South Africa Hammer England in 2nd T20
This was butchery on an industrial scale. Fortified by the knowledge England had posted an inadequate total of 171 on this surface AB de Villiers strode out and hit the fastest Twenty20 half-century by a South African in 21 balls. Hashim Amla was not far behind him, reaching fifty in 27 balls. Thus a no contest.England were overwhelmed by nine wickets with 32 balls remaining, their fifth defeat in a row with a white ball. How they must be looking forward to fastening their seat belts for the journey home after losing the two-match series 2-0. Not that they will be there for long before setting off for the World T20 in India.
The chief concern for the management relates to the depths of the scars left by this thrashing. A few stark figures reflect the nature of a performance that requires an X rating: at the end of their innings England contrived to lose seven wickets for 14 runs; South Africa after six overs were 88 for 0; in their first two overs Chris Jordan and Reece Topley conceded 41 and 32 runs respectively.
The Bullring was transformed into a Colosseum and the sole consolation was England were at least able to get out of there alive. But how will they feel when they come up against South Africa in Mumbai in a T20 World Cup group game in less than four weeks time?
Eoin Morgan said this “was not a huge setback. I’ve no worries about mental scars” but he is hardly likely to articulate the alternative view.
England were off the pace in every department. Even their selection process was scarcely credible. They replaced David Willey with Sam Billings in almost direct contradiction of the philosophy outlined by Trevor Bayliss before the series. Then he said he liked his T20 teams to be packed with bowling: ideally there would be six options but here on a pitch that has the capacity to torment bowlers like no other Morgan denied himself any slack.
There may be a good case for Billings to play in the best team but not at the expense of a bowler. A different selection would not have changed things on Sunday but it would be remarkable and foolhardy if England retained this balance in India.
Bayliss was more concise when speaking to BBC’s Test Match Special: “Today it was men against boys,” he said.
England’s innings kept changing pace. It was slow at the start after Faf du Plessis had chosen to field once again. Jason Roy could not click. He was dropped at extra cover by JP Duminy from his first ball but it transpired that this did not cause the home side much harm. Roy swished to no great effect and could not rotate the strike – Alex Hales did not receive a ball in the first two overs. Roy was then hit on the grille of his helmet and then comprehensively bowled next ball.
Thus we witnessed the loneliness of the long distance hitter, who would smash his bat in exasperation once he reached the chicken run exit at the Wanderers. T20 can be such a cruel game for batsmen out of form.
Until Sunday Roy had looked in good fettle without translating that into big scores. Here batting seemed an alien occupation and there is no scope in this format for a batsman to bed down for a few overs to recover his touch.
Joe Root, however, was timing the ball sweetly and Hales finally was allowed to face. Then after this pair had cleared the boundary three times, both were out from consecutive deliveries. Root, aiming for six again, was caught at long off against Imran Tahir. Next ball Hales tapped the ball to midwicket; a single was scampered; both batsmen set off for a second but Morgan changed his mind. Hales was stranded and stroppy.
Now came the one significant partnership of 96 runs in eight overs. That was quick but there would soon be another dramatic change of tempo. While Morgan took his time, Jos Buttler was straight into his stride. One of his four sixes was a massive strike into the upper tier of a distant stand. Soon Morgan rediscovered his touch with consecutive sixes against David Wiese.
But then the collapse was astonishing in its speed and ineptitude. From 157 for three two balls into the 17th over England contrived to be bowled out for 171 with two balls of the innings remaining So much for the extra batsman.
Morgan was unlucky when a fierce straight drive from Ben Stokes was deflected on to the stumps by the bowler at the non-striker’s end. There were some superb catches by South Africa and some haphazard flailing of the bat from England’s deep lineup. Worse was to follow in the field.