South Africa and England will renew their battle in T20I cricket on Wednesday when the first of three T20Is starts in East London, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
Coming off the back of a shared ODI series, both teams will be eager to finish the almost three-month tour of England to South Africa on a high.
But, the two countries also share a rather tightly fought rivalry in this format of the game and the result of the next three matches could make a real difference to the head-to-head record.
The Proteas and England have faced each other 15 times in T20I cricket with the South Africans winning eight and England six, while one encounter back in 2012 yielded no result.
The two teams first played each other in the first-ever T20 World Cup, which was staged in South Africa in 2007. The Proteas and England met in a Super 8 clash at Newlands, which the hosts won by 19 runs.
They then went head to head on the same stage of the 2009 World Cup in England and again the Proteas, who were one of the favourites to win the competition, walked away as victors by seven wickets.
South Africa and England then played their first-ever T20I series as part of England’s tour to the country in 2009-10. The series consisted of only two matches with both sides winning one as the series ended in a draw.
Interestingly, Joe Denly opened the batting for England in that series and now, 10 years later, he is back in the frame and in excellent form.
England would get one over the Proteas in the 2010 edition of the World Cup and eventually went on to win the competition under Paul Collingwood’s captaincy.
South Africa’s tour to England in 2012 also resulted in a shared T20I series after the second match rained out.
Following the conclusion of that tour South Africa also became the first country to hold the No-1 ranking in all three formats of the game.
In the 2014 World Cup in Sri Lanka, the Proteas again looked like a competitive outfit, beating England by three runs in the group stages, only to lose to India in the semi-final.
They would, however, complete a dominant 2-0 series win during England’s tour 0f 2016.
The Proteas narrowly won the first T20I at Newlands before AB de Villiers smashed them to a massive nine-wicket victory at the Wanderers two days later.
England, though, began to show drastic improvement in all their white-ball cricket matches later that year and thumped the Proteas by two wickets in the World Cup in India a few months later.
The last time these two teams met in T20Is was in 2017 during South Africa’s tour to England. Eoin Morgan captained his team to a 2-1 win, which capped a horrible two months for the Proteas as they lost the Test, ODI and T20I series.
While South Africa have named a rather young and inexperienced squad for the upcoming three matches, England have been boosted by the return of Ben Stokes and Jos Butler, who were rested for the recent ODIs.
But the Proteas will be more than relieved to have Dale Steyn back in the set-up. His value and experience could prove to be significant for the younger players around him in the squad.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (c; wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.
Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Pat Brown, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood .
Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images