The England Lions used to be known as the England "A" Team and is a development squad for the full England side. The current team features a number of players such as James Vince, Steven Finn and Liam Dawson, who’ve already played test cricket for England. These are the "Next cabs off the rank" so if anyone who’s currently playing for England gets injured or suffers a loss of form, it's probably going to be one of these players who replaces them. Hence, they're all keen to impress.
England won the toss and put the visitors into bat, in front of a sparse but enthusiastic crowd. The Proteas made a decent start and were going alright until JJ Smuts tried to hit Dawson into the Trent and was comprehensively bowled as a result. The next over, Theunis de Bruyn underedged Craig Overton through to the wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, although he didn't walk and had to be given out by the umpire. Of course, as much as we all know in Nottingham that Chris Read should be playing for England, it would be good if Foakes got into the national side if only because then the middle order would read Stokes-Foakes-Woakes.
Temba Bavuma and Reeza Hendricks then put on 95 for the third wicket. They were looking pretty comfortable until Dawson return to the attack and pinned Hendricks LBW, out for 79. Bavuma was then done by a short ball from Tom Curran, which he could only help up and into the hands of Liam Livingstone. The captain Khaya Zondo fell to a ridiculous diving, one-handed catch at cover by Ben Duckett off the bowling of Overton.
That was the first of 5 wickets that fell for just 30 runs. Finn, who'd struggled in his first spell, returned to trap Mangaliso Moshele LBW. Then, in his next over he had Sisanda Magala caught behind. Two balls later, he had Tabraiz Shamsi similarly out with a ball that was far too good for him. Tom Curran had Lungin Ngidi caught behind in the very next over, giving Foakes hos fourth catch of the innings.
It was left to Heino Kuhn to help South Africa to a decent score. He had a lot of fun as he ran out of partners, hitting 81 from just 62 balls and helping to ruin Finn's figures, before Sam Curran, Tom's brother finished the innings by bowling Paterson, leaving England needing 269 to win.
The England openers Ben Duckett and Dawid Malan started brilliantly, scoring 82 in the opening 10 overs of the powerplay. Eventually they put on 134 for the first wicket and never looked in danger until Duckett fell LBW off the bowling of Shamsi for 69 off just 58 balls.
After such a great start England were in cruise control, picking up singles with ease and hitting the bad balls to the boundary. Malan reached his century and Daniel Bell-Drummand reached his 50 from consecutive balls. Malan hit the winning runs as he finished on 125not out (from just 110 balls) and Bell-Drummand 62 not out as England won by 9 wickets with 57 balls to spare.
So, a comprehensive victory for the England side in the first of three one day games against South Africa A and a pleasant day at Trent Bridge. Malan, who was ironically enough born in South Africa, is going to be one to watch, especially in the shorter format of the game. He bats well, can hit it a long way and bowls some leg-break; always a dangerous combination.