Cape Town — Proteas stand-in captain Keshav Maharaj is hoping the “exuberance of youth” will provide the energy needed to take down world champions England on their home soil in the upcoming One-Day International series.
The Proteas ODI squad departs on Friday for the first leg of a two-month long tour of the United Kingdom that also includes three T20Is and three Test matches. There are also two T20Is against Ireland sandwiched between the T20Is and Tests.
Maharaj has taken over the leadership reins in the ODI format for this tour due to regular captain Temba Bavuma being ruled out with an elbow injury. Bavuma suffered a blow to his elbow in the fourth T20I against India in Rajkot last month. Fast bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada has also been rested for the three ODIs.
Maharaj, though, believes the Proteas can counter this dynamic England team who will also be playing under a new captain Jos Buttler after World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan’s retirement from international cricket last month.
“Everyone is ready to go. England have done really well and their new coaches have done really well in instilling their philosophies, but we are going there to try focus on our own game and according to how we have played in the last couple of years, especially in the shorter formats, and hopefully it will be enough to beat this England team,” Maharaj told reporters on Thursday.
“They have done exceptionally well over the last few years and it will be a good test. If this team wants to be the best in the world, then we have to play the best. We are going to focus on ourselves and do the basics well. We have sort of picked a squad that caters for all our needs and various combinations that we can try.”
The Proteas have an abysmal away record in bilateral ODI series against England, having last won on British soil back in 1998 when they lifted the Texaco Cup. To fully understand just how long ago this actually was, the Texaco Cup was still played in white clothing and with a red ball. The Proteas have therefore, in fact, never actually won a white-ball ODI series in England ever.
Much of this has had to do with the ODI’s often being played after a fiercely-contested Test series with the tourists not paying much attention to the shorter format. However, this tour’s schedule has been changed with the white-ball formats preceding the Test series, which only gets underway towards the latter part of August.
“It might be a good way to start the tour. We are so used to playing the Test format first and then into the ODIs. A change-up is good sometimes, and we always embrace it. The main thing is the guys are hungry to play cricket again. We are ready to showcase our talent to show how far we’ve come as a unit,” Maharaj said.
“I have only played two ODI’s in England .. but I think (in the past) we have been too slow to adapt to the conditions. I remember the series (2017) I was involved in, we lost 2-1, and we only found our rhythm in the last ODI and hopefully we can replicate what we did in the last ODI in terms of adapting.
“Having said that, we have plenty of new personnel in the team compared to five or six years ago, and hopefully that exuberance of youth can add some energy to the squad and rectify things sooner rather than later.”
The Proteas begin their tour next week with a couple of matches against the England Lions before the first ODI on Tuesday, July 19 at Chester-le-Street in Durham.
The full Proteas ODI squad
Keshav Maharaj (captain), Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phelukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams, Khaya Zondo, Kyle Verreynne.