Morgan's power play gets England off to flying start

Left-hander smacks record score to give tourists victory via Duckworth/Lewis rule

Boldness was the decree and bold was the execution. England, indeed, played as if bold was their middle name at the Wanderers last night, as if this was what they had always done.

This was just as well because they ran into a South Africa bristling with equal intent last night and the tourists' highest Twenty20 score of 202 for six, to which they were thrillingly led by Eoin Morgan, was just enough to win their opening international match of a long winter. When rain intervened after 13 overs of South Africa's meaningful reply, the tourists were one run ahead under the Duckworth-Lewis system. It was the sort of result that can make tours.

Morgan was quite stunning, striking five sixes, all as a clean as whistles, and his innings was the highest in Twenty20 for England. In a brutal response, South Africa bludgeoned their way to 107 after 10 overs and until the crucial loss of their opening pair seemed in control.

England must have assumed, if anything can be assumed in Twenty20 cricket which matches life for being a lottery, that they had sufficient runs. Morgan's 85 took only 44 balls and only once before in Twenty20 internationals had a side made 200 or more and lost. The nagging doubt must have been that the victors who did the chasing on that occasion were South Africa.

That this performance came only three days after England had made their lowest Twenty20 score of 89, against South Africa A, was perhaps typical. Their captain Paul Collingwood who shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 98 with in 55 balls with Morgan, said: "We know we have to be more consistent. But this was a completely different wicket, the ball came on to the bat and some of the shots Morgan played were exceptional. We knew on this ground that defending the total wouldn't be easy and with rain about it became a game within a game."

It would perhaps be a stretch to describe what was on display as wonderful strokeplay. There were elements of that, especially in Morgan's peerless timing which brought him five sixes, but often it was simply brutal, muscular hitting. The crowd – and the Wanderers was barely half full – loved it.

As their winter campaign began in earnest – the phoney war at the start of tours is always an excruciating time – England's collective hearts must have sank. To the first ball of the first match, Joe Denly was lbw. If he was unfortunate to receive a full length ball on leg stump and straightening, it was also the right decision.

Such has been England's ineptitude at Twenty20 recently that an ensuing collapse seemed a likely proposition. Remarkably, what happened was far from collapse. The original impetus was supplied by Jonathan Trott who showed no semblance of nerves or apprehension in his first international match in the land of his birth.

He made 33, including 18 in an over from the vaunted Dale Steyn, with four successive fours, until he was run out incorrectly estimating his chances of making a sharp single. Still time for a typical wobble, then, but Morgan and Collingwood took the innings by its scruff.

No England batsman of recent vintage, save perhaps Kevin Pietersen, who was watching from the dressing room balcony, can have played with such freedom, confidence and sheer cheek as Morgan. His sixes, whether driven straight or pulled high, tended to be huge.

One ball went out of the ground – and the Wanderers is not of the postage stamp variety – and hit the roof on the adjacent block of flats. Collingwood was barely less effective although his four sixes were neither so high nor so handsome.

England's progress was briefly arrested with Collingwood's dismissal but Morgan injected fresh impetus in a last ditch flurry including an extraordinary six to the finest of fine legs, flicked as he turned round with his back to the bowler.

South Africa were not about to perish wondering and Graham Smith and Loots Bosman simply came out slugging. England reeled temporarily as chances came there none. When both were out blazing away and Jimmy Anderson bowled an over with wonderful control, conceding only six runs with the match at stake, the balance had shifted.

England v South Africa: Wanderers scoreboard

England beat South Africa by one run (D/L method)


J Denly lbw b Langeveldt 0

A Cook lbw b McLaren 11

J Trott run out (McLaren) 33

*P Collingwood c Botha b McLaren 57

E Morgan not out 85

L Wright c de Villiers b Steyn 2

†M Prior c Morkel b McLaren 0

T Bresnan not out 3

Extras (lb 5, w 6) 11

Total (6 wkts, 20 overs) 202

Fall: 1-0, 2-25, 3-61, 4-159, 5-167, 6-169.

Did Not Bat: G P Swann, S I Mahmood, J M Anderson.

Bowling: C Langeveldt 4-0-39-1, R McLaren 4-0-33-3, D Steyn 4-0-40-1, A Morkel 2-0-32-0, R van der Merwe 2-0-17-0, J Botha 4-0-36-0.

South Africa

*G Smith c Morgan b Wright 41

L Bosman c Collingwood b Swann 58

J Duminy lbw b Mahmood 6

A de Villiers not out 10

A Morkel not out 9

Extras (w 3) 3

Total (3 wkts, 13 overs) 127

Fall: 1-97, 2-101, 3-112.

To Bat: †M V Boucher, R McLaren, R E van der Merwe, J Botha, D W Steyn, C K Langeveldt.

Bowling: J Anderson 3-0-24-0, T Bresnan 2-0-25-0, S Mahmood 3-0-31-1, L Wright 2-0-17-1, G Swann 3-0-30-1.

Umpires: M Erasmus, B G Jerling & J D Cloete.

England's score of 202-6 in Johannesburg yesterday was the second highest total achieved by an opposing team against the South Africans at the Wanderers venue. Only West Indies have done better, setting 205 in a home win in September 2007.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?