England completed a 3-0 T20I clean sweep over the Proteas at Newlands on Tuesday night, laying bare South Africa’s limitations in the shortest format of the game.
With a year until the T20I World Cup in India, the Proteas were issued a dose of reality against the best white-ball team in the world. They are a long way off being competitive at the sharp end of the 20-over game.
Despite posting a respectable 192 for three in their allotted overs after winning the toss and batting, Quinton de Kock’s men were powerless to corral England’s flagrant batting lineup.
For the second match in a row, the Paarl-born Dawid Malan bludgeoned South Africa’s popgun bowling attack to all parts of the empty Newlands. The only mistake Malan made all night was miscalculating his march to a century.
Malan was left stranded on 99 not out when he called for a single to win the match with 14 balls to spare. He could have at least waited for another delivery to attempt to hit a boundary for the runs he needed to bring up his second century in this format of the game.
Seldom has a player looked unhappier after winning a match, and posting such a formidable total. Malan’s runs were scored off 47 balls with 11 fours and five sixes.
Jos Buttler was pedestrian by comparison, scoring 67 not out off 46 balls with three fours and five sixes. South Africa’s callow bowling attack simply couldn’t cope with England’s established batting lineup.
Malan, the world’s top-ranked batsman, shared a world record T20I partnership of 167 with Buttler as the tourists completed the highest-ever chase at Newlands.
It didn’t help that the Proteas lost fast bowler Kagiso Rabada to a right adductor strain before the start of play. He has been ruled out for the upcoming three-match One-Day International (ODI) series.
It all added up to a nine-wicket defeat despite the batting heroics of Rassie van der Dussen, who scored an unbeaten 74 off 32 balls with five fours and five sixes. Van der Dussen shared an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 127 with Faf du Plessis (52 not out off 37 balls).
Van der Dussen and Du Plessis, who plundered 85 off the final five overs, gave the Proteas what appeared to be a defendable total.
But Malan and Buttler used the improving evening batting conditions, coupled with poor bowling and uninspired captaincy from De Kock, to knock off the runs easily. De Kock also missed a chance to run out Malan in the 10th over.
The unfortunate seamer Lutho Sipamla, who hadn’t played a match since March, was assaulted by the England batting pair, who plundered 45 runs off his 2.4 overs. They also took a liking to the slow left-arm of Tabraiz Shamsi, who disappeared for 22 runs in the 15th over of the innings. His completed four overs cost 57 runs.
“It is mission accomplished to come here with our strongest side and get the clean sweep,” Buttler said after the game. “It’s a tough job for bowlers, where the margins for error are very small on a good batting wicket.”
Despite suffering the late onslaught from the South African batsmen, England fast bowler Chris Jordan became his country’s highest T20I wicket-taker with 66 when he dismissed De Kock.
Questions for SA
After losing the first two matches of the series by five wickets and four wickets with four balls and one ball to spare respectively, Tuesday’s defeat was a further step backwards for the Proteas.
Despite posting their highest score of the series, the bowling lacked the control and discipline to trouble England’s formidable batting lineup.
While these were the Proteas’ first games in eight months, against a battle-hardened England who have been playing non-stop since July, South Africa’s inability to apply pressure with the ball is concerning.
The bowlers’ plans against England’s intimidating batters seemed muddled, while the skills to land the ball consistently in good areas, or vary deliveries with control, were inconsistent.
Fingers will now be pointed at coach Mark Boucher and the selection panel. Have they made the right choices? And if so, why aren’t the players’ skills good enough to defend decent totals?
Is it coaching, poor captaincy, or simply that at this stage of their development, the Proteas are way behind a balanced and skilled unit such as England? The answer is probably a combination of all the above. DM