Eoin Morgan and England team-mates won't lose too much sleep
It is partly due to the fact that the three-match series against South Africa was already won, but mainly because all planning for the opener against Bangladesh has been done and the starting XI inked in.
If Eoin Morgan’s men did need a little jolt to shake off any sense of creeping complacency after a run of eight ODI wins on the bounce and talk of favouritism for a tournament on home soil, this seven wickets defeat provided it – with brass knobs on.
After impressive performances in Leeds and Southampton this was a miserable effort being 20-6 before many of the expensively assembled full-house had taken their seats and it was as close to watching a highlights reel as live sport can get.
The collapse was so complete that no team in one day international history have ever lost their sixth wicket earlier than the 30 balls it took Eoin Morgan’s men here.
England managed to battle back a small semblance of pride through Jonny Bairstow, David Willey and debutant Toby Roland-Jones, clawing their way to 153 all out, but it was nowhere near enough to prevent South Africa coasting to victory.
It was a defeat which confirmed two things.
England squad for the ICC Champions Trophy Tue, April 25, 2017
Express Sport runs through the England squad for the ODIs against South Africa and the ICC Champions Trophy
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Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, captain)
Firstly, those who were rested here – Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood – can sleep easy, if their minor niggles allow. If they are fit (and England insisted last night they expect them to be including Stokes who is set for a scan this morning) they will be in at The Oval on Thursday.
Secondly, if England are to win their first 50-overs global competition – something bookmakers make them favourites to do over the course of the next three weeks – they cannot afford another half-baked performance like this.
Bairstow’s defiant half century (51) was the highlight but it does not look like being defiant enough to see him force his way past any of the other batsmen in the top seven, for all that he remains the next cab off the rank should one pull up unfit.
That it came to an end with a rush of blood to the head – stumped dancing down the wicket to the left-arm off-spin of Keshav Maharaj when some of the early damage had been repaired and with still over 20 overs in the tank – was a frustration.
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Of all the top seven, Jason Roy is one most in need of a decent score.
Since returning from the Caribbean, where England played three matches against a sub-standard West Indies side, the opener has just 33 runs in five innings.
Yet he, as much as anyone in this line-up, is emblematic of an approach which occasionally will end up with a bloodied nose.
Since reinvigorating their style post-2015 World Cup, England have posted eight of their top 10 ODI scores and Roy has invariably been leading the charge.
In addition, the Surrey man was one of three in that slapstick first-half hour who actually got a decent ball as Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell pitched the ball up and got it swinging, Joe Root and Morgan being the others.
Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid, the latter first ball, gave their wickets away driving recklessly in an effort to blast their way out of trouble.
The sight of England’s No 11 Steven Finn hastily recalled from a net on the Nursery Ground 25 minutes into the match said it all.
South Africa rattled through English defences in 31.1 overs and took 28.5 to reach their target, Hashim Amla leading the way with a half century in a 95-run first wicket stand which put the outcome beyond much doubt.
He fell to Toby Roland-Jones on his international debut with Jake Ball taking the other two. Steve Finn and the expensive David Willey leaving without reward.
England were more than a little miffed afterwards at a wicket that they felt was more suitable for the first day of a Test match than an ODI. Despite the green tinge they should have coped better.
Underfoot conditions may be different for the Champions Trophy but there will be lateral movement in the three tournament venues if the weather is similar so England should heed the warnings from today.
No harm was done if they do that.