England v South Africa, 2nd NatWest T20I, Old Trafford September 9, 2012

England seek parity and progress


Match Facts

September 10, 2012, Old Trafford
Start time 6.30pm (1730GMT)

The Big Picture

It is dangerous to read too much into one match, but there did appear to be a significant gulf between England and South Africa during the first Twenty20. In reality though, not a huge amount new was learned: England struggle against spin, lack experience in the batting but have some good quick bowlers while South Africa, after their blip in the London ODIs, look overall a slick machine.

The way that Johan Botha and Robin Peterson tied down the batsmen on a slow turner - remember, this was Chester-le-Street not Colombo - was a concern but England have shown in the past that they can learn from their mistakes. Earlier this year they came from 1-0 down to beat Pakistan in the UAE (although, yes, Kevin Pietersen played a significant hand) while they also bounced back in the one-day series after a hammering in Southampton.

And the bottom line is that, barring injury-related changes, these are the players going to Sri Lanka so it is a rather fruitless exercise considering alternatives. On the whole, too, these are the best T20 cricketers in the country although, of course, there will always be debate about who else could get a go. As often after defeat, the players left out of the XI start to look better and it would be a surprise if Luke Wright, Michael Lumb and Danny Briggs - there are injury worries over Tim Bresnan - do not get a game in this series.

South Africa have fewer areas of concern but, like England, are not entirely convincing at the top of the order. Richard Levi is a fairly unsubtle batsman (it can sometimes be destructive, but often not) and Faf du Plessis is going through a run of form to match Ravi Bopara's nightmares. Significantly, though, their experienced players are in good touch. Jacques Kallis has slotted back in and Dale Steyn is bowling beautifully.

Form guide

(Most recent first, completed matches)

EnglandL WWWL
South Africa WWWWL

Watch out for

Eoin Morgan has the weight of world, or at least England's batting line-up, on his shoulders. He remains cool and calm whenever asked about the pressure, but in the absence of Pietersen he is the one player with both the experience and all-round game to dominate attacks in a variety of conditions. When he dragged on in the opening game an already stuttering innings quickly unravelled.

Johan Botha is an interesting story. After the World Twenty20 he is being released from his Cricket South Africa contract to go and captain South Australia so this next month is his international farewell. He will be key to South Africa's chances in Sri Lanka and bowled with skill and control at Chester-le-Street. His batting, although not needed in the opening game, adds depth to the lower order.

Team news

It is difficult to see how England can keep picking Bopara at the moment. Consistent failures are only dragging him down further. Wright has had a terrific season for Sussex and would ensure Stuart Broad still has an extra bowler if needed. They will be tempted to bring in Briggs, the left-arm spinner, but will not want to weaken the lower order so either Steven Finn or Jade Dernbach would need to miss out.

England (possible) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 Steven Finn, 11 Danny Briggs

If South Africa are concerned at all about their top order they have a certain Hashim Amla sat on the bench and he has been in some decent form this tour. Elsewhere, the balance looks better than the ODIs with Albie Morkel back in the middle order and the twin frontline spinners.

South Africa (possible) 1 Richard Levi, 2, Jacques Kallis, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Justin Ontong, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Pitch and conditions

Old Trafford has turned this year - considerably so on some occasions, with Lancashire almost docked points in one Championship game - although it does not quite have the bounce of the square before it was rotated. The most recent pitch, for the CB40 semi-final, was described as one of the best of the season while the surface for the England Lions-Australia A game was also well received. The forecast suggests a chance of rain although it could hold off until after the game.

Stats and trivia

  • England have not lost a T20 at Old Trafford although the two against Australia in 2009 were badly affected by the weather.

  • Jade Dernbach took 4 for 22 against India on the ground last year, one of four four-wicket hauls by an England bowler in T20s.

  • Of the two XIs that played in the first match, only Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe do not have strike-rates of over 100 for South Africa but for England just five batsmen pass the three-figure mark.


"I think one thing we have to be very aware of is you win games of Twenty20 cricket with numbers eight, nine, ten and 11 not batting. So we have to take the responsibility of having a batsman there at the end."
Stuart Broad does not want the chance of another career-best innings

"I would have liked not to have lost as many wickets as we did early on. But Jacques came in with his experience and played really well right 'til the end."
AB de Villiers was grateful for the experience of Kallis

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Trone on September 10, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    SA picked their best side I reckon. Let's hope the rain goes away...

  • Nicholas on September 10, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    Stuart Broad is right in his quote there, whether he means this or not: if there are any decent bowlers out there in the county circuit that are hard to score of, why not play them regardless of their batting ineptitude? For 20:20 trashy cricket, players 8 to 11 inclusive should be first-choice bowlers only; good fielding is a bonus. One all-rounder can fill in the remaining overs, or if there isn't one, batsmen who can at least tie an end up for a while bowling. Wicket-keeper batsman of course. The remaining batsmen should be first-choice batsmen only; good fielding is a bonus. Enough already with the "Jack of all trades, master of none" players!

  • Jabran on September 10, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    KP Fans....Please get over it. KP is not coming back. The last time there was a dispute, the coach was sacked and KP was kept in the team. If the same happens this time and KP is called back, then English cricket will be worse than before.

  • steve on September 10, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    WishW - England are looking to move on, the only major support for keeping KP in the team along with all his antics comes from those who cannot seem to understand that an individual who cannot accept being any thing other than the centre of attention is only a (self) destructive force in the long run.

    As for KP being the 'one and only' the records don't back that up - morgan's average is equally good in T20s and ODIs,others like cook and bairstow's are his equal in one format or the other.

    That's not to say he isn't a good bat and outside his antics an asset, just that his fanboys need to have perspective when suggesting he is head and shoulders above others.

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    I beleive that if Bell has a weakness against sub-continental spinners (and there is evidence). I think 20-20 is the format for him to overcome it. He needn't be so afraid of losing his wicket and nobody (except possibly KP) skips down the wicket to attack better that IRB.

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Re: Stuart Broad. Did he shed some of his confidence, along with his weight? The moment the idea of asking him to shed the role of "enforcer" flowered in the coach's mind, I guessed, this is going to happen. Moral: We have to let players be what they are. Not trying to mould them into our pre-conceived moulds! Usually, that had been the problem with guys like Buchanan & Greg Chappel. Completely shunning that idea is one of the major ingredients in Gary Kirsten's success.

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    Well, Bell?... Well, well, well !... Owais Shah is definitely better for Sri Lankan conditions.

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    @Sanjiyan. Refer to your comment, regarding Bopara: "Any other team in the world would have dropped him years ago, assuming he would even make the team in the first place." It is not exactly true. We don't have to go too far; take a look at Rohit Sharma!

  • Dummy4 on September 10, 2012, 13:36 GMT

    Yes. Owais Shah played very well ,on the spinning/ turning pitches in India. Also took some wonderful catches in the deep. Is he there in the World T-20 team? Ideal guy for SL conditions.

  • Marcio on September 10, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Actually, this is a good time for England (and SA) to experiment with players, although the core team really should be in order at this late stage, with the T20 WC coming up. It's better to see problems at this stage than during the upcoming tournament - as long as they are addressed.

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