Jonny Bairstow established his Test career at Newlands and may just have landed himself a new job as England’s finisher in Twenty20 cricket after a brutal display of power hitting overwhelmed South Africa.
Bairstow hit the winning six with four balls to spare, slotting in nicely to his role at four having been shunted down from opening, a victim of England’s vast riches in batting.
His best Twenty20 score for England, 86 off 48 balls, covered up a scrappy performance by his side. They were rusty, and looked to be losing at various stages of the night. The five-wicket victory was not the plain sailing the scorecard suggests.
In 2016 at Newlands Bairstow scored an emotional maiden Test hundred, dedicating it to his late father David, and put on 399 with Ben Stokes, setting up almost four unbroken years in the side. His Test career has faded recently, he was dropped at the IPL last month, and England have broken up his successful opening partnership with Jason Roy.
So, he had a point to prove and chasing 180 to win with England in early trouble at 34 for three offered the perfect opportunity to do just that. We know how dangerous he can be in such a frame of mind, especially when spurred on by playing at a ground he described on Friday night as his favourite venue.
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Bristling with intent and aggression, he barely followed through as he relied on his power and timing to rescue England as they wobbled against a spirited South African side desperate to put on a show for its sports-starved public. His first 50 took 30 balls, the remaining 36 only 18 as he motored to the finish line.
“You’ve got two choices,” Bairstow said when asked how he reacts to having his role changed. “You can either be disgruntled or use the experiences you have had in the past and utilise them in the best way possible. I’m really happy with where my game is at and the calmness and composure tonight was really pleasing. Going forward batting at four and seeing England over the line will be a huge part of the game.”
Eoin Morgan was honest and admitted Bairstow’s performance glossed over a night when England never really found their groove with bat or ball.
England’s much vaunted top order was humbled by a journeyman as George Linde took two for two in the powerplay and two for 20 overall in his first T20 for South Africa. Linde is a well known figure on the northern club circuit in England with stints at Grimsby, Ramsbottom and Lytham. Here he was bowling at World Cup winners, IPL superstars, and a No1-ranked T20 batsman.
South Africa cleverly eased his nerves, giving him the first over so he did not have long to stew. His second ball turned and Roy cut hard but edged behind for a duck. He departed cursing himself, his England form having plummeted.
Dawid Malan, the No1 ICC-ranked T20 batsman, was just finding his range when he swept Linde to square leg. England were lagging well behind at 34 for three at the end of the powerplay and the required rate crept up to over 11, with batting not easy as the ball gripped.
Stokes and Bairstow combined and threatened another Newlands masterpiece putting 895 in a stand that gave England a chance. But, strangely, Stokes has never really fired in Twenty20 for England and holed out for 37.
💥 Stokes (37) goes - shortly after Bairstow reaches fifty - as he picks out Linde off Shamsi. England 119-4 off 14.1
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With five overs to go England needed 61, the game there to be won by either side but then came a pivotal 17th over. Beuren Hendricks bowled three wides, one of which also all went for a boundary to add to the three fours and a six off the bat. His over cost 28, his head dropped and so did the target to 23 off 18. Even Kagiso Rabada, the IPL’s highest wicket-taker recently, could not drag them back. He too was hit down the ground for six by Sam Curran, completing his fine evening, before Bairstow took England home.
The South Africa public deserved a good game having been deprived of sport for so long. This was South Africa’s first game for 265 days, the national football team have played just two qualifiers and two friendlies this year and the Springboks have not been in action since winning the World Cup. Amateur sport has come to a complete standstill too.
England’s attack was a story of the contrasting fortunes of the Curran brothers. Sam recorded career best figures for England albeit from a small selection sample, of three for 28, while Tom his most expensive, one for 55.
Sam was excellent, laying a marker for a permanent place in the side. Picked ahead of Mark Wood for his extra batting, Curran looked confident and in form after his IPL season. He was given the new ball, dismissing Temba Bavuma with his sixth delivery and bowled four tidy overs, varying his lengths and pace to remove two of the top three.
Tom never recovered from Faf Du Plessis mauling 24 off his second over. His night was summed up by two wides in the final over of the innings, and he did not even celebrate bowling Linde with his final ball.
Du Plessis hit two sixes and four fours and is so strong pulling thanks to forearms that would not look out of place in the Springbok front row.
