Their bowling lacked bite, their much-heralded top three contributed 26 runs between them, and their captain was scathing about what he saw as a “pretty average” performance. And yet England still won the first T20I by five wickets with four balls to spare – ominous signs for South Africa, as they stumble towards next year’s T20 World Cup.
In football, managers and pundits often suggest victories like England’s demonstrate that the best teams find a way to win without playing at their usual level, and that seems to fit with this side. “When you win games like that and you’ve a lot [of improvement] to make up in all three facets [of the game] you can be pleased,” said Eoin Morgan.
Since the start of the 2018-19 winter, England have won six and drawn one of their seven T20I series despite rarely – if ever – fielding their strongest XI. They are well on course for a seventh…