Head to head: England versus South Africa-- the first battle of cricket World Cup 2019 kicks off

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - England v South Africa - Kia Oval, London, Britain - May 30, 2019 General view of the trophy being carried by a performer during the opening ceremony before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
  • England and South Africa have a 3-3 head-to-head record in World Cup matches but England are among the top favourites in this year's tournament.
  • Among their tussles was the infamous 2nd semi-final of the 1992 World Cup, when rain & the Duckworth Louis method played spoilsport to break South African hearts.
  • England have lost their previous home encounter against South Africa, back in 1999.
Hosts England and perennial bridesmaids South Africa kick off the 2019 World Cup today at The Oval in London.

England, the No.1 ODI team as per the ICC rankings, will start as favourites. However, South Africa, the No. 3 ranked side, will look to history for inspiration – they bossed their previous World Cup encounter in England (incidentally, at The Oval) back in 1999. Overall, England and South Africa have a 3-3 head-to-head record in the World Cup.

However, Eoin Morgan's team are among the top favourites to win this year's tournament. The odds in the betting market are 2:1 in favour of England to win the World Cup in 2019, according to the The Telegraph in UK, whereas for the Proteas the odds are 9:1.

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Key Players

England have a powerful batting line-up, with their top 6 having excellent records since January 2018. Johnny Bairstow is their top run-getter with 1,337 runs from 30 innings with 5 centuries and 4 fifties. Four more players in England’s top six have scored more than 1,000 runs.

They will also depend on allrounder Ben Stokes, who has scored 567 runs from 23 games at an average of 47.25. Their strike bowler is leg spinner Adil Rashid, who has taken 55 wickets since 2018 at a strike rate of 29.7. They also have an impressive fast bowling line-up, which has been further strengthened by the last-minute inclusion of Jofra Archer.

Table: England’s batsmen since 2018

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NoNameInningsRunsHSAverage100s 50s
1Johnny Bairstow301,33713944.5654
2Joe Root341.321113*52.8446
3Jason Roy291,31718048.7753
4Eion Morgan301,17610349.00111
5Jos Buttler25102615057.0044
6Ben Stokes175677947.2505



Table: England’s bowlers since 2018

NoNameInningsWicketsBest BowlingAverageStrike Rate
1Adil Rashid31555/8528.2729.7
2Chris Woakes19325/5428.8729.8
3Moeen Ali30304/4645.2648.9
4Liam Plunkett19284/3529.8528.3
5Tom Curran 16265/3528.5727.0
6Mark Wood 21224/6046.6347.8

South Africa will heavily rely on captain Faf du Plessis, who has an average of 66.23 since 2018. They will be looking forward to contributions from Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, and from the dynamic Rassie van der Dussen, who has scored 353 runs in his first 10 matches at an average of 88.25, with 4 fifties.

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Going by recent form, South Africa has a very balanced bowling line-up. The pace department is led by Kagiso Rabada, who has taken 36 wickets from 24 games, and Lungi Ngidi, who has taken 34 wickets from just 19 games at an average of 21.97. Adile Phelukwayo has also tasted success with his medium-pacers and Dale Steyn is back in the squad. Imran Tahir may be the oldest player in the World Cup, but the legspinner continues to excel.

Table: South Africa’s batsmen since 2018
NoNameInningsRunsHSAverage100s 50s
1Faf du Plessis1786112566.2333
2Quinton de Kock 1879612144.2216
3Hashim Amla16529108*25.2613
4David Miller 1852613937.5712
5Aiden Markram1743767*27,3101
6JP Duminy 143799234.4503
7 Rassie van der Dussen83539388.2504


Table: South Africa’s bowlers since 2018

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NoNameInningsWicketsBest BowlingAverageStrike Rate
1Kagiso Rabada24364/4127.3833.8
2Lungi Ngidi19344/5122.24425.0
3Adile Phelukwayo22314/2226.0628.0
4Imran Tahir18256/2426.6834.9
5Dale Steyn9163/2918.3727.1
6Tabraiz Shamsi10124/3339.1642.2

Looking back: Heartbreak for South Africa

Their most famous game was the semi-final of the 1992 World Cup in Sydney, which England won in controversial circumstances. Batting first, England’s innings was cut short at 252/6 in 45 overs due to rain. Graeme Hick, with 83 of 90 balls, was the top-scorer. South Africa had a difficult chase, and despite regular wickets, they reached a situation where they needed 22 runs of 13 balls with four wickets in store. However, they were stopped in their tracks due to a 12-minute interruption due to rain. The cricket shocked when the revised target [as per the newly introduced Duckworth/Louis method) was displayed on the electronic scorecard: 22 runs of 7 balls, which was then corrected to 22 runs of 1 ball.


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