Eoin Morgan’s 57 helps England to opening World Cup win

Hosts easily cruised past South Africa at the Oval with Ben Stokes starring with the bat

England’s captain Eoin Morgan hits a reverse sweep watched by South Africa’s Quinton de Kock during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and South Africa at The Oval. Photo: Ian Kington/Getty Images

England’s captain Eoin Morgan hits a reverse sweep watched by South Africa’s Quinton de Kock during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and South Africa at The Oval. Photo: Ian Kington/Getty Images

 

England 311-8 (50 ovs) (B Stokes 89, E Morgan 57, J Roy 54; L Ngidi 3-66), South Africa 207 (39.5 ovs) (Q de Kock 68, H E van der Dussen 50, A L Phehlukwayo 24; J Archer 3-27). England win by 104 runs.

Prompted by a potent opening spell from Jofra Archer and some moments of magic in the field, England began their World Cup campaign with a comfortable 104-run win against South Africa.

No team can be guaranteed to defend 311 in this era but Archer’s opening spell of five overs set England on course. His first intervention was to deliver a bouncer, which struck the head of Hashim Amla – who was compelled to retire and undergo extensive examinations – though he was fit enough to come back later.

Soon after Archer found the edge of Aiden Markram’s bat – the opener was caught at slip – and then he induced Faf du Plessis to mishook a bouncer to Moeen Ali at long leg. For good measure his second spell was also productive, dispatching Rassie van der Dussen during the first maiden over of the day.

It is not just Archer’s pace that brings an added dimension to this side; it is his command of line which offers batsmen no width. It may also help that he is unfamiliar to a fair number of international players, who may be surprised that he can conjure pace with such an easy, effortless action.

Moreover he looks so comfortable out there. Any notion that his presence might disrupt the unity of the team has long since vanished. Eoin Morgan has acquired another high-value trump card who will also be of considerable interest to Joe Root, the Test captain, later in the summer.

The magic in the field came from Ben Stokes, who had been England’s main contributor with the bat earlier in the day. First there was a howitzer throw from the boundary, which surprised Dwaine Pretorius who was run out by a couple of inches.

Stokes then almost certainly took the catch of the tournament on the same boundary, sticking out his right hand as the ball appeared to be sailing over his head after a mighty thwack from Andile Phehlukwayo off Adil Rashid’s bowling. Somehow the ball stayed in Stokes’s hand as he fell to earth, which produced the first victim in World Cup history for an English wrist-spinner.

South Africa’s resistance with the bat came primarily from Quinton de Kock, who had the good fortune of witnessing a delivery from Rashid hitting the base of his stumps without removing the zing bails; they lit up but they did not fall. There was a blemish from Jos Buttler behind the stumps when he dropped Van der Dussen off Moeen. Otherwise England sparkled in the field. That was not quite the case when they batted after Du Plessis won the toss – which, contrary to expectation, gave his side little or no advantage.

England’s innings was not the cavalier romp to which we have grown accustomed and there were good reasons for that. The pitch was not an absolute belter; the light green grass hid a dry surface on which the ball sometimes stuck thereby hindering carefree strokeplay. Moreover this was a World Cup match, not the first outing in a five/seven-match series. And England did lose a wicket to the second ball of the day, delivered by the wrist spinner Imran Tahir. Jonny Bairstow pushed forward, edged to the keeper, and tucked his bat under his arm almost as swiftly as Alec Stewart used to do as he made the long trip back to the pavilion with a golden duck to his name.

Root and Jason Roy calmly restored England’s equilibrium, batting as smoothly as any pair throughout the day with some silky smooth strokes that brought them 106 together over the next 18 overs. But within four deliveries both were back in the pavilion: Roy miscuing to mid-off and Root slicing to cover.

Another rebuilding exercise was required and Morgan and Stokes provided it. The England captain played the more memorable shots in another 106-run partnership. In the 26th over of the innings he hit the first six of the tournament over long off from the bowling of Lungi Ngidi; next ball he hit another over long-leg. Later England’s solitary six-hitter would pop a Markram off-break over the rope before seeking another off Tahir. This time the timing was not perfect and Du Plessis held a superb diving catch at long-on, an example of the excellent out-cricket produced by South Africa.

Buttler only flickered so that it was left to Stokes to glue the innings together. After Root he is now the sensible man in the middle order who bats pragmatically, quite a change in style from the younger Stokes, and on this occasion England were very grateful for his pragmatism.

Seventy-nine runs came from the last 10 overs of England’s innings, which hardly qualifies as carnage in this era, and this included a sweetly-timed boundary from the first ball that Archer had received in a proper international match. But it was his bowling that will have the England camp salivating at what he might be able to contribute in this tournament – and beyond. – Guardian

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