He put on 77 for the second wicket with Quinton de Kock but England continued to pull back South Africa with regular wickets and were confident of chasing 180 feeling the evening dew would quicken up the pitch and justify Morgan’s decision to bowl first. It did not quite work out like that but Bairstow calmed the nerves.
Bairstow is named man of the match
It's really pleasing to start the series with some runs, everyone's happy in the camp. Change of role is something you have to enjoy, you learn to craft your innings, and if it continues, well, great. We're very flexible. The ball into the pitch was tricky, so maintaining your weight forward was important. Tricky with some bowlers bowling 140 clicks. The length of our batting, with Adil and Jofra at 10 and 11, you are always in the game.
England win by five wickets
Bairstow completes his mission by smashing a full ball outside off over deep midwicket for his 13th boundary and fourth six. A 48-ball 86 worthy of winning almost any match. Every time they write him off and mess him about, he proves his class.
OVER 19.2 ENG 183/5 (Bairstow 86 S Curran 7)
England's new No4, utterly irrepressible, finishes it with a six.
OVER 19.1 ENG 177/5 (Bairstow 80 S Curran 7)
Bairstow on strike to Ngidi and Jonny nails it for four, carting it over midwicket.
OVER 19: ENG 173/5 (Bairstow 76 S Curran 7)
Rabada will take the penultimate over and Ngidi, who has two for 21 off three, the last. Rabada slips one through Bairstow's legs as he opened his stance, pondering a mow into the legside. Nuts! Bairstow flays the next ball off his pads for two and then cuffs the slow bouncer for one. Fifteen wanted off nine.
Curran smashes a full ball outside off over long on for six! It was slow and wide and he flat batted it, dragging it into the legside. Nine off eight, make that seven off six as they end the over with two singles.
OVER 18: ENG 162/5 (Bairstow 72 S Curran 0)
Three singles and a wicket off the first four balls. Morgan's pull came off the maker's name. He always takes England wickets. Sam Curran is hit on the head via his elbow as he tries to pull one that sticks in the pitch. Bairstow calls him through for a single and Curran has to dive home at the non-striker's. There's a delay while Curran has a concussion test, which he passes and Bairstow pinches the strike off the last ball with a flick to square leg.
England need 18 from 12.
Morgan c Bavuma b Ngidi 12 Nigidi takes pace off and bowls it into the tacky pitch. Morgan takes it on but doesn;t time it and carves it to deep midwicket. FOW 159/5
OVER 17: ENG 157/4 (Bairstow 69 Morgan 11)
Hendricks returns. Morgan flicks the first ball to deep midwicket for a single. Bairstow climbs into the next, his fast hands allowing him to step away and cream it over cover for four. He hammers the next ball off his pads but it lands short of deep midwicket despite cries of 'catch it'. They run one.
Hendricks loses his grip and sprays five wides to fine leg. The next ball is pitched up and Morgan clears his front leg to thrash it wide of long on for six. Hendricks bowls a slow ball bouncer but it's too wide, De Kock can't get there and they add a single to the extra.
Bairstow plays a lovely stroke over point for four opening the face to slice the full toss one bounce into the stands. It takes an age to come back. Twenty-three off the seven balls so far and one still to come.
Make that wight with one to come as he fires one down the legside from round the wicket. The last ball is short and on his pads and Bairstow flips it wide of short third man for four.
Twnety-eight off a gamechanging over.
England need 23 off 18.
OVER 16: ENG 129/4 (Bairstow 57 Morgan 4)
South Africa attempt to turn the screw by bringing Rabada back and he starts with a rapid short ball that Bairstow pulls off the bottom edge and midwicket saves the single. That shot broke YJB's bat and there's a delay while we wait for another. He seems to have a new bat deal having gone back to Gray Nicholls in 2019. It's an Indian brand he's using now, Ton.
Big inswinger from Rabada, sliding down and they run a leg-bye while SA half-heartedly appeal. Morgan, on the charge, can't reach one angled across him but he gleans a single with a short-arm pull off the next. Bairstow can't lay a bat on the slow ball bumper as he waits and waits and tries to uppercut. Borderline wide but the umpire decrees it legal. Bairstow doesn't miss the next one though which is in the slot and he chips it over long on for four.
England need 51 off 24.
OVER 15: ENG 123/4 (Bairstow 52 Morgan 3)
Stokes is fuming at himself. Enter Morgan in his new role as finisher. He collars a leg-break for two into the onside but cannot score off the next two which grip and turn. Morgan clips a single to cover and Bairstow nabs the strike with a single off a pull.
