South Africa vs England: 1st T20 review

If we’re honest, then generally speaking the outcome of an international T20 tacked on to the end of a tour would be worthy of limited comment and response, sometimes we don’t even get round to writing anything about them, which may say more about us than anything else.  It’s the disposable Christmas present of international cricket, that one you look at, smile politely, toy with for a few minutes then put back in the bag never to be seen again.

With the World T20 approaching though, there’s more interest than normal, not least because of how these matches are to all intents and purposes part of the warm up for the competition.  It does have to be said that South African pitches bear no relation whatever to the conditions in India, but as an exercise in seeing how this new, exciting (®ECB) England team perform, then it has merit.

And how did they perform?  Well, for a side whose bowling has been decidedly average in the one dayers, this was a marked improvement.  To nearly defend 134 on a pitch where all the forecasts (for what they’re worth) had suggested 180 was the target was a pretty good effort.  But the reason that pretty good effort was required was down to another batting performance where England lost wickets while trying to be aggressive and stumbled to a modest score.  This is a difficult one, because if England are going to play this way, then there will be days when it all goes wrong, and the worst thing that can happen is for them to be criticised accordingly, while celebrating the days it goes right.  It’s the old “score at ten an over, but don’t take any risks” exhortation.  What can be said is that going hell for leather in all circumstances is not that much of an improvement in terms of consistently winning matches than being overly circumspect in all circumstances.  The very best teams adapt to conditions in a way that at this stage England don’t seem able to.  Given the choice of two limited tactical approaches, this is by far the better, but it would be nice to know that they had a Plan B from time to time.

As an aside, Kevin Pietersen got runs again, and is in his third T20 final of the winter.  There may be no way back, but it doesn’t mean he has to stop embarrassing the ECB.

It does mean that when all goes well they are a thrilling side to watch, and they did at least get some kind of score to defend, thanks to Buttler in particular doing just that kind of adapting.  Unfortunately, we’re still not really sure what kind of side England are, or what they’re capable of achieving.  Imran Tahir taking 4-21 is not a terribly promising sign for next month though, even if many of the dismissals were remarkably careless in nature.

What England did do rather well was squeeze in both the field and with the ball.  Chris Jordan has had a fairly miserable time of it so far on this tour in white ball cricket, but here he was outstanding, taking England to a position where they really should have won the game.  That they didn’t, well poor Reece Topley.  Having dropped Chris Morris first ball, he then had the over from hell, with balls two and three going for four and six; then missing a straightforward run out that would have tied the game and taken the sides into a super over.  The best thing that can be said is that these things do sometimes happen, and better now than in a knockout match in the World Cup.

For South Africa?  It’s hard to say.  They bowled well but made incredibly hard work of what ought to have been a straightforward target.  As ever, it’s a question of whether that was down to England playing well or them badly.  But it’s unlikely they’ll have learnt too much from this one.

It was quite good fun though.


35 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 1st T20 review

  1. SimonH February 19, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    Pretty poor captaincy IMO to have Topley bowling the last over when he hadn’t bowled since the 4th over. Also I don’t agree that Topley dropped Morris because I didn’t think it carried. The bowling of Jordan and Stokes was the main plus.

    Strange pitch – nobody seemed able to time it for about the last 37 overs. Pity they didn’t use this one for the Test and the Test pitch today!


    • thelegglance February 19, 2016 / 8:00 pm

      He didn’t get there because he didn’t pick the ball up and moved late. Call it a drop, call it a missed chance, it amounts to the same thing – though I don’t say so in order to lay blame on him, such things happen.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ian February 19, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      Who would you have given that last over to?


      • MM February 19, 2016 / 8:23 pm

        Willey. Or Moeen. If nowt else that would’ve been brave.


      • SimonH February 19, 2016 / 8:35 pm

        Ian, I’d have brought Topley back to bowl the 18th over.

