Cape Town – It is one down and four to go for Ian Botham’s audacious theory that England may win the one-day international series against South Africa by a 5-0 margin.
The legendary all-rounder and television commentator, who was in the country for the preceding Test series recently, offered 25/1 on Sky Bet for an English clean sweep, ahead of the series which started in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
He is at least on track for that possibility as Eoin Morgan’s troops won the rain-affected opener by 39 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Botham was quoted as saying in praise of the current England side: “There’s no reason they can’t win the series. They are young, exciting and brimming with confidence after that Test series win.
“South Africa ... have a few injury concerns and I think England can capitalise on that. They (can) win the series in style.”
There will be a few nervous flutters among South Africans, after the way the SA attack was hammered at Mangaung Oval, about Botham’s 5-0 ship possibly coming in.
But for it to happen, England will have to fly very strongly in the face of history.
The Proteas have only once previously been clean-swept in a five-match bilateral ODI series, under Graeme Smith’s leadership in Sri Lanka in 2004 when Mahela Jayawardene had the home-team tiller.
The closest that has come to occurring again subsequently was in England in 2008, when the hosts led 4-0 and the fifth contest in Cardiff was abandoned due to bad weather after only three overs.
But they have not been humiliated in such fashion on home soil – in fact, the Proteas have only ever lost one five-match series here, 2-1 to the English in 2009/10 when it was actually a three-game roster anyway (the first match at the Wanderers and fifth at Kingsmead were abandoned).
South Africa get the chance to both level the series and destroy Botham’s 5-0 idea when the second ODI takes place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (10:00 start).
*Here is the full range of “Beefy’s Bets”: 6/5 England to win the series; 25/1 England to win 5-0; 4/1 Adil Rashid to be England’s top wicket-taker; 15/2 Ben Stokes to be England’s top run-scorer; 4/1 AB de Villiers to be SA’s top run-scorer; 11/4 Imran Tahir to be SA’s top wicket-taker.
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