England need 57 off 30.
Stokes c Linde b Shamsi 37 Holed out off a pie at long on, thrashing the long hop down Linde's throat five yards in from the rope. FOW 119/4
OVER 14: ENG 119/3 (Bairstow 51 Stokes 37)
Hendricks continues and earns a dot ball with his opening slower ball. Bairstow punches a single through mid off and Stokes squeezes a cut to point for one. Hendricks has gone for a death line already, trimming the wide lines. He strays the wrong side to Bairstow and is called by the umpire. Bairstow pulls the next and top edges it over his shoulder for two. De Kock tries to race back to catch it but can't quite make it. Bairstow ends the over with a thumping swipe for four past mid on. Half-century off 30 balls for Bairstow.
OVER 13: ENG 110/3 (Bairstow 44 Stokes 36)
De Kock turns to his third spinner, the all-rounder Klaasen. He's an off-spinner with quite a low arm, round-arm style. Stokes bunts the first back to the bowler but slog sweeps the next over wide long on for six. That went 94m. Stokes goes for the sweep again. Klaasen follows him and fires it into his pads. Clever bowling, no run. They hustle singles off successive deliveries then Stokes ends the over with a towering six over deep backward square, which betrayed the most exquisite timing as he swept but withoit dropping to one knee.
OVER 12: ENG 96/3 (Bairstow 43 Stokes 23)
Hendricks returns and Stokes cuts for a single. Bairstow shapes to pull but the ball bounces surprisingly and hits Bairstow under the right armpit. They run a leg bye. Stokes thick edges a drive for a single to third man but Bairstow knows they need a boundary and delivers when Hendricks comes round the wicket with a venomous pull for four. Deep midwicket runs and dives but can't stop it. It's a wonder it didn't take a finger off.
Good grief - what a sensational shot from Bairstow off a wide one, changing his stroke which he had intended to be a heave into the legside when Hendricks pushed it wide. He opened the face and deliberately sliced it wide of backward point for four more.
OVER 11: ENG 85/3 (Bairstow 35 Stokes 21)
Ngidi starts with back-of-a-length deliveries. Bairstow clips one through midwicket, Stokes cuts a single to the point boundary rider. The next ball is banged into the surface again and Bairstow, hanging back because of the length, swivels to muller it for six with a murderous pull. It's the longest hit of the day. He pummels a cut-drive hybrid for a single off the fuller one and Stokes ends the over with a pull to the cow corner sweeper for another.
OVER 10: ENG 75/3 (Bairstow 27 Stokes 19)
Linde will bowl out and starts by conceding two singles off balls that turn away and bounce but Stokes waits for the wider one and slog sweeps it 15 rows back for six. He absolutely mowed that into the wind which carried it miles back. Linde checks Stokes' attempt to use his feet by tossing it further up. Stokes corrects himself and pushes a single instead. Bairstow flicks the last ball of his spell through midwicket.
On debut George Linde returns 4-0-20-2 to add to his 12 with the bat.
OVER 9: ENG 65/3 (Bairstow 25 Stokes 11)
Oh, hello! Shamsi starts with a wide then Bairstow flogs the next ball which was outside off stump and full low and flat like a missile over long on for six. Shamsi pushes the next one wider yet and Bairstow carts it over midwicket for six more. Encore! Shamsi responds by ratcheting back his length and Bairstow punches it off the back foot to midwicket for one. Stokes whips a single to mid on and Bairstow smashes the next ball to long on. He absolutely hammered it. Du Plessis makes a fine attempt to catch it, diving and left-handed but it popped out. Certainly saved five runs, though.
OVER 8: ENG 48/3 (Bairstow 11 Stokes 9)
Linde stays on for a third over and starts by tying Stokes up with two dot balls. The batsman uses his feet to come down, drop to a knee and smear a drive over cover for two. He uses his feet again but is almost done by the bounce, popping a ball off the splice as he swung at it juts out of mid on's reach for a single. Bairstow milks a single then they turn a Stokes single through midwicket off a clip into two by haring through.
OVER 7: ENG 40/3 (Bairstow 10 Stokes 2)
A single each into the legside, Bairstow's flicked fine, Stokes' clumped down to long on. Bairstow improvises to ramp the left-arm leg-break, which turns in to the right-hander, over his shoulder for three. Stokes taps the big turner outside off through point for one more.
