comes into this series in good nick.
David Miller v Harry Brook
Miller and Brook are at different ends of their careers, but the impetus they can bring to the middle- order will be crucial.
The Protea is the far more experienced of the two, scoring 3,656 runs across 149 ODIs in a career spanning nearly 13 years. The last 12 months have arguably been his best, though, particularly in T20 cricket, with Miller starring in the IPL and for the national team.
Brook was arguably the breakout star of world cricket last year, winning the T20 World Cup with England, before scoring 468 runs in five innings in England’s Test series win against Pakistan.
Tabraiz Shamsi v Adil Rashid
These two leg-spinners are ranked at 32 and 42 by the ICC, but that doesn’t do justice to the impact they have on their teams.
Shamsi only played in seven ODIs in 2022, taking two wickets in four of them. He ranked 12 th for ODI wickets in world cricket in 2021.
Rashid was out of form in the last English summer, but bowled brilliantly in the latter stages of the T20 World Cup to help his side to victory.
Anrich Nortje v Jofra Archer
The battle between two of the fastest bowlers in the history of cricket is arguably the most fascinating subplot to this series.
Nortje hadn’t played a single international four years ago, but at the age of 29 has developed into one of the most feared bowlers around. In the 2020 IPL, he bowled a delivery that came in at 97mph.
Jofra Archer sent down a 95mph rocket in that competition, but hasn’t featured in international cricket for two years. England will hope that he gets through this series injury-free, with anything better than that a huge bonus ahead of a year in which they will defend a World Cup that Archer played such a vital role in them winning in 2019.
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