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England Cricket’s IT20 Series vs South Africa Highlights

England Cricket

England IT20 Series vs South Africa Highlights

England Cricket Introduction

England’s long-awaited tour of South Africa kicked off on Friday 27th November where they would be competing in 3 IT20s in Newlands Cape Town (2 matches) and the lesser-known area of Paarl (1 match). In the run up to the series England had 2 inter squad fixtures as a warm up. Inter squad matches would allow them to maintain the strict Covid-19 bubble which would be required to complete the three-match series. Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan were the captains of the two England cricket teams which would provide the players with an opportunity to rid themselves of any rust and offer the fringe players a chance to stake their claim to be included in the upcoming series. We have all of England’s 2021 summer fixtures available to purchase hospitality packages for. England play Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India between June and September.

Morgan has publicly stated “England will be picking their strongest XI in every IT20 between now and next years ICC IT20 World Cup in India”. This will give the team the best opportunity to gel and know their roles inside out for the tournament. Opportunities will be few and far between for anybody not in the immediate plans of the selectors therefore, it will be imperative that those with question marks next to their names use any and every chance to make their mark.

It was England’s Test captain Joe Root who made the biggest impression throughout the warmup matches with scores of 77 and 63. Root was an integral part of the team which made it to the last IT20 World Cup Final in India but has since lost out to the more dynamic players in the squad. A likeness can be drawn here with Australia who are the World’s highest ranked IT20 team and under Justin Langer they have consistently picked Steve Smith at 3 or 4. There is certainly a place for a player of the ilk of Smith and Root in todays T20 format but the key question for Root at least, is will there be room for him in this England cricket batting line up?

 

1st IT20 Newlands

South Africa’s Batting Highlights

England won the toss and elected to bowl at Newlands Cricket Ground. The early loss of Temba Bavuma brought the two senior players in the South Africa squad together and they both set about building a significant partnership. Captain Quinton de Kock and Faf Du Plessis took the attack to the England bowlers. De Kock in his typical style made the game look effortless, striking a 90mph ball from Jofra Archer 20 rows into the stand for a huge maximum. By the end of the first Powerplay de Kock and du Plessis had reached 50-1.

In one Powerplay over du Plessis took England’s fast bowler Tom Curran for 24, his most expensive over in IT20 cricket. The partnership was finally broken with 83 runs on the board when de Kock fell to Eoin Morgan, caught at extra cover off the bowling of Chris Jordan. England cricket were desperate for the breakthrough and the prized wicket of captain de Kock.

It was just what the England cricket team needed to slow the South African run rate. With his new partner Rassie van der Dussen, du Plessis brought up his 50 in 33 balls with the scoreboard reading 94-2 but fell shortly after. With both the senior set players out, responsibility fell to van der Dussen who has shown a lot of quality in his relatively short international career in both the short and long forms of the game. A strong set of shoulders and long leavers allowed him to clear the boundary with ease and he did so on 3 separate occasions on his way to scoring 37. England’s bowlers fought back well at the death as they so often do with Tom Curran, Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan providing good variation. South Africa finished with an above average total of 179-6 for teams batting first at Newlands.

England Cricket Innings highlights

England in reply lost their openers Jason Roy and Jos Buttler early. Roy fell to the left arm spin of George Linde, a ploy often used against Roy before he has settled into his innings. The ball was short and wide and should have been put away, but he only succeeded in edging the ball behind into the waiting gloves of South Africa’s Wicket Keeper, Quinton de Kock.

Roy’s opening partner Buttler was dismissed after a flurry of boundaries from himself and Dawid Malan. Caught at cover, off a back of a length delivery where he was unable to get any power and elevation into the shot to take it beyond the fielder. South Africa were all smiles after removing two of the most destructive English batters in quick succession with the score on 27. Next to fall was Dawid Malan with the score on 34-3 England found themselves in real trouble.

