ENGLAND collapsed haplessly and then received no mercy from a rampant AB de Villiers at the Wanderers as their tour of South Africa ended with a nine-wicket trouncing and a 2-0 Twenty20 series defeat.
From 157-3 in the 17th over, England were bowled out for 171 with two balls of their scheduled innings unused – this after Jos Buttler (54) and Eoin Morgan had set course for a far better total.
De Villiers (71) then wasted no time putting England’s efforts into brutal context, with South Africa’s fastest-ever Twenty20 50 from 21 balls, as Morgan’s tourists lost a fifth successive international white-ball match in the space of 13 days.
De Villiers’s opening stand of 125 with Hashim Amla (69no) took only 50 balls, before he was caught in the deep off Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid.
Their partnership allowed South Africa to coast the remainder of the chase and still achieve it with a remarkable 5.2 overs to spare.
It is a godsend, in the circumstances, that England can fly home today without any further battering of confidence before their ICC World Twenty20 campaign next month.
They lost their last seven wickets for 14 runs after Morgan and Buttler’s fourth-wicket stand of 96, a flurry of mistimed shots and a fair slice of misfortune combining to undermine previous efforts.
Kyle Abbott (3-26) was the principal beneficiary, and found himself on a hat-trick as England flailed away in vain.
They did not get off to the best of starts, after being put in on a sunny afternoon and opener Jason Roy had a decidedly uncomfortable 15-ball stay.
It brought him nine runs, a blow to the helmet grille from Kagiso Rabada and then the loss of his leg-stump when he advanced to try to hit the next delivery over the top.
Television cameras showed Roy smashing his bat into a post in the players’ tunnel between the pitch and the dressing-rooms.
Reece Topley received an official International Cricket Council reprimand for rearranging the stumps in frustration after the run-out fumble which gave South Africa victory in the first match on Friday night in Cape Town and Roy may well not have heard the last about his show of temper.
England had good reason to lose their collective cool when, after a promising second-wicket partnership of 50 in five overs, they lost both protagonists to successive deliveries.
Yorkshire’s Joe Root, in his final innings of a tour on which he has shone, again batted beautifully for 34 from only 17 balls until he gave himself room in Imran Tahir’s first over and did not have the requisite power to clear deep extra-cover, once the leg-break turned.
Alex Hales then immediately went in a run-out mix-up with Morgan, responding for a second run into the leg-side and then finding himself stranded by almost half-the-pitch when he was sent back.
Morgan and Buttler had to start again without a run between them.
But they responded impressively, Buttler especially as they shared eight sixes off 51 balls.
Buttler also hit four fours in his 27-ball 50, only for three wickets to fall for one run just when they were gearing up for the late onslaught.
Buttler crunched a full-toss low to extra-cover off Abbott; then, next ball, the bowler got a hand on Ben Stokes’s straight-drive and deflected a run-out at the non-striker’s end, with Morgan backing up.
Stokes badly mistimed another drive back to Chris Morris, and Moeen Ali speared a catch to deep cover.
Only worse was to come.
England’s innings ended in a whimper when Rashid was last out, bowled by Rabada, but it was with the ball that true embarrassment set in.
Perhaps mindful of the impact of a proper thumping for opponents South Africa will meet again in the global tournament in Mumbai, de Villiers got to work.
He promptly served up a record half-century, with four sixes and five fours. Amla was marginally more sedate on the way to his Twenty20 career-best.
He hit ‘just’ eight fours and a solitary six in a 27-ball half-century which arrived after England conceded their worst ever six-over powerplay total of 88.
Among those who suffered, Chris Jordan’s pain was the most extreme.
Seven fours and two sixes were crunched off him in 2.4 overs which cost 48 runs.
The best that could be said for shellshocked England was that the whole miserable experience, in front of a rapturous crowd at this intimidating venue, did not last long.