View from the Vauxhall End: South Africa gift wickets
An element of over-confidence crept into the South African mindset and cost them dear
A combination of South African over-confidence (plus tiredness on a never-ending tour) and some brilliant bowling by Jade Dernbach were the root causes of South Africa’s defeat.
Having won the toss, South Africa had the best of the batting conditions on an excellent pitch at The Oval. A score of 260 would have been around par, but they got nowhere near.
At one stage, however, South Africa were 120-2 and a big score looked likely. But then AB de Villiers - on 28 - played a loose stroke. He chipped Tredwell out to the mid-wicket fence, where Ian Bell took a comfortable catch. It was the shot of a tired man, who has been asked to keep wicket, as well as bat high up in the order all summer.
South Africa, in fact, will have to reconsider De Villiers' position. One of the finest batsman in world cricket, has been short of his customary sparkle all summer. But do they possess alternatives?
Two runs later came South African gift number two. Allrounder Faf du Plessis moved so far over to the offside that Ravi Bopara plucked out his leg stump. Suddenly, at 122-4, England were right back in the game.
Gift number three was JM Duminy (33). He had helped to rebuild the innings, but he made a fatal error when – with more than eight overs to go – he lofted Tredwell into the deep and holed out.
The gifted wickets were crucial for two reasons. First, South Africa’s line-up is a batsman light in this format and they can soon move from a position of authority to one of peril. Second, South Africa could ill afford slip-ups on a day when Jade Dernbach was hell-bent on showing his worth to the England side.
Each of Dernbach's three wickets showed why he is one of the most thoughtful and imaginative one-day bowlers at England’s disposal.
Dernbach’s first wicket was the most important. Hashim Amla, who has tortured England so gracefully all summer, was in cruise mode once more.
Amla looked set for another hundred when Derbach tempted him with a full delivery that appeared there for the drive, but it swung back late through the gate. After Amla's expansive drive missed the ball, he span around to witness the unfamiliar sight of broken stumps. He was nonplussed. Being out was something that happened to batsmen at the other end.
If that delivery was a bit special, the one to dismiss Elgar for 44 was a moment of genius. Dernbach bowled it like a leg break out of the back of the hand and the batsman was totally deceived. The ball broke back between his bat and pad onto the stumps. The deception was as delicious as when Steve Harmison bowled his famous slower ball to Michael Clarke at Edgbaston in 2005.
Parnell had edged a couple through the vacant slip area off Dernbach, but it didn’t dissuade the bowler from pitching full and moving the ball away. Sure enough, another perfect delivery found the edge.
Batsman so often win man-of-the-match awards in ODIs. And Morgan played a lovely innings. But it was Dernbach who set up the victory with his invaluable wickets.