Proteas promise a new era in one-day cricket
All the chat before the series opener against the world champions England had been about forgetting the dismal World Cup campaign and starting afresh.
Some familiar faces had been jettisoned, with the selectors deciding to turn the page and move forward with young blood.
South Africa needed to move on and find a way to bring some much-needed hope to a nation that had endured one demoralising defeat after another this summer.
In the build-up, new home captain Quinton de Kock said: “It’s going to be like playing any other team, it’s just a normal England side, them winning the World Cup does not change anything.”
South Africa certainly made Eoin Morgan’s team look pretty ordinary. Granted the visitors were resting World Cup winners Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, it was still a pretty impressive performance from a Proteas outfit that were also without Kagiso Rabada and Faf du Plessis and fielding two debutants in Jon-Jon Smuts and Lutho Sipamla.
They were clinical with the ball, particularly the spinners Tabraiz Shamsi and Smuts, and then with the bat they never gave England a sniff through a record 173-run partnership between De Kock and Temba Bavuma.
De Kock’s 107 off 113 balls (11x4, 1x6) was a clinical statement. It not only showed his hunger to lead from the front, but there was also an element of restraint that had previously been missing from the maverick’s game.
In fact, Bavuma’s ultimate strike-rate of 95.14 was faster than De Kock’s, with the former even clearing the boundary more times than his skipper.
Bavuma was, though, quick to stress that De Kock is the axis around which everything rotates in this new-look Proteas team and dedicated the seven-wicket thrashing to the new ODI captain.
“It is massive for the team,” he said of the victory.
“I think it’s massive for a guy like Quinny. As younger players we draw a lot of energy from him. He doesn’t speak a lot. He leads with his actions and I think the guys are inspired by that.”
Throughout the Test series South Africa had battled to put any form of partnership together.
There was only one partnership in excess of a 100 while Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson also put on 99 for the last wicket in Port Elizabeth.
Outside of that there was nothing significant.
This allowed the England bowling unit to maintain the pressure on the South African batting unit with a new batsman having to reset all the time.
At Newlands, the shoe was on the other foot with De Kock and Bavuma toying with the English through good shot-selection, assessment of the conditions and impressive running between the wickets.
England all-rounder Chris Woakes admitted as much after the game.
“It was a respectable total,” Woakes said of England’s 258/8.
“It wasn’t by any means a great score. But it was something that we could bowl at.
“If we took wickets at important times, we could have put some pressure on them. It could have been a half-decent score.
“But we weren’t able to take those wickets. And that partnership between Temba (Bavuma) and Quinton (de Kock) was pretty good and hard to break, and that won them the game.”
The ODI roadshow now moves to Durban for tomorrow’s second clash at Kingsmead.