England v South Africa: first T20 international – live! | England v South Africa 2022

Key events

It’s coming home! (reprise)

This is not such a good read. Chris Woakes is 33 now and has had knee problems for years. He has to be a doubt, not just for the T20 World Cup in October but also next year’s defence of the 50-over trophy.

This is a really interesting piece from James Wallace on how cricket, and life, have changed in the age of social media. I’ve never had so much fun reading about a foreign language.

The teams

England make three changes from the last T20 against India. Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid replace Harry Brook, Phil Salt and David Willey.

Rilee Rossouw plays his first international game since 2016, and the 21-year-old Tristan Stubbs gets another chance.

England Roy, Buttler (c/wk), Malan, Bairstow, Ali, Livingstone, Curran, Jordan, Rashid, Topley, Gleeson.

South Africa de Kock (wk), Hendricks, Rossouw, Klaasen, Miller (c), Stubbs, Phehlukwayo, Rabada, Maharaj, Ngidi, Shamsi.

South Africa win the toss and bowl

Jos Buttler, who to much mirth dropped the coin as he tried to flip it, said he would have bowled as well. He’s lost seven tosses in a row now.

The boundaries at Bristol are really short, so this should be a very high-scoring game.

54m boundary 😂😂 shame

— Herschelle Gibbs (@hershybru) July 27, 2022


Right, who’s up for another white-ball series? Tough, because you’re getting one: England v South Africa in a three-match, five-day T20 series. They play in Bristol tonight, Cardiff tomorrow and Southampton on Sunday, when not even a 22-man brawl would steal the back page.

Bilateral series are ephemeral, and not in a good way, but this one isn’t without significance. The World Cup is less than three months away, and both teams are finalising their plans. Or, in England’s case, hastily editing them after the retirement of Eoin Morgan.

His replacement Jos Buttler, England’s ace in T20 cricket, had a poor series against India and will be keen to get back to six-hitting normality, if only to silence the media and the troll in his head. At least he won’t be facing Bhuvneshwar Kumar this time. There are a few doubts over England in white-ball cricket just now. An in-form Buttler, and a series win over South Africa, would banish plenty of them.

A year ago, this would have been a home banker. Now, not so much. South Africa have improved significantly in T20s in the last year or so, winning 15 or their last 19 games. (Before that – and yes I am using arbitrary cut-off points to make the stats a bit more impactful, and yes I know Bill Frindall is probably turning in his grave – they’d won three of the previous 18.)

They beat England at last year’s World Cup, only missing a semi-final place on net run-rate, and recently drew 2-2 away to India. Even without the injured captain Temba Bavuma they look a strong side, especially as Kagiso Rabada is back after being rested for the ODIs. Rilee Rossouw, who walloped 93 off 36 balls for Somerset in the T20 Blast the other week, is also in the squad after a six-year absence.

It’s a good test for both sides, just the kind they need in a World Cup year. See, I’ve almost talked myself into being excited about the series.

Tonight’s match begins at 6.30pm.

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