England v South Africa, 3rd NatWest ODI, The Oval August 31, 2012

Morgan sparkles in dull England win

77

England 212 for 6 (Morgan 73, Trott 71) beat South Africa 211 (Amla 43, Elgar 42, Anderson 4-44, Dernbach 3-44) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Eoin Morgan swore allegiance to England's Test team this week ahead of all other temptations. In the current climate he would be foolish to suggest anything else. There may be suitors from the IPL who do not entirely believe it and their appetite to find out more will only have been whetted by his dashing intervention at The Oval which took England back to the top of the ODI rankings.

England beat South Africa for the first time this summer as their four-wicket victory with two overs to spare levelled the series at 1-1 with two to play. They also reclaimed the title of the No. 1 one-day side in the world, although this accolade could be short-lived. South Africa's reign lasted three days and they may reign again by Sunday evening. Fortunately, the players keep these things in perspective. Some of the more rabid fans would be well advised to follow suit or their emotional highs and lows may prove terminal.

Morgan made 73 from 67 balls, but he had a rock to lean on: Jonathan Trott, met by a target well within his comfort zone and bent upon batting through the innings. When the game was in the balance, at 64 for 3 in the 18th over, it would have been a toss-up which batsman South Africa most wished to dismiss next. Morgan could fearlessly slash and burn but Trott was the smouldering menace.

By the time they removed either of them - Morgan offering a return catch to Robin Peterson, aiming over midwicket - England's alliance of opposites had garnered 108 in 20 overs and the match was almost spent. The only surprise was that Trott did not see it through. He was out with England five runs short, 71 from 125 balls, as Wayne Parnell had him caught at the wicket. Parnell completed a niggardly spell but for Dale Steyn, back in the side, the pitch offered little encouragement.

England's chase had never looked entirely comfortable against a persistent attack and on a low, holding surface. But Trott created order out of discomfort; approaching his task like a librarian, ticking off every ball and stacking it neatly in alphabetical order. South Africa, probably 30 runs shy, could do little about it. "We were hoping for 250-odd," said AB de Villiers, South Africa's captain. "Most of the senior players got in and got out. That was the big sin."

Ravi Bopara was not so composed. He left to the sound of booing from the crowd, adjudged by umpire Kumar Dharmasena to be caught at the wicket for nought off Morne Morkel. He immediately turned to the DRS and the crowd only witnessed the fact that Hot Spot showed no edge. But the sound as the ball passed the bat was clearly audible - convincingly so - and the third umpire, Simon Taufel, correctly concluded that he had no clear evidence to overturn the on-field umpire's decision.

Bopara had bowled his bothersome medium pace skilfully in South Africa's innings, conceding only 31 runs and claiming the wicket of Faf du Plessis in only his second completed bowling stint for England, following a full shift against Bangladesh at Edgbaston two years ago.

It has been a fraught period for Bopara, his cricketing summer affected by domestic issues, and this will have helped to persuade him that much of his England career, especially at one-day level, remains ahead of him, but his pressing need in the last two matches is runs.

Until Morgan shook the duvet, the cautious nature of England's reply was summed up in the dismissal of Alastair Cook, who reached 20 from 47 balls when he pulled Peterson gently to deep midwicket, an nondescript delivery but a wicket achieved through a gradual build up of pressure.

South Africa had to put in a workmanlike performance to post anything like a competitive total. Jade Dernbach held them back. His opportunities for England in limited-overs cricket this summer have extended no further than south London, but the moment he dismissed Hashim Amla, England's scourge all season, ensured him of an influential day. South Africa's last eight wickets slipped away for 91. England were sharper than they had been at the Ageas Bowl.

Fresh from his 150 in the second ODI in Southampton, Amla made unflustered progress to 43 from 51 balls before Dernbach took advantage of limited footwork in his first over to bowl him between bat and pad. Until then, he had batted with tranquillity and purpose, his runs advance unnoticed like a night-time tide. One whip behind square against James Anderson was so wristy that you could swear he played it with the back of the bat.

Dernbach, whose only other one-day appearance came against Australia , also on his home ground, was given an opportunity after England left out Tim Bresnan and overlooked the man who might have been viewed as his most like-for-like replacement, Chris Woakes. Dernbach has twice the forearms - as muscular and tattooed as a coal miner - but he is not twice the cricketer.

