In Depth

England’s reality check: world champions are walloped by South Africa

Eoin Morgan’s side beaten in first ODI since winning the Cricket World Cup

South Africa vs. England: 1st ODI, Cape Town
  • England innings: 258-8 (50 overs) 
  • South Africa innings: 259-3 (47.4 overs) 
  • South Africa won by seven wickets

England’s sports stars suffered their second humiliation in the space of 72 hours as South Africa did to the cricketers on Tuesday what France had done to the rugby team on Sunday.

In their first match as world champions after their unforgettable triumph last summer, England were thrashed by seven wickets in the first of three one-day international (ODI) matches against South Africa. 

Captain Eoin Morgan admitted his boys were “way off the mark” as the home side strolled to victory under the Cape Town floodlights.

Way off the pace

“Right from the beginning of our innings, we struggled to adapt to the conditions,” Morgan told BBC Sport’s Test Match Special podcast.

“We did our best to adapt but the skill level wasn’t there. We’ll identify the little reasons why we didn’t gel as a team today because if we play like that again, we’ll lose.”

Admittedly, England were without three of their top stars from last summer’s Cricket World Cup success - Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer - but nonetheless it was a poor performance from a side that still contained, on paper, some of the biggest stars in the ODI format.

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Doughty Denly

One of those, Jason Roy, got England off to a flier at Newlands, as he and Jonny Bairstow put on 51 for the first wicket. But the openers then fell in quick succession, heralding a middle-order collapse that saw the tourists slump to 131-6.

The impressive Joe Denly and Chris Woakes then stopped the rot with a partnership of 91, which allowed England to reach a respectable 258-8 in their 50 overs.

But whereas South Africa had a dangerous bowler in left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (who took 3-38 in his ten overs), England had no one to exert control over the opposition batsmen.

Quinton de Kock hit 107 and Temba Bavuma scored a slick 98 in a second-wicket partnership of 173, and although both fell in the closing stages, South Africa still eased to victory with 14 balls remaining.

The second ODI of the three-match series between South Africa and England is on Friday 7 February at Kingsmead in Durban (11am GMT, live on Sky Sports).

Reactions to South Africa’s emphatic win

Simon Mann, BBC Cricket

“Few of England’s back-up players advanced their cause in a strangely flat performance.” 

Chris Stokes, The Times

“It is little over six months since England won the World Cup on an unforgettable summer’s day at Lord’s. That glorious triumph felt like a lifetime ago as Eoin Morgan’s team succumbed to a grim seven-wicket defeat at the hands of South Africa.” 

David Lloyd, Sky Sports

“England didn’t really have their game head on tonight. They won’t say too much, I wouldn’t have thought, in the changing room. This next match is on Friday and I expect them to be much, much better.”

England tour of South Africa: fixtures and results 

  • Test series: England won 3-1 
  • 1st ODI: South Africa won by seven wickets  
  • Friday 7 February: 2nd ODI at Kingsmead, Durban (11am GMT, live on Sky Sports)  
  • Sunday 9 February: 3rd ODI at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg (8am GMT, live on Sky Sports)  
  • Wednesday 12 February: 1st Twenty20 international at Buffalo Park in East London (4pm GMT, live on Sky Sports)  
  • Friday 14 February: 2nd Twenty20 international at Kingsmead in Durban (4pm GMT, live on Sky Sports)  
  • Sunday 16 February: 3rd Twenty20 international at Supersport Park in Centurion (12.30pm GMT, live on Sky Sports)

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Start your trial today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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