New batters, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow had a huge responsibility to get England within touching distance of the South African total if they were to have any chance of winning this game. Fortunately, England under the guidance of Bairstow and Stokes were quickly back on track, bringing up the teams hundred in the 12th over. So, from 34-3 England were now 115-3 with 7 overs remaining. Arguably, after being under the cosh for the opening 5 overs were now in the ascendancy.

England’s captain Eoin Morgan joined Bairstow not out on 50 off 30 balls at the crease still requiring 40 runs for the win. Stokes fell at long-on off the bowling of the leg spinner Shamsi. Morgan played a little cameo but was unable to see the England cricket team home. That responsibility fell to Sam Curran 7* and Bairstow 86* who finished the match with a huge 6, whacking the ball out of the ground.

First IT20 Conclusion

It is becoming a mark of this IT20 England cricket team that they are still able to back themselves even when they have lost early wickets and find themselves behind the run rate. The quality in this team allows the next player to come in with the belief that if he plays to his full potential, he can win the match for the team. It was Bairstow this time with the breath-taking performance, in an innings of brutal hitting but it could just as easily have been Buttler, Morgan, Stokes, or Roy who on their day are capable of equally astonishing feats. Beware the rest of World Cricket, England are setting their stool out just as they did with their One Day International campaign on route to World Cup ODI success.

 

2nd IT20 in Paarl

2nd IT20 in Paarl Introduction

For the second IT20 the teams headed to Paarl, not so well known internationally but infamous in South Africa for its weather conditions. Temperatures often reach 40 degrees on the playing surface as the ground is situated between two mountain ranges. No wind and soring temperatures make this one of the toughest places to play cricket in South Africa. The Protea’s won the toss and elected to bat first.

South Africa would need to shrug off the disappointment from the first match and set the tone of the match early. An aggressive first five overs would build a platform to kick on from in the back end of the innings setting England cricket a challenging total. It would then be the jobs of the bowlers to restrict England’s batters with tight bowling or more importantly, early wickets.

South Africa’s Innings highlights

As he so often does at the start of an innings, Quinten de Kock gets his team of to a flyer. Supported by his opening partner Temba Bavuma De Kock thrashed 22 off 12 balls. South Africa had 33 on the board in the 4th over before the loss of their first wicket, Bavuma bowled Archer for 13.

After the loss of Bavuma South Africa accelerated their scoring through to 48-1 before Chris Jordan for the second time in the series had De Kock caught, right at a time when his team were desperate for him to kick on and get a big score. In both innings the South African captain had looked in fantastic form, timing shots beautifully off the fast bowlers, but so far, he has been unable to capitalise on either start. Unfortunately, for South Africa they rely so heavily on their young captain for runs, the loss of his wicket brought England right back into the game. Adil Rashid England cricket’s leg spinner kept up the pressure taking the next two wickets quickly, reducing South Africa to 75-4 at the halfway stage. In the last 10 overs the Protea’s doubled their total to end their innings on 146-6.

England Cricket Innings

On the second time of asking Roy and Buttler were able to get England off to a solid start however, not without incident, Kagiso Rabada dropping Buttler on 7. Roy after a couple boundaries was caught at cover trying to repeat the shot from the ball before which found the boundary, however this time, he lost his shape leaving England 25-1. After the early loss England were 41-1 at the end of the Powerade Powerplay and they were looking in a comfortable position but similarly to the South African innings as the ball became soft, runs became difficult to find.

Buttler as the set batsmen looked to add some impetus using his feet against the leg spin of Tabraiz Shamsi but was beaten in the flight and was stumped by De Kock. Another shift in the momentum of the game, this time in the direction of South Africa. Bairstow, was unable to replicate his heroics from the first IT20 and quickly followed Buttler back into the changing room. So often in the shorter forms of the game it’s the wrist spin that makes the breakthrough. Shamsi has a knack of picking up key wickets at key times in the match. Would runs on the board be the key in the later stages of this match?

