Mind the Windows writer George Collyer looks at the remarkable come-from-behind victory South Africa managed in the recent five-match ODI series against England.
George has rated each of England’s players out of ten – so how do Joe Root and Alex Hales compare? How did the bowlers go? Where is it time to look elsewhere?
Looking forward, England don’t need to start being too reactionary and dropping a cluster of players after a poor series. Only Chris Jordan should be dropped, as he’s shown zero progression and has been extremely expensive with the ball for far too long. Stuart Broad should be preserved for Test cricket. Steven Finn and Liam Plunkett will be around the side when they’re back from injury. Add Sam Billings into the mix, and there’s 16 players to choose from and to find the right combinations within. The most astonishing fact is that James Taylor can’t get into this side, a batsman who averages 56 at a strike-rate of 86 under this regime, and has a superb List A record, averaging well into the fifties at a strike-rate increasing through the eighties.
What England do need to improve on, in order to become a world-class ODI team is to understand match situations far better than they showed in the latter part of the ODIs. The all out care-free approach has brought some success already, but to be at the top, England have to bat with more maturity when conditions are tough, and the bowlers are better. While it’s a massive bonus and an advantage to have extra batting depth at eight, nine and 10 in the modern game, it doesn’t make England immune from a catastrophic collapse, nor does it mean they will bail England out of trouble. England need to put the wrongs right and be smarter in their approach across all conditions to be the best.
Jos Buttler – 7/10
Started the series excellently, blazing a quick fire hundred in Bloemfontein batting at 4, and getting England over the line in Durban. Only contributed one run in his next three innings. Tidy with the gloves.
Alex Hales – 9.5/10
Terrific series, hitting four fifties and one hundred in the five match series at an average of 76 and strike-rate of 89. Only real criticism was the timing of his dismissal in Johannesburg and dropping Duminy at the same venue at a crucial time. Has shown real progression, after a slow start in ODIs. Should score at a faster strike-rate too.
Eoin Morgan – 3/10
Extremely poor series. Looked extremely out of touch, averaging 12. Captaincy was good at the start of the series, but poor in Johannesburg near the end. First bad series since the World Cup.
Joe Root – 8/10
Fine series, conjuring up one fifty and two centuries – both under a lot of pressure. Second highest run-scorer, behind Hales, averaging 70 at a strike-rate of 91. An integral part of this side and the mainstay at #3.
Jason Roy – 3/10
Got England off to a flying start in Bloemfontein with 48 off 30, but other than that, a very disappointing series for him, averaging just 19. Dropped one or two important catches. Needs consistency, but is still a work in progress and should be persisted with.
Moeen Ali – 4/10
Very poor series with the bat. Tidy, but lacked threat with the ball. Faultless in the field. England need to think long and hard about his role. While it’s very useful to have two spinners, he’s not progressed as a batsman from 2014, and hasn’t hit a 50+ score since the World Cup, but an argument in his favour is that he’s batting out of position.
Chris Jordan – 1/10
Only real contribution was his fielding, including a great catch to dismiss de Villiers in Durban. Otherwise, extremely poor with both the ball and bat. Based on performances, shouldn’t be near this squad.
Ben Stokes – 5/10
Bludgeoned two fifties, one in Bloemfontein and the other at Centurion, but otherwise, he disappointed, averaging 28 with the bat. Ineffective with the ball. Has got a mediocre one-day record to date, but obviously worth persisting with.
Chris Woakes – 4/10
Played a good knock when England were in trouble in Johannesburg, providing support for Joe Root. Started off well with the ball in the same match, and had Duminy dropped off him, but extremely costly at the death, and very poor in Cape Town, with both bat and ball. Still a lot to improve on, including potency, and also consistency at the death.
Stuart Broad – 4/10
Had de Villiers dropped early on at Johannesburg, but very costly at the death. Economical at Cape Town, but lacked threat in his two matches. Should be preserved for Test cricket.
Adil Rashid – 5/10
Played a good knock when England were in trouble in Johannesburg, proving support for Joe Root. Tidy, and was more accurate with the ball this series than before, but lacked any real threat. Dropped Morris at Johannesburg, which proved costly.
Reece Topley – 8/10
Leading wicket-taker, taking 10 wickets in the five matches at 21. Should increase his pace, but has got the credentials and variations to be a success.
David Willey – 2/10
Very poor series with the ball. Went at over a run-a-ball and only picked up one wicket in three matches.