5th over: England 38-1 (Roy 21, Bairstow 15) Ngidi again, and Roy plays the shot Buttler was attempting – a flail through the vacant slips for four. Always good to see a captain pay for not having a slip. Bairstow, still bothered by the run rate, chips, a little unconvincingly, but it still goes for six. Throw in a pull for two and a cut for a single, and that’s 14 off the over. Jonny B making a difference.
More baby talk. “First and foremost, I would like to extend my congratulations to Mr Collins and his family on being blessed with a new life,” says Abhijato Sensarma. coming off his full run. “For it to happen on this date – a celebration of love – gives great joy to the soul. Wishing the best of luck to Winnie Mae Collins, whose name also seems to be fitting for a children’s author!
“As for the game at hand, Mr Morgan and his men would love to make a point themselves, with T20s never being their strongest suit. The debate rages on – should Buttler be opening? Has Malan earned a spot in this side? [Yes!] And who is the designated finisher if the skipper comes out at No4? Hopefully they address a few of these questions batting first today.”
4th over: England 24-1 (Roy 16, Bairstow 6) Fortuin is back, giving us another chance to admire his beard, which is impressively rectangular. He is testing again, but he drops Bairstow when a hard low chance comes his way. realising that England need some boundaries, Bairstow lofts the last ball for four.
There’s a hold-up, for reasons I can’t quite fathom. So back to the OBO baby (16:01).
“Congratulations to the newly expanded Collins family,” says Tom Atkins. “In lieu of knitting the new arrival a hat or something, could your readers perhaps welcome her by offering nuggets of advice gained from following OBO cricket over the years? Mine would be this: if you win the toss on a hot sunny morning in Brisbane, for the love of all that is holy do NOT put the opposition in.” Ha. First, Winnie will have to work out which side she’s on – Adam is an Aussie.
3rd over: England 18-1 (Roy 15, Bairstow 1) The Fortuin experiment, which sounds like a bad thriller, came to an end as de Kock summoned Ngidi, who coolly carried on where he left off the other night by taking a big wicket and conceding only a couple of singles. Great stuff.
Wicket! Buttler c de Kock b Ngidi 2 (England 17-1)
Gone! The man of the moment, Lungi Ngidi, has done it again, bowling a few dots to build the pressure and then persuading Buttler to nick a cross-seam ball that holds its line outside off. Buttler’s miserable tour continues.
2nd over: England 16-0 (Roy 14, Buttler 2) The new ball is shared by Beuran Hendricks, as de Kock follows the convention that says you can only open with one spinner. Hendricks, aiming at leg stump, nearly has Roy bowled round his legs, but Roy survives and glances for four past short fine leg. Jos Buttler has had only two balls so far, both worked for singles.
1st over: England 9-0 (Roy 8, Buttler 1) Bjorn Fortuin is straight into the action, opening the bowling with his slow left-arm, in a blatant bid to rattle Jason Roy. Fortein starts tidily as Roy takes a couple of sighters – and then launches a six over long-on.
An OBO baby
Today’s OBO was going to be brought to you by Adam Collins, but he sent a text this morning containing quite a good excuse: he’s just become a dad. Adam’s other half, Rachel, gave birth this morning “after a marathon labour”, to Winifred (Winnie), who is “7lbs 3 oz in old money and 51cm long in the new”.
“She is already everything to me,” Adam wrote, “having arrived a couple of hours ago!” All our congratulations to him and Rachel, and a big welcome to Winnie Mae Collins, who sounds like a great blues singer waiting to happen.
Teams: Steyn out, Malan not in
SA change a winning team, as their golden oldie Dale Steyn takes a breather and Bjorn Fortuin steps up. England stick with a losing team, so still no Malan, who must be fuming.
England 1 Roy, 2 Buttler (wkt), 3 Bairstow, 4 Morgan (capt), 5 Denly, 6 Stokes, 7 Moeen, 8 T Curran, 9 Jordan, 10 Rashid, 11 Wood.
South Africa 1 Bavuma, 2 de Kock (capt, wkt), 3 van der Dussen, 4 Smuts, 5 Miller, 6 Pretorius, 7 Phehlukwayo, 8 B Hendricks, 9 Shamsi, 10 Ngidi, 11 Fortuin.
Toss: SA win and field
Eoin Morgan calls wrong, and Quinton de Kock would rather chase.
Preamble: underdogs on top
Afternoon everyone. Well this is mouthwatering. The first game in the series wasn’t just a classic cliffhanger – it has teed up the remaining two by giving the underdog the lead. South Africa’s inexperienced side should never have been able to restrict England to five runs off the last seven balls when there were five wickets in hand, but they managed it by taking four of those wickets, with Lungi Ngidi’s offcutter proving to be the lethal weapon.
South Africa, though, have been 1-0 up twice against England this season, and they lost one of those series and drew the other. England should still have the wit and firepower to win this one, but they can’t afford to make mistakes now, and they made plenty in East London – starting with the decision to drop Dawid Malan, whose T20i record is unreal, for Joe Denly.
It looked very much like a punishment for not running a bye off the last ball after Malan had made a barnstorming hundred in Napier. Without anyone taking much notice, England may just have applied the most surprising penalty since Geoff Boycott was dropped for making a double hundred too slowly in 1967. It’s fair enough for Eoin Morgan to be angry with Malan, but having agreed to keep him in the squad, he should surely be picking him.
The only problem it will cause is an embarrassment of top-order batsmen. In Tests, England have an overcrowded middle order, but in T20s, they have too many players who are at their best in the top three – Roy, Bairstow, Buttler, Malan and Moeen, who is lethal in the PowerPlay for Worcestershire, yet often adrift at the death for England.
Today’s game is at Kingsmead in Durban, where the one-dayer was washed out a week ago, but the forecast is good apart from a large helping of humidity. Play starts at 6pm local time, 4pm in the UK, so join me 25 minutes before that for the toss and teams. Malan, for one, will be on tenterhooks.