England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 104 run victory over South Africa at the Oval. Here are our talking points from the hosts’ opening day clash against the Proteas.
South Africa undone by Archer pace
Last month Jofra Archer wasn’t even in England’s preliminary World Cup squad. Today he single-handedly broke the back of South Africa’s batting with his searing pace. His first spell saw him nail Hashim Amla with a bouncer that forced the veteran to retire hurt, and then account for both Aiden Markram and Faf du Plessis. To finish things off, he also dismissed the well-set Rassie van der Dussen in his second spell, thus eliminating any slim hopes the Proteas might have entertained of upsetting the hosts.
Archer’s average speed was in the mid 140’s, a good 10km or more than the rest of the bowlers on the day. On a slightly two paced wicket, he made the batsman uncomfortable with his pace, and has effectively confirmed his spot in the XI for the rest of the tournament.
Familiar Proteas middle order implosion
South Africa have been heavily dependent on Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis for their runs in the last eighteen months or so. Du Plessis was dismissed early by Archer, but De Kock marched on, making a fine fifty to take South Africa to 129/2 in the company of Rassie van der Dussen. However once QdK holed out to Root on the fine leg boundary, the Proteas fell apart. The visitors needed JP Duminy and Dwaine Pretorius to keep things ticking, but the former fell to a poor shot and the latter to a needless run-out (there’s always one in Proteas games at key ICC events!). It left too much to do for Andile Phehlukwayo and Van der Dussen, and South Africa eventually slumped to a 104 run defeat.
Ben Stokes stars with a 3D performance
There was some talk over Ben Stokes not pulling his weight in this England squad, but he answered his critics with a Man of the Match performance of the oval. He scored 89 valuable runs with the bat in the first innings, helping England cross 300, took one of the catches of the World Cup to dismiss Phehlukwayo and finished the game off with two wickets at the death. South Africa, traditionally blessed with strong all-rounders, would’ve loved to have someone of Stokes’ calibre in their XI today.
Imran Tahir creates World Cup history
Would you have expected someone born in the 1970’s to bowl the first ball of the 2019 World Cup? That’s exactly what happened as Faf du Plessis tossed the ball to veteran spinner Imran Tahir after the Proteas had chosen to field first. The decision reaped rich dividends as Tahir dismissed the dangerous Jonny Bairstow for a first ball duck, thus becoming the only spinner in World Cup history to take the first wicket of the tournament.
South Africa drop David Miller
He’s had his issues with form recently, but David Miller tends to do well against non-subcontinental opposition. He was somewhat surprisingly dropped here, with the Proteas favouring Markram and Duminy over him. Both offer options with the ball, which Miller doesn’t. With the next two games against Bangladesh and India, Miller may find himself on the sidelines for a slightly longer period.