“It was an outstanding game of cricket”
South Africa will hope they are able to buck the trend that has stretched throughout this England tour today in the second T20I at Kingsmead.
The Proteas won the opening match of the Test and ODI series before the visitors came roaring back. Now Quinton de Kock’s side have also won a thriller at East London in the opening T2OI and will know they need to be on guard in Durban.
Firstly, the forecast is finally in favour of the game actually getting under way at Kingsmead after the second ODI was washed out last week. The KwaZulu-Natal venue has been ravaged by rain whenever cricket is scheduled in the city and at least both the players and fans can expect a full game this time.
This will suit both teams as they bid to fine-tune their preparations for the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
The Proteas have just 10 T20Is remaining, including tonight’s Kingsmead tie, before their opener against India on October 24 in Perth’s new stadium. England have just nine games.
The Buffalo Park defeat certainly dented the pride of the powerful England team and they will be eager to rectify matters the second time around. Having already employed a successful blueprint that ultimately resulted in the 50-overs World Cup coming home, Morgan though knows the value of tightly-contested matches ahead of a global tournament.
“It was an outstanding game of cricket,” Morgan said after the one-run defeat. “Experiences like this, particularly with a World Cup around the corner, are just so valuable to the team.
“I think we learn more about both sides when they get put under a little bit more pressure. Both teams gave it absolutely everything and left everything on the field, but in all honesty, I thought in all three departments today we could make up more than that.
“We were always in a commanding position, and we never really looked flustered until (Lungi) Ngidi came on in the 18th over and then turned the game on its head.
“Even in a position of needing seven off the last over, with new guys coming in, we expected to win that game, but it’s a great game to play in because you get a feel for where guys are at, what skill level they can produce, and how their temperament is.
“So in terms of actually improving [our team], I think it’s great for us.”
De Kock will hope his team takes similar lessons from the series opener, and even more considering his charges ultimately edged over the line by the narrowest of margins.
It will give them the belief that they can hold their nerve even under intense pressure.
Equally, De Kock is smart enough to know it was not a complete performance from his team. Although the eventual total of 178/8 was the highest T20I score at Buffalo Park, South Africa were set up for much more after being 111/1 after the 11th over.
The fact that the middle-order fell away almost proved detrimental and thought needs to be put in to how South Africa are going to lengthen their tail, especially when all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius doesn’t bowl and left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks only comes as late as the 15th over.
South Africa need greater batting depth and will not get away with playing such a high-risk strategy all the time.
Full Proteas T20 squad
Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.
Start: 6pm, TV: Sabc3, Radio: Radio 2000