source: official ICC Twitter handle @ICC


A month back it was confirmed by both the South African and the English board that Her Majesty’s men would travel south to lock horns with the Proteas amid a bio-bubble created in the Western Cape for three T20s and as many ODIs starting November 27th.

When the announcement was made, it was a moment of relief matched with a bit of celebration to see cricket finally resume in the Southern Hemisphere country, with the Proteas and the Poms all set to lock horns on the field amid almost 9 months of no activity thanks to the pandemic and lockdown at least for South African cricketers, baring the IPL.

England on their part, did welcome the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia for incoming action with the bio-bubble created at Manchester and Southampton en-route to resumption of this beautiful game.

Having said this, how can all be right leading into this much anticipated series, and the compass tilted south when just about 5 days before England were to depart for South Africa, the Members Council (the highest authority in Cricket South Africa) consisting of 14 affiliate provinces, decided to not recognise the Interim Board which was set-up by the Minister of South African sport amid the prevailing controversy in South African cricket over the last one year.

The issues confronting cricket back in South Africa are aplenty: controversy, conflicts, and politics, though just before an incoming tour to create this uncertainty wasn’t a welcome sign for the biggest stake holders in cricket.

Needless to say it’s the fans.

If the ‘Members Council’ would fail to recognise the Interim Board, the Minister of Sport would levy sanctions on Cricket South Africa with failing to recognise them as the official cricket board in the country. The result of this would be catastrophic- an ICC ban thanks to direct Government interference.

Surely, this great sport of ours has seen better days back in the Rainbow Nation.

The uncertainty continued for about two days into this power politics but better sense prevailed when the Sport Ministry gave the green light for the English tour with the Members Council agreeing to recognise the Interim Board last weekend.

A massive relief which really wasn’t required in the first place for the broadcasters, the players and most importantly the fans.

So, with the off-field drama finally deciding to stay off-field, lets see who are the capable contributors we can look forward to in the Proteas set-up, as the start of the series eminently looms:

The debate of having AB or vice versa has almost become a soap opera in South Africa, but in my humble opinion its time we move past the great man and invest in the future, the likes of the star power mentioned below, who can turn the tide for the Proteas:

Janneman Malan

The new kid from the Western Cape, who has already got a ton under his belt against the mighty Australians, is one to look out for as a capable and aggressive opening partner to the now short format captain, Quinton de Kock.

If coach Boucher and the selectors do decide to go with this opening combination, then England surely would have their hands full with the destructive annihilation they would witness upfront.


Temba Bavuma

What a success story this lad has been in the shorter format against England, with already scoring a delightful 98 in a winning cause at the onset of this year.

An average of 55 in ODIs and of almost 50 with a strike rate of 136 in T20s, this pocket-sized dynamo, gives the flexibility of opening or coming one down, and will surely repeat the feat of handing night mares to the English bowlers, again!


Jon Jon Smuts

The Warriors’ stalwart who has already established himself as a reliable middle order bat and a handy left arm spinner, should definitely play a key role as the spinning all-rounder for the Proteas, a position so ably served by the great JP Duminy over the last decade.

His best of 84 against the Australians in the pre-pandemic series, hugely helped the Proteas white-wash Australia.


Heinrich Klassen

If the word resurgence is to be humanised, Heinrich Klassen is the best man to fit the bill with his resurgence as a batter against Australia in the last ODI series having scored a ton in the first match followed by consecutive 50s in the next two games amassing a massive 242 runs in the three-match series also to be adjudged player of the series.

With such form, one can only hope he should be the man for the Proteas in their biggest moments of reckoning.

Apart from these young stars, the experience of de Kock, du Plessis, Miller, and van der Dussen should give the much-needed solidity to the batting, along with potentially the best fast bowling trio in world cricket of Rabada (the leading wicket taker in this year’s IPL), Nortje and Ngidi making the bowling also look formidable.

Add the spin twins in Shamsi and Maharaj to the bowling mix and it certainly looks complete and well rounded.

Despite mentioning all the fire power the Proteas have, make absolutely no mistake.

The English line-up boast stars of their own. To begin with, the white-ball captain Eoin Morgan aka the hitter of bowlers in a fashion that could be likened to a ferocious attacker gripped with a sledgehammer. Then, there are the likes of Jos Buttler, Stokes, Archer, Roy and others that make them equally competitive.

After all they are the world champions.

For a neutral, an evenly contested series in the offering, but truth be told, as a die-hard Protea supporter would tilt towards the Mzansi taking the spoils in both the formats.

So whether this is hope or reality, we will know about it all in a little over a fortnight.

Till then happy cricketing.


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