ICC Champions Trophy preview: England v South Africa
Last Updated: June 19, 2013 10:15am
England are gunning for a place in the ICC Champions Trophy on Wednesday when they go head-to-head with South Africa at the Oval.
Andy Flower's men topped Group A ahead of Sri Lanka while the Proteas scraped through in second having finished level on points with the West Indies in Group B.
England have never won the ICC Champions Trophy having lost the 2004 final to the West Indies, while South Africa won the inaugural competition in 1998 but have failed to reach the final since.
Even though the Ashes are right around the corner captain Alastair Cook insists the competition is important and that his team-mates are determined to win silverware ahead of taking on Australia.
"It's a massive game for both sides," Cook told Sky Sports. "We've got the opportunity to go into the final of an ICC competition. It's such an exciting place for a player to be.
"We've almost played knock-out cricket throughout this Champions trophy. This is obviously the one step towards the final and we've come here to try and win the tournament. It's an amazing opportunity we've got and both sides will be excited by that.
"Whichever side handles the pressure well (on Wednesday) will win. People in your own side have to put their hands up and deliver. That's what you have to do in these big games.
"We have amazing support at home. We're used to playing in front of these big crowds. We wouldn't sell the support we've had in this tournament to anyone. We're lucky to have that support. I don't see it at all as a hindrance."
England spin bowler Graeme Swann is struggling with a calf strain and will not be risked with the Ashes in mind. Kent captain James Treadwell is on stand-by if the Nottinghamshire bowler misses out.
"It's clearly a concern for us. We haven't ruled him out totally yet for this game," he said of Swann. "We're going to have to see how he trains. He won't be risked. There is no point in doing that."
England have definitely made one change, though, after Tim Bresnan, who is awaiting the birth of his first child, was replaced in the starting XI by Steven Finn.
South Africa have injury concerns of their own with paceman Dale Steyn nursing a side strain, although they are hopeful he will be fit to face England on Wednesday.
Captain AB De Villiers knows England are the favourites to progress, although he know confidence is high on the back of a two-game unbeaten run after losing their Group B opener to India.
"It's quite simple, they're playing in front of their home crowd in their home conditions so they must be favourites," he said. "We drew one-all here last time we played in a series, or two-all sorry, it was a draw.
"We played really good cricket. I felt like we could have won that series, which is a positive to me. I believe we had two big crunch games in the last two games which might give us a lot of confidence.
"I believe we can beat them but they're playing in front of their home crowd and I think all the pressure's on them. We'll make sure we do the basics well like I said before and if things go our way we'll end up on top."