ENGLAND’S successful 2012 one-day international campaign ended in chastening anti-climax, and a drawn NatWest Series, as South Africa trounced them by seven wickets.
Victory would have taken England’s winning ratio to 13 out of 14 completed matches this year, and an eighth consecutive home series success.
Instead, after a string of batsmen had contributed to their own downfall with regrettable shots in England’s 182 all out on a perfectly viable surface, even James Anderson and Jade Dernbach’s new-ball burst could not turn the tide.
From 14 for three in the fifth over, South Africa were hastened home by Hashim Amla (97no) and AB de Villiers (75no) in an unbroken stand of 172.
The end came predictably swiftly, an astounding 15.3 overs to spare illustrating the ease of victory and depth of defeat, as De Villiers hit his first 50 of the summer against England after Amla had coasted past the same milestone for the fourth time.
South Africa’s ODI opener duly finished another prolific series as his team’s top scorer in every match, and with 335 runs in all.
Only captain Alastair Cook (51) and Chris Woakes had done themselves any justice with the bat for England and Ravi Bopara is enduring a nightmare run of form.
His troubles continued when Dale Steyn pitched one in the ideal place and found just enough movement for Bopara to be caught behind for yet another duck.
The tourists’ reply was almost immediately minus Graeme Smith and Francois Du Plessis, the opener caught by a juggling James Tredwell at second slip off Dernbach and the out-of-form number three edging to the wicketkeeper off a rampant Anderson.
England’s pace spearhead, on one of his favourite hunting grounds, struck for a second time when Dean Elgar edged behind to go for a tortured single.