England are the world champions and are topping the International Cricket Council ODI rankings, but Proteas captain Quinton de Kock said those accolades count for nothing when their three-match series begins in Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite their World Cup failure, South Africa are still ranked fourth in the world and have won their last three ODIs against England at home, while they have won an astonishing 30 of their 36 ODIs against all opposition at Newlands, never losing to the British in Cape Town.
“It’s going to be like playing any other team, it’s just a normal England side, them winning the World Cup does not change anything. We did pretty well against them the last time they were here, we won the series. It’s going to be nice not playing against Ben Stokes, but England still have some great players, there’s a lot of the World Cup squad and some very good youngsters,” said De Kock in Cape
“We’re in a rebuilding stage but it’s very important for us to start off with a win and the team seem up for it. We have a lot of new guys
coming in so naturally there’s lots of energy. There are a lot of potential debuts so the team is excited and it’s good to have those new players around. They’ve been knocking on the door anyway and it’s a good time for them to have an opportunity,” De Kock added.
But Newlands’ new favourite, wicketkeeper/batsman Kyle Verreynne, is unlikely to be one of those debutants and De Kock was adamant that he did not see himself relinquishing the gloves in the near future.
“It helps with my captaincy and my batting and I think it’s key for me to hang on to the gloves for as long as I can. It probably
sounds like a lot of work but I’ve done it for a while and it’s second nature, the captaincy has added a bit more responsibility but I enjoy that, hopefully it makes me better and I feel it is good for me,” said De Kock.
The 27-year-old also opens the batting in white-ball cricket and he confirmed that Reeza Hendricks would now be his new partner at the top of the order following the retirement of Hashim Amla.
The pair scored 4 198 runs together in 93 innings at an average of 46.64, putting on a century stand 11 times and reaching 50 on 14 occasions, and are ranked fifth in ODI history in terms of total partnership runs scored for the first wicket.
“Reeza and Hashim are similar people, Reeza is very calm, cool and collected so it will be like batting with Hash. We’ve played a lot of cricket together so we have a good understanding and I’m sure we’ll do well together. Reeza plays the situation very well and he’s cool-headed so it seems like the pressure doesn’t worry him.”