England’s resolve to use the one-day series here as a sink-or-swim trial for emerging players will be tested in Johannesburg on Sunday after Durban’s wet weather wrecked the second match.
The original plan was for the hard-hitting Somerset batsman Tom Banton and leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, of Lancashire, to be tested in the opening two fixtures and for more experienced campaigners like Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to be considered for the final one at the Wanderers.
However, with only 11.2 overs contested at Kingsmead on Friday, captain Eoin Morgan and coach Chris Silverwood may have to change tack.
‘If they do come back it won’t be to play our strongest team, it might be to get them some cricket under their belt before the T20s,’ Morgan said.
‘We don’t have a T20 warm-up game here, our priority is T20 cricket and those two guys come into contention for our best XI.
‘If they do play then that will be the reason behind it, not because we want to level the series. We would have played them today if we were trying to kick on. We’re looking to know more about people and present opportunity.
‘Yes we want to win but we also want to know a lot more about other guys come the end of the tour with a longer-term plan in place.’
England now need to triumph in Sunday’s series finale to avoid a first one-day series defeat in more than three years, a period spanning 10 wins and a draw when it has come to 50-over cricket.
They did not leave the team hotel to head to Kingsmead on Friday until 1pm, the scheduled start time, and several false dawns preceded the wet weather having its final say shortly before seven o’clock.
Morgan’s world champions were looking to atone for a sub-standard display in the seven-wicket defeat at Newlands on Tuesday but managed just a wicket apiece in two short sessions between the showers of what began as a 45-overs-per-side match.
Quirkily, South Africa captain Quinton de Kock and number three Temba Bavuma suffered identical dismissals to the first ODI – bowled by Joe Root’s off-spin and trapped leg before by Chris Jordan respectively – in a score of 71 for two.