Joe Root hopes England can repeat recent history by clinching the one-day series at the Wanderers, just as the Test side sealed their series here last month.
The England batsman returns to the scene of his ninth Test century, which came in a series-securing seven-wicket win, on the back of another hundred – this time his ODI career-best 125 at Centurion three days ago.That innings was not enough to avoid defeat, though, as South Africa easily chased down 318 for 8 on the back of an opening stand of 239 between Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla. Thus the hosts narrowed the deficit to 2-1 with two to play.
It was 1-0 to England with two to play when they reached Johannesburg in the Test series. Root did not disappoint, and nor did the current world No 1 Test bowler Stuart Broad, who took 6 for 17 in the second innings and will return for his first ODI in almost a year.
Asked if the surroundings of the Wanderers would motivate England to repeat their success, Root said: “Absolutely. We’ve got a lot of positive things to look at throughout this series anyway.
“We’ve already won here on the tour, and it’d be great to do that again. But we’re going to have to play some really good cricket on what should be a very high-scoring ground.”
This highveld venue, where the ball famously flies so far off the bat because of the 4,000 feet of altitude, is universally associated with huge limited-overs scores. Three of the four all-time highest ODI totals between Test-playing nations have been made here.
Two came in the same match, when South Africa beat Australia in 2006, and then last winter’s run-fest of 439 for 2 against West Indies featured the hosts’ record opening stand of 247 between Amla and Rilee Rossouw before captain AB de Villiers struck the fastest hundred in history off 31 balls.
England are expected to place their faith in Broad again in order to try to stop a recurrence of anything like that. Their Test linchpin was omitted from the ICC World Twenty20 squad announced on Wednesday but, after being retained for this series following injuries to first Steven Finn and then Liam Plunkett, he is expected to be back in white-ball action for the first time since England’s hapless World Cup campaign 11 months ago.
The tourists’ pace attack appeared in need of reinforcement when De Kock and Amla were hitting them to all parts of the ground at Centurion on Tuesday, and Broad is the most obvious available remedy, possibly in place of Chris Jordan.
Root believes that if the Nottinghamshire paceman is selected, he will be a significant asset. “I’m sure he’ll be desperate to come out and play, especially after the way he performed here last time,” Root said. “Stuart’s played more than 100 one-dayers for England and has huge amounts of experience,” he added. “If he comes in, that’s just one of a few things he’ll bring – that experience and knowledge.”