South Africa v England – 5 things we learned

Today new writer Peter Gilbert looks at England’s recent ODI series defeat to the Proteas…

As the sun sets on the men’s ODI series between South Africa and England, the England players depart for their various franchises and the Test team.

Before the Bangladesh series in March, and with the World Cup in India drawing ever closer, England will now be piecing together what they have learned from this 2-1 series defeat.

1: England’s middle order looks short of a batter

Despite two scores of above 300, England still seemed short of a batter in the middle periods of the game, someone that can keep the momentum of the powerplay ticking through until the burst at the death of the innings.

This is highlighted by three of South Africa’s middle order, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klassen and David Miller, outscoring all but the imperious Jos Buttler and David Malan.

Liam Livingstone, Will Jacks and Alex Hales are just some of the names that are waiting in the wings and are capable of slotting comfortably into the middle order.

It should be added England that are missing several injured players and, with the World Cup in mind, Matthew Mott will experiment with the batting order and try to find the right line-up for India. Tom Abell’s selection for the Bangladesh series is testament to this.

However, this series proved the importance of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root especially, to the one-day team. Root averages of 50 and has a strike rate of 87. He is the perfect candidate to glue together the two end of the innings and needs to be back in the side as soon as possible.

2: Sam Curran just has ‘something’ about him

Sam Curran is quickly becoming an important part of the one-day set up for England.

Off the back of being the player of the tournament at the men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, Curran has once again showed his all-round abilities against South Africa.

In the first game, Curran took three wickets at a measly 3.88 runs an over.

These were important wickets, too, claiming the scalps of Quinton de Kock, Miller and centurion van der Dussen.

The wicket of de Kock was an example of Curran’s excellent short ball, one that almost sneaks up on a batter without them expecting it.

In the second, Curran’s quickfire 28 from 17 balls almost took England to a match winning score.

The power hitting he displayed in a barrage of sixes against Lungi Ngidi shows how important he will be when England look to press the advantage late in an innings.

Though his form for MI Cape Town in the SA20 has been mixed, this series has once again proved the talent Curran has.

3: Jason Roy is down, but not out just yet

Jason Roy would be the first to admit that 2022 was not his best year.

Having had a miserable run of form for England, a desperate series of displays in last summer’s Hundred and having lost his place in the T20 side, Roy has to be looking over his shoulder in the ODI team.

That is why the hundred in the first ODI, off 91 balls, must be of massive relief to him.

Roy later admitted the century was an ‘angry’ innings; any viewer could see how much it meant to him to be back to run scoring ways that most England fans had taken for granted before 2022.

It will grant him a little breathing space, in the media as well as in the selection room, and means he lives to fight another day as the first-choice opener. For now.

With only ten runs scored in the other two games, the fans and pundits calling for his place have not been held at bay just yet. And with Phil Salt, Hales and Jacks waiting in the wings, Roy will know he needs another big score come the Bangladesh series.

4: Jofra Archer is England’s trump card

How good is it to see Jofra Archer back in an England shirt?

Figures of one wicket for 81 runs in the first match were evidence of a bowler still trying to find their feet in competitive, international cricket, after such a long time away through injury.

However, the six wickets in the final match proved how important Archer will be in the World Cup.

Anytime Buttler needed a wicket, the captain tossed the ball to Archer. And Archer obliged.

Archer ripped through the South African middle order and, going at just 4.36 runs an over, prevented them from building any sort of momentum in the run chase.

There is so much cricket left before the World Cup, including the small business of an Ashes series, and England will want Archer to play as often as possible.

Perhaps the biggest priority for the selectors this year will be managing England’s trump card so he can play as many minutes as possible.

5: South Africa are building a formidable side

This series has highlighted South Africa’s potential to take the crown off the head of the current world champions.

Aiden Markram, Van der Dussen, Miller and Klaasen (who played all three games) are proving to be a settled, experienced and powerful middle order.

All four scored over a hundred runs in the series and averaged over thirty, with van der Dussen hitting a century in the first match.

Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Ngidi are three of the world’s best quick bowlers and all three were excellent in this series.

With strong squad depth, a capable leader in Temba Bavuma and the incredibly experienced de Kock at the top of the order, South Africa are building a formidable squad.

Will the World Cup in India finally be their year?

Peter Gilbert


  • “Will the World Cup in India finally be their year?”

    No – apart from the burden of history, they don’t have the spinners. They might stand at chance with their pace attack playing a WC at home but of course they never will since the Big Three award every tournament to themselves.

    • Remind me again who’s hosting the WC in 2027!! I know it’s not good to let facts get in the way of a good rant, but that pace attack will have to keep going for precisely four-and-a-half years to do the thing which they’ll never do…:-)

  • Ever since the hugely underrated Liam Plunkett was discarded our ODI side has suffered with no one who can be relied upon to take wickets mid innings. This is critical in halting momentum in the traditionally body building part of any innings. Very few sides have a bowler who can do this consistently.
    We don’t have any problems I can see on the run side, it’s the bowling. Although Curran has come on leaps and bounds in 20-20 he still doesn’t seem a threat to restricting run rate or wicket taking in the 50 over format. Sides seem ok chasing 6 or 7 an over against us unless Archer has a good day. His 6-46 was preceded by 1-81, which still for me sums him up. Our lack of a class spinner is another major factor with Moin not much more effective than Root. On our day we can beat anyone, but we seem to be struggling with consistency at the moment.

