South Africa v England, 5th ODI, Cape Town February 14, 2016

Bayliss laments England's fielding

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Trevor Bayliss was full of praise for the way Alex Hales responded from his poor Test series © Gallo Images

With the highest run-scorer, Alex Hales, and the highest wicket-taker, Reece Topley, in the ODI series against South Africa - roles-reversed from the Test series where South Africa lost despite leading both tallies - England's coach Trevor Bayliss identified fielding as main difference between the two sides.

"The batting and bowling was fairly even - both teams relied on about three of their batters and bowling was similar," Bayliss said. "But they're a better fielding team than us at the moment."

Although England did not put down any catches in the decider in Cape Town, they dropped several in the preceding games, including three at the Wanderers that could have sealed the series. JP Duminy was let off when he was on 1, AB de Villiers on 9 and Chris Morris on 14. The last of those cost England the most. Morris took South Africa to within one run of a series-levelling victory and, not for the first time on this tour, Bayliss has stressed the need for England to work on their fielding.

"We've got a number of guys that are not the quickest in the field but I also think it's an attitude thing," Bayliss said. "You want the ball coming at you; you want to prove to people that you can field. At times, some of us don't want the ball to come anywhere near us. When we are good, we've very, very good but it's something we've got to continue to work at."

Progress is something England have done a lot of since their disappointing 2015 World Cup campaign and their new attitude has already brought them some success. They won series against New Zealand and Pakistan and came from 2-0 down to take Australia to a decider.

Despite losing three in a row to squander the advantage in South Africa, Bayliss believed they remain on the right track. "I don't think we are far off. We've played some pretty good cricket," he said. "It's a fine line. Had we taken some catches, we could be sitting here having won 3-2. We're disappointed to lose the series having played some very good cricket."

He said that translating that good cricket into good results more often will come as players mature and become more consistent. "We've got some work to do there and that will come with experience. At some point that experience has got to pay dividends."

An example of how that is already working is Hales. After struggling through the Tests, in which he scored one fifty and did not get past 26 in his other seven innings, Hales finished on top of the run charts with four fifties, including a 99, and a century in the final match to prove his quality.

"He was disappointed with the number of runs he scored in the Test arena but the way he has played here is top class," Bayliss said. "I think he is more comfortable will his role in the team and the way he goes about playing the one-day game. Now he's got to take that into Test arena. The way he has played here, there is no reason why he can't do the same in Test cricket."

Hales, and the rest of the England line-up, have been asked to look at someone like AB de Villiers for further instruction on how to develop as batsmen. De Villiers took control of the chase and guided South Africa from 22 for 3 to victory.

"We've got to take a leaf out of AB's book. The way he paced his innings and the way he went about it, it was top class. The best batter in the series did his job today and he showed everyone else how to do it," Bayliss said. "Hopefully the guys will learn from it."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lerato H Nyelele Mjoli on February 16, 2016, 4:23 GMT

    the best bowler in the series Kagiso Rabada played less matches then the rest but still got better rewards

  • blahblah1234567 on February 15, 2016, 20:11 GMT

    I agree with Nursery-Ender, whats the point of all those half bowler and less than capable batsmen while they really should be specialist bowlers.

  • nursery_ender on February 15, 2016, 16:59 GMT

    YORKSHIRE-86 ON FEBRUARY 15, 2016, 11:53 GMT Never mind catches, we need to start picking batsmen rather than loading the team with 'bowling options who can bat'. We don't need six bowlers. ----------------------------------------------------------- I'd never go into a game without at least a sixth bowling option. If someone goes lame or just goes round the park you're stuffed. Four bowlers in addition to Ali and Stokes isn't a problem: and those two might even allow a proper keeper to play.

  • Cautiously_optimistic on February 15, 2016, 15:35 GMT

    Very little between the two sides in this one day series. England paid for taking their foot off SA's throat as they had more than enough chances to win the series before the final game. Credit to SA for rising to the occasion when it really mattered. As was stated before 'catches win matches' and England dropped too many at critical moments. The batting is also a concern with England too reliant on Root. Was encouraging to see Hales play well throughout the series, but Roy delivered very little and Morgan was poor throughout. Buttler is a match winner, but can't do it every time and Stokes has not made his mark as a batsman in ODI cricket yet. I think Taylor should have played at 3 - a very good one day player who can build an innings and adapts to the situation. As England now have so many aggressive shot makers I think this would give a better balance to the top six.

  • AltafPatel on February 15, 2016, 14:54 GMT

    Adil Rashid's drop catch of Morris in 4th ODI when he was just arrived and SA was 8 down, cost them the series.

  • diri on February 15, 2016, 14:50 GMT

    To the posters who are saying you beat SA the last time around ...in 2004?? Lol you never beat the SA team when they were in their pomp ( 2007 - 2014)...so keep practicing because SA will come to England again and beat you for the third time in a row

  •   Rob Kemp on February 15, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    Thought both teams lacked a cutting edge with the ball. They obviously missed Steyn and Phillander. I really hope two out of Finn, Plunkett and Wood return to the side when fit. Apart from Topley, none of them looked like match winners. No point batting till 10, if none of the bowlers can break partnerships.

  • thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on February 15, 2016, 12:38 GMT

    @ DIRI - I've got news for you mate. G Smith has retired. Times change. We beat you in the Tests fairly easily this time round, we also beat you in Tests on your own turf South Africa in 2004/5. You win some, you lose some. Don't be so ungracious.

  • yorkshire-86 on February 15, 2016, 11:53 GMT

    Never mind catches, we need to start picking batsmen rather than loading the team with 'bowling options who can bat'. We don't need six bowlers. Why are we handicapping the team by basically playing with ten men just for the odd freak chance someone gets injured? We could have played with Stokes, Rashid, Ali, Broad and Topley as the bottom 5, and added Taylor as another batsmen.

  • thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on February 15, 2016, 10:46 GMT

    Bayliss says some very odd things to the press. 'England have some fielders who don't want the ball coming to them'? Really? I'm surprised to hear that. They have dropped some catches and do need to improve. But we haven't got 11 Monty Panesars on the field. Also admitting he'd never seen Dawson play after selecting him in the World Cup squad. That's not great Trevor. How does that make Woakes and Plunkett feel? Also saying he doesn't want a plodder at 3 in the Test side - again, how did that make Compton feel? Bayliss yet to earn his corn. He needs to sort out the fielding and the Test opener slot

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