Michael Atherton hailed the English duo after South Africa won their first T20

Johnny Bayerstow starred in England’s victory over South Africa in the opening T20 match (Image: GETTY)

Former captain Michael Atherton paid tribute to Johnny Bayersto and Sam Curran after England’s victory over South Africa to lead 1-0 in the three-game T20 series.

Bayersto, hitting fourth, hit 86 of 48 balls while England 179-6 chased South Africa with four balls and five wickets.

The World Cup champion opened up mostly to England in white ball cricket, but took on his new role in the midfield in a superb way as Eoin Morgan kicked off their limited tour of South Africa with an impressive victory.

Atherton told Sky Sports: “Johnny Bayersto, what a player – he loves this land.” Four years ago he took his first hundred test on a very emotional day for him.

That wouldn’t live up to that, but he nonetheless will look back fondly in these rounds because there was a lot of discussion before this match and before England reached T20. World Cup for his role in this T20 team.

“I certainly don’t doubt he should be in the best team in England T20 but there were some question marks as to whether he should play and he answered that with sure style.

It is easy to say that he sometimes proves people wrong, but who says he did not prove people correct in this position because they moved him to the middle ranking in fourth place because they said he is much better than some others in the beginning against turning and proved his adaptability.

Bairstow has produced great roles to take home England

Bairstow has produced great roles to take home England (Image: Getty)

There were many players who suffered on this surface. It couldn’t have been easier to bat on him and Johnny Baersto came to prominence so he would be happy with the roles.

It wasn’t just about brute force and strength; He is smart in the way he hits his leg. Choose the shooters well. He knows who’s going to play the ball in the surface, and knows what kind of slower balls are coming.

“England has given a successful start and as they prepare for the T20 World Cup in India in no different conditions, it is a successful start for them.”

Former Proteas captain Fave de Plessis shot 58 of 40 to help South Africa reach 179, but he was one of three players who fell to Curran, the England player, who claimed 3–28 of his four titles.

The Sari superstar, who enjoyed an impressive campaign in the Indian Premier League with the Chennai Super Kings, fired Temba Bifuma the first time and then Heinrich Klasen when he threatened to attack.

Despite Curran’s efforts, England appeared to be headed for defeat as it was downsized to 34-3 in powerplay, but Bairstow’s brilliant roles have brought tourists home.

At Curran, Atherton added: “It was a good day for Sam. Throw beautifully with cutouts from around the wicket in the second spell.”

He got a cheap early wicket – it was a bad shot from Bafuma – but when he got back he changed the size of envelopes very quickly.

He came around the wicket right away, spinning the batsman, and nearly every ball was some sort of cut, which made it very difficult for Faf du Plessis, who couldn’t get enough weight on the ball.

He is a very nice and crafty footballer. He knows exactly what he is doing and has played well in IPL and he is on his level.

The second international T20 match takes place in Paarl on Sunday, before the teams return to Newlands at the end of the series on Tuesday.

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