England’s batting spluttered towards the end of the tour before a final meltdown © Getty Images
Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, has called for the team to play smarter cricket following the poor end to their tour of South Africa as they turn attentions to the World T20 in India. However, he does not want the players to go into their shells after a difficult couple of weeks, saying that the winner in India will be the “boldest” team on show.
England ended their stay in South Africa with a crushing nine-wicket defeat at the Wanderers to lose the T20 series 2-0. From a promising position of 157 for 3 – with Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler finding their range – they were well placed for 200, but conspired to lose 7 for 14 and not even play out their overs.
They were then belted around the Bullring by AB de Villiers who cartwheeled to 71 off 29 balls as South Africa raced to their target with more than five overs to spare.
It led to Bayliss saying it was like “men against boys” and meant that England finished with five defeats on the bounce having been 2-0 up in the one-day series before being let down by poor fielding when they could have sealed it in the Johannesburg ODI. Although the Test series was secured on that heady day at the Wanderers when Stuart Broad blew South Africa away the tour ended on a downbeat note.
There is little time to ponder with just a short break at home before departing for India where they will face group matches against West Indies, Sri Lanka, a qualifier and, potentially significantly given recent results, South Africa again in Mumbai on March 18. Faf du Plessis, the South Africa T20 captain, was not shy at suggesting his side could have struck some psychological blows.
“I can guarantee you one thing, the team that wins the World Twenty20 will be the boldest team there,” Bayliss said.
“If we go out and try to be too nice, or if we give that advantage away or are not as positive and aggressive as we have been when we have played well and won, then we will still not win – because there will be teams out there with the confidence, players and ability to go out and play that way.”
The two series defeats in South Africa have zapped some of the feel-good factor that had developed around England’s white-ball teams since their post-World Cup rebuilding which has been forged on an almost breakable desire to be positive and for players to be encouraged to push their own boundaries.
Both Bayliss and Morgan have cited the inexperience in the side as a factor as to why the wheels came off somewhat in South Africa and cautioned that more such days cannot be ruled out as players continue to find their feet at international level. But the straight-talking Bayliss knows that platitudes about how good a team could be does not help in the present.
“We’ve had some good results, but it’s a reminder to people back home in England that this team is still a developing one,” he said. “We’ve had some good performances, and there’s a lot of potential there.
“But potential never won anything … we’ve got some hard work to do. I think the expectation the players have put on themselves is why they are so disappointed when they play badly. It may be that extra pressure they put on themselves that they’ve got to get over.”
In the final ODI at Newlands and the first T20 at the same ground, England were criticised for not adjusting quickly enough to conditions and reassessing what a defendable total could be.
“We spoke the other night, it is a case of going with the flow of the game,” Bayliss said. “If we get off to a good start, you have to recognise that flow [and think] ‘can we continue to do this’?
“If we do happen to lose a few wickets … well, has the flow of the game changed, and do we have to play a little bit differently? I think that will be playing smart cricket, and that is what the good teams will do.”
Still, despite the setback, Bayliss believes that England can put on a good show in India which will conclude a long period overseas for the team this winter.
“If we play well … we’ll be hard to beat. In the last two games, we haven’t played all that well – and in this game, we’ve been beaten easily. We’re going to have to play a lot better than that.”
“It’s small margins,” he added. “One catch, and we’d have only lost the last four – and we’d have won the one-day series. That’s as simple as it can get. You win that fourth match, who knows … it might have given the boys enough confidence to go on and win the fifth one. We’ve got to learn from that, and work out how we can get better.”
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo