London – There are enough South African cricket journalists in London this week to field a cricket team.

We know this, because we have already picked our team.

Rumblings surfaced on Wednesday – hours before the Proteas' tournament opener against England at The Oval - of a possible media match towards the back end of the group stages.

An English media XI is set to host a World media XI in Manchester, and competition for places will be fierce.

The press conference room at The Oval is set up on the ground floor next to one of the stadium's indoor net facilities.

On Tuesday, while waiting for Proteas coach Ottis Gibson to address media, I found a white ball under one of the chairs in the press conference hall.  

It wasn't long before a keen group had wandered over to the nets to throw a few down.

There was no knowledge of the media game at that stage, but what transpired in the minutes that followed could impact selection.

Yours truly tossed up a couple of leggies that refused to turn, while allrounder Dan Gallan did a fine job of picking up the pieces behind the stumps.

Netwerk24's Tinus van Staden made the biggest impression.

Where Aiden Markram barged his way into the Proteas World Cup squad with a series of devastating knocks, it took the wiry Van Staden just two deliveries to all but bowl himself out of contention for Manchester.

The effort could not be faulted, but the two beamers that left 'keeper Gallan ducking for cover behind the sticks said just about enough.

Van Staden, who reckons he can clock it up to 120 kph on a good day, has work to do.

Having such a strong contingent of South African media at this showpiece – there are around 13 – is incredibly encouraging.

Most importantly, it shows that South African media houses, in trying times, are still prepared to invest in their journalists.

It also shows that South Africans care deeply about their cricket.

Thousands back home will be all-in from the moment the first ball is bowled on Thursday. Win or lose, the emotion will be tangible.

It is already, even in the press box.

On Wednesday, as both English and South African media were furiously cranking out their copy following Faf du Plessis' and Eoin Morgan's pre-match press conferences, the TVs in the press box cruelly started screening the highlights from the 2015 semi-final between the Proteas and New Zealand in Auckland.

The South African scribes couldn't help but turn away from their laptops to relive one of South Africa's darkest World Cup days.

AB de Villiers' bowling, JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien's infamous combined drop, Quinton de Kock's missed runout and THAT Grant Elliot six that sunk the South African ship.

It was all discussed in detail and it still hurt, four years on.

Then it happened.

"Was that a choke?" one of the Saffers chimed.

It seemed a good time to get the bus home …

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...