Quickfire Sophie Ecclestone helps England cruise past South Africa

England subjected South Africa to a 38-run hammering in the final Twenty20 of the series, hitting 176 runs from their full allocation of overs before restricting the tourists to 138 for six.

In what will be a confidence-booster for the Commonwealth Games, Amy Jones (28 off 18) and Maia Bouchier (18 off 17) both found some form, while Alice Capsey – batting for the first time in international cricket – smashed 25 from 17 balls in the No 3 position.

Capsey was eventually caught at mid-off trying to go over the top, while Nat Sciver (24 off 24) and Danni Wyatt (30 off 25) were bowled by successive deliveries in the 11th and 12th overs, as Nonkululeko Mlaba finished with career-best figures of three for 22.

But England saved the best for last as – despite wickets falling at regular intervals – Sophie Ecclestone showcased the depth in the lineup with a 12-ball 33-run cameo at the death. The final over, bowled by a thoroughly demoralised Masabata Klaas, went for a mammoth 26 runs – including two sixes which cleared the leg-side boundary rope by a mile.

“It’s the most fun I remember having on the pitch in a long time,” Sciver said. “When you’re enjoying cricket you’re playing well, and it’s infectious. This series has been a brilliant practice for us – we’re in the best position to beat Australia [at the Commonwealth Games].”

In reply Tazmin Brits – brought into the XI in the absence of Suné Luus through illness – hit a run-a-ball half-century; but with 66 runs still needed from the final 17 balls she holed out to deep midwicket and South Africa fell well short.

Earlier, the in-form Sophia Dunkley had slashed the first ball of the day straight to backward point, bringing Capsey to the crease with the score none for one. But the 17-year-old was unfazed, sending four of Klaas’s first five balls sailing over the boundary rope, each to a different corner of the ground.

Two of England’s young seamers also claimed maiden T20 international wickets – Issy Wong bowling Lara Goodall with an inswinging yorker, before the left-arm debutant Freya Kemp, also only 17, broke the 54-run partnership between Anneke Bosch and Brits with a bit of help from Jones, who whipped off Bosch’s bails.

With England having racked up six wins from six white-ball matches this series, their only concern will be the repeated absence of Heather Knight, who continues to receive treatment on a hip injury in the hope of being fit for England’s Commonwealth Games opener against Sri Lanka on Saturday.