The answer, a resounding No; thanks to the world No1 IT20 batsman Dawid Malan and England’s captain Eoin Morgan who saw England home. Malan bringing up his 50 with a 6 off just 39 balls. A fantastic knock in the context of the game and on a difficult wicket he was the only batsman that showed the ability to consistently time the ball.

2nd IT20 Conclusion

After an exhilarating opening IT20 at Newlands, Paarl proved to be a far more tactical affair. With the pitch favouring the bowlers the scores were low and it was Dawid Malan at the end who was the point of difference between the two teams. Eoin Morgan after the game was delighted with how his team came through a tight fixture, securing the series with one game to spare. This England team look the real deal with quality throughout earning their unassailable 2-0 lead.

 

3rd IT20 Newlands

3rd IT20 Introduction

The final game of the series was back at Newlands Cricket Ground and for the third time in a row South Africa would bat first. The Protea’s would need it be third time lucky as they look to salvage something from this home series defeat.

South Africa’s Innings

Once again Bavuma and de Kock got off to a good start and raced through to 34 in the 5th over, but once againdDe Kock fell to Jordan for the third time in the series when looking to accelerate his scoring rate. This was the third time in the series that the opening pair had got a partnership going but were unable to build upon it. Chris Jordan on the other hand will be delighted to pick up the prize scalp of de Kock in every innings.

After the loss of de Kock and Bavuma, van der Dussen and du Plessis set about restoring order to the innings. On a good batting wicket at Newlands the scoreboard rattled along, the score reaching a hundred in the 15th over with only the loss of 2 wickets. If van der Dussen or du Plessis were there at the end for South Africa, the team would post a competitive total.

Poor bowling from England allowed South Africa to score freely throughout the next couple of overs, taking their total from 103 to 145 in only 15 balls. Rassie van du Dussen bringing up his 50 in just 23 balls taking Jofra Archer the best bowler in the recent Indian Premier League for 22 in one over including 2 fours and 2 sixes. Rassie van du Dussen brought up the 100-run partnership by lofting Chris Jordan for four over extra cover. du Plessis was not far behind in his rate of scoring bringing up his second 50 of the series of just 36 balls. The two players gave South Africa a real chance with incredible ball striking all-round the wicket. Dussens 74 off 32 balls was mesmerizing.

The average first innings total at Newlands is 163 so a total of 191-3 from South Africa has really put the pressure on this England cricket team.

England Cricket Innings

England would look to get out in front of the run rate early to take as much of the scoreboard pressure off a possible. 192 would be an almighty chase but a solid platform would give them the start they need.

Roy started the inning in his typically frantic fashion with a couple boundaries before being trapped LBW to the big fast bowler Anrich Nortje. It has been an average tour for someone with the talent of Jason Roy and with Joe Root and Tom Banton waiting in the wings he might well rue those missed opportunities to cement his place in the team.

Dawid Malan in at 3 and full of confidence after his match winning 50 at Paarl strolled to the crease to join Buttler who was looking in fantastic nick.

The pair would both bring up their fifties in quick succession Malan first with 50 of 26 balls and Buttler shortly after with 50 off 34.  At 114-1 with still 9 overs to go the writing was on the wall or South Africa. When Buttler, one of England’s most destructive batsmen ever is outscored as the opposition you know you are in big trouble.

England in the end made light work of the chase with Malan finishing 99* and Buttler 67* seeing the team home with 15 balls to spare.

3rd IT20 Conclusion

I want to reiterate, this England team is looking like the real deal. They have variation in their bowling unit with left arm and right arm seam bowlers, they have the raw pace and death bowling of Archer and Jordan and the skill, experience, and guile of Adil Rashid who seems to be getting better and better.

Dawid Malan moves even further ahead as the Worlds best IT20 cricket player and his understanding of how to win games is what England were crying out for in this format. To keep Joe Root, one of England cricket’s all time best out of the game you must be playing out of your skin and right now Malan is doing just that.

