England secured victory in their T20 series against South Africa with a scintillating victory at Supersport Park on Sunday.
The three-match series has had everything you could possibly want from the shortest format of the international game, with two impressive sides pushing each other to the very limit in all three matches.
Eoin Morgan’s men came away as 2-1 winners, an ideal start to a year that will conclude with the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November.
With England hoping to improve on their runners-up finish at the tournament in 2016 and hold titles in both one-day formats at the same time, here are five things we learnt from this series against South Africa…
1. There’s plenty of competition for places
England only made one change throughout the series, with Dawid Malan replacing Joe Denly for the last match due to sickness, so head coach Chris Silverwood may not have witnessed the entire depth of his squad. But after losing the first match narrowly, this may have been about how that particular group of players bounced back, which they did.
But with the likes of Malan and Tom Banton proving over the past few months that they are in red hot T20 form, Pat Brown a rising star, and the rested Joe Root and injured Jofra Archer both likely to feature over the coming year, there is going to be plenty of competition for places, which is perfect in such a crucial year.
2. England are on the right track
Missed our video recap of the T20 series? Check it out here…
In light of the encouraging depth of the England squad, there are promising signs for the year ahead.
The World Cup does not start until October but there are only two three-match series left for England, against Australia and Pakistan. This means that while it is important that England peak at the end of the year and know their best team, it was also important that they won the series against South Africa.
Results are as important as the process at this stage, so Silverwood will be pleased with what he has seen over the past week.
3. England are able to thrive under pressure
While a comfortable 3-0 series would have looked good for England, the team may not have learned a lot. In contrast, a series where all three matches went down to the wire and could have been won by either team has revealed a huge amount about each side’s character. Morgan and Quinton de Kock will be happy with their players’ performances as there was genuine pressure on both bowlers and batsmen throughout the series.
A series with so much drama would have shown the temperament of the players and indicated who may be reliable in Australia.
Tom Curran’s match-winning final over in the second T20 was an example of just that and will be a highlight that would have pleased Silverwood and Morgan.
4. No doubts over form in shorter formats
There may have been some questions hanging over members of the squad after the Test series but there are absolutely no concerns regarding form in the shorter formats.
Jonny Bairstow was brutal with the bat all series, Jos Buttler showed his class by laying the platform for the win in the final match and Moeen Ali highlighted how dangerous he can be with both bat and ball.
5. No total is too big
South Africa would have felt confident after posting a sizeable total of 222 in the final match and may have been even more confident after dismissing Jason Roy early on for just 7.
But Buttler and Bairstow came to the fore with 57 and 64, respectively, to leave Morgan in a great position to bring the match home with England’s joint-fastest half-century in T20 cricket.
The fact that England won this match with five balls to spare with be all the more pleasing to the team and will make them feel that no total is too large.
As we have seen over the last 12 months, you simply cannot keep this England side down.