The Second ODI – South Africa v England

The first thing about this game is why couldn’t they make it a day-nighter, the bounders? I’m off work and don’t want to be getting up at 8am to watch this stuff. Very inconsiderate!

There is one thing we can say about this ODI team. There’s a buzz about them. The attitude change is absolutely magnificent, giving them a greater chance with the bat to protect the weaknesses with the ball. 300 is not a bad score, but it’s not a guarantee of success any more. 350 is now where you feel pretty comfortable, though not always so. I was watching the highlights of the Manuka Oval game between Australia and India, and the 349 target looked totally within reach when Kohli and Dhawan were going at it. But 400 and you can cover a multitude of bowling sins. That England are getting up over 350 is so bloody refreshing it’s like actually realising that this game exists…

I’ve said a number of times on this blog, most notably before last year’s World Cup, that the most difficult task this team has is to make England fans care about ODIs. For too long the travails and failures have been shrouded in the defeatist notion that we simply aren’t any good at this format. It’s nonsense. Now these guys are proving it. I think I’m correct in saying that this ODI team’s batting line-up all made their debuts before the World Cup (except Sam Billings). This unleashing of a new mindset, which, as we all know will have its ups and downs, should mean that when we bat well, we win. That has not always been the case – we’ve settled for 300-320 (and less).

Tomorrow’s match at St. George’s Park is, according to some of the previews I’ve read, going to pose a much different challenge to Bloemfontein. Kepler Wessels, in his column in the Cricket Paper, believes that it might be the surface that helps the bowlers the most – it’s a slow pitch (I’ve seen many critics of the test wickets there). This will be an interesting test of our mettle if this is the case. The upcoming World T20 is going to be played on slow wickets, and adaptability is the key. They showed in UAE that they could tailor their approach to the conditions and still be explosive. It could be a fascinating match. One thing Kepler said in his piece that is clear; these are two batting sides, not bowling sides (although D’Arthez might have more to say on the home team’s selection policy).

It is going to be a keen weekend of cricket. As an appetiser we get the second match between New Zealand and Australia, with the World Champions (minus some key bowlers) given an absolute thumping in the first game. We have the IPL auction, and while I’d imagine most of the limelight will be on how much the great unwanted goes for, it will be interesting as well to see if Jos Buttler is selected (and if any other Englishman are picked up). If he isn’t then I’m really not sure what is going on. We also have the U19 World Cup with England taking on Sri Lanka in the Quarter-Finals. Bangladesh beat Nepal today in the quarters, and when the associate team had Bangladesh at 98-4 chasing 212, might have sniffed a real live chance. Namibia get to play India tomorrow, and reading Tim Wigmore’s piece in The Cricket Paper, the scale of this achievement for the associate team is not to be underestimated. I’m sure the Associates will be firmly backing Giles Clarke in his pursuit of the ICC leadership!!!

I know this preview is a completely different in style to The Leg Glance, who is hob-nobbing it this evening (to be very clear, I mean having a cup of cocoa and bicuits) while I’ve been on the lime and soda elsewhere, but it’s what makes this blog tick. It was the same first Friday in February last year that something quite major happened to this blog, but more of that later…. let the gift keep on giving!

Comments on the game below. Of course. And have a super weekend.