Away from The Oval, it would have been a debatable choice. But on this slow surface he was in his element. He dismissed Dean Elgar for 42, an innings that never really took shape, with a delivery bowled out of the back of the hand leaving the batsman motionless and bowling him through the gate. He later had Parnell caught at the wicket in an over when the batsman had twice nicked him for boundaries through the vacant slip cordon.

As the ball softened, South Africa laboured. Six players in all were bowled, emphasising that this was a pitch that rewarded a wicket-to-wicket attack. JP Duminy held things together until he fell at long off as he went big against the offspin of James Tredwell, who had also accounted for de Villiers as he sought out his favourite flick to deep midwicket.

With Parnell on the card at No. 7, recovery was always liable to be painstaking for South Africa and they never broke free, Anderson wrapping up the innings with the last three wickets in seven balls to leave 20 deliveries unused.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on September 3, 2012, 0:55 GMT

    @mikey76 - mate it is not about having ONE player of foreign born credentials, the reason why England get pinged on this topic is the VOLUME of players, at one point recently - 1/3 of all "England's" Test debutant players were overseas born. The only other TEST country that is anywhere near this level is NZ, who have a few Saffas & the odd Ozzy going thru their system. Nobody bags NZ for this, because they are nowhere near a #1 ranking in any format. England are via some good cricket near or are #1 in all 3 formats, so there is an element of sour grapes, but IMO that is still WITH some basis!

  • ashok_cricfan on September 2, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    can any1 plz tell me the list of imported players in england playing 11.

  • Sharky.omarhenry on September 2, 2012, 9:28 GMT

    I like this see-saw battle series. I knew England would fight back with their "NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP" attitude. And don't worry so much about the imports playing for England. Maybe you homo-sapiens don't know it yet, but latest discoveries by anthropologists on the coast of South Africa claims that almost everybody from Europe's forefathers were South African.

  • JG2704 on September 2, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta on (September 02 2012, 00:25 AM GMT) - I know you're an Eng fan , but for some reason in past threads I thought you were against our imports playing for England.

  • dummy4fb on September 2, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    @jmcilhinney. Looking at his records so far, I can't disagree with you. Looking at some of the typical test player like Amla, Kallis, Dravid et al, who made an effort and succeeded in adjusting to the needs of ODI (including turning the strike over), I was just hoping.... Sad, but what you say is true... at least so far.

  • JG2704 on September 1, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (September 01 2012, 10:40 AM GMT) Don't be sorry for being wrong - joke. Seriously , I do think we have too many plodders and whereas before when we had KP and Morgan we had 2 players who could score at a very decent SR. Now we just have 1 and I think we need Bairstow in there. Bell replaced KP and despite my protests and horror at the time he seems to have upped the tempo in his ODI batting whereas to me Trott has actually regressed in that dept. Even chasing a modest target , Morgan had to score at a run a ball to keep up and had they scored just 20 or 30 more runs we might have been in big trouble. I'm just not so sure he can go through the gears when the situation requires it

  • JG2704 on September 1, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    @ragrant on (September 01 2012, 10:29 AM GMT) Don't agree with your generalistic view that it was all SA batsmen being impatient. Amla and Elgar showed patience and Dernbach bowled a couple of beauties to get rid of them.

  • JG2704 on September 1, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (September 01 2012, 09:51 AM GMT) I think Trott is a very selfish batsman which is a good thing in tests but can be a bad thing in ODIs. I think also that batsmen below him have in the past tried to overcompensate for Trott's slow scoring and got out cheaply because of it , hence Trott's innings looking like a saving grace but really it might at times have been a catalyst. Actually he was never as slow as he seemed but he actually seems to have regressed. Bell seems to have improved in SR and I always feel he looks so more comfortable/less vulnerable when he plays his shots. With KP out of the side Bairstow's non selection is nonsense to me

  • JG2704 on September 1, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    @GarfieldSobers on (September 01 2012, 07:27 AM GMT) I see you're very pleased with the England win. What a charming , balanced post.

  • bumsonseats on September 1, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    reporters who dont have to pay to watch a game may have found it dull. i found admittedly on sky found it absorbing. what ticks me off we seem to loose wickets as we get near the opponents score. so what looked a close game was not. mind david perhaps iv you had paid you might have enjoyed it more.

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