Eoin Morgan believes there is “no limit” to what England can achieve after they successfully chased down 223 to claim a 2-1 Twenty20 series victory over South Africa at Centurion.
The Proteas laid down the gauntlet with a mammoth 222 for six in the decider but half-centuries from Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow laid the foundations in the reply before Morgan himself took centre stage.
He equalled his own England record for the fastest T20 half-century from only 21 deliveries in a knock containing no fours but seven sixes before the tourists reeled in their target with five wickets and as many balls to spare.
It was only the second time in their history England had chased down a 200-plus total in the format but ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year, it strengthens the view that no score is beyond them.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 16, 2020
Morgan certainly agreed with that assessment and added the caveat that they are capable of further improvement.
“It creates belief that you can chase down anything and it reinforces what our method is in chasing big totals down,” the England captain said.
“It’s a reference point to what we can do, there’s no limit on restricting yourself to certain things. You want to leave everything out there with the bat. It won’t always work but it will give us the best chance of winning.
“Moving forward from this series, our learning will continue to get better, hopefully, because I don’t think we’ve played at our best in this series.”
After leading England to a historic World Cup glory last summer, Morgan contemplated stepping down as captain.
However, he has set his sights on leading England’s charge in the next two T20 World Cups and seems to have justified his own decision to carry on with a supreme 57 not out from only 22 balls at Supersport Park.
Asked whether his performance and the result vindicated his decision to remain skipper, he said: “Absolutely.
“At the halfway stage trying to figure out how well we’d have to play to chase it down, challenges like that and overcoming them is a huge satisfaction for me as captain and everybody within the changing room.
“If I can manage to be there at the end, I’d back myself to be good enough to get guys over the line. It’s the challenge of being there.
“It’s a really good day for us, there have been some fantastic performances amongst the guys.”
- 230 for eight - v South Africa, Mumbai, 18 Mar 2016
- 226 for five - v South Africa, Centurion, 16 Feb 2020
- 190 for four - v Sri Lanka, Chattogram, 27 Mar 2014
- 181 for four - v India, Mumbai, 22 Dec 2012
- 175 for four - v Pakistan, Cardiff, May 5 2019
Morgan would have been left with much more to do were it not for the efforts of Buttler and Bairstow, who smashed 64 from only 34 balls.
Buttler set the tone at the top of the order, ending a difficult tour in which his Test place has come under scrutiny while there has been some speculation about whether he should bat lower down the order in T20s.
A sensational 57 from 29 balls saw an emphatic return to form for Buttler, who thinks opening is his best position.
He said: “I am open to bat wherever the team needs me to bat. For me opening the innings is definitely the best place to bat in T20 cricket.”
South Africa rested captain Faf du Plessis and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for this series, while AB de Villiers was not included in the squad despite rumours he was considering reversing his international retirement.
Former South Africa team-mate and now head coach Mark Boucher is hopeful De Villiers will return for the T20 World Cup.
Boucher said: “I’ve had chats with him. We’ll learn pretty soon what’s going to happen with AB. I’d like to have our best players.
“AB is in good form and if he makes himself available and if he’s the best man for the job then he must go.”