Cricket World Cup matchday one: Stokes catch gets England going
The tournament hosts opened with a comfortable win over South Africa.
England kicked off their home World Cup with a crushing 104-run victory over South Africa, Ben Stokes capping an imperious all-round performance with a one-handed catch that will go down among the greatest in tournament history.
Stokes top-scored with 89 as the hosts posted 311 for eight at a sold-out Oval and finished the match with two wickets in as many balls, but his best moment came while he was stationed at deep midwicket – a quite astonishing leaping effort with his outstretched right hand seeing off Andile Phehlukwayo.
On any other day the spotlight might have shone on Jofra Archer, who underlined his fast-growing superstar status with three for 27 and a bouncer that forced Hashim Amla to retreat to the pavilion for concussion tests, but Stokes’ flash of inspiration lit a fuse under this competition.
Tweet of the day
Exciting few weeks for @englandcricket. Opening day of the World Cup on home soil, playing some incredible cricket, favourites for the tournament ...... doesn’t get much better than that! Good luck boys! #ENGvSA #WorldCup2019 #CricketWorldCup— David Willey (@david_willey) May 30, 2019
It must have been a difficult day for the Yorkshire left-armer, who lost his place in the England squad after Archer’s emergence, but he made sure to post a message of support for his team-mates.
World Cup snapshot
Quote of the day
“Brilliant, that’s as good as it gets. There’s no fluke when it comes to taking a catch like that” – South Africa captain Faf du Plessis reacts to Stokes’ magic in the deep.
Imran Tahir had never taken the first over of an ODI in his previous 98 appearances, and no spinner had ever done so in the opening game of a World Cup. The wicket of Jonny Bairstow with his second ball suggested the innovation was a good one.
England captain Eoin Morgan had just hit the first six of the tournament, carving Lungi Ngidi over long-off, when the paceman responded with a rising short ball. Morgan leant back, moved into position and clobbered it beyond fine leg in a decisive statement.
It might have only interrupted Amla’s innings rather than ending it definitively but as soon as Archer pounded the opener’s helmet the game changed. South Africa’s blueprint had exploded and Archer had served notice.
May 31, 10.30am: West Indies v Pakistan at Trent Bridge.