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South Africa v England

Wisden writers pick the fringe players England should select against South Africa

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

England’s three-match ODI series against South Africa begins on Friday, with the visitors lacking a full-strength squad.

World Cup winners Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer have been granted a rest, while the sparky Sam Curran is also taking a breather after playing in the 3-0 T20I series win over the Proteas. Opportunities will therefore be granted to members outside of England’s usual 50-over playing XI.

The Wisden.com trio of Ben Gardner, Taha Hashim and Yas Rana have each picked out a player on the fringes they believe England should take closer inspection of in the series.

Reece Topley

With Archer given a rest, there’s a spot open for someone to take the new ball alongside Chris Woakes and it’d be quite the story if Reece Topley was the man to fill it. There have been stress fractures, regular injections and a period away from the professional grind since the 26-year-old toured South Africa with England as a bright young thing nearly five years ago. But he’s somehow come through it all, and there’s a hell of a bowler there: a tall, stocky presence who generates decent carry and is a move away from the factory line of right-armers. Having put together impressive back-to-back T20 Blast campaigns, to watch him play around with 10 overs would be an educational watch, too; his comeback appearance against Ireland in the summer was his first List-A game since 2018. TH

Liam Livingstone

What’s not to like? If you ask the county players he gets engaged in slanging matches with, the answer is ‘quite a lot, actually’, but then that’s part of the charm. Here you have an outrageously talented, in-your-face cricketer who in any other era would be one of the English game’s most marketable, established names. It’s only right that his own brand of hard-hitting and weird spin gets something of a run at No.6, so we can see what he’s really capable of. BG

Olly Stone

Stone thrilled on his international debut in Sri Lanka in 2018 but hasn’t appeared for England since his solitary Test appearance against Ireland in 2019. Genuinely quick, Stone looked to be back to something near his best in the second pre-series warm-up game ahead of the T20Is after another frustrating spell out injured this summer. A strong showing in the ODIs, if afforded the opportunity to impress, could see him back in the Test reckoning ahead of two marquee winter tours to India and Australia in consecutive winters. YR

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