England finished their first ODI series since last summer’s World Cup victory with a nervy win on Sunday in Johannesburg, managing to secure a 1-1 draw against South Africa.
This was effectively a two-match series after the second fixture was washed out, which means it is hard to get too great an insight into how the England team are doing and where they are going forward, but there were lessons nevertheless.
Here are five things we learnt from the ODI series…
1. England will only get better
With five players missing this series from England’s World Cup win in July, England will only improve when they return.
Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Jofra Archer, arguably England’s three most important players in ODI cricket, all missed this series. The former two were rested, while Archer has a stress fracture to his elbow.
With Mark Wood also rested, the improvement will be noticeable when all four players return to the fold.
2. They are developing depth
In the absence of some of England’s mainline players, Chris Silverwood was able to hand ODI debuts to 23-year-old Matt Parkinson, 22-year-old Saqib Mahmood, and 21-year-old Tom Banton this series.
The emergence of so many young players will only create competition for places, which is the best way a squad can continue developing after the euphoria of winning a World Cup.
It’s really positive to see that rather than resting on their laurels, England are building while they’re at the top.
Missed our piece on the 3 England that will be looking to impress in the T20 series? Check it out here.
3. The spinners performed
Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid came into the team for the third match and both played a key role in limiting South Africa.
They were the only two bowlers to have ten over spells and had decent economy rates along the way. Rashid was named man of the match with his 3-42 and he got the all-important wicket of Quinton de Kock as the South African skipper was in a position, with 69 from 81 balls, where he could have punished England.
The important thing for a leg spinner like Rashid is to have confidence in his bowling, and while he may have had a few runs hit against him, he was eventually able to lure De Kock into a big swing and get the wicket.
The young leg-spinner Parkinson also showed some promising signs, despite not picking up a wicket in the series.
With a tour of Sri Lanka looming, it is paramount that England’s spinners are firing on all cylinders.
4. Players returning to form
Ali and Rashid were not the only two players to show some encouraging form this series.
Two players that may have been low in confidence leading into the series were Jonny Bairstow and Joe Denly, and both played some good cricket.
In the first match, Denly’s 87 under huge pressure gave England a fighting chance of winning, while his 66 steered his team to victory in the third match. The 33-year-old proved to be a reliable and calm head in the middle order in both matches.
Meanwhile, the rapid 43 from 23 balls at the top of the order in the third match for Yorkshire’s Bairstow was the platform for England’s win.
5. They bounced back
Perhaps the most encouraging thing for Silverwood and Eoin Morgan is that England regrouped and bounced back in this series. The humbling loss in the first match was enough to discourage any team, particularly without some star names.
But as we’ve seen with this group on many occasions, you cannot keep them down for long.
The washed away second ODI meant that a series win was always out of reach but after picking up a win in the final match, the Three Lions head into the IT20 series with the momentum on their side.