Hendricks and Shamsi lead South Africa to T20 series win against sorry England
There have been worse T20 performances by England, but not many. Bowled out for 101 by at Southampton, Jos Buttler’s side equalled their largest defeat by runs – a full 90 of them – as they lost their series-decider against South Africa. It would have been easier to take if it had felt like a freak accident. Instead, it was the fourth series in a row England’s white-ball side have failed to win, and marked the first time in nine years they have finished a summer without any silverware.
This was a slow-unfolding nightmare for the home side, the kind where you’re trying to escape from unseen danger but keep tripping over your feet, because you’re wearing rubber flippers instead of running shoes. You look up and suddenly Tabraiz Shamsi has a career-best five for 24, South Africa have their first T20 series win in England and someone’s telling you that you’ve got a World Cup to compete in, ooh, about a minute.
A target of 192 – 34 more than had been successfully chased on this ground – was set up by a smartly managed partnership from Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks, who scored his third-successive half-century. Buttler said the total was about 15 higher than he had hoped when he won the toss and put South Africa in, but it was his team’s “timidness” with the bat that frustrated him. “We never imposed ourselves,” he said.
It was, indeed, an unimposing display. There was no dramatic collapse, just a piling on of pressure and a steady sequence of ugly wafts and holings out until England had lost all 10 wickets in the space of 74 runs. There is something inevitable about real horror, just like there was something inevitable about Buttler getting out to Keshav Maharaj in the fourth over. He had already danced back to send one ball skimming over the stumps for four. He did the same to the next delivery and edged it straight to third man.
Most onlookers had been fixating on the other end. Jason Roy knows all about nightmares – he has been living one all summer and here he was again, getting hit on the pad by Lungi Ngidi’s first ball, toeing the next to mid-off, clothing the third and swinging-and-missing at the fourth. He survived two overs of Ngidi only to fall immediately to Anrich Nortje.
Roy’s walk-offs have been getting progressively slower with each new disappointment. Here, bat slung over his shoulder, he departed like a miner at the end of a particularly harrowing shift. Yet his 17 turned out to be the second highest score of the innings, as Dawid Malan (7), Moeen Ali (3) and Liam Livingstone (3) all left limp impressions on the game and on the crowd, who could be heard booing.
Things had started so well, too. The return of David Willey, replacing Richard Gleeson, was an instantaneous success. Quinton de Kock thick-edged the second ball of the game on to his pads and chopped the third on to his stumps; Willey did not concede a run until his ninth delivery and his three-over opening spell deserved more than one for 15.
Rilee Rossouw turned his sights on Chris Jordan, taking four boundaries off his first over, including an off-drive hammered so hard it gave you a headache to look at it. The left-hander was 31 off 18 and looked threatening when Buttler turned to Moeen, who bowled him with a ripper past his outside edge. Moeen’s only over went for just four. “In hindsight maybe I should have bowled him more,” said Buttler.
Five boundary-less overs passed during the middle-overs, but Hendricks and Markram still put on 87 in 10 overs. The only six of the game came in the penultimate over from David Miller, although Markram did his bit to bend the laws of physics, reverse spooning Reece Topley over his right shoulder, then walking almost to the edge of the cut strip to send a wide ball outside off over backward square-leg.
England’s batters, meanwhile, struggled to locate the boundary at all. An astonishing catch from Tristan Stubbs to dismiss Moeen, flying through the air and plucking the ball one-handed, was a nice way to celebrate Jonty Rhodes’s birthday week, and made up for the fireworks the batters were unable to provide.
When Jonny Bairstow was last man out in the 17th over, having top-scored with 27, England – who like to believe they can chase anything – had been thoroughly chastened.