England, inspired by Dawid Malan in phenomenal form, overpowered South Africa in the Twenty20 series that finished yesterday.
As expected, they looked a class above the hosts and used all of their experience to overpower them with their batting.
South Africa weren’t bad at all and showed fight, but it was a comprehensive 3-0 victory that took England top of the T20 rankings.
Malan continued his unbelievable form with 55 in the second match and 99 in the third.
He has now hit six half-centuries in his last dozen T20 outings, a run that has lifted him to No1 in the batting rankings.
His emergence is a great story, especially considering he hasn’t dominated in one-day or Test cricket.
Despite his ranking, Malan has still had doubters but he showed over the last week that it is fully deserved.
England have no shortage of batsmen but he has made himself impossible to leave out.
He is playing in a winning side that is full of confidence, so it is easier to come in and do well.
In T20 you do need a little bit of luck but he has ridden that wave, aided by what seems a nothing-to-lose attitude.
At 33, Malan is an older head and maybe that has helped him to feel less pressure too.
Whatever the secret, he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
Bairstow gives batting ranks further boost
It was good to see Jonny Bairstow showing what he can do in an England shirt again.
He was very unlucky to be dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad during the Indian Premier League recently but reminded everyone what he was about with a brilliant knock of 86 in the first T20.
Bairstow offers England lots of batting options, from top of the order down to four or five.
His resurgence is a major boost and his possible return to the Test fold would also be good news.
Not all of England’s bowlers were in such good form against South Africa.
Sam Curran, for one, was not at his fiery best.
But Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid bowled fantastically well on the slower pitches.
One-day series can show England’s strength in depth
England will take a lot from that 3-0 whitewash and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it repeated in the one-day series which begins this Friday.
Some key players – Archer, Ben Stokes and Curran – are being rested, and deservedly so.
While there hasn’t been as much cricket as usual this year, players have spent a long time in bubbles.
That’s especially true for those who were in the IPL. It can’t be much fun being Covid-tested every day and they have earned a bit of time off.
As world champions and top of the rankings, England of course have plenty of strength in depth.
Sam Billings will hope to put his hand up, while Mark Wood can come back into the attack.
These three matches are a chance to show what they can do – and how strong England are.