OVER 6: ENG 34/3 (Bairstow 6 Stokes 0)
England are finding it very difficult to time their strokes off the spinner who is turning it considerably. Stokes plays out three dot balls, Shamsi, a left-arm wrist-spinner, will now come on at the other end, too, to add to their struggles.
Malan c Rabada b Linde 19 Left arm spinner strikes again. Malan had premeditated a sweep, went down early but the ball bounced more than he had expected and he top edged it to backward square. Rabada took a smart catch running in and diving to grab it at ankle-height as it dipped. FOW 34/3
OVER 5: ENG 33/2 (Malan 19 Bairstow 5)
Ngidi begins with a wide and a wicket which brings Bairstow to the crease in is umpteenth new role as an England player. Versatility is his curse. The batsmen had crossed and Malan takes two balls to give him the strike.
He takes middle-stump guard and begins with a four, opening the face to glide four through fine of short third man for four. Lovely shot. He takes the strike with a single. Ngidi's slow bouncer took an age to arrive and Bairstow in the end just patted it through midwicket for one.
Buttler c Klaasen b Ngidi 7 Awful shot and poorly timed. He was trying to smash it out of the slot back over the bowler's head but he lost his grip and it flew off the splice to cover. FOW 27/2
OVER 4: ENG 26/1 (Buttler 7 Malan 18)
Malan is in the groove now, scything a cut stroke off Rabada's cutter in front of square for four. Next ball is fuller and, with just half a stride, Malan spears a drive between cover and mid-off for four. He sweetly times another drive, this time off the back foot, for a single.
Rabada strains for the yorker, serves up a low full toss on the pads and Buttler twists his wrists to flick it fine for four.
OVER 3: ENG 12/1 (Buttler 2 Malan 9)
Captaincy by rote? Why not give the left-arm spinner another? De Kock opts for Hendricks, the left-arm fast medium bowler. Buttler punches a drive to the cover sweeper for one and Malan, who often starts very slowly, hammers another cut to the fielder at point who stops the boundary and, in fact, any run.
Hendricks slips in his delivery stride and delivers a bouncer that pitched in his own half. Wide and the bolwer effs and jeffs in frustration. The next ball is fuller and Malan clips it crisply for four through midwicket. That's his starter ... and he follows it with a short-arm pull for two and a single by digging out an attempted yorker that bobbles towards mid off.
OVER 2: ENG 3/1 (Buttler 1 Malan 2)
South Africa convene a meeting to decide who will bowl next and it turns out to be Rabada. Malan pulls away from the first ball very late, saying 'woah, woah, woah'. Something moved behind the bowler but the ball was still delivered at full pace.
Rabada isn't taking pace off the ball and Malan plays conservatively with bat and one that crashes into his pads. Finally he gets away with a drive that cover fumbles on the dive and runs a single. Buttler crunches a very rapid delivery to point for a single and Malan finds the fielder when unrolling a powerful cut. No run.
OVER 1: ENG 1/1 (Buttler 0 Malan 1)
South Africa open with their SLA spinner who makes the first ball grip and Roy mistimes a whip and almost chips it back to the bowler. He's out next ball off a drag down. Enter Malan who can't hit the next two off the square, one off his pads behind square, the next to third man.
Malan gets off the mark to a terrible stroke, dinking a leg-glance just short of square leg. The ball is turning and coming on slow off this sticky pitch.
Roy c De Kock b Linde 0 Left-arm spinner takes a wicket with his second ball on debut, feathering a cut through to the keeper. FOW 0/1
Here come England's batsmen
T20 matches used to take 165 minutes. Now it's 240.
England need 180 to win
It's a very slow and tacky pitch that will reward bowlers who take the pace off and use the seam as Sam Curran did. Given the conditions it's a pretty decent score for South Africa but one which England in normal circumstances would be very comfortable chasing. They have a top six of unprecedented six-striking strength and Nos 7,8,9 and 10 are all boundary hitters too.
OVER 20: SA 179/6 (Van Biljon 7)
Tom Curran it is, straining for the tramlines with yorkers outside off. The first is pushed too wide and is called thus, the next doesn't pitch and Linde flat bats it over point for four. Linde whisks a single off his pads, Van Biljon pulls the slow bouncer for two,
TK Curran angles the next ball across Van Biljon, trying to tuck him up but its too wide and they add a single to the extra. The left-handed Linde is on strike and he smashes a full toss over midwicket for six. He swings and misses the next, a slower ball buncer, and is clean bowled by the last.
