Dawid Malan has returned to his first-class debut to help England accomplish the low-level four-wind victory in South Africa, sealing a match for the Twenty20 series and contributing importance to the side of the Twenty20 series. In 2006 the left-hander began his career in Boland in London, the city of his birth, before a break of one year ago, leading to a professional contract with Middlesex and a career that has since seen him climb to No 1. In the shortest format, this remarkable round started with the 40-ball 55 of Malan, his ninth 50-plus result in 18 outings, which helped to chase a target of 147. Compared to the rich land of the wineries around Paarl, it was in a turgid pitch. Though in the eighteenth century Malan felled on an energetic chase–trapped beautifully in a second consecutive six by Reeza Hendricks–he had split the back and cut out 29 out of 31 balls, the power knockers were gone, before hammers 26 out of his next nine.
The chasers were clear. But Eoin Morgan, who put 53 on the table with Malan, was already there at the end, on 26 of 17 balls, when Chris Jordan punched Kagiso Rabada with a ball to spare. There were 26 of 17 balls. “Everything is zero,” Malan answered later, wondering how much local information helped. “It differed from what I used to play here this wicket. The ball was sluggish and hard to clock”. “It was nice to be back, but it was great to have a crowd with my parents here, though my high school coach was a man who threw the ball back when he was six.” The previous feature in reducing South Africa to 146 for six was Adil Rashid’s two for 23. But while Jos Buttler (22), Jonny Bairstow (4) and Ben Stokes (16) were trying to clear their ropes, Tabraiz Shamsi, the left-arm bracelet spinner who is amateur magic in his spare time, conjured three of his own.
After England lost Jason Roy for 14–Lungi Ngidi was trapped trying to thrash into the form–Malan had to ride an early storm, with heart and thigh painful blows like Anrich Nortje, the fast bowler who struck 97mph in the Indian Premier League, let it go. This was the gimmicky show against spinners that was expected at the T20 World Cup in India in the coming year, apart from a brave display under fire from Malan. I forget nothing by the 33-year-old. “I’m very proud I was able to make this game consistent, but if you’re ahead, you’ll get to earth in this game,” Malan said. “Selectors or coaches are the things you should dream about, but Eoin Morgan is the one that cares as to who plays for the team. “I like batting with him very much. His shortcomings and vice versa are my strengths. It opens up my areas if they close it down. It has created a few successful relationships.”
A blue azure sky and the mountains of Haweqwa in the distance made for a wonderful Sunday in Paarl, perfect for fans for enjoying their beer and braai on the grass banks. It was Jofra Archer who first tackled England with a 93mph sparkler and then exploded the stumps of Temba Bavuma at four and a half. Rashid was also perfect in a spell that saw the Hendricks bowled down on the sweep 16 and Faf du Plessis was stumping off a lovely break of the circle, with the former captain slapping at fresh air. With an early blast from Quinton de Kock (30 of 18) extinguished by Jordan to draw them level with the England Stuart Wide record of 65 victims of the T20, a slower Tom Curran ball fooled then Heinrich Klaasen to abandon home 95 for five of the 14th and to have to be told. In the last 44’s, Rassie van der Dussen and George Linde combined. But the goal looked light after Stokes’ original misfield at the end of the 19th. Not that easy for England afterward.