England pay for slow start in seven-run defeat to South Africa in St Lucia

Harry Brook narrowly failed to get England out of jail against South Africa as the defending champions blinked with a semi-final spot at the T20 World Cup within their grasp.

Having restricted the Proteas to 163 for six in St Lucia, England looked to be on the way to a second Super 8s win in three days – and a place in the final four – but slipped to a seven-run defeat.

The top order completely mis-read the assignment, labouring to 60 for three off 10 overs, and without Brook, England would have been staring at an even more damaging loss than their closing score of 156 for six.

His daring 53 from 37 balls briefly positioned his side as favourites during a 78-run stand with Liam Livingstone (33), but it was not to be. With 14 needed off the final over, he was caught magnificently over the shoulder by Aiden Markram off Anrich Nortje’s opening delivery – a match-winning piece of handiwork from the South African skipper.

England will kick themselves for a lack of timing and intent earlier in their pursuit, with a paltry return of three fours and one six in their first 11 overs at the crease.

Jos Buttler’s men now move on to Barbados to face the United States, where victory is not guaranteed to send them through. Instead it could come down to net run-rate once again should the West Indies beat South Africa in the group finale.