Wicket!! Linde b TK Curran 12 Nothing he tried worked until he ended his costly spell with a fast, straight yorker with the last ball of the innings.
Tom Curran's final figures are 4-0-55-1
OVER 19: SA 163/5 (Van Biljon 5 Linde 1)
Archer is given the penultimate over which means the uncharacteristically expensive Tom Curran will take the last (unless Ben Stokes is given the unenviable mission). Three singles come off the first three balls of rapid pace and full length. He bags VDD in Bothamesque style with his worst delivery and wraps up his spell by cranking his pace above 90mph at the cost of two singles,
Archer completes his main job with 4-0-28-1
Van der Dussen c Malan b Archer 37 Gets him with a full toss which VDD slapped down deep backward square's throat. FOW 161/5
OVER 18: SA 158/4 (Van der Dussen 36, Van Biljon 2)
England's other wicket-taker so far. Chris Jordan, comes back for his fourth over and after holding VDD and VB to singles and a dot ball off the first three, Van der Dussen belted a straight, fuller balll, hard and flat over midwicket for six, back foot raised, almost flamingo-like.
Jordan finishes his spell with 4-0-40-1
OVER 17: SA 147/4 (Van der Dussen 28, Van Biljon 0)
Sam Curran, England's best bowler today, will bowl out. Klaasen digs out a yorker then Curran goes for it again but pushes it wider and Klaasen reaches across and chops it wide of the keeper to the third man boundary for four, pulls a sticky cutter for two and taps a single down the ground. All effective but he hasn't middled one yet this over.
Van der Dussen drives a single to extra cover and then Sam Curran winkles Klaasen out.
Sam Curran ends with his best figures in T20 internationals with 4-0-28-3.
Klaasen c Buttler b Sam Curran 20 Foxes him with the bouncer at full pace after after five slower balls and/or yorkers. It climbs on Klaasen who top edges it through to Buttler who takes it in frint of his nose. FOW 148/4
OVER 16: SA 139/3 (Van der Dussen 27, Klaasen 13)
Michael Kiwanuka is being played over the Newlands PA. Lovely to hear.
Tom Curran returns for his third over after that mugging in the powerplay from Faf. Slow, full balls to start. VDD chisels out a single through midwicket, Klaasen is tied up with a straight one he can't hit off the pitch then chips the next over mid off for two.
Klaasen pulls for a single and VDD rides the bounce of a slower ball bouncer to cosh it for two. Good over so far for England ... until Van der Dussen drills the last, a length ball that was too full, over long on for a Dorothy Dix.
OVER 15: SA 127/3 (Van der Dussen 18, Klaasen 10)
Jordan returns. Klaasen cuts the first ball of CJ's third over for two, then punches a ball off middle through wide mid on for one.
Jordan serves up two wides to VDD who swings and misses as they arrow across him and down the legside. He is trying to tuck VDD up and stop him from freeing his arms but they are fine margins and he gets it wrong. VDD cuts an off-cutter for a single, Klaasen unleashes two back-foot cuts, one behind square, one in front for four and three respectively.
💥 Sam Curran has a second as Du Plessis goes for 58!
Pace off does it, with Jordan alert in the deep. SA 110-3 off 13.4 on Sky Sports Cricket
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OVER 14: SA 113/3 (Van der Dussen 16, Klaasen 0)
Sam Curran returns, round the wicket to the right-handers. He starts with a slow cutter that Du Plassis plays musical statues to and holds his pose until it arrives. He swats it on the pull for two. The next ball is similar but climbs a bit more and it comes off the top of the bat for one. Van der Dussen waits and waits for the slower ball to get there and dabs a cut for a single the ball before Du Plessis holes out.
Short, slow and low is the way to go for the canny Sam Curran.
Du Plessis c Jordan b S Curran 58 Excellent changes in pace throughout the over diddle Du Plessis, who has to wait for a slower ball and then toes his pull to deep midwicket. Jordan takes a good running catch a few inches in from the rope. FOW 110/3
OVER 13: SA 106/2 (Du Plessis 55 Van der Dussen 13)
Rashid beats Van der Dussen with a leg-break the batsman tries to slog sweep but misses. The next ball is a googly, though, and the batsman gorges on its too-full length and launches it over midwicket for six.
