England and South Africa begin quest to end World Cup drought


South Africa will go face to face with England in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 opener at The Oval after the Proteas’ schedule of matches in the 30 May to 14 July tournament was confirmed today.

South Africa had played England at the same venue in the 1999 tournament and following Herschelle Gibbs’ half-century and Allan Donald’s four for 17, had made short work of the host nation by 122 runs. That match was South Africa’s third group fixture and gave them three wins out of three matches.

Australia, who twice broke South Africa’s hearts in the 1999 tournament at Headingley and Edgbaston, will be Faf du Plessis’s side’s last opponents in the single-league format in the 10-team tournament. Fittingly, Old Trafford will be the venue of this mouth-watering clash on 6 July, which will also be South Africa’s second and last day/night fixture.

In the 1999 World Cup, South Africa had played and convincingly beaten New Zealand at Edgbaston. This time again, the two sides will meet at the same venue on 19 June and this will be South Africa’s sixth league match.

South Africa have lost their last two matches to Pakistan in 50-over tournaments in Auckland (World Cup 2015) and Birmingham (ICC Champions Trophy 2017). In next year’s tournament, they will aim to avenge for the recent losses by taking on the reigning ICC Champions Trophy winners at Lord’s on 23 June.

South Africa’s other matches in the tournament are at The Oval (against Bangladesh, 2 June),  Hampshire Bowl (against India, 5 June; and against the Windies, 10 June), Cardiff Wales Stadium (against Afghanistan, 15 June) and The Riverside (against Sri Lanka, 28 June).

Looking ahead to next year’s tournament, South Africa’s all-rounder Chris Morris said: “World Cup is a massive thing to every sportsman, not just to a cricket player. It is the pinnacle of a sportsman’s career.

“To be able to give yourself an opportunity to win a World Cup for your country, is an amazing journey to be a part of. It is not just a six-month journey, but a four-year journey building up to the tournament.

“As a South African, you have the opportunity to create history as a cricketer and do something that no other cricketer has done.”

Morris opined that next year’s tournament will one of the most open events in recent years and will largely depend on how teams are peaking.

“It is probably the most open World Cup, it depends what teams are peaking at the right time, but there is always an upset at a World Cup and you will always remember them,” said Morris, who has scored 393 runs and taken 35 wickets in 34 ODIs to date.

He added: “One individual can take a game of cricket away on the day, it will be very interesting to play against teams that some guys have not played against and new players that have never been seen coming onto the big stage, so it is exciting for all those involved.”

South Africa’s schedule of World Cup matches:

30 May – v England, The Oval (d)

2 June – v Bangladesh, The Oval (d)

5 June – v India,  Hampshire Bowl (d)

10 June – v Windies,  Hampshire Bowl (d)

15 June –  v Afghanistan, Cardiff Wales Stadium (d/n)

19 June – v New Zealand, Edgbaston (d)

23 June – v Pakistan, Lord’s (d)

28 June – v Sri Lanka, The Riverside (d)

6 July – v Australia, Old Trafford (d/n)