What next for England after T20 series win?
England ended a two-month tour of South Africa with a 2-1 Twenty20 series win.
The tourists responded to losing the East London opener by the bare margin of one run by holding their nerve in Durban to prevail by two runs before chasing down 223 in the decider of a riveting three-match contest.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the issues that have arisen over the last few days.
– Are T20s important again?
Yes. England have been giving more prominence to one-day internationals in their pursuit of a 50-over World Cup. But with that in the bag, attention now turns to the sprint format ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, with another one to follow in India in 2021.
– So how are England shaping up?
There were concerns when England mucked up chasing seven to win from the last over at Buffalo Park to lose the opener but there were signs of gradual improvement. There were some shortfalls in the bowling, with the injured Jofra Archer’s absence keenly felt, but England’s strength lies in their batting, as they showed in their successful pursuit of their second highest chase in their history at Centurion on Sunday.
– We don’t need to worry about England’s batting, then?
There is some conjecture about whether Jos Buttler should open. England want their most destructive batsman to face as many balls as possible, but he is renowned as one of the best finishers in the game and there are not too many of those in the squad. Joe Denly was given the chance to show what he could do but his batting average is a derisory 9.6 after 11 innings.
– Who could take Denly’s place in the line-up?
That went to Dawid Malan on Sunday. He can count himself unfortunate he is not in the best XI with an average before this series of 57.25, while he became only the second English batsman to record a T20 century last year. But he failed to press his claim at Centurion. There is much hype surrounding Tom Banton and he clearly has a bright future but he is a top-order batsman, and England are set on a top-three of Jason Roy, Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.
– Back to the bowling, what went wrong?
South Africa openers Quinton De Kock and Temba Bavuma were able to pile on the runs in all three matches to give the hosts solid foundations. However, it was not all doom and gloom. Chris Jordan and Tom Curran both bowled well at Durban, while the latter was the best bowler on the park on Sunday. He might have been the most vulnerable had Archer been available but that is probably not the case any more.
– How did England stack up?
Curran and captain Eoin Morgan were the stars of the series for England, while Roy, Buttler, Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jordan, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid all contributed. Mark Wood struggled with the ball, though, while Malan and Denly failed to press their claims.
– What’s next
A return to the red ball as England head to Sri Lanka for a two-Test series. The first starts at Galle on March 19. They do not play another T20 until a home three-match series with Australia in July.