How de Kock's local knowledge helped win the powerplay, and the match

The South Africa opener knew conditions in St Lucia were not the same as previous matches at night

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Quinton de Kock attributed his match-winning 65 off 38 balls against England to his Caribbean Premier League experience, which informed his attacking intent in the powerplay.
De Kock has only played seven CPL games, all of them for Barbados Royals in the 2022 season. But three of those came at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, including two day games and one under lights.
It gave him enough evidence to believe that a par score would be significantly lower in South Africa's game against England - which started at 10.30am local time - than in the previous four T20 World Cup fixtures at the venue, which were 8.30pm starts. He also quickly realised that the powerplay would be the best time to bat, and so it proved.
De Kock scored 49 runs off 20 balls in the powerplay, including sixes off Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer (twice) and Sam Curran, and believed that his fast start had made a "massive" impact. "I've played a lot of day T20 cricket in the West Indies and generally that is the most important time to score runs," he said.
South Africa's total of 163 for 6 looked under-par in the context of the four games in St Lucia across the previous six nights, where Australia and England both chased totals of 181 and Sri Lanka and West Indies successfully defended scores in excess of 200. But de Kock said that when he walked out to bat, he was clear that they would only need a slightly lower total.
"I don't know if the rest of the guys knew, but I had a fair sense: I've played here quite a bit in the Caribbean league and it's the same thing: the wicket looks beautiful. At night, it plays most different but in the day, 160-170 are winning scores here in the day. Generally, it goes like that in the Caribbean: I think the lights and maybe a bit of dew at night help the ball skid on a bit better.
"The easier time to score runs is in the powerplay. When the ball's old and as the wicket deteriorates, it gets harder." Asked if that phase proved match-winning - as Jos Buttler believed - de Kock said: "There were other moments, but obviously that's probably one of our better powerplays in this whole World Cup - so it could be."
He also used the stiff cross-breeze to his advantage, with the wind helping to carry the ball over the boundary when he hit back-to-back sixes off Archer. "Wind's definitely a big factor, especially opening the batting when you've only got two guys out," de Kock said. "You've got to use that wind as much as you can: don't fight it, just try and use it."
None of England's XI on Friday have played a CPL game in St Lucia but they have significant experience in the Caribbean due to regular away series against West Indies. They also have significant local knowledge in their dressing room, with Kieron Pollard - the most capped T20 player in the format's history - involved as an assistant coach at this World Cup.
Yet Buttler suggested they were surprised by how the pitch played on Friday, compared to how it had under lights two days previously. "It looked a similar wicket," he said. "This has been, so far in the tournament, the best batting pitch… I think the wicket was probably a little bit slower than everyone expected. 160 was about a par score. We bowled really well in the back 10-15 overs to restrict them."
South Africa adjusted more quickly to conditions with the ball, limiting England to 41 for 1 the powerplay compared to their own score of 63 for 0. Jonny Bairstow was caught at point off Keshav Maharaj for 17 off 20 in the seventh over, while Buttler himself fell in Maharaj's next over for 16 off 20 while slog-sweeping to deep midwicket.
"I felt like the powerplay was the difference in the game, and the way Quinny could bat at the rate that none of us could bat at… I think the way Quinny played at the top really put us under a lot of pressure," Buttler said. "[He] played some great shots and we weren't able to match that."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98