England put in their most dominant display of the tour, at least with bat in hand, on Tuesday. Despite leaking more runs than they would have liked towards the back end of the South African innings, Dawid Malan (99*) and Jos Buttler (67*) chased the target down at an absolute canter.
‘Canter’ doesn’t really do justice to the way those two struck the ball; it was explosive. The pair cleared the ropes five times each and lost the odd white ball along the way.
It was a fitting end to the series for England and the 3-0 scoreline did not flatter them. South Africa will rightly feel that they were in every game at times but the toursists deservedly got over the line on every occasion.
Once again, we take a look at three things we learnt from this latest contest…
Few will match England next winter
On the evidence of this series – in which England have showcased their ability to chase down different scores on different surfaces – Eoin Morgan’s men have a very real chance of winning the T20 World Cup next year.
Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler stole the show in the series’ finale but England’s strength in depth will ensure that they never have to count on one or two individuals to perform.
That’s not to say anything’s nailed on, as tournaments always have a habit of throwing in surprises. Few would argue, though, that England have as good a chance of winning the competition as any of the competing nations. Even on slower pitches, they have proven over the course of this series that they can adapt their game and do the necessary to get results.
The tweaking will continue
We accurately predicted in our last review that England would refrain from making too many changes for this game. Their approach to T20 cricket over the coming months will reflect the build-up to the 2019 World Cup; England will tweak here and there but largely show consistency.
Exactly what that tweaking looks like will be very interesting. Jonny Bairstow has proven his worth at four, while Buttler’s runs at the top of the order will vindicate the decision to open up with him for the time being. Joe Root and Tom Banton will continue to knock on the selectors’ doors, while all other players currently on the fringes will be aiming to make late claims for a plane ticket.
Keep an eye on that T20 XI over the next few months, as we’ll all be cheering it on – give or take the odd player and position – when the World Cup begins.
Expect changes on Friday
With such consistency in selection across the three games, we can expect to see a few different faces in Friday’s first ODI. Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, and Sam Curran are all missing from the ODI squad, freeing up three spots for those on the fringes to make an impression.
Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, and Olly Stone will be eyeing up the spots vacated by the two bowlers, while Joe Root is also nailed on to come back for the slightly longer format.
Exactly how England line up will be fascinating; this series represents an opportunity for Morgan and Chris Silverwood to take a look at some new blood for future 50-over tournaments and perhaps even give a few players the chance to fight for a T20 spot. It would be no surprise at all to see a slightly more experimental eleven take to the field.
Had England chopped and changed a bit more during their T20 fixtures, we may have seen some more tried and tested players given the nod for these games. As it stands, however, it seems extremely likely that we’ll have some exciting new faces to keep an eye on over the next few fixtures.