Freddie Steward returns at full-back for England’s semi-final with South Africa

By Sports Desk October 19, 2023

Freddie Steward returns at full-back in one of three changes made by England for Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa at Stade de France.

Steward was dropped for the first time in his 29-cap Test career for the last-eight victory over Fiji, losing the number 15 jersey to the more attack-minded Marcus Smith.

But Smith finished the Marseille showdown with a fat lip and bandaged head following his defensive heroics – becoming an injury doubt – and has now been left out of the 23 altogether.

Steward provides high-ball expertise, positional savvy and solid defence and is the safer option in the position given the strength of South Africa’s kicking game.

The remaining two changes are seen in the front five where Joe Marler starts ahead of Ellis Genge and George Martin comes in for Ollie Chessum – both unexpected adjustments.

England field eight survivors from the starting XV that was overrun 32-12 by South Africa in the 2019 World Cup final, the same number picked by the Springboks who named their team earlier on Thursday morning.

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    As the group stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 comes to a close, the action will move to the next chapter in the event, the Super Eights, which will see eight remaining teams battle it out for four semi-final spots.

    India (Group A), Australia (Group B), Afghanistan (Group C), West Indies (Group C), and South Africa (Group D) are the five teams who have qualified for the second round thus far.

    India, Australia, and Afghanistan will feature in Group 1 of the next round, whereas West Indies and South Africa will feature in Group 2.

    All of these sides have been unbeaten in their respective groups, and are shaping well ahead of the next round.

    The second round commences in Antigua on June 19.

    The following day will see the unbeaten India and Afghanistan face-off in Barbados in what looms as a crucial fixture prior to the knockout stages of the tournament. This will also be the first occasion on this tournament that India will play a contest in the Caribbean.

    The rampant Afghans will look to make amends for their close loss to Australia at last year's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup when the two sides meet on June 22 in St Vincent. Back-to-back games against formidable opponents can overwhelm most sides but Rashid Khan’s team have shown an indomitable fighting spirit in the tournament thus far.

    More crucial fixtures follow up in coming dates: with co-hosts West Indies taking on South Africa in their final Group 2 clash on June 23 in Antigua.

    The Proteas have historically dominated the West Indies, but the tables were turned last month when the Men in Maroon swept the three-game T20I series between the two sides at home.

    Another Men’s Cricket World Cup-centric encounter takes place in St Lucia, where finalists India will clash against the eventual winners Australia on June 24.

    Antigua, Barbados, St Lucia, and St Vincent will host all 12 games in this round.

    Fixtures

    19 June: A2 v South Africa, North Sound, Antigua

    19 June: B1 v West Indies, Gros Islet, St Lucia

    20 June: Afghanistan v India, Bridgetown, Barbados

    20 June: Australia v D2, North Sound, Antigua

    21 June: B1 v South Africa, Gros Islet, St Lucia

    21 June: A2 v West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados

    22 June: India v D2, North Sound, Antigua

    22 June: Afghanistan v Australia, Arnos Vale, St Vincent

    23 June: A2 v B1, Bridgetown, Barbados

    23 June: West Indies v South Africa, North Sound, Antigua

    24 June: Australia v India, Gros Islet, St Lucia

    24 June: Afghanistan v D2, Arnos Vale, St Vincent

     

     

     

  • Markram admits South Africa were fortunate in Bangladesh win Markram admits South Africa were fortunate in Bangladesh win

    Aiden Markram admitted South Africa rode their luck as they maintained their perfect record at the T20 World Cup with a tense four-run win over Bangladesh on Monday.

    The Proteas looked to be heading for their first loss in Group D when they toiled to 113-6 in Long Island, but some slow scoring from Bangladesh left the match in the balance late on.

    Requiring seven runs from the final three balls for victory, Bangladesh saw both Jaker Ali and Mahmudullah caught by Markram, who was in the right place at the right time on the boundary as South Africa's opponents went in search of a maximum.

    The result keeps South Africa top of Group D and on course for a Super-8 berth with six points, four clear of Bangladesh, but Markram acknowledged they had been lucky.

    "You're always pretty nervous in the final over in a game like that. It was always on a knife's edge, it can make you mentally tired," he said after the match.

    "It's always nice to be in them though. Sometimes you get on the right side of it, sometimes not, but it's very entertaining. 

    "That 19.5 full toss could've gone anywhere, it could've gone two more metres further and we'd have had a different conversation. 

    "A few things went our way today, we were very fortunate to get on the right side.

    "Today was one of those days where the seamers were bowling well, we wanted to drag it to the end where anything could happen in the last over."

    Heinrich Klaasen hit a vital 46 to drag South Africa to 113 after they had been teetering on 23-4, putting up a 79-run partnership with David Miller, who hit 29.

    "We're putting Klaasen and Miller under pressure but they've been exceptional," Markram added.

    "They've gone back-to-back with crucial partnerships, got us to a score that was luckily enough to win but still one we could defend. It's fantastic for Klaasy to get back in form."

  • Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests

    England coach Steve Borthwick has named six uncapped players in his squad for their summer internationals against Japan and New Zealand. 

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    Harlequins prop Fin Baxter and centre Luke Northmore, Sale pair Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck, Bristol's Gabriel Oghre and Northampton's Ollie Sleightholme are all included.

    Having named a 36-man squad, England will train at Twickenham on Tuesday before flying out to Japan to prepare for their opening Test.

    "The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season," Borthwick said.

    "The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast.

    "New Zealand's home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

    "The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want."

    Full England squad: Fin Baxter, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, Chandler Cunningham-South, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Jamie George (c), Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Joe Marler, George Martin, Gabriel Oghre, Bevan Rodd, Ethan Roots, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Joe Carpenter, Fraser Dingwall, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Ollie Lawrence, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Harry Randall, Tom Roebuck, Henry Slade, Ollie Sleightholme, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Ben Spencer, Freddie Steward.

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