Following England’s early exit from the 2020 T20I World Cup, it was South Africa all the way for Liam Livingstone’s men. From the darkest seeds of cricketing despair grew firstly the shoots of competitiveness before blossoming into fully blown victoriousness… before a couple of T20I defeats at the end!
Having lost the opening dual of the summer, England secured a rare Test win in the second battle, thanks in no small part to Toby Roland-Jones’ 49-ball 75 to compliment captain Livingstone’s masterly knock of 147. Middlesex’s Roland-Jones recorded a tenth-wicket stand of 76 with number eleven Jack Leach (0 from 13 deliveries) to help the hosts square the series but the home side were unable to back that performance up. Two more defeats were followed by a draw in the fifth and final Test thus ‘The Proteas’ claimed a 3-1 series win.
In the ODI matches, England were 2-1 up and headed for series victory before making a ‘right pig’s ear’ of a run chase and therefore conspiring to lose the fourth ODI by 16 runs. The home side didn’t recover from letting a golden chance slip and rather predictably failed to win the deciding match as South Africa claimed the series 3-2. The visitors also won the sole T20I match.
England vs. South Africa series results:
Tests: Lost 3-1
ODIs: Lost 3-2
T20I: Lost 1-0
Encouraged by their increasing competitiveness though, England followed South Africa home and experienced what can only be described as a renaissance or resurgence or redemption or…
While in South Africa, Somerset spinner Jack Leach reached 100 Test wickets!
Going into the third and final Test 1-0 down in the series, England recorded a famous victory to seal a more than respectable away series draw. Persisted with young opening batsman Max Holden produced a career best maiden Test century (121) in the tourists’ second innings while debutant Will Rhodes was one of a trio of players to have scored 54 in England’s first venture to the crease. One of the others to do so was Ben Coad. The recalled quick bowler claimed two four-wicket hauls (8 wickets @ 18.75) in the series and registered a valuable maiden fifty in his 23rd Test. The bold decision to ‘drop’ Sam Curran was justified with the aforementioned Rhodes also claiming match figures of 4-73 with the ball.
Daniel Bell-Drummond has excelled in ODI cricket but will have to wait for a Test recall.
In the ODI series, England maximised momentum and raced into an unassailable 2-0 lead. Opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond maintained his excellent form in fifty-over cricket since his debut last year. Having recorded back to back centuries in the home ODIs, the Kent batsman struck his fifth ODI career hundred in the first match of the series before Middlesex’s Dawid Malan blitzed 87 to help England win the second.
Benny Howell has become an essential member of England’s T20I outfit, even captaining the side on a couple of occasions.
The T20I series was lost 2-0 but England still showed increased signs of competitiveness. Despite falling short of their target, England passed 200 in the second match, courtesy of two career best performances: Ryan Higgins’ 79 not out and Benny Howell’s 58 not out. The Zimbabwe/France born duo manufactured an audacious unbroken partnership of 128.
South Africa vs. England series results:
Tests: Drew 1-1
ODIs: Won 2-1
T20Is: Lost 2-0
Tom Curran has started to look the part in the international environment whilst his brother Sam should return a better player after being ‘rested’.
Next for Liam Livingstone and his troops, it’s onto Bangladesh for a tough assignment. England supporters will be hopeful that the likes of Tom Curran and company can continue to display their improved showings. The selectors however have some tough calls to make in all forms of the game when selecting the Bangladesh touring party.