England’s white-ball slump continues as team suffer T20 defeat in Southampton to South Africa
England’s home summer ended as it began – with a sobering T20 defeat at Southampton. And if the first of those matches, against India, suggested a change of era, the second, against South Africa, confirmed it.
In 12 white-ball games squeezed into 25 days, Jos Buttler’s squad has sadly fallen below Eoin Morgan’s standards. Four games have been won, seven lost. If rain hadn’t ruined the decisive ODI against the South Africans at Headingley, the ledger would have been worse.
Simply put, the days when England’s white ball teams expected to win are a thing of the past. They have gone from contenders at this autumn’s T20 World Cup in Australia to outsiders. It’s not the trip anyone had in mind.
Jos Buttler’s England has fallen woefully behind the standards set under Eoin Morgan
Four games have been won, seven lost, the last against South Africa in Southampton
In the Ageas Bowl, they had the chance to give Buttler his first win in the series since he replaced Morgan. Instead, they lost by 90 runs, the joint biggest defeat in their T20 history. Still, the manner of loss was even worse than the margin. As they chased 192, they seemed determined to repeat known mistakes.
Jason Roy once again battled inner demons as much as the bowlers, forcing Buttler to take unnecessary risks. Sure enough, the captain fell for 14, causing a Keshav Maharaj ball to skew to the short third man.
Roy was then caught behind speedy Anrich Nortje for an 18-ball 17 that was bolstered by four overthrows from Maharaj and summed up his state of mind. Six T20 innings this summer has given him 76 runs off 98 balls.
When England take him to Pakistan for a run of seven games at the end of September, they will do so out of both hope and anticipation.
While the South Africans hit 10 fours in their six-over power play, with opener Reeza Hendricks putting together his third half-century of a stellar run, England came out with just two. The pressure on the rest of the order was predictably unbearable.
But England’s failure to find the line between the fourth ball’s fourth over and the last of the 13th was a reflection of over-judged bowling, with Tabraiz Shamsi, a left arm wrist spinner, getting a five-for. It was the work of a team that adhered to a philosophy of aggression, but had lost the conviction to carry it out.
Tabraiz Shamsi (left) from South Africa gave an excellent five-wicket performance
Jason Roy once again battled inner demons as much as the bowlers, forcing Buttler to take risks
“With the bat, we never imposed ourselves, never pressured the opposition,” Buttler said.
“That little bit of shyness is what we’re most frustrated about. We want to be known as a team for being braver and taking risks. There is now a lack of confidence.’
Parts of the crowd even started cheering. “It’s the first time I’ve heard that in a long time,” he said.
Twice in a row England were thrown out in 16.4 overs – or 100 balls. If nothing else, they enter the spirit of the Hundred, which begins on this ground on Wednesday.
Jos Buttler’s heartbreak continues with another defeat as England captain
A headache looms for Buttler and new coach Matthew Mott. Phil Salt and Harry Brook instinctively feel like the fresh blood the team needs, but they are kept out by bigger names with diminishing returns – Roy, Liam Livingstone and even Moeen Ali among them.
Bowling is also on the rise. Reece Topley has made a heartwarming comeback and David Willey was great on Sunday, starting with a wicket maiden after throwing Quinton de Kock on his third throw.
There is also a mitigating circumstance in the fact that several members of the frontline attack were injured – mainly Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes.
But South Africa’s tally of 191 for five was the second lowest that England have conceded in their six T20 matches this summer, leaving an out of shape batting formation facing huge totals on several occasions.
Long before Jonny Bairstow was last out in England’s wafer-thin answer of 101, onlookers had drifted away looking for a TV to watch the Lionesses at Wembley.
Bowling in England is off the boil, but Reece Topley has made a heartwarming comeback