South Africa seeks to avoid World Cup qualification embarrassment against England

South Africa go into a one-day international series against England in Bloemfontein on Friday, needing a strong performance to ensure automatic qualification for the Cricket World Cup later this year.

The three-match series is part of the International Cricket Council’s World Cup Super League, from which the top eight teams will qualify for the World Cup to be held in India in October and November.

South Africa need to win at least three of their remaining five fixtures – they also have two matches against the Netherlands – to climb above the West Indies, who are currently eighth after completing their schedule .

But Sri Lanka can also overtake the West Indies if they win at least two matches in their final series in New Zealand in March. South Africa can guarantee qualification by winning all their remaining five games.

Teams that fail to qualify for the World Cup will have to play in a qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June and July.

England’s ODI series in South Africa has come at a time of change, following the resignation of Mark Boucher as head coach.

New white-ball coach Rob Walter is in New Zealand fulfilling his commitments with Central Districts and Shukri Konrad, appointed as Test coach, will stand in for the matches against England.

Conrad said he was in close contact with Walter. “We share similar views. We’re chatting literally every day.”

South Africa’s selectors ignored calls for changes to a poor 50-over squad and did not inject new blood into their squad for the England series.

“It’s a very settled squad,” Conrad said. “They understand what’s needed in this series.”

But it looks like a fresh start may be in order when Walter takes over next month.

Walter, in his first coaching role in New Zealand, showed that he was prepared to take tough action after being put in charge of an Otago team that had failed to play to their potential.

He told South Africa’s Rapaport newspaper, “I had to make some tough decisions and it led to the exit of some senior players.”

There could be a possibility of a return to international cricket for 38-year-old former captain Faf du Plessis, who scored his maiden century in South Africa’s SA20 tournament on Tuesday night.

But Walter, who worked with du Plessis when he was the head coach of the Titans franchise before moving to New Zealand in 2016, said his first task would be to speak to South African white-ball captain Temba Bavuma.

Eight England teams are playing in the SA20 competition, including skipper Jos Buttler, who is the leading run-scorer, and fast bowler Jofra Archer, who has shown good form in five matches for the MI Cape Town team.

Injuries kept Archer out of action for England for almost two years.

The pacer told reporters in Bloemfontein that he was “about 80 per cent fit” and was no longer worried that his body was “responding”.


South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Henrik Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Janman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Enrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.

England: Jos Buttler (captain, wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Joffra Archer, Harry Brook, Sam Karan, Ben Duckett, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes.


27 January, Bloemfontein (day-night)

29 January, Bloemfontein (day)

February 1, Kimberley (day-night)

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