The Cricket World Cup looms large for both South Africa and Sri Lanka when they meet in a five-match one-day international series starting at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
While South Africa will be keen to get back to winning form after shock losses to the Lankans in two home Tests, both teams appear to be undecided on their best 15 players for the World Cup in England and Wales, starting in May.
South Africa have picked a 14-man squad packed with bowlers for the first three internationals, indicating the matches could help decide their best bowling combinations for the World Cup, while Sri Lanka have a squad of 17 players, two more than they can take to the global event.
Both teams have moderate recent records. South Africa have won 12 and lost 10 matches since the start of 2018, while Sri Lanka have six wins, 13 losses and a no-result in the same period.
Sri Lanka lost all three matches in New Zealand last month after veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga was appointed captain.
South Africa’s one-day squad includes only five of the players who appeared in the Tests and Sri Lanka have retained only seven of the victorious Test team – but Sri Lanka’s Test wins are sure to add spice to the series despite the change in format and likely conditions.
South Africa will welcome a return to the faster pitches of Johannesburg and Centurion, venue of the second match, after losing the Test matches on the slower surfaces of Durban and Port Elizabeth, where the third and fourth matches will be played.
Fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi and uncapped Anrich Nortje, both recovered after long-term injuries, could provide a challenge to the Sri Lankan batsmen, while veteran Dale Steyn will be keen to show that he is still worth a World Cup place.
The South African selectors will be monitoring the fitness of JP Duminy, regarded as a key player if South Africa are to challenge at the World Cup.
He was due to return to domestic cricket with the Cape Cobras on Friday after missing most of the season because of a shoulder injury.
Duminy was not picked for the first three one-day internationals but it is hoped he will play in the last two matches.
Sri Lanka’s squad has been bolstered by the inclusion of experienced players Malinga, Upul Tharanga and Thisara Perera who did not play in the Tests.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wkt), Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Niroshan Dickwella (vice-captain, wkt), Akila Dananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Kamindu Mendis, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Perera, Kusal Perera, Priyamal Perera, Thisara Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Upul Tharanga, Isuru Udana.
March 3, Johannesburg
March 6, Centurion
March 10, Durban
March 13, Port Elizabeth
March 16, Cape Town
Living the dream: Livingstone lands huge Super League deal in SA
He is joined in South Africa by countrymen Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Tom Curran.
Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone was a surprise first-round pick in the draft for South Africa’s Mzansi Super League on Tuesday. Livingstone, 26, a hard-hitting batsman and leg-spin bowler, was bought by the Cape Town Blitz franchise for a million rand.
Although his international experience is limited to two Twenty20 internationals for England in 2017, Livingstone has played in the Indian and Pakistan Twenty20 leagues with the Rajasthan Royals and Karachi Kings respectively.
He is joined in South Africa by countrymen Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Tom Curran, who had previously been named as international marquee players, earning R1.2-million each, for the Durban Heat, Nelson Mandela Bay Giants and Tshwane Spartans.
English players dominated the foreign signings for the six franchises. Veteran batsman Ravi Bopara was bought by Durban Heat for R750,000 while England World Cup-winning squad member James Vince went to the Paarl Rocks for R350,000.
West Indian Chris Gayle was again signed as a marquee player for Jozi Stars, the defending champions, while Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz was assigned to the Cape Town Blitz and Isuru Udana of Sri Lanka joined the Paarl Rocks.
Jozi Stars retained Australian all-rounder Dan Christian while fellow Australian Ben Dunk was bought by Nelson Mandela Bay Giants. Pakistanis Asif Ali and Mohammad Nawaz were retained by Cape Town Blitz.
Seventeen-year-old Afghanistan left-arm wrist spinner Waqar Salamkheil, who took four wickets on his Test debut against Ireland in March, will join the Tshwane Spartans. He was a ninth-round choice for a fee of R180,000.
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Cricket South Africa said 184 foreign or South African Kolpak players had put their names forward for the draft. The overseas players will join South Africa’s leading cricketers, including some such as AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel who are unlikely to play any other cricket in their home country during the season.
Rugby player Dyantyi fails B sample drug test in South Africa
Dyantyi insisted he had not taken any banned substance and requested a B sample test.
Springbok Aphiwe Dyantyi’s B sample has tested positive for banned substances, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport said Friday. It was disclosed last weekend that the 2018 Rugby World Breakthrough Player of the Year had tested positive after a Springbok training camp in July.
Dyantyi, who missed out on a chance of selection for the Rugby World Cup in Japan this month because of a hamstring injury, insisted he had not taken any banned substance and requested a B sample test.
“I want to deny ever taking any prohibited substance, intentionally or negligently, to enhance my performance on the field,” he said after the A sample result was disclosed. “I have never cheated and never will. The presence of this prohibited substance in my body has come as a massive shock to me.”
The 24-year-old winger from the Golden Lions club in Johannesburg can accept the charge and plea for a reduced sanction or appeal before an independent tribunal panel. Should he plead not guilty, there will be a hearing within four weeks and Dyantyi must provide evidence that proves his innocence.
Springboks appoints coach Felix Jones to World Cup technical team
Replacing Swys de Bruin, Jones will act as defence consultant during the September – November World Cup
South Africa have added former Ireland international Felix Jones to the coaching team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the national rugby body announced Wednesday.
His surname will excite superstitious South African supporters as Australian Eddie Jones was a Springbok assistant coach when they last won the tournament 12 years ago.
The Irishman will act as defence consultant during the September 20-November 2 World Cup, filling a vacancy created when attack coach Swys de Bruin withdrew for medical reasons several weeks ago.
Springboks head coach, Rassie Erasmus said the squad preferred to have a defence coach, believing an attack coach could introduce new ideas and sow confusion.
“I spoke to the players after Swys decided to step down and the consensus was that we did not want a new attack coach,” said Erasmus.
“But they were interested in having more analysis of defensive patterns and structures to assist in breaking down opponents.”
Jones, 32, won 13 caps for Ireland at full-back or wing during a 10-year playing career with the Leinster and Munster provincial teams.
After retiring four years ago, he became part of the Munster coaching set-up and also worked briefly as an assistant coach of Ireland.
Other Springbok assistant coaches include former Scotland forward Matthew Proudfoot and ex-South Africa sevens star Mzwandile Stick.
South Africa are in Pool B at the World Cup with defending champions New Zealand, Canada, Italy and Namibia.
The Springboks and All Blacks are expected to fill the top two positions in the final standings and secure quarter-final places.
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