We didn’t freeze. We didn’t choke. Eoin Morgan’s men started their World Cup campaign with a bang. And this time, unlike previous World Cups, it wasn’t the bang of a metaphorical tire blowing up or the whole engine combusting, it was the bang of boundaries flying off Ben Stokes’s bat, and the clang of a Jofra Archer bouncer ricocheting off Hashim Amla’s grill. England performed well, particularly in the field, and completely out-classed a weak South Africa team.
Although England’s 311 didn’t look particularly imposing, especially for The Oval, it proved far too demanding for the Proteas in the end. The difference maker was naturally Jofra Archer, who adds so much to England’s attack. I can’t believe some people had a problem with calling him up. Kudos to Ed Smith and the selectors for ignoring all the bollocks and making what should’ve been an obvious call.
Bowling attacks with genuine pace always have a chance, even on the flattest pitches. Archer clearly rattled the opposition – sending Amla back to the pavilion for a concussion test was possibly worth more than a wicket – and South Africa never really looked like chasing the runs.
Woakes’s accuracy was the perfect foil, and the other bowlers played their part by picking up regular wickets. Once De Kock was dismissed – a key wicket as the Proteas keeper is a class act who could’ve won the game on his own – England’s win was never in doubt.
England’s batting never got out of third gear, the result of a pitch that rewarded slower balls that seemed to get stuck in the surface a bit, but there were still positive signs. The early loss of Bairstow didn’t affect our approach, and Roy, Root, Morgan, and Stokes all looked in good form. We’ve just got to find Moeen some runs and confidence and we’re all set.
What stood out for you in England’s win? It’s all looking pretty rosy if you ask me. Our bowling was possibly the worry coming into the tournament but they delivered big time. That’s a huge positive moving forwards. And who can forget that Ben Stokes catch?!