Posted: 22:30 GMT, 26. November 2020 | Updated: 22:30 GMT, 26. November 2020
This English team is ready to be the first in history to hold the one-day and twentieth World Cup titles at the same time – and there is no doubt that T20 is our priority right now.
It was made clear that for every international we play in 11 months’ time before the next tournament in India, we will select our best team. It’s a well-known scenario because that’s how we prepared pretty much for last year’s World Cup.
The over 50-year-old team took precedence and that’s one of the reasons I made my T20 debut against Pakistan 18 months ago in Cardiff because some of the guys were resting.
When tournaments are on the horizon the teams in general and especially in England I think they get stronger because everyone wants to show that they should be in the XI.
Right on the bowling front, there are guys like Reece Topley and Jake Ball trying hard to get on the roster in time for next year, and it’s definitely a very healthy competition for spots.
Our journey to the Twenty20 World Cup actually started right after we became 50-over world champions last year because once you win, you always look forward to the next trophy.
I arrived in South Africa last week when I was named Most Valuable Player in the Indian Premier League.
Rajasthan Royals didn’t win as many games as we would have liked, but from a personal point of view it was still a great tournament.
Sitting at the top of the MVP table when only the group games are played speaks for itself – although I have to say that if I had played on a more successful team, I probably wouldn’t have won this award.
If you win regularly, everyone in the group tends to shoot, while I’ve been given constant opportunities to change the course of the game when we were under pressure.
When we needed a wicket the most, they turned to me for a breakthrough and I probably had to hit more than I would have done on one side at the top of the IPL. For me, that’s how things happened consistently.
I’m not sure what to expect from the Twenty20 series against South Africa as I didn’t play white ball cricket here.
I left the England tour here earlier this year before the Limited Overs series with an elbow injury, so I didn’t have the experience the other guys had.
However, the team did very well and came from behind to win 2-1. We will try to continue the same way.
Not that we would take South Africa lightly. They could be fifth on the ICC rankings, but seven or eight of their strongest XIs are regulars at the IPL and they are definitely not to be underestimated.
There was talk of a pace bowling showdown between me and Mark Wood and South African Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, but I just want to do my job for the team.
We saw some pace pickup at the IPL and Dubai has likely retained its perks for the fast bowlers.
The playing fields were spinning, but not the way they would have if we had played in India. Moving the tournament to the UAE has likely improved the situation for bowlers.
My self-confidence is high, but I will always know that form comes and goes. Even if you stick to the same processes in T20, you can do 40 or 50 runs in your four overs as easily as two for 20.
In situations like this, you’re sure to be upset even when it’s game over, but it’s okay to think you should have done better. It’s such an unpredictable game.
As long as you stay true to your game plan and have the skills to implement it, you’ll be fine most of the time.
South Africa’s players had to give up some facilities at the Cape Town hotel that we share, including the gym and swimming pool, after a small outbreak of Covid-19 at their camp.
It shows the sacrifices cricketers have to make to start an international series during this pandemic, but I want to remind people that we did the same when West Indies, Pakistan and Australia came to us last summer.
You need to be as accommodating to your guests as possible because traveling to a country right now is a leap of confidence. So it is up to the home authority to make touring players as comfortable as possible.
The hotel they brought us to for these couple of weeks is very good, there is a lot of space and that – as I’ve found out from a lot of experience! – is a key factor when you are in a bladder.
I also believe that the homeland sets the tone when it comes to topics like Black Lives Matter and whether or not players take their knees before games. Whatever we do is probably up to South Africa.
From an English perspective, the only thing that matters is that we continue to get the bargain when we return to the UK.
We regularly discuss the topic as a squad and spoke to our player support trainer, Mark Saxby, a few days ago. I am very happy that we did not forget.
It’s not just about talking either. I look forward to doing my part in encouraging as many children as possible to join cricket after becoming an ambassador for the ACE diversity program.
South Africa has to lead by example in the upcoming series when it comes to knee problems
Next month, I’ll be spending Christmas in Barbados for the first time in years.
I was here on the England tour last winter, a couple of winters earlier I was in the Big Bash League in Australia and before that I spent off-season in the UK to get involved in my residency qualification.
I am grateful that the ECB gave me the opportunity to go home. They take mental health very seriously and it has been well documented that I spent more time in the bio-safe bubbles last summer than any other English player.
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South African national cricket team, cricket, English cricket team, Twenty20
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