An inspired innings by Ben Stokes carried the England Lions to a series-clinching 89-run win over South Africa A in their limited-overs match in Mamelodi on Monday.
The England Lions posted a massive 378 for six after being sent in to bat, with Stokes playing an amazing innings of 151 not out off just 86 deliveries. He came in with the tourists on 123 for three in the 24th over and built his innings superbly. He was away briskly, reaching his 50 off 46 deliveries, before exploding in the last 10 overs, during which the tourists plundered 153 runs.
Stokes needed just 27 more balls to reach his century and another 13 for his 150 as he lashed nine sixes in the last 15 deliveries he faced, the tourists slamming 83 runs in the last five overs.
The key partnership for the England Lions was the 132 Stokes and Sam Billings (56 off 33) added for the fifth wicket in just 10.4 overs.
The quality of the SA A death bowling was extremely poor and coach Vincent Barnes admitted that he would have loved to have seen more yorkers bowled.
“In terms of death bowling, there seem to be some different trends going on in the country at the moment, but I’m an old school coach and I was quite surprised how few yorkers were used. We were trying far too many different things and with just four fielders allowed to be out, all those different lines and lengths make it very difficult.
“It’s a very under-rated delivery, the neglected art of yorkers, it’s not practised enough because you need to spend hours and hours on it,” Barnes said after the defeat.
Chris Morris was the only SA A bowler to have a reasonable day, taking three for 50 and doing a good job in the closing overs.
Morris then came to the fore again with the bat, lashing 58 not out off 33 balls to provide some late cheer to an SA A innings that never really threatened the English total.
The home side lost Reeza Hendricks (9), Stiaan van Zyl (28) and Theunis de Bruyn (9) cheaply as the required run-rate rose, but Dean Elgar battled along gamely as he scored a fine 79 off 84 balls.
There were sprinklings of boundaries from Justin Ontong (22) and Dane Vilas (29), but they were surely fighting a losing cause.
David Wiese (37) and Morris were briefly threatening, but Stokes then used the yorker to great effect to bowl Wiese and Marchant de Lange (0) in the same over.
Three wickets for Stokes merely added to the celebrations for the controversial omission from England’s World Cup squad, while opening batsman Jason Roy also had cause for happiness, his 67 off 72 balls up front providing an ideal platform for the all-rounder.