  • Interesting point about SA Peter – yes, looks promising, but……..they have yet to qualify for the last automatic CWC place. WIN are ahead of them – but SA look favourites. It’s not guaranteed though.

    For ENG, I’d stick will Roy and Malan at the top of the order………Hales always an option too.

    First drop Harry Brook? Then Root, Bairstow, Buttler?

    Then Ali, Scurran, Rashid, Archer and another bowler Wood, Wood, Stone of another spinner/all-rounder*

    You know what though? That’s a pretty old team.

    By October: the Roy will be 33, Malan 36, Brook 24, Root 32, Bairstow 34, Buttler 33, Ali 36, Scurran 25, Rashid 35, Willey 33/Topley 29, Archer 28.

    Other players: Woakes 34, Livingstone 30, Wood 33, Wood 28, Stone 30, Salt 27, Jacks 24, Hales 34

    Hope the coach is keeping them fit – fielding well in the heat – will be important.

    *India will certainly prepare pitches for their slower bowlers – Ashwin, Jadeja, Patel and Sundar – and ENG should probably imitate their attack – which should be good news for Livingstone, Jacks……..and Ahmed?!?

    • Yep. There should be real concerns about the age of the team which has grown old together. The concerning thing is that it isn’t just the first eleven but. A lot of the backups are over 30 as well.

      Most of out better ODI players became regulars in their mid 20s so by the time they were 30 they were experienced and still at their peak.

  • I don’t think SA taught us must about England. We have a great squad and a recent habit of performing well in major tournaments. I’d still fancy England to win a knockout game vs SA.
    Off topic but can we have an article highlighting the ridiculous goings-on at Yorkshire? In particular, how one man’s livelihood is on the line because of a single, light-hearted comment he may or may not have said 14 years ago. Michael Vaughan can’t pull out of this scandalously partizan process like everyone else because modern diktats demand he clears his name to resume his media career. This is grossly disproportionate and will surely be having a huge toll on Vaughan and his family, in addition no doubt to a 6 figure legal bill. The process and persecution is an absolute disgrace.

    • Well…….yes, absolutely, it is all a disgrace.

      However, cast your mind back a few weeks/months before this shifty money-grubbing snake Rafiq made his accusations about Yorkshire and its characters.

      I well recall Michael Vaughan throwing Ollie Robinson under a bus, live on air, when it emerged that he’d posted a few dodgy tweets whilst an angry teenage cricket wannabe.

      The sanctimony was almost tangible. Vaughan could not wait to burnish his woke credentials for the BBC.

      Live by the sword……..

    • Ah, the raging ad hominems which start as soon as someone reports that they’ve been the victim of racism. The man’s been near suicide and he’s been driven out of the country–do you really have so little compassion for your fellow human beings? I pity your poor family and friends if you apply the same sanctimonious, bitter, self-satisfied judgementality to them! Presumably you know Rafiq personally to be so sure of his motivations–and you’re sure of your own skewed “logic” in assuming that Rafiq is money-grubbing but people like Gale and Pyrah aren’t…:-)

      Re the Vaughan comment–it doesn’t sound light-hearted at all to me, especially in the light of what Rana Naved and others have said about how non-whites were treated at Yorkshire at that time. Saying that it is sounds like the banter justification–which is often a refuge of the coward and the racist who wants to have an opt-out in case anyone realises what they really meant to imply under the “banter”. (To be fair to Vaughan, that’s not the defence he’s using: his defence, unless he’s changed it since he was first charged, is that he simply didn’t say it).

      • My ‘judgementality’ is an opinion based on the facts that I have read and absorbed. I am perfectly entitled to an opinion – and it is my genuine opinion that Rafiq has raised this issue to make financial gain.

        Surely, if he had been abused to point of contemplating suicide then – in a nation that is hyper-sensitive about ‘racism’ – the issue would have emerged at the time in 2007, and NOT 15yrs later.

        Presumably, given that you feel you have the right to make such unpleasant ad hominem remarks about me, you know Rafiq personally do you?

        You must do if you would go off on one like you did.

        As for Gale and Pyrah, I did not mention them. Nor do I make mention of what Vaughan said, or did not say, to Rafiq all those year ago.

        Lastly, would it surprise you to learn that I myself have been periodically been subject to racist comments and abuse? I can assure you that never for a single moment did I contemplate suicide – or feel that I merited compensation.

        It never occurred to you did it? So blinkered you are about Rafiq and his victimhood, and so desperate you are to condemn someone who has an opinion that is different from your own.

      • My take on it is that it’s obvious that at the time racist “banter” was endemic at Yorkshire. Reading between the lines it seems highly likely that Ballance, Hoggard, Bresnan and others engaged in it on a daily basis, but amid that, there is just ONE alleged example cited of Vaughan using it. That suggests he rose above it, which is an extremely difficult thing to do in such an environment and still manage to rise to the top. I maintain that to haul him over the coals for one alleged comment is grossly disproportionate and outrageous.


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