And just like that, England’s home white-ball summer is at its end.
While the bigger-picture issues will continue to feature in conversation, England have also found themselves answering questions about how smoothly their transition to a new white-ball era is going. White-ball coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler are yet to win a limited-overs trophy at home and will want to finish the summer with a series victory after a few inconsistent results.
England LWWLL(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa WLLLW
In the spotlight
Moeen Ali is already having his best year with the bat in T20Is. In 10 innings this year, Moeen has scored 259 runs at 25.90 and a strike rate of 171.52. He has batted at No. 4 or No. 5 seven times and posted fifty-plus scores twice while striking at 172.47. Given Roy’s recent dip in form – he has one fifty in his last 13 innings – and without Stokes in the squad, Moeen has ensured there’s someone on hand to provide the middle-order fireworks. Oh, and don’t forget, he is handy with the ball too.
England stuck to the same XI in the back-to-back matches earlier in the week and may want to keep faith in them in the final white-ball match of the summer. But, in the interests of rotating the quicks, David Willey could replace Richard Gleeson, who has been expensive in both matches so far, and they may consider making room for Phil Salt.
England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (capt/wk), 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Richard Gleeson/David Willey, 11 Reece Topley
While South Africa might want to bring back Aiden Markram, with a bottleneck of top-order batters in the squad and all the three in the team doing well, Markram may have to wait for the Ireland series to get a run. Similarly, Dwaine Pretorius and Wayne Parnell could find themselves carrying drinks while Andile Phehlukwayo is given the opportunity to close out the series. Shamsi stormed back to form in Bristol and should keep his place ahead of a third specialist seamer which could leave South Africa with a choice between Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.
South Africa: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 Heinrich Klaasen, 5 Tristan Stubbs, 6 David Miller (capt), 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Kagiso Rabada/Anrich Nortje, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
“You want to win every series you play. We haven’t won one yet this summer and that’s something we’re not accustomed to as a group, but this is the start of a new cycle as a team. We’re still working ourselves out and gelling and we need to do that quickly. Winning a series would be great for that.”
Jos Buttler emphasises the importance of adding a trophy to England’s cabinet.
“We were disappointed after the first game. The chat was to try and bounce back, which we managed to do. We are quietly confident. We back ourselves to go in there and put in another good performance. It’s set up to a really good game. To get a series win in England would be a good achievement.”
A series win is just as important to South Africa as Reeza Hendricks explains
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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