Dawid Malan joked that he “needs to go back to maths class” after leaving himself one run short of a deserved century against South Africa, but there is little anybody can teach him about Twenty20 batting.
It was seen as something of a surprise when Malan shot to world number one in the format earlier this year but he has done everything in his power to justify that lofty billing, capping a man-of-the-series effort against the Proteas with a brutal chase in Cape Town.
He hit 99 not out in just 47 balls as he and Jos Buttler piled on an unbroken stand of 167 to seal a 3-0 clean sweep and ensure their side would go top of the ICC rankings at the next update.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 1, 2020
He could, and probably should, have been celebrating a ton given there were still 14 deliveries left when England completed their nine-run win at Newlands, but he instead settled for a quick single to seal it.
When Malan scored his previous hundred in Napier a year ago captain Eoin Morgan was unhappy with his decision not to run off the final ball of the innings and protect his ‘not out’, which may well have been at the back of his mind.
“I knew there was five (balls of the over) left but I don’t know how it was going to go down if I turned down a single,” he told the post-match presentation.
“I knew I had to hit two sixes (to convert his 88) to win the game and get a hundred, I got a six and a four so I guess I didn’t calculate that too well. I need to go back to maths class.”
Malan’s partner Buttler, who chipped in with a classy 67no in 46 balls, ribbed his team-mate when that suggestion was put to him.
“I don’t know how much I believe that!” said Buttler.
“It’s a big scoreboard out there saying how many you have. I’m sure he must have glanced at it at some point. I usually know how many I’m on.
“But he played a fantastic knock. His consistency has been unbelievable since he came back into the side. It was just about winning the game I think, he was deserving of a hundred but I’m pretty sure he’ll be happy with his 99 not out.”
Malan departs South Africa having not made the cut for the forthcoming one-day series with 173 runs at an average of 86.50 and a strike-rate of 161.68.
“It was so nice to get some momentum. I know I have the power, it’s just putting it into place at the right times to win games of cricket,” he concluded.
Buttler’s effort also underlined his value as an opener, having been used in the middle order by Rajasthan Royals during the Indian Premier League campaign.
He and Ben Stokes traded places for the franchise but he confirmed he is back where he wants to be.
“I absolutely love opening the batting. I feel it’s the best place to bat in T20 cricket, but so do about 10 other people in our side!” he said.
“It’s just great to have flexibility to pick and choose however we want to put it together.”