        Alternatively, he shouldn’t have bowled Jordan out earlier (bowling your best bowler out and gambling on taking wickets is sometimes a great idea – McCullum used it brilliantly in the WC – but SA had Morris at No.8 so the match was always likely to go down to the last over).

        Of the three options he had at the start of the last over, Topley was the best available – but I think you have to look back further that that.


      • Ian February 19, 2016 / 8:48 pm

        Fair enough Simon, I’m not convinced that if Willey had bowled the last over and Topley the 18th over the result would have been any different.


  2. Sherwick February 19, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    And in another world, KP’s knock is the difference getting his side into the final of the PSL. I think his aide’s manager is Viv Richards, who was absolutely delighted. Someone better tell beginner Viv how terrible KP is for the team environment.


    • Zephirine February 19, 2016 / 9:10 pm

      The longer it goes on, the more insane it gets.


  3. Tuffers86 February 19, 2016 / 9:45 pm

    I will just say, what a brilliant idea it is to have men and women’s double header. Wonder if the ECB will do this soon. Probably will about 10 years time, the out of touch buffoons.

    I’m trying not to sound too, well you know, but think I fell for Dane van Niekerk today. Beautiful batting. (I’m still in my 20s so I get a pass.)


    • LordCanisLupus February 19, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      They did it for England v India at Edgbaston in 2014, I do believe.


      • Nicholas February 19, 2016 / 11:01 pm

        …and in 2015 – on the August Bank Holiday we had the final Women’s Ashes match (a T20 – it turned out to be a dead rubber, which was a shame, but it could quite conceivably have been a decider) and then the men’s T20.


  4. mdpayne87 February 19, 2016 / 9:58 pm

    Another mankad in the Hong Kong vs Oman T20 today, it’s becoming an epidemic…


      • LordCanisLupus February 20, 2016 / 11:46 am

        A typically well-written article on a subject that, quite frankly, is boring the tits off me. It’s not necessarily the subject matter, which is hugely tedious, but the manner in which it is filling my timeline on Twitter with self-righteous twaddle.

        There. I said it.

        Feel free to debate it by all means. Just don’t expect me to participate.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. LordCanisLupus February 19, 2016 / 10:16 pm


    As you’ve noticed, I’ve not been blogging this week. I thought I’d take a time-out and catch up on some other stuff. For instance, I’ve pretty much binge-watched House of Cards Season 3 this week. I’m catching up on Breaking Bad. I finally finished that book on the Norman Conquest. I’ve been blogging regularly for two years and rarely stepped back. Perhaps I needed to do it.

    I really couldn’t give a shit about today’s game. But I watched the end of it. I didn’t know whether it was karma or hubris at the end. Batting not great after we were told that we don’t even need to consider someone. That someone playing the key innings in a Semi-Final of a competition today. But we’ve been there, we’ve seen it, we’ve done it. The point doesn’t really need to be made anymore. But no doubt I will.

    Fact is, sad to admit, but I laughed at that last ball today. Laughed at the faux seriousness of the occasion. Laughed at how so much is read into one hit and giggle contest. Laughed at Reece Topley losing his rag and doing pretty much what Ben Stokes did in Barbados, but at least to something that moved. No doubt the England loyalistas will want to hang me for heresy, but frankly, who cares?

    I’d written a post about how the ECB couldn’t give a shit, how this made me mad, then how we’d been let down by the press, the usual stuff, and then I thought, no. Stuff it. The main thing I said was they’d turned a mad England fan into someone who when the final ball denouement was enacted this evening, I gave so much of a stuff, that I laughed.

    Bravo, all!

    Liked by 3 people

    • thebogfather February 20, 2016 / 5:41 pm

      can you unstuff the ‘ECB not giving a shit’ piece please….. we need to see this!


  6. Escort February 19, 2016 / 11:30 pm

    Looking like an interesting first day in the New Zealand-Australia test match. McCullum now the owner of the most sixes record in tests.


