The temperature across the UK has risen to unprecedented levels, and the pitch at the Riverside in Chester-Le-Street reflected that. On a very slow and benign cricket pitch, Rassie van der Dussen stroked a magnificent century to take South Africa to 333. It turned out to be 62 too many for England as they were bowled out for the fourth consecutive time. After the opening partnership of 102 runs, England never looked like chasing it as the asking rate kept mounting. Aiden Markram had a good all-round day of cricket, and Anrich Nortje came back to clean up the tail. Ben Stokes didn’t get a fairy-tale farewell in ODIs, and England are now left with a lot of unanswered questions. We look back at some of the stats and key moments from the 1st ODI.
A van der Dussen masterclass
An inning of 134 at a strike rate of 113.67 is likely to involve at least a couple of Sixes, especially when the conditions are extreme and running becomes a demanding task. Van der Dussen’s inning had just 10 Fours; he ran 94 runs when the UK recorded the hottest day in their history.
Van der Dussen’s inning was fluent right from the start. The ground had huge square boundaries, and van der Dussen capitalised on it by picking gaps for 1s and 2s. His inning had only 32 dots, and he ran 58 Singles, 15 Twos and a couple of Threes. As a result, he maintained his strike rate in excess of 100 despite fewer boundaries.
With this inning, van der Dussen now has 1498 runs from his first 30 ODI innings. Only Hashim Amla (1591) from South Africa scored more runs at this stage of his career. Van der Dussen’s ODI batting average of 74.90 is currently the highest for any active cricketer.
England’s worrisome middle order
England got bowled out for the fourth consecutive time in ODI, a low they last achieved eight years ago. Their batters have consistently failed to score runs in all these games. Against India, the top order went completely missing, along with the middle order. In this ODI, the top order all got runs, but they were once again let down by their middle order, especially batters at numbers Four, Five and Six.
Four players have batted in these three positions for England in the last four ODIs – Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali. They have collectively scored just 236 runs with less than 20 runs per innings. Any team with such an underperforming middle order will struggle to put runs on the board or chase a total.
England were not only the most consistent team in the last seven years, but they were also the most dominating team in ODI cricket. But in the last four ODIs, they have neither attacked with the bat nor have looked like putting a decent score. England might not start worrying yet, but they’ll have to quickly address this growing issue. South Africa, on the other end, will be mighty pleased with how almost everyone found a way to contribute to the win, with Aiden Markram putting in a remarkable all-round performance of cricket.