 

IT20 Series England cricket vs South Africa conclusion

A fantastic series showing the many talents of this England Cricket team. Malan was player of the series but there were many others who could have received the award. Bairstow for his match winning 80* in the first game and Sam Curran’s consistency with the ball were both contenders but with the form Malan is currently in there could be no other selection.

There will be bigger tests ahead over the next couple of years. In the run up to the IT20 Cricket World Cup England have tours of India and Australia to come. Both teams will need to be at their best as this England cricket team will be full of confidence as their domination of the white ball game continues.

The demand to attend next summer is huge. Do not miss England’s Summer of Cricket with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India all touring in 2021. Secure your official packages today on 0207 048 4875.

 

Sri Lanka will open the Men’s International cricket summer.

 

Pakistan are set to return for a One Day International & T20 series.

 

India will conclude the Men’s international summer with a 5 Test series.

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UEFA Nations League Updated

England Football

UEFA Nations League update

England Football News – Introduction

This article will round up the latest England football news from the recent International Break.

3 games would finish Gareth Southgate’s and England’s 2020. A warmup game against the Republic of Ireland followed by 2 key UEFA Nations League fixtures away to Belgium, the world’s No1 ranked team and then back to the ‘Home of England Football’ for Iceland. Victory against Belgium in Leuven would offer the chance to top the group, however with a loss and other negative results then it would be the end of the road for the Three Lions.

Highlights of the England v Republic of Ireland fixture – Friendly

For the return to International duty Southgate selected an experimental England team to play the Republic of Ireland on Friday night.

England created early chances from set pieces with towering defenders Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings providing the attempts.

England’s opener came from a Mason Mount corner. Initially headed away by the defence, the ball found its way out to Harry Winks on the edge of the box. After setting the ball for a cross Winks delivered brilliantly towards the back post where his name sake Harry Maguire won his header angling the ball past the outstretched Irish Randolph’s hand and into the right hand corner of the net.

It was the first spell of mini pressure, bringing the England skipper his goal and reprieve after a troubling 6 months of form for club and country. The goal, was a result of a power struggle against his opposite number, Irish centre back Shane Duffy. Maguire, with his aerial prowess constantly caused the Irish defence problems throughout the night, reminding a lot of his doubters why he is one of Southgate’s go to defenders.

England’s second goal came from a similar routine to the first. A Mason Mount corner was parried out to the edge of the box only to be swung in again by Winks. This time however the ball fell to Jack Grealish who released Jadon Sancho down the left flank. Sancho with his trademark quick feet was able to cut back onto his right foot and bend the ball through the legs of the defender and past the outstretched Randolph into the bottom left corner. A confident finish from Sancho who has not been at his best in the early rounds of the Bundesliga.

Second Half

In the second half Grealish continued to pull the strings in the midfield, drifting into space and unleashing England’s runners. Grealish, Mings, and Bukayo Saka combined well down the left-hand side providing a regular supply of chances to Dominic Calvert-Lewin to attack. It was the combination of Mings to Saka which brought about England’s third goal. Saka picking up the loose ball in midfield had plenty of work to do, but with his electric pace and quick feet he drew the foul, going to ground in the opposition box. The Spanish referee was quick to point to the penalty spot and Dominic Calvert-Lewin stepped up.

Having already netted 12 goals for club and country this season he smashed the ball top left leaving Randolph with zero opportunity, a very confident finish. Calvert-Lewin’s current form is great news for England and a genuine option for Gareth Southgate when Kane needs to be rested.

3-0 down and Ireland went missing in the last quarter of the match, Sancho and Saka beating players, finding the space to cross when they attacked with intent. England were far from clinical. With the amount of chances on offer, the game should have finished with a 5-0 or 6-0 score line. England were in total control after the first goal went in, there certainly will be tougher tests in the games to come.

Highlights of the England v Belgium fixture – UEFA Nations League

The heroics at ‘The home of England football’ 2 weeks earlier were not to be repeated at the King Power Stadium, Leuven. England’s chances of reaching the UEFA Nations League Finals were dashed by defeat to Belgium.

Southgate’s men were left frustrated as they were arguably the livelier team throughout. However, 2 early goals from Everton’s Youri Tielemans (10) and Napoli’s Dries Mertens (24) put England on the backfoot and despite Harry Kane’s relentless effort throughout the night, England lacked the cutting edge to bring them back into the game. This is a theme that needs addressing quickly by England’s coaching staff!

Belgium’s first goal came within 10 minutes with a twenty-yard shot deflecting off England’s defender Tyrone Mings. The ball cannoned onto the post and into the net, leaving Jordan Pickford no chance. Pickford got his fingers to the ball but only succeeded in pushing the powerful strike onto the post and into the goal.

Controversy surrounded Belgium’s second as it initially appeared that Declan Rice fouled Kevin De Bruyne on the edge of the box. However, in slow motion (unfortunately a tool not afforded to the referee) it was clear to see that Rice had won the ball and it was De Bruyne who kicked the defensive midfielder. Where’s VAR when you need it?

Both Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens stood over the freekick but it was Mertens who stepped up and whipped the ball at pace over the wall and past another full-length dive from Jordan Pickford.

Defeat for Southgate’s men and a win elsewhere for Denmark means England have failed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League Finals.

Its worth mentioning the one positive throughout the last 2 rounds of fixtures, which has been the performances of Aston Villas maverick midfielder, Jack Grealish. England have been missing their creative players through injury, however Grealish has filled those shoes and more. Jack has emerged as the catalyst for anything positive, the driving force behind England’s attacking play. Southgate will be pleased he now has an alternative option to a front three of Sterling, Rashford and Kane.

Highlights of the England v Iceland fixture – UEFA Nations League

After the disappointment of missing out in the UEFA Nations League the England football team had a point to prove against Iceland. Back at Wembley the team wanted a positive result to end the year on a high. Southgate once again made changes to the starting 11 which included a long awaited start for Manchester City’s Phil Foden.

In the 19th minute Declan Rice scored his and England’s first goal. A superb header from a curling freekick from Foden to open England’s account. Rice’s perfectly timed run allowed him to beat his man to the ball and a glancing header found its way into the net. With the likes of Harry Kane and Eric Dier in the box you could forgive Iceland for overlooking Rice at the front post.

Once the first goal was scored it was as if England had flicked a switch, the tempo of their passing and movement picked up and Iceland were under constant pressure. It was only a matter of 4 minutes to wait for England’s second. With Jack Grealish pulling the strings in the midfield England found space down the left-hand side. Saka’s cross found Mason Mount who took the opportunity well with his left, an accomplished finish.

Second Half

For the opening 30 minutes of the second half Iceland were able to keep England’s advances at bay. It was a 79th minute red card which opened up the game. As the legs of the Iceland players began to tire, Saevarsson the Icelandic centre back pulled on the arm of Saka who went to ground. It was Saevarsson ‘s second offence of the evening and he received his marching orders. What was an already tough task with 11 players, just became a whole lot more difficult.

Foden dictated play in the midfield taking full advantage of the extra space afforded to England, creating chances freely. Southgate brought Jadon Sancho into the game combining with Foden for his first for England and teams third on the night.

England’s fourth was again scored by Foden. If his first was a technical finish, then this was clinical. A great strike, 30 yards out finding the bottom left-hand corner, no chance to Iceland’s goalkeeper.

4-0 on the night was a great result for a inexperienced England team. The youngsters Rice, Sancho, Foden and Grealish were front and centre throughout the game in great performance from England. All be it against a poor Iceland team.

England Football news – Conclusion

In conclusion to this latest round up of England Football News – It feels like every time we speak about England football there are positives but there are also plenty of question marks raised. The success of this generation and ultimately Gareth Southgate’s tenure will be judged on their silverware which currently sits empty. Southgate has plenty of talent at his disposal, it is now about finding the best formation and getting the best out of this England football team.