  7. SimonH February 19, 2016 / 11:35 pm

    No sleep until McCullum’s out!


    • escort February 20, 2016 / 1:00 am

      How good was that century?????


      • nonoxcol February 20, 2016 / 8:43 am

        Good enough to be the third most important overnight cricket story at the Guardian, behind Michael Clarke making 48 in club cricket and a women’s ODI.

        Yes, you read that right. Good job Mervyn King is asleep, or BMac might be fourth.



      • nonoxcol February 20, 2016 / 9:29 am

        Further to the above, Cricinfo’s main headline is “McCullum slams fastest ton in final Test”. The Telegraph cricket page’s top headline is “Brendon McCullum smashes fastest Test century”.

        The Guardian does not have the record in its headline.

        Or in its two sub-headings.

        Or even in its first paragraph.

        There’s a poster on the Guardian’s Clarke “story” asking whether it even has a sports editor. One does have to wonder.


    • SimonH February 20, 2016 / 1:33 am

      Yeah, but would you trust him to block out a draw in the fourth innings?


      • escort February 20, 2016 / 1:44 am

        I would trust him to be able to lead his team properly and have its players selected on merit only though

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH February 20, 2016 / 10:01 am

        From the cricinfo commentary:

        ” yet to me perhaps the most gripping spell of the day was when Williamson and Latham added two runs in nine overs of relentlessly good bowling in helpful conditions in the morning”.

        Yes, of course it was.

        If anyone who missed it is wondering, the boundaries at Christchurch are almost identical to the MCG so this had nothing to do with “small grounds”. There was a packed crowd to watch it. Still, I keep reading ‘only England and Australia care about Test matches’ so it must be true.

        Amused myself during the lunch break by replying to The Cricketer’s reader survey and answering “bring back Andrew Miller” to every question.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. LordCanisLupus February 19, 2016 / 11:58 pm

    “It has been a triumph for Cook, and it has also been a triumph for his predecessor. Andrew Strauss faced a fierce storm of personal abuse when he confirmed the absence from England duty of a certain player, even though anybody with eyes to see understood the good sense, indeed the necessity, of Paul Downton’s original decision made after the awful tour of Australia two winters back.”

    Michael Henderson.

    We’re obsessed.

    Three paras after…

    “There are weaknesses at the top of the order, at No.3 and No. 5……..”

    It writes itself…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • RufusSG February 20, 2016 / 12:28 am

      Considering Henderson wanted Pietersen dropped after the India series in 2011, in which he averaged over 100, I consider him pretty low-hanging fruit at this stage when it comes to calling him out for unfair KP criticism. You’re better off ignoring the nonsense he writes whenever Pietersen’s name crops up and not giving it the attention it doesn’t deserve.


      • LordCanisLupus February 20, 2016 / 12:48 am


        Thanks, but this “low hanging fruit” is given a column in the “world’s largest selling cricket magazine” each month, so I think it only right to comment on it.

        LOL at the personal abuse directed at someone who called another individual a “c***” live on air!


    • RufusSG February 20, 2016 / 1:30 am

      Quite. In that case I’m disappointed The Cricketer continues to commission him – I assume not enough “riff-raff” read it to dissuade him from returning.


      • Rooto February 20, 2016 / 5:34 am

        Perhaps we should all take out subscriptions… 🙂


    • Sherwick February 20, 2016 / 9:10 am

      I don’t have the eyes to see the good sense, because I am an oddball.


    • Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) February 20, 2016 / 9:36 am

      What a fantastic story. I had no idea, thanks for posting. Some of those photos are superb too.

      It’s great that they are entering a sport whose administrative body will work so hard to nurture and cultivate such delicate seedlings. Oh.

      Anyway, I am now going to donate to the RCSF. There are like-minds in Rwanda who need our support.


  9. BobW February 20, 2016 / 10:35 am

    Can anyone provide a link as I would like to donate too.


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