JJ Smuts was making his third appearance for South Africa when he came out to open the innings with Reeza Hendricks against England. But an appearance was all he made. The first ball that he faced came swinging into him, clips the inside edge and smashes on to the stumps. David Willey struck and that ball set the tone for the rest of the match. Smuts’ partner also departed. Hendricks, for his part, was making his sixth appearance in the international stage and was dismissed off the first ball of the third over bowled by Chris Wood.
The next wicket came off the first ball of the fourth over, yet again by Wood. After this, there were no more wickets but England really didn’t need any. AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardien made a 110-run partnership but it came off a whopping 95 balls. South Africa seemed to playing in the wrong format at the time. In their defence, though, De Villiers and Behardien did prevent South Africa from falling to a two-digit total, which looked very much the case in the fourth over.
England came out with the seemingly out of form Jason Roy and the dependable Alex Hales. Roy held back until Wayne Parnell took the ball to bowl the third over. The first went for four leg byes and the next three were all dispatched over the ropes. Roy smashed 23 runs in that one over and the South African shoulders dropped. He was then dismissed off the first ball of the very next over and that gave South Africa their solitary wicket. Jonny Bairstow then came in and, together with Hales saw the match through for England. They were also given a helping hand by an uncharacteristically clumsy fielding performance from Ab De Villiers and co.
De Villiers and Russel Domingo have their work cut out as they now travel to Taunton for the second T20I. There was nothing positive reflecting from the body language of the players in the final embers of the game. They have been provided with a catalogue of things to work on to at least avoid repeating this performance.