The commentary box consensus is that 175 is a very good score to defend under lights here. Two singles and a two (shovelled through midwicket) complete Rashid's spell with figures of 4-0-27-0.
OVER 12: SA 96/2 (Du Plessis 52 Van der Dussen 6)
Jofra Archer returns for his third over. Du Plessis is up on his toes to glide a single through point, VDD rolls his wrists on a pull for a single and Du Plessis then brings up his fifty off 34 balls with a back-foot punch to the cover sweeper, who makes a good diving stop for three. But Archer ties Van der Dussen up with the final three balls at the cost of merely a single off the last ball.
OVER 11: SA 90/2 (Du Plessis 48 Van der Dussen 4)
Rashid continues. He is making the ball grip and turn and begins with two dot balls to Van der Dussen. The right-hander gets the scoreboard and strike rotating with a flick off his legs. Du Plessis cuts a leg-break for a single and they take two more singles into the offside off the final two balls of Rashid's third over.
OVER 10: SA 86/2 (Du Plessis 47 Van der Dussen 2)
Du Plessis flicks four off his pads past fine leg then whips a single, this time to fine leg himself, rather than the area. Jordan gulls De Kock with whta looked like a phantom slower ball, bowled with the action of a slower ball from round the wicket but delivered at full pace. Clever stuff.
Three singles close out the over.
De Kock c Morgan b Jordan 30 Splices a back-foot drive to cover. FOW 83/2
OVER 9: SA 78/1 (De Kock 30 Du Plessis 41)
Rashid continues and his googly slides past De Kock's pads. Buttler fumbles a difficult take and they trot a single to add to the wide. Du Plessis pushes a single through cover, De Kock chisels a lofted drive over long on and a misfield turns one into two .
Rashid answers with two dot balls, beating De Kock outside off stump. Two singles end the over. Because of that big over off Tom Curran, "they're happy to milk," says Nasser Hussain.
De Kock c Buttler b Rashid On the sweep? The bowler and keeper don't appeal but Morgan does at point and ssends it upstairs, thinking there was a feather off the toe as De Kock was beaten outside off stump.
Not out. Morgan's ears and eyes deceived him.
OVER 8: SA 71/1 (De Kock 27 Du Plessis 39)
Double change. Chris Jordan come son and strikes Du Plessis in the solar plexus as he swivelled to pull. That hurt him. He flips two off his pads behind square for two then Faf, after the punch to the gut, smashes an off drive over the bowler for four. He lets his bottom hand slip to the bottom of the handle and shovels it.
OVER 7: SA 63/1 (De Kock 26 Du Plessis 32)
Adil has had his hair shorn - looks like No1 on the clippers at the sides and two on top. De Kock nurdles the googly off his legs for a single, Du Plessis whips one through midwicket and De Kock pulls one that stuck in the pitch through mid on for another. Du Plessis slaps one through cover for another. Good variations in flight from Rashid. De Kock pushes a single wide of mid off. Six singles
OVER 6: SA 57/1 (De Kock 23 Du Plessis 29)
Sam Curran returns and at first shares his family's pain De Kock slaughters an on drive that, had Du Plessis not thrown himself on to the floor, would have decapitated his partner. Sam Curran fights back for a moment with a dot ball off De Kock's bottom edge as he tried to cut and conceding only two singles, pushed into the gaps. Another dot ball is followed by a De Kock single to the cover sweeper. Will Rashid be straight on at the end of the powerplay? Yes ... it looks like it.
OVER 5: SA 50/1 (De Kock 17 Du Plessis 28)
It's a slow pitch and anything slightly short is ripe for punishment. Tom Curran goes for a slow, floaty cutter and Du Plessis reads it, waits for it and slams it over long on for six. The ball has to be retrieved from the foundations of the new stand which is being built. The next ball is dinked over long on for four more, similar shot but better timed. Ouch! The four is sandwiched by a second six as Du Plessis pulls a short ball on an off-stump line over deep backward square and into the empty seats.
A pair of twos - both bunted out to the cover sweeper, the first with a scare because De Kock slipped when turning but got up to get home - are followed by a fourth boundary, slogged off a good length from outside off through midwicket. All bottom hand.
OVER 4: SA 26/1 (De Kock 17 Du Plessis 4)
Brilliant from De Kock, a gorgeously-timed pick up shot, as casual as you like, from middle and off and off a good length, lifted over deep midwicket for six. A swatted pull earns him two more, they exchange singles and then murders another boundary, smacking it off middle through midwicket for four. Exit both slips.
