England’s cricketers are set for a big One Day International series against South Africa that starts a busy year of limited overs cricket.
Jos Buttler’s side have one eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup in India from October to November this year, with this series in the southern hemisphere viewed as ideal preparation against a dangerous South Africa side who beat them at home in 2022.
Following their ICC T20 World Cup victory in Australia in November 2022, England are looking to underline their position as the holders of both international limited overs honours and arguably the best short-format side in the history of the sport.
That strength has also been bolstered by a new Nottinghamshire signing for their squad in South Africa.
Olly Stone joins fellow Notts man Ben Duckett in the squad after returning from injury, and both are expected to play key roles in the three games.
They begin their campaign against the Proteas with the first ODI this Friday, 27 January, at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.
They return to the same venue on Sunday, January 29 for the second ODI, and then travel roughly 100 miles west to Kimberley for the third and final ODI, taking place on Wednesday, February 1.
England have been in scintillating form in limited-overs cricket in recent years, with their 2019 Cricket World Cup title the crowning glory in this run.
In 2022, they memorably smashed the world record score in One Day Internationals by posting 498-4 against Netherlands in a series they won 3-0, but then only grabbed two match wins in back-to-back series against India, South Africa and Australia.
Three Lions on their shirts.
Ben Duckett and Olly Stone have been included in England's 14-strong ODI squad to tour South Africa in the new year.
— Nottinghamshire CCC (@TrentBridge) December 22, 2022
The latter of those was less memorable, having seen England experience a hangover from their T20 World Cup victory.
But Buttler will be keen to avenge the home defeats before that, with the 1-1 series draw against South Africa a particular frustration.
Temba Bavuma’s Proteas are facing a struggle to even make it to this autumn’s Cricket World Cup and need to gain confidence ahead of potentially decisive qualifying matches later this year.
They’ve named a strong squad including the much-feared bowling corps of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi and Lungi Ngidi, while all-rounder David Miller and batsmen Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen also have plenty of pedigree.
England’s 14-man squad, meanwhile, contains the returning Jofra Archer, as well as the out-of-form Jason Roy who will go head-to-head with Phil Salt for an opening spot.
There are plenty of storylines set to bubble away in the South African heat, so it will be a series not to miss.
The series can be followed on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket, both on TV and on the NOW app.
The BBC will also be broadcasting commentary of the tour, with the Test Match Special team set to bring full coverage every day.
Broadcasts will be aired on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, with build-up of each match and day starting prior the following game times:
1st ODI: 11am, Friday 27th January – Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein
2nd ODI: 8am, Sunday 29th January – Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein
3rd ODI: 11am, Wednesday 1st February – Kimberley Oval, Kimberley