Trevor Bayliss was full of praise for the way Alex Hales responded from his poor Test series © Gallo Images
With the highest run-scorer, Alex Hales, and the highest wicket-taker, Reece Topley, in the ODI series against South Africa – roles-reversed from the Test series where South Africa lost despite leading both tallies – England’s coach Trevor Bayliss identified fielding as main difference between the two sides.
“The batting and bowling was fairly even – both teams relied on about three of their batters and bowling was similar,” Bayliss said. “But they’re a better fielding team than us at the moment.”
Although England did not put down any catches in the decider in Cape Town, they dropped several in the preceding games, including three at the Wanderers that could have sealed the series. JP Duminy was let off when he was on 1, AB de Villiers on 9 and Chris Morris on 14. The last of those cost England the most. Morris took South Africa to within one run of a series-levelling victory and, not for the first time on this tour, Bayliss has stressed the need for England to work on their fielding.
“We’ve got a number of guys that are not the quickest in the field but I also think it’s an attitude thing,” Bayliss said. “You want the ball coming at you; you want to prove to people that you can field. At times, some of us don’t want the ball to come anywhere near us. When we are good, we’ve very, very good but it’s something we’ve got to continue to work at.”
Progress is something England have done a lot of since their disappointing 2015 World Cup campaign and their new attitude has already brought them some success. They won series against New Zealand and Pakistan and came from 2-0 down to take Australia to a decider.
Despite losing three in a row to squander the advantage in South Africa, Bayliss believed they remain on the right track. “I don’t think we are far off. We’ve played some pretty good cricket,” he said. “It’s a fine line. Had we taken some catches, we could be sitting here having won 3-2. We’re disappointed to lose the series having played some very good cricket.”
He said that translating that good cricket into good results more often will come as players mature and become more consistent. “We’ve got some work to do there and that will come with experience. At some point that experience has got to pay dividends.”
An example of how that is already working is Hales. After struggling through the Tests, in which he scored one fifty and did not get past 26 in his other seven innings, Hales finished on top of the run charts with four fifties, including a 99, and a century in the final match to prove his quality.
“He was disappointed with the number of runs he scored in the Test arena but the way he has played here is top class,” Bayliss said. “I think he is more comfortable will his role in the team and the way he goes about playing the one-day game. Now he’s got to take that into Test arena. The way he has played here, there is no reason why he can’t do the same in Test cricket.”
Hales, and the rest of the England line-up, have been asked to look at someone like AB de Villiers for further instruction on how to develop as batsmen. De Villiers took control of the chase and guided South Africa from 22 for 3 to victory.
“We’ve got to take a leaf out of AB’s book. The way he paced his innings and the way he went about it, it was top class. The best batter in the series did his job today and he showed everyone else how to do it,” Bayliss said. “Hopefully the guys will learn from it.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo