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SA vs ENG, ODIs 2023: SA still iffy for direct CWC 2023 spot despite series win over England

South Africa vs England, ODIs 2023: South Africa still iffy for direct Cricket World Cup 2023 qualification despite series win over England. South Africa stand at no. 9 in ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League table.

South Africa still iffy for direct CWC 2023 qualification despite series win over England | Walking wicket (Images:©TembaBavuma/Twitter)
SA need to win against Netherlands to qualify for CWC 2023 (Images:©TembaBavuma/Twitter)

It was always a shocking feeling to think whether South Africa will qualify directly for the main stage of the upcoming ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023, which is set to take place in India in October-November. But their condition in the International Cricket Council’s World Cup Super League points table before the home One Day International series against England spelt a grim predicament as compared to their high standards.


Their decision to withdraw from the scheduled ODI series in Australia earlier this year in an aim to start their own T20 league - SA20 - harmed their chances even further.


Tough times for South Africa in recent months

South Africa had one of their worst ICC Men’s ODI World Cup in 2019 when they lost five of their nine games excluding one washout against West Indies; their three victories came against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and quite surprisingly, Australia.


In the recent couple of months, the Proteas were at sixes and sevens in Australia; they were shaken up with the loss at the hands of Netherlands in their last group game at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 which cost them a place in the semi-final of the event. Four weeks later, they lost 0-2 in the three-match Test series against Australia, who grabbed their first Test series victory over the Proteas at home since 2005-06.


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South Africa dependent on series against Netherlands and favourable outcome of SL-NZ ODI series for direct spot in CWC 2023

South Africa who are currently sixth in the ICC Men’s ODI team ranking, went into the three-match ODI series against England in Bloemfontein needing a very strong all-round performance to ensure automatic qualification for the Cricket World Cup later this year.


But they have a serious and tough scenario on hand to cement their chances. With the completion of this ODI series over England, South Africa will take on West Indies for a full series of two Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is but the ODI games are not going to be a part of the super league.


But the two ODIs which they will host against Netherlands at the end of their home summer in March-April will be vital to secure their ticket for the World Cup. Coming into the England series, South Africa needed to win all the five games to assure a place in the main event of the World Cup. With two wins against England, South Africa have leapfrogged both Ireland and Sri Lanka in the standings with 79 points in 19 games to secure the ninth place.


One more win in the third game of the three-match series against England would have taken them to the eighth position ahead of West Indies, who have already completed their Super League fixtures and can’t move up the table. But SA lost the last ODI against England and they have lost control from their hands of qualifying for the CWC 2023 directly.


Sri Lanka, who are currently on 77 points, can still go past the Proteas to the top eight when they will take on New Zealand in a three-match ODI series in March. The maximum points Sri Lanka can accumulate is 107, if they win all three ODIs against the Kiwis while for South Africa, victories in their last two games of the Super League stage will take them to a maximum of 99 points.


Except all those mathematic calculations, South Africa have to be careful that they don’t lose any point as penalty for bowling at a slow over rate while hoping for zero washouts in the next series against Netherlands. Interestingly, that rescheduled ODI series for the Proteas against the Dutch will clash with the starting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023.


With the ODI series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand finishing early, South Africa will have a clearer picture of understanding their own situation. If Sri Lanka win by 2-1, then couple of wins for South Africa will be enough while a 3-0 victory for Sri Lanka will be unbeatable for the Proteas. If both South Africa and Sri Lanka couldn’t go past 88 points in case of zero victories for SA and one victory for SL, then West Indies will qualify for CWC 2023 directly.


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South Africa’s poor performances in ODIs

Teams who fail to win the World Cup place automatically will have to play in a qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June and July. But even if South Africa get a direct chance, it’s certainly a new low in their cricket where they are required to depend on other teams. Even Afghanistan and Bangladesh with 115 and 120 points, respectively, in the ODI World Cup Super League points table, have qualified directly for the World Cup.


South Africa are also going to play very less Test cricket in the next Future Tours Programme of 2023-2027. They will play 28 Tests which is fewer than New Zealand (32) and Bangladesh (34), as the country is trying to make room for its domestic T20 league SA20 which has been launched three weeks back.


The England ODI series comes at a time of transition for South Africa, following the resignation of Mark Boucher as head coach. Rob Walter, the new white ball coach, stood for the games against England. The national selectors ignored calls for a shake-up in an under-performing 50-overs team and have not injected new blood into the squad for the England series as the likes of Dewald Brevis and Ryan Rickelton, the leading run-scorers in this season’s Cricket South Africa One Day Cup, kept waiting in the wings.


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ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League – Standings
ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League – Standings

Charged up South Africa displayed strong show against England to pocket ODI series

The defending champions, England were perhaps the last side South Africa hoped to face, especially being in this sort of a circumstance. The aggressive brand of cricket England play can destroy any team, let alone South Africa who are trying to fix their team.


Batting first during the first One Day International, South Africa managed to reach 298/7 in their 50 overs thanks to an old-fashioned century from Rassie van der Dussen who smashed 111 runs in 117 balls with the help of six boundaries and one maximum. David Miller with his 53-run knock in 56 balls powered them in the end.


The host’s dream of beginning the series on a winning note was half-destroyed with England racing away to 151/2 in 20.5 overs with Jason Roy notching up a 91-ball 113. Things were going down for the home side but some clueless batting from the tourists coupled with clever bowling from the Proteas helped the African nation to a vital 27-run victory.


The second ODI game was a perfect example of how South Africa have taken a leaf from England’s book of aggressive batting. The visitors, put into bat first, reached 342/7 in their 50 overs with 75-ball 80 from Harry Brook and Jos Buttler’s undefeated 81-delivery 94.


South Africa were asked to go for the highest ODI chase at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein. Their captain Temba Bavuma who played a crisp knock in the first game of the series led his side from the front. There was so much pressure on the shoulder of the Proteas captain coming into the series but he answered the detractors with his 102-ball 109 run knock with 14 fours and one six. Later, David Miller (58* in 37 balls) and Macro Jansen (32* in 29 deliveries) with their unbeaten 65-run stand for the sixth wicket, chased the score with five balls to spare to clinch the series with one game to go.


The third ODI game at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley was another high-scoring affair where South Africa after an early advantage of pushing England to 14/3, slipped as the visitors thanks to twin centuries from captain Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan posted a huge score of 346/7. In reply, South Africa kept themselves in the chase with an aggressive style of batting but losing regular wickets saw them getting bundled out for 287 gifting England a 59-run victory.


The upcoming rescheduled two-match ODI series against Netherlands will be vital for South African cricket to keep their head high before the whole world.


South Africa will take on the Netherlands in the rescheduled two-match ODI series starting on March 31 at the Willowmoore Park in Benoni, while Sri Lanka will start their three-match ODI series against New Zealand starting on March 25 at Eden Park in Auckland.

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