Former captain Michael Atherton paid tribute to Johnny Bayersto and Sam Curran after England beat South Africa to lead 1-0 in the three-game T20 series.
Bayersto, who hit fourth, shot 86 of 48 balls while England 179-6 chased South Africa with four balls and five wickets.
The World Cup champion opened up mostly to England in white ball cricket, but took on his new role in the midfield in a superb way as Eoin Morgan kicked off their limited tour of South Africa with an impressive victory.
Atherton told Sky Sports: “Johnny Bayersto, what a player – he loves this land.” Four years ago he took his first hundred test on a very emotional day for him.
This is not quite up to par, but he will nonetheless look back fondly in these rounds because there was a lot of discussion before this match and before England reached T20. World Cup for his role in this T20 team.
“I certainly don’t doubt he should be in the best T20 team in England but there were some question marks as to whether he should be playing and he answered that in a sure manner.
It’s easy to say that he sometimes proves people wrong, but who says he didn’t prove people right in this position because they moved him to the middle ranking fourth because they said he was much better than some others at first against turning around and proved his adaptability.
There were many players who suffered on this surface. It couldn’t have been easier to bat on him and Johnny Baersto stood out so he’d be happy with the roles.
It wasn’t just brute force. He is smart in the way he hits his leg. Choose the shooters well. He knows who’s going to play the ball in the surface, and knows what kind of slower balls are coming.
“England has given a successful start and as they prepare for the T20 World Cup in India in no different conditions, it is a successful start for them.”
Former Proteas captain Fav de Plessis hit 58 of 40 balls to help South Africa reach 179, but he was one of three players who fell to Curran, the England player, who claimed 3–28 of his four titles.
The Sari superstar, who enjoyed an impressive campaign in the Indian Premier League with the Chennai Super Kings, fired Temba Bifuma at first and then Heinrich Klasen when he threatened to attack.
Despite Curran’s efforts, England appeared to be headed for defeat as it was downgraded to 34-3 in powerplay, but Bayersto’s impressive roles have brought tourists home.
In Curran, Atherton added: “It was a good day for Sam. Throw beautifully with cutouts from around the wicket on the second spell.”
He got a cheap early wicket – it was a bad shot from Bafuma – but when he got back he changed the size of envelopes very quickly.
He immediately came around the wicket, tucked into the paddle hitting, and nearly every ball was some kind of cutter, which made it very difficult for Fave de Plessis, who couldn’t get enough weight on the ball.
He is a very nice and crafty footballer. He knows exactly what he is doing and has played well in IPL and he is on his level.
The second international T20 match takes place in Paarl on Sunday, before the teams return to Newlands at the end of the series on Tuesday.
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