By Kieran Wellington
- England again fight back from arrears to win T20 series 2-1 in thrilling three-match contest against South Africa
- Captain Eoin Morgan named Man of the Series, with 20-over World Cup in Australia later this year
- In a newly-revamped top three, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow enjoy differing fortunes, with Moeen Ali back in the limited overs picture
CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA – After Eoin Morgan led from the front to win the T20 series against South Africa in wrapping up the 2020 tour, how did the England players fare?
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Jason Roy: 7/10 – 117 runs at 39.00, SR 164.78 – Performances often get forgotten about in defeats, hence why Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow will probably come out of this series with more credit in the bank than England’s South African-born opener. However, his 70 off just 38 balls in East London proved just why Roy has been a key part of England’s white ball revolution. Got out in ignominious fashion in that opening match as England lost by the finest of margins, and top-scored behind Stokes in Durban.
Jos Buttler: 6/10 – 74 runs at 24.66, SR 172.09 – Looking at the bare statistics, one might wonder why so much fuss has been made about moving Buttler to open the batting. Logically speaking, the move makes sense; Buttler is his country’s most destructive batsman in history, as proven by being the fastest Englishman to an ODI hundred, so let him face the most balls possible in the shortest form of the game. However, critics such as Nick Compton believe he is being incorrectly utilised by Morgan, who compared him to AB de Villiers in a staunch defence of Buttler’s abilities. Time will tell
Jonny Bairstow: 7/10 – 122 runs at 40.66, SR 174.28 – Unsurprisingly continuing his same red-hot form that led England to white-ball history last summer. Scored at a blistering rate in England’s two victories as he top-scored in the decisive Centurion showdown. South African seamer Andile Phehlukwayo had Bairstow’s number throughout the series however, removing him all three times, either clean bowled or lbw.
Eoin Morgan: 9/10 – 136 runs at 68.00, SR 170.00 – Captain fantastic yet again stood up to be counted at the game’s most pivotal stages. Never seemingly under pressure or outwardly nervous, Morgan dealt exclusively in maximums as he guided England home in Centurion with a masterful and brutal 57 off just 22 balls, equalling the fastest T20 fifty for an England batsman along the way (that he set himself). It was the perfect redemption for England’s acrimonious collapse in the opener which all started with his dismissal, trying to clear the boundary with just seven needed from seven deliveries.
Ben Stokes: 8/10 – 73 runs at 36.50, SR 148.97 & 4 wickets at 18.75, economy 8.33 – Is there much more we can say about this man other than ‘when’s the knighthood?’ A key cog in all three formats, his nine overs with the ball went for the best economy rate among England’s bowlers and he top-scored in the middle T20 which helped England swing the series momentum in their favour. He just doesn’t know when he’s beaten. The heart of a lion.
Joe Denly: 1/10 – 4 runs at 2.o0, SR 66.66 – Why was Denly picked in this dynamic, all-action England batting line-up, and furthermore what’s the point in slotting him in at no.5 or 6, where ‘finishers’ are best required to smash it to all parts from ball one? Has had a great series in the other formats of the game, but this T20 side does not need Denly.
Moeen Ali: 8/10 – 49 runs at 24.50, SR 272.22 & 1 wicket at 69.00, economy 8.62 – Now this boy’s a finisher. Produced one of the most punishing 11-ball innings in cricketing history in Durban, plundering three boundaries and four maximums to rocket England beyond 200 and to a defendable total (just). His all-round ability, along with Stokes, is exactly what makes this team so well-balanced, and his willingness to open the bowling when England were in the field helped Morgan immensely in a series where England’s powerplay bowling left a lot to be desired. Firmly back in the frame after exile.
Chris Jordan: 7/10 – 7 runs at 7.00, SR 233.33 & 4 wickets at 27.00, economy 9.81 – Was on two hat-tricks over the course of the first two matches, which shows when Jordan gets it right, he really gets it right. Is one of England’s most senior men now and, although he bowls almost exclusively at times where batsmen are at their most aggressive, needs to bring his economy down if England want to outbowl sides and not have to solely rely on their stacked batting order to win them T20s. However, in a series where the run-rate was the highest ever in a three match series (10.12), an economy rate below that should be seen as a success.
Tom Curran: 7/10 – 2 runs at 2.00, SR 100.00 & 5 wickets at 23.80, economy 10.81 – Tom Curran provides all the variations any fast bowler could dream of having in their arsenal, but now his task at the highest level is knowing when to use them. Often predictable in his unpredictability, slower-balls batsmen waited on went the distance and his follow-ups weren’t best executed. However, he will have learned a lot from being entrusted with new-ball duties and deserves immense credit for holding his nerve and getting England over the line in the second T20 with two wickets from the final two balls of the match.
Adil Rashid: 6/10 – 1 run at 1.00, SR 100.00 & 2 wickets at 49.50, economy 9.00 – Rashid bowled expertly in a losing cause in the opener, going at less than a run-a-ball from his four-over quota with the East London pitch the hardest to score on. However, Rashid went at more than 10 runs-an-over for the rest of the series as the pitches in Durban and Centurion offered no assistance whatsoever for his leg-breaks. Important to note his two wickets were both from Temba Bavuma, and were taken at times were the diminutive opener looked to be getting away from England (43 off 27 in East London and 49 off 24 in Centurion).
Mark Wood: 5/10 – 4 wickets at 29.50, economy 11.80 – As with any super-quick bowler, the line between brilliant and erratic is often a fine one. Sadly, Wood strayed on the wrong side of that line far too often to be a reliable option for Morgan throughout the series. However, the Durham pacer did pick up the crucial wickets of both openers Quinton de Kock and Bavuma during his Durban outing as England wrestled the hosts back from 92-0 off 7.4 overs to defend 204 and set up the decisive game in Centurion, where Wood went for a staggering 15.66 from his three overs.
Dawid Malan: 2/10 – 11 runs at 11.oo, SR 91.66 – Malan was found moaning about his lack of opportunities in a poorly-timed blog for Sky Sports during this South Africa tour, which might be why a guy with such a stellar record was left out for Denly, who averages 9.60 in 12 T20 internationals, striking at less than a run-a-ball. Produced a horrid innings in the context of a game that saw nearly 250 runs in 39.1 overs, and may find himself carrying the drinks for a lot longer in this England setup.
England travel to Sri Lanka next month for a two-Test series beginning on March 19 in Galle.
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