England made a solid start to the change in format when they beat South Africa A by 163 runs in a 50-over warm-up match at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Saturday. England were thorough with both bat and ball, with James Taylor’s run-a-ball century setting the platform for a challenging score of 368 and the trio of Reece Topley (3/38), Adil Rashid (3/55) and Chris Jordan (3/48) featuring with the ball. 369 was always going to be a tough ask for the SA A batting line-up, and England’s new-ball pair of Topley and David Willey made the job harder with the wickets of Dean Elgar (9), Reeza Hendricks (22) and Qaasim Adams (0) in their opening spell.
Theunis De Bruyn (73 not out) and Dane Vilas (40) kept the run rate ticking with a 73-run fifth-wicket partnership, but the regular loss of wickets hampered the chase. De Bruyn was impressive at the crease, and balanced his innings with expansive stroke-play and measured running between the wickets, but unfortunately lacked partners to give him support. Earlier, England’s batsmen vindicated Eoin Morgan’s decision to bat first, on a dry and flat deck in hot and steamy conditions.
Openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales made a positive start with a 49-run (49 balls) opening partnership , before two wickets in two overs from David Wiese and Marchant De Lange curbed the flow of runs. Taylor (116 off 116 balls) and captain Eoin Morgan (41 off 41 balls), put together a 80-run partnership (also at a run-a-ball) for the third wicket to take the visitors from a precarious 55/2 to a comfortable 135/2. Although wickets continued to fall, with a chance run-out by De Lange to dismiss Moeen Ali (28) and a scalp for Dean Elgar’s golden arm,
Taylor held the innings together with a busy knock that included eight fours and one six. England looked to accelerate the run-rate in the last 10 overs, with Johnny Bairstow (58 off 30 balls) and Chris Jordan (33 off 14) making quick-fire contributions to take the total over the 350 mark, which proved to be insurmountable in the end. Wiese (2/73) and De Lange (2/69) were the top wicket-takers, with Dean Elgar (1/29) and 19-year-old Andile Phehlukwayo (1/69), who was making his SA A debut, taking the other wickets.