England and South Africa continue their T20 series on Thursday evening when the two sides head across the Severn Bridge into Cardiff for the middle game of the three they have scheduled this week.
England came out on top in a high scoring opening match on Wednesday evening so South Africa know they must win in Cardiff in order to keep the series alive. England can win the series here and now but preparation for the T20 World Cup is probably a bigger priority for both teams.
After a summer of struggles in white ball cricket, England are finally able to release the shackles and show us all of their ability in the opening game in Bristol on Wednesday night. That will give them a lot of confidence to take to Cardiff with them, not least because there wasn’t too much that went wrong for them. Everything they would have had listed down as areas for improvement from the India series they showed in the opening game and more.
What was most refreshing about the English display in Bristol was their death bowling. Although the equation they were bowling to was favourable that hasn’t always stopped England from going around the park at times but they were clinical in that first game and that bodes well, especially if their batters can continue to explode like they did on Wednesday, and to be fair like they did at Trent Bridge in the final game against India too.
You have to be honest and say that the fielding and bowling effort from South Africa in that opening game was one of the worst you will ever see. If there were any plans they certainly weren’t bowled to and their fielding was atrocious from the minute Heinrich Klaasen let one through his legs in the first over and if anything only got worse from there. In the end they were fortunate England only made 234/6. It goes without saying that there needs to be a serious improvement both with the ball and in the field if they are to win this one.
The positive for South Africa was that even with three gun players in Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw and David Miller all scoring single figures, they were almost able to score 200. The innings of Tristan Stubbs was very encouraging so if the top order and senior players can set themselves a platform and score bigger in this match then any improvement with the ball should certainly be backed up with the bat.
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It is very rare that with all his injury issues in the past that Richard Gleeson plays matches in successive days so David Willey could come in for the Lancashire man. Phil Salt and Harry Brook may have to wait for their chance to impress.
You would imagine South Africa are certainties to make changes with the ball. Anrich Nortje would look an obvious one to bring in, potentially for Tabraiz Shamsi with not many teams playing two spinners here. Dwaine Pretorius is another waiting for selection while after his horrendous fielding performance Heinrich Klaasen must be sweating on his place.
I think we have to expect a much better performance from South Africa here but whether that is enough for them to handle this England side remains to be seen. Their display in the opening game stunk of a team who were under a rookie captain and I don’t see that changing overnight. England are plenty short enough here though when we saw that South Africa have enough batters who can do some real damage if they have a day out.
One thing I don’t expect to change from the opening game is the six hitting prowess of these two sides. There were 29 in Bristol and while I don’t expect that many here, when you consider that de Kock, Rossouw and Miller didn’t hit a single one and they are all clean hitters of the ball. We know the straight boundaries here in Cardiff are very short, even shorter than in Bristol, and although the square boundaries are longer most of the sixes hit in Bristol flew deep into the crowd. There hasn’t been a match here in two weeks so while some of the wickets at Cardiff this season have been questionable in quality there is no excuses for this not to be a great one. The sixes can keep flowing here.
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