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SPORTS
24 Aug 2012
ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA: PROTEAS AIM FOR UNIQUE RANKINGS TREBLE

England take on South Africa at Cardiff with their world number one position in one-day internationals under threat.

South Africa will become the first team to top the International Cricket Council's rankings  in all three formats if they beat England on Friday in the first of the five-match ODI series.

After giving up top spot to the Proteas in Test cricket, England will try to stay number one in the 50-over game.

Alastair Cook's side have won their last 10 one-day internationals.

South Africa will top the table if they win the series 3-2 or better.

 But either side could drop as low as third in the ODI rankings depending on the results of Australia's three-game series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, which begins on Tuesday after a one-off ODI between Afghanistan and Australia in Sharjah on Saturday.

One-day captain Cook hopes England can put the Test series behind them - as well as the row over batsman Kevin Pietersen, who was dropped from the Test side after sending "provocative" text messages to South African players that were alleged to be insulting towards Test skipper Andrew Strauss.

Pietersen was not named in the squad for this one-day series or the upcoming ICC World Twenty20, despite making himself available.

"Certainly there are a number of issues that will get resolved and have to get resolved," said Cook.

"For me personally it's obviously a sad situation but as a side we need to put it to one side.

"We played some really good cricket at Lord's even though we didn't get the result, and to be fair he hasn't been around the one-day squad for a while."

Pietersen's decision in May to retire from limited-overs internationals preceded two wins over West Indies before the third ODI was washed out by rain, while the five-game series with Australia produced four England wins and one abandonment.

Cook added: "It's given other people an opportunity - obviously Ian Bell at the top of the order and Ravi Bopara has come into the middle order and played fantastically as well. That is always encouraging

"We are going to need more of that in these five games - that players at certain times in this series step up and be counted and put in a match-winning performance."

Cook will be presented with the ICC's ODI shield before the game.

England (from): Alastair Cook (capt), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Chris Woakes, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach.

South Africa (from): Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (capt & wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Albie Morkel, Ryan McLaren, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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