Buttler, Bavuma and the big pain of big losses to big teams – with or without Ben

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Sometimes it feels like every time you switch on Sky Sports, India are playing a game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. We’ve no idea where this feeling comes from because since 2017 the ground’s only hosted one Test match and two one-day internationals. There’s a big match on the horizon though: England v South Africa, the Battle of the Bottlers.

That’s an entirely unfair way to present the fixture because Afghanistan are obviously a very tidy side these days, while the Netherlands beat South Africa in World Cups annually. But since when has fairness been a major consideration? Pit fairness against alliteration and there’s only going to be one winner.

Battle of the Bottlers

England lost to Afghanistan, South Africa lost to the Netherlands, which means both now have fewer losses to deploy against supposedly ‘bigger’ nations if they want to make the semi-finals. In fact England had already frittered one away against New Zealand in their opening game.

But cometh the hour, probably-cometh the man. Ben Stokes will most likely cometh back into the England team after sitting out the first three games with a sore left hip. Who will he replace? Well even though he won’t bowl, there seems a reasonable chance that Chris Woakes might exiteth the team, given he’s been bowling like a drain so far this tournament. He may even exiteth the World Cup with a sudden injury if Jofra Archer seems ready to make his comethback.

South Africa have at least recorded a couple of big wins – eNRRmous wins, you might say – to bolster their position. Sri Lanka couldn’t get within 100 runs of the Saffers’ 428-5 in the first week, while Australia managed to contrive an even bigger defeat when chasing 311-7.

There could be a few runs in this game too. Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller are among the biggest hitters in the world, but it was the man who comeths in before them, Aiden Markram, who made the 54-ball 106 against Sri Lanka. The top three also know how to layeth a foundation, having contributed three hundreds in three games.


An interesting subplot to this match is that unless it rains, only one of the captains will get the opportunity to hurt.

“We’ll have to let the emotion seep in,” said Temba Bavuma after South Africa lost to the Netherlands. “There is no point trying to forget what happened. It will hurt and it should hurt.”

This was a weird echo of Jos Buttler’s comment after England’s defeat to Afghanistan. “I think you’ve got to let these defeats hurt.”

Buttler followed that up by exhibiting a degree of confusion about just how rapidly you should attempt to move on from said hurt. “There’s no point in just trying to move on very quickly,” he suggested, “although you’ve got to do it as quick as you can.”

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  1. There are speed limits that apply to moving on from hurt and we cannot expect captains to exceed those limits. The limits depend on where the hurt occurs, obviously. Local regulations can apply.

    But the captains should beware of moving on from hurt too slowly. The last thing you want, when moving on from hurt, is some metaphorical arsehole in a four-wheel cruiser giving you the hurry-up by hooting and tailgating you.

    1. A big old moving on from pain tailback and then the poor people at the back are just stuck in pain and looking for alternative routes.

  2. I realize elite sportsmen have all kinds of injuries (just look at Hardik Pandya), but what the hell is a ‘sore left hip’? Clearly, Stokes is taking his time to move on from the hurt. But why? I can only guess that Stokes gave birth to a 10 pound (healthy) baby recently. It’s hard to move on from those.

  3. It’s pretty hard to move on if the hurt is caused by the other team having executed better. Executed you, presumably. People tend not to move on at all from that kind of hurt, unless perhaps to the great Test series in the sky.

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