- England are the strong favourites going into the three-match one-day international series against South Africa.
- South Africa beat Australia 3-0 in their most recent one-day international back in March.
- The challenges facing Mark Boucher and the national selectors are both medical and political.
World Cup champions England start as strong favourites when they take on a South Africa side struggling on and off the pitch in a three-match one-day international series starting at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
In their most recent one-day international series, South Africa beat Australia 3-0.
But that was a long time ago, as coach Mark Boucher pointed out in the aftermath of South Africa's 3-0 trouncing by England in a Twenty20 international series which ended with a nine-wicket defeat at the same Newlands ground on Tuesday.
The series against Australia was back in March and much has changed since then, not least a lengthy, coronavirus-induced break for the South African team and upheaval in the boardroom and offices of Cricket South Africa.
It was perhaps symbolic that an announcement was made by the recently-appointed interim board of CSA during Tuesday's match that the organisation's company secretary, Welsh Gwaza, had been suspended and will face a disciplinary hearing on 14 December.
Gwaza was mentioned numerous times in a forensic report which led to the firing of chief executive Thabang Moroe in August.
The challenges facing Boucher and the national selectors are both medical and political.
It has been reported locally that the racial transformation targets for the national team are to be increased so that by 2023 no more than four white players may be picked in an eleven.
This, though, may be a relic of the disgraced former board because a spokesperson for the interim board told AFP on Wednesday that the transformation issue had not yet been discussed by her colleagues, who currently are grappling with corporate governance matters.
"Someone above me needs to answer that," said Boucher when asked about the targets.
The South African teams that played in the T20 series lacked balance in the form of all-rounders, with Andile Phehlukwayo unavailable and Dwaine Pretorius injured in training.
Leading fast bowler Kagiso Rabada missed the third match and was ruled out of the one-day series by a hip injury.
Also unavailable was the powerful left-handed batsman, David Miller, which Boucher said affected the effectiveness of the top-order batting.
CSA have consistently refused to name the two players who tested positive for Covid-19 before the series but both Phehlukwayo and Miller will be available for the one-day games, according to a CSA spokesperson.
Both teams will be much-changed for the one-day series.
Star England players Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran are being rested, while T20 player of the series, Dawid Malan, and all-rounder Chris Jordan were not selected for the one-day games.
South Africa will surely welcome back Miller and Phehlukwayo along with several or all of Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kyle Verreynne and Keshav Maharaj, who played in the winning series against Australia.
England's batting will be bolstered by Test captain Joe Root, while there will be a new-look bowling attack in which all-rounder Chris Woakes and fast bowlers Mark Wood and Olly Stone could feature.
4 December, Cape Town
6 December, Paarl
9 December, Cape Town