Cape Town – While
debate will rage for weeks about the merits of England’s maiden achievement in
winning the World Cup, the outcome was almost certainly a positive one for
cricket in South Africa.
indelible and matters the most, after unquestionably the tightest and most
dramatic of showpieces in the 44-year history of the event, is that the name of
that country is now etched on the trophy … once the dust settles, that’s really
all that counts, however luckless you may consider runners-up New Zealand to
Africa, by contrast, ended depressingly among the pronounced also-rans at CWC
2019, the Lord’s result on Sunday was a good one for severely cash-challenged
Cricket South Africa (CSA).
conveniently, England will arrive as the headline summer guests of the Proteas
in a few months’ time bolstered by their status as World Cup champions –
something that spices up further the box-office appeal of the extended combat
in all three formats.
v England at the peak of the southern hemisphere season every few years is
seldom a hard-sell event anyway, a situation bolstered by the fact that the
tourists will bring with them a vast support base – much of it their thirsty
“Barmy Army”, if you like – out of the British mid-winter and revelling in the
favourable pound/rand exchange rate for them on these shores.
It is a
welcome infusion to CSA’s 2019/20 roster, given that an England tour will
almost automatically be profitable for the local umbrella body, in contrast to
a season like the last one when Pakistan and Sri Lanka (both not among the recognised
frontline three or four nations) were the more modest-interest guests and, in
several respects, traditionally only leave CSA in the red financially.
just-completed World Cup success of the Proteas’ premier adversaries on home
soil in the looming season – there will also be some later white-ball
internationals against Australia – gives marketers/promoters extra ammunition for
the season ahead in the tough economic climate here.
play four Tests and three Twenty20 internationals as well, while the Proteas
get three opportunities to tackle the planet’s 50-overs champions, and arguably
the best side anyway in the last four-year cycle, at ODI level: Newlands
(February 4), Kingsmead (February 7) and the Wanderers (February 9).
would have been preferable, especially considering latest developments, to play
the CWC-holders in a more customary five or more ODIs, but stronger provision
has been made for both teams to sharpen their T20 games ahead of the next ICC
World Twenty20 in Australia from October 2020, explaining why there is a
generous trio of tussles in that format.
England are going to be more significant general drawcards than usual in the SA
season, quite possibly also arriving, for Test purposes, as holders of the illustrious,
time-honoured Ashes too.
Australia have the urn, considering their 4-0 thumping of the old enemy in
2017/18 Down Under, England have won all of the last four Ashes series
specifically on home surfaces and are likely to be branded favourites to seize
them back over the course of five potentially compelling Tests between August 1
and September 16.
as things stand and bearing in mind that they have a formidable away series
against India in the interim, lie one spot higher (in third) than England on
the ICC Test rankings.
English boast bragging rights in each of the last two five-day series – home
and away – between the countries.
the Proteas 3-1 in England in 2017, and also triumphed in the last SA-staged
series for the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy in 2015/16 (2-1).
Many of the major
stars of their ODI squad are either cross-format figures anyway or soon will be:
someone like tearaway quickie Jofra Archer springs rapidly to mind as an
appealing, likely “transfer” now into the Test landscape for them.
nasty blows to the helmets of at least three rival batsmen in the World Cup –
our own veteran Hashim Amla, Australia’s Alex Carey and, on Sunday, the Black
Caps’ Colin de Grandhomme – and thudded deliveries into numerous ribcages as
will naturally wish to fight fire with fire on the pace front, through the
likes of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, perhaps still Dale Steyn, and also their
own mystery factor of sorts in the form of rookie Anrich Nortje.
that someone like Ben Stokes, the dynamic all-rounder who earned player-of-the-match
in the World Cup final, is a bigger name now than he even was on the last
full-scale England safari to our shores, when his still career-best innings of
258 (only 198 balls) was a stellar feature of the prestigious Newlands New Year
international summer in South Africa? It’s all good from an appeal point of
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