Strong Yorkshire, strong England. That well known phrase rang true again as Eoin Morgan’s side swept to the top of the world’s T20 rankings.
Brilliant Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid all starred in the 3-0 whitewash of South Africa in Cape Town and Paarl over the last five days.
World number one ranked T20 batsman Malan claimed the man-of-the-series award with scores of 19, 55 and 99 not out, securing two man-of-the-match gongs on Sunday and last night.
Bairstow’s unbeaten 86 in Friday’s opener began a run of all man-of-the-match awards going to White Rose players.
Rashid, meanwhile, was exceptional with his leg-spinners. While the wickets did not flow – he claimed two – his economy rate of 5.83 runs per over was superb and left pundits and fans singing his praises from the rooftops.
His two wickets were his 50th and 51st in T20 international cricket, making him only the fourth Englishman to reach that milestone after Chris Jordan, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
England moved to the top of the ICC’s world rankings for T20 cricket, ahead of Australia. But Aaron Finch and co could re-claim that spot with a series win over India at home, starting this coming Friday.
“It’s fantastic for us to achieve that status,” said Jos Buttler, who shared an unbeaten century second-wicket partnership with Malan as England chased 192 at Newlands last night. “It’s a result of us playing good cricket, and it’s exciting for us to know that we are playing well.”
Of last night’s pursuit of 192, left-handed Malan said: “I thought 190 might be a bit too many. We ended up getting a bit of momentum and the wicket played so well – it skidded on nicely.”
???? Unbelievable striking of the ball by
dmalan29</a> tonight ????<br><br>???? Great series for Dawid, Adil and <a href="https://twitter.com/jbairstow21?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">jbairstow21 #OneRose
— Yorkshire CCC (@YorkshireCCC) December 1, 2020
Malan’s international T20 record is startlingly good, leading to him reaching the highest ever batting ranking.
The ICC rank batsmen on a points basis, and Malan is the first batsman ever to pass 900 – he currently has 915 points. In 2018, former Yorkshire overseas player Finch reached 900 exactly.
Malan has now scored 855 runs in 19 innings, averaging 53.44.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam is the fastest batsman to have reached 1,000 T20 international runs, achieving the milestone in 26 innings. India captain Virat Kohli also reached the 1,000 mark in 27 innings.
Amazingly, Malan admitted: “The last two innings, I haven’t hit it as well as I’d have liked.”
He fell narrowly short of what would have been a second T20 century for England, having hit one in New Zealand last November. That innings came just days after signing for Yorkshire from Middlesex.
With 11 runs needed at Newlands last night, 33-year-old Malan was sat on 88. He then hit his fifth six to move to 94 before adding his 11th four.
But, instead of searching for a personal milestone, he dabbed a single off his 47th ball, securing a nine-wicket win with more than two overs remaining.
One-day world champions England are now building nicely ahead of the T20 World Cup in India next October.
But Morgan insists there is still plenty of improvement to come: “Trying to put an all-round game together (is something we can improve),” he said.
“The batting was outstanding, but the bowling was a little bit off (last night).
“The two previous games were hard-fought and scrappy. The bowlers were outstanding, and all the batters chipped in. We’ve progressed nicely as the tour has gone on.
“Hopefully that continues. But striving for that collective performance is important.”
Bairstow and Rashid will be involved in the three-match one-day series, starting on Friday, while Malan drops out of the squad and another Yorkshire star comes in in the form of Test captain Joe Root.
Malan will head to Australia for his first taste of Big Bash cricket, with Hobart Hurricanes getting a man currently in white hot form.
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