OVER 3: SA 12/1 (De Kock 4 Du Plessis 3)
Tom Curran replaces the elder of his younger brothers. De Kock clips a drive off the bottom right corner of his bat to mid-off and runs one. Fine diving stop by Jordan. Du Plessis can't get his timing right and hanmmrs a cut into the pitch. Didn't look like a slower ball. No, it was 82 mph. De Kock, vigorously backing up, has to scramble back when Du Plessis dabs a slower ball into the offside. There was not enough pace on the stroke for a single and Du Plessis wisely sent him back.
After another dot ball, Du Plessis bludgeons a mistimed cover drive for a single and De Kock ends the over with a legside flick for a single.
OVER 2: SA 9/1 (De Kock 2 Du Plessis 2)
Archer begins by getting one to climb on De Kock who plays it off his hip and through second slip at catchable height for a single. No second slip in, though. Archer stares at the gap wistfully. Du Plessis lets a short ball from Archer fly past his chest and then plays forward to defend.
Du Plessis moves off the mark with a flick off middle and leg for two but can't hit the enxt two deliveries, both in the high eighties, off the square.
OVER 1: SA 6/1 (De Kock 1 Du Plessis 0)
Sam Curran uses the seam to get the first ball to straighten on Bavuma who, surprisingly is taking first hit. He defends it off his knee roll then flashes at a good length ball on off stump, inside edging it into the pitch. Curran draws Bavuma forward and he nicks four to the right of slip, just falling short of the fielder and Stokes cannot cut it off at wide third man. Had that ball moved off the seam like the previous two it could have elicited a thinner edge and given slip a chance.
Bavuma pulls for a single, De Kock slaps a no-footwork cut for one. And Bavuma gets himself out.
Bavuma c Buttler b Sam Curran 5 Bavuma has a rush of blood and tries to ramp Curran over his shoulder. It's the right length but he had to stretch to reach it as it angled across him and he ended up tickling it over the stumps and into Buttler's gloves. FOW 6/1
The players are out
Sam Curran has the new ball in his hands. England in red shirts and navy trousers, SA in gold tops and green strides.
Are being worn by both sides in response to the call from the president of the republic, Cyril Ramaphosa, for five days of national mourning for the victims of gender based violence and Covid-19.
South Africa team
De Kock (capt and wk), Bavuma, Du Plessis, Van der Dussen, Klaasen, Van Biljon, Linde, Hendricks, Rabada, Ngidi, Shamsi.
One spinner for England
Both Currans in England's side: Roy, Buttler, Malan, Bairstow, Stokes, Morgan, Curran S, Curran T, Jordan, Archer, Jordan.
England have won the toss
And put South Africa in top bat.
Newlands? Is that you?
Apparently it's now Six Gun Grill Newlands. Six Gun Grill, in case you were wondering, is a braai seasoning brand.
"Tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun." Is there anything more appealing to the winter-confined cricket lover than a glimpse of the bright southern sun, radiating warmth on to a cricket field as we trudge towards the end of another year under ash-dappled skies? Not to me, anyway. Today marks the first match of England's long and winding international winter that will take them from South Africa to Sri Lanka and India, beginning with three T20s as they tune up for next autumn's World T20 in India.
With that goal in mind, for the first time in an age they will send out their strongest XI, uniting the talents of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan in the same side. If they are planning for India specifically you would have expected them to pick Joe Root somewhere in the top six but to his annoyance (and my puzzlement) Ed Smith has determined that they will proceed without him. Maybe the game has changed profoundly in four years but Root was invaluable in India in 2016 ...
Moeen Ali, who would also likely be in the side for the first match in the tournament, is in the squad but will probably make way for Sam Curran at No7 as England opt to go with only Adil Rashid as a spin option.
South Africa were originally going to be hampered by the absence of Faf du Plessis and David Miller, who had been expected to join the Lanka Premier League which began yesterday. But they changed their minds and are available, which makes the batting line-up, led by Quinton de Kock and also featuring Rassie van der Dussen pretty formidable. The home players have only had red-ball cricket domestically in the past few weeks but key players have been in the UAE playing IPL and Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are as lively an opening pair as anyone could want. South Africa may be in disarray in terms of its administration and finances. They still have an abundance of special players.