Something has happened to England’s batsmen – have they been replaced by replicas grown from plantlike pods, identical in every way apart from their ability to pace an innings and remain steady under pressure?
Certainly, Owais Shah demonstrated a seldom-glimpsed ability to keep his head, making 98 (OK, he didn’t maintain his composure long enough to make a century) of England’s 323 against South Africa. Eoin Morgan also continued the swashbuckling form he displayed against Sri Lanka, knocking off 67 from just 34 balls to keep the pace up after Shah and Collingwood’s 163-run partnership came to an end.
The contrast with the pathetic displays of the late summer could hardly be more striking. With typical timing, England seem to be getting serious about 50-over cricket just as the format is on its deathbed.