Proteas batting struggles after England series loss

Proteas batting struggles after England series loss

Cape Town – Seventeen years to the day after England’s famed Class of 2005 won the Ashes, Ben Stokes’ team of 2022 ended a remarkable home summer with a nine-wicket triumph against South Africa to secure a 2-1 series victory.

Since Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took leadership of the Test team at the beginning of the season, English cricket, and maybe the entire sport, has seen the most miraculous of turnarounds.

Brilliant run-chases against New Zealand and India set the tone, with “Bazball” the rage in cricket circles, until the Proteas under Dean Elgar smashed their hosts at Lord’s in the opening match of the series.

With Stokes and McCullum being loyal to their beliefs of positive cricket and maintaining their faith in this set of players, that single loss suddenly seems almost a million years away.

Except for the one-time substitution of Ollie Robinson for Matthew Potts following the Lord’s loss and Harry Brook’s forced participation in place of the injured Jonny Bairstow at The Oval, England have utilized the same players to achieve thumping triumphs at Old Trafford and The Oval.

And it was almost ironic that Zak Crawley, who had been under the most pressure of any England player to lose his starting position, hit the winning runs and finished unbeaten on 69 as the hosts strolled to victory with nine wickets to spare.

Alex Lees’ dismissal for 39 to Kagiso Rabada was the lone wicket taken.

South Africa’s plans and selection throughout the series – coupled with their terrible batting, of course – left much to be desired, but Crawely’s presence at the crease was basically the deciding factor between the two teams.

Before making four changes at The Oval, the visitors had made two unforced changes to a winning team in Manchester, which had a significant impact on the series’ momentum.

It was a clear indication that the team lacked confidence in its processes and was desperately seeking a quick remedy.

And now they have paid the ultimate cost.

Brief summaries:

Africa, South: 118, 169

England: 158 and 130 for one (Crawley 69*, Lees 39, Pope 11*, Rabada 1/57).

England wins by 9 wickets and 2-1 in the series.

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