South Africa vs England: 1st ODI

An individual one day international is the equivalent of a McDonalds value meal, it’s appealing in advance, you quite enjoy it at the time, and afterwards you feel a bit empty and wondering why you’d anticipated it all day in the first place.  But enjoying it at the time is no bad thing, though a Super Size Me month might leave the equivalent feeling of sickness.

Given England’s approach to the shorter forms of the game recently, it remains consistently fascinating how they could possibly have got it so wrong for so long.  The team hierarchy of the time persistently denied that they were ever so fixated on statistics as was portrayed, though the less than entirely trustworthy Graeme Swann did claim that to be exactly what happened.  Whatever the absolute truth of it, it is hard to believe that England would have carried on throwing the bat with abandon after their quickfire start in order to reach a total just shy of 400 – more that they would have felt that keeping wickets in hand and a decent score over 300 would have been viewed as satisfactory.

Perhaps that is overly harsh, for received wisdom is a very hard thing to fight against and there’s a tendency to paint failed regimes in the worst possible light, but the reality is that five of England’s seven highest one day international totals ever have come since June last year.  Yes, it is true that the game has changed over the last few years, but it is only in this last seven months or so that England appear to have caught the zeitgeist.

Towards the end of the England innings it actually appeared quite possible that England might be bowled out, yet that didn’t stop them, they carried on attacking and considered being bowled out to be merely an occupational hazard.  For supporters of other teams around the world, this must seem a statement of the most bleeding obvious there can be, but for those who follow England, seeing them play this way is still a startling thing to witness.  There are a few players of recent vintage who would revel in this England approach.

Fifteen sixes were hit across the 50 overs, which is a record for England, and you wouldn’t bet against them breaking that again next time out.  Jos Buttler will rightly get the plaudits, for a blistering century that came off 73 balls, and still represents his slowest one yet.  That in itself indicates the absurdity of the past, and the delight of the present.  For it is bringing the best out of players who when set free can be a joy to watch.  For Root’s 52 off 58 balls to be the slowest innings in the top eight is absurd.

Buttler made the big score, but Roy looked more assured at the top of the innings than he has done before, Hales appeared liberated from the inhibited player in the Test series, while Stokes simply terrifies opponents at the moment.  His catch to remove De Villiers on the boundary had the preposterousness of so many great all rounders of the past, for whom sometimes nothing is impossible.

South Africa’s run chase was ultimately doomed by the rain that curtailed the match and allowed England to win by the not insubstantial margin of 39 runs under Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (let us hope there are no further modifications to this system, it is taking a while to type) and in truth would probably have won the game had it gone to its natural conclusion  But probably is only as far as can be said, for Quinten de Kock certainly had other ideas.  He was on the field every ball of the match, and batted superbly well to be unbeaten on 138 when the weather closed in.  With another 150 needed, and half the side out, it would have been a big ask, but not entirely impossible.

Thus far only batsmen have been mentioned rather than bowlers.  One of many jokes a batsman will lob in the direction of their bowling colleagues is that they are there to serve – and to deal with it.  In Test cricket, the bowlers are the most important members of the side, in ODI and T20 cricket, they really are there to serve.

England go 1-0 up, while South African supporters will lament that the shortened game robbed them of what could just possibly have been a great victory.  There’s been enough in this match for there to be another queue at McDonald’s on Saturday.



9 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 1st ODI

  1. Sean B Feb 3, 2016 / 9:57 pm

    Nice piece Chris. It’s interesting how the change in coaching has completely changed the team dynamic. Under Moores and probably Flower, we’d have aimed for 300 on that pitch/ground and would’ve been happy with it at the break, and of course we’d have lost.

    I think credit has to go to Morgan too. The ODI side in particular looks like it’s pulling together in the right direction, with the elevation of Buttler to no. 4, a sign that there is now flexibility in the assessment of conditions (again something you’d never have seen in the Moores reign)


  2. MM Feb 3, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    Jordan: expendable. Very.

    Get Plunkers in. Or Broad. Or are they crocked?


    • thelegglance Feb 3, 2016 / 11:01 pm

      Plunkett is injured, Broad was initially left out of the squad, but was called up as cover. Whether he will play, is a good question.


      • MM Feb 4, 2016 / 12:01 am

        Gotcha. Thanks.

        Plunkett does get injured a lot, doesn’t he? A shame. He’s got summat.


  3. Mark Feb 3, 2016 / 10:49 pm

    20/20 has hugely changed the dynamic of the ODI game in the last 10 years. On good pitches with smallish boundaries scores of 400 odd are seen as quite possible. 20/20 has demonstrated that it’s possible to score 175- 200. Provided you don’t lose too many wickets, if you just keep at the 20/20 pace for 50 overs (someone will score 500 one day. That used to be seen as two days of test cricket.) Quite amazing.

    Right from the moment Morgan took over the team, and beat India in a 20/20 match you could sense the vibe had changed. ( oh how the establishment media played down that day.) A new generation raised on 20/20 have finally knocked down the door, and forced the old ways into the dustbin of history. Quite why England were still pissing around in Sri Lanka on the eve of the last world cup with good old dependable Cooky doing a Strauss or Nasser, or Atherton looks even more idiotic.

    When England failed in that World Cup Cook disgraced himself with his bitter comments about his sacking, and Morgan’s role as captain. Morgan stayed as captain and Strauss has been given all the credit. But it really was a no brainier. It was not Morgan that needed changing but the old model of laptop says 230. Remember the ludicrous claims in the last World Cup that the team was basing what was a good score on the dimensions of the ground! It’s amazing anyone could say this stuff with a straight face.

    The days of the top 5 test players automaticly slotting into the ODI team are over. I am Not completely convinced at our bowling in ODI cricket, but that s true of a lot of teams. As You say, they are there to serve. It’s an attractive team to watch and it looks fun. Sometimes sport is a lot more simple than the svengali coaches would have you believe. Just pick the right players.


    • Arron Wright Feb 3, 2016 / 11:37 pm

      Keeping Morgan as ODI captain was, of course, the most significant big fat cross against Andrew Strauss in his first week as Director, Cricket. According to someone who approved of everything else Strauss did, and who shall remain Nameless.


      • Mark Feb 4, 2016 / 12:10 am

        Oh yes I remember that Arron. Couldn’t wait to dump Morgan could he?

        Of course he had no agenda because Morgan had replaced his hero. Yea right. His get out of jail is that he can now give all credit to Strauss.


  4. amit Feb 4, 2016 / 6:12 am

    Brilliant innings it must have been from Jos and Q. Quite a shame really that I had to make do with the Master’s league instead of England Vs SA on the telly. No televised coverage for this in Singapore.
    For me, the missing pieces are AB’s mojo and a decent bowling attack on both sides. I don’t rate most of the bowlers that were on display yesterday.

    I want to see how any of them will fare when there’s no swing and seam on offer on a subcontinent pitch. Rashid and Ali certainly have more chances of doing OK than Duminy and Behardien. Duminy’s bowling has regressed to such an extent that I no longer consider him a bowler of any kind. I suspect even AB will do better than him these days.
    I would love to see SA play with their first choice bowlers. They’ve been let down on that front all season.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SimonH Feb 4, 2016 / 10:12 am

    Two ODI series going on at the moment. Bowlers missing:

    SA – Steyn, Philander, Abbott, Rabada.
    England – Wood, Finn.
    Australia – Starc, Cummins, now Faulkner.
    NZ – Southee.

    Not saying that some of these aren’t justified (like resting Rabada) nor that bowlers have never gotten injured in the past – but that feels like an exceptionally high attrition rate.

    Oh, look, another six….

    Liked by 1 person

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