Batsmen vindicate Collingwood
Paul Collingwood was “ecstatic” with the character shown by his England players to bounce back from a warm-up match humbling earlier this week and secure a first Twenty20 international victory over South Africa.
Half-centuries from the captain himself and man of the match Eoin Morgan helped put England on track for the win after they posted their highest 20-over total of 202 for six at the Wanderers.
In response, the Proteas reached 127 for three before rain began to fall in Johannesburg, forcing the game to be abandoned with England prevailing by one run under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Collingwood was keen for the ultimate manner of the win not to overshadow a fine display from his side, who only three days earlier had been bundled out for 89 by South Africa A in Bloemfontein to succumb to a four-wicket loss.
“Absolutely, I’m pleased with the way we’ve bounced back from that warm-up game,” said Collingwood.
“Obviously they were completely different conditions, but just the attitude we took out there tonight showed that we backed ourselves.
“I think all the guys realised that the other night was just a slight blip and we can play a lot better than that.
“There are little areas that we’ve got to improve on a little bit, but I’m ecstatic with the way we’ve bounced back from the disappointing result the other night.”
Collingwood was also pleased with the way Jonathan Trott set the tone with his quickfire 33 in what was his first appearance against the country of his birth.
There was also praise for Irish left-hander Morgan, whose stunning unbeaten 85 off 45 balls was the highest score by an England player in 20-over cricket.
Collingwood added: “Tonight there was some exceptional batting, the way Trotty kind of got the innings going there up top.
“And then the way Morgs came in and (produced) some of that strokeplay was just exceptional. We managed to get a good total at last and it was always going to be hard to chase down.”
Asked whether he was keeping a close watch on the weather and the convoluted Duckworth-Lewis calculations, Collingwood added: “I did have it in my pocket and as the rain was falling a little bit heavier.
"I changed from the sheet that I had on every over, to a sheet that would detail every ball. Whether I understood it 100% or not is a different question, but thankfully we came out at the top on the end.”
Victory was England’s sixth limited-overs triumph over the Proteas in their last seven encounters.
Although the other five have all come in the 50-over game, the latest win will be just as pleasing for England going to Centurion for the second and final Twenty20 match.
“We don’t play a lot of international Twenty20 cricket, so it’s important to get the wins under your belt – to gain in things like confidence in that form of the game,” said Collingwood.
“We’ve got a lot of building to do before the World Cup. This is a little mini-series we want to win, and we’ve now put ourselves in a good position to win it.
“But we’ve got to go out there on Sunday in different conditions at a different size ground and play as good we did here.”
Opposite number Graeme Smith was not so amused by the miscalculation from his side, but refused to point a finger at AB de Villiers or Albie Morkel, who needed just seven from the 13th over to force a tie.
South Africa scored six off James Anderson's over and their captain said: “They had their Duckworth-Lewis sheets and it’s on the scoreboard, so I can’t really be doing shuttles up and down there with the sheet.
“The biggest part of captaincy is to trust your players. Players will grow from decisions they make – the good and the bad – but I’m certainly not blaming anybody.
“We were ahead of it for two or three overs and it had been raining for a period of time already. I guess it’s hard to decide when it’s really going to come down.
“I think it is disappointing we didn’t keep ahead in that over, but if we had come off an over before we were ahead of the game.”