• SA v Eng – 3rd ODI: Talking points

    Tom Sizeland reflects on the players and moments that shaped the third ODI in Centurion on Tuesday.

    Quinton de Kock is in the form of his life. It’s been an incredible response from the 23-year-old after he was dropped from the side after the World Cup following a poor run of form. He was brilliant across all areas of the park, and he was 75 days younger than Virat Kohli was when he reached 10 ODI centuries, breaking his record. Hashim Amla’s return to form can’t go unnoticed either, ending a run that saw just one fifty-plus score in his last 17 innings.

    A tough one, but it has to go to Kyle Abbott for holding his nerve towards the business end of the innings. He conceded just 21 runs off his final four overs, and took two key wickets in powerful hitters Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan to take the wind out of England’s sail.

    Spoilt for choice. De Kock and Amla were responsible for just the third opening 50-plus stand in 25 matches for the Proteas, before going on to become the third opening pair ever to pass 200 for the Proteas. A beautiful straight drive by De Kock in the eighth over off Reece Topley was the pick of the bunch. So good that he turned around before the ball had barely gone past the bowler.

    Great cricket all round from South Africa to see off Jos Buttler for a golden duck. JP Duminy was placed in a deepish short leg, and he took a fine catch to give Kagiso Rabada two wickets in three balls. More importantly, it saw off the man who did the damage in the first two matches.

    Hindsight comes into play here, because, at the time, Jason Roy and Joe Root’s run-outs didn’t appear too costly. But now England might be thinking ‘what if?’ Roy went for a casual single, but on the turn realised there was a second run on offer. He took so long with the first that he panicked and fell just short of a second to walk back gingerly for 20. Root and Stokes’ mix-up was a bit unfortunate given the deflection off the stumps, but the pair were cruising, and it brought about a collapse that slowed them down significantly.

    For all of the brilliance of Stokes in the Test series and Buttler in the ODIs so far on this tour, Root has gone about his work in quieter, but world-class fashion. He scored at least a half-century in every Test, and a century in the third match at the Wanderers. A fifty in the first ODI was then followed up with another ton at Centurion. His importance in the England middle-order can’t be emphasised enough.

    Promoting David Wiese to No 3 was a bizarre experiment. Even if it had paid off, people would still be asking why AB de Villiers, the most destructive batsman in world cricket, didn’t back himself to come in and finish off the job. The fact of the matter is it didn’t pay off, and they reverted straight back to the status quo with Faf du Plessis coming in next.



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    Tom Sizeland