‘England was better than us in all three facets of the game’

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May
31

5:42 PM ET

It wasn’t quite the chronicle of a defeat foretold but South Africa talked this game down so much in the run-up, it did feel, long before the actual end, inevitable. One of the messages that kept coming out through to game day was that the format of this tournament affords them an early loss or two. The opening game was important, but far from decisive.

If it is at least out of the way now, there is slightly less margin for error than before. And this World Cup moves – less than a week from today they’ll be playing their third game, against India who will be playing their first.

“Yeah, this is where it’s important for us to make sure that you look at the World Cup for what it is,” Faf du Plessis said after a 104-run defeat.

“You know, you’re going to play games. You’re going to come up against quality opposition. Today England was better than us in all three facets of the game. They show why they are such a good cricket team, and now we have to look at the league. It’s a league competition.

“As disappointed as we are with our performances today, you have to make sure you learn from it quickly and put every single dart to bed because there is a next game and you have to make sure you play good cricket again.”

In many ways the result revealed more about England’s credentials for the challenge ahead rather than South Africa’s. It was England who had to overcome a slow pitch and show that there is another side to their game.

Given England’s batting, South Africa could have considered restricting them to 311 a job well done, especially with an attack built on three specialists and a couple of allrounders and part-timers. In particular, conceding just 76 in the last 10 was a mini-triumph, more so for Lungi Ngidi who overcame a nervy start to pick up three cheap wickets at the death.

“Yeah, I thought after the first half, that we did a good job with the ball,” du Plessis said. “You know, as I said before this game, England more so than any other team in this World Cup, bat longer than anyone else. So if you can stop them with the long batting line-up you have, then you’re doing a great job with the ball.

“For them to score as little runs as they did the last 15 overs and us picking up as many wickets as we did, was a great achievement by our both units. But yeah, as I said, 310 is still a big score, so what you need to do you is need to start well, and we didn’t have that luxury today.”

The chase was on until the moment Hashim Amla went off, having been pinged by a Jofra Archer bouncer. That disrupted the start but it also reaffirmed perhaps how much South Africa’s batting will depend Quinton de Kock, Amla and du Plessis himself (though Rassie van der Dussen must feel like a welcome addition).

“When you are chasing a big score like 310 what you need is a good start,” du Plessis said. “You need to make sure that you settle the bats in the dressing room with a good partnership, whether it’s zero down or one down, but a good start is really important and obviously with him [Amla] coming off, and then a few overs later, Aiden got out and then one or two overs later, I got out. When you go three-down on a big score like that, you’re making it really tough for our batting unit to perform. And then the score just looks big. It looks too far.”

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