By Andrew Alderson in London

A day in London can only bode well when you enter the Baker St tube station and a violinist launches into Spring from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

You bound down the escalator, invincible to whatever life might deliver from the top of its mark. In this writer's case it was the Cricket World Cup opening match between England and South Africa before a packed, sun-doused Oval.

The press conference the previous day presented contrasting tournament run-ups from respective captains Eoin Morgan and Faf du Plessis.

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What rationale would triumph? The relaxed, cunning, debonair persona of du Plessis or the fixated, earnest, clinical countenance of Morgan.

The tournament was off to a rollicking start the moment leg spinner Imran Tahir put his left-hand indicator on in the first over, skipped to the crease and lured Jonny Bairstow into an edge behind. Du Plessis had him practicing with a new ball for a fortnight.

England survived the threat to their parade, but the standing ovation given to Ben Stokes for his 89 off 79 balls appeared driven as much by relief as the quality of the batsmanship. In fact all of the 11 runs scrounged from the final over were doused in similar cacophonies of applause. The hosts' batting line-up was given a rigorous examination, especially when Jos Buttler exited at 247 for five in the 42nd over. They proved up to the task.

England's Ben Stokes, centre, reacts and celebrates with teammates after taking a catch to dismiss South Africa's Andile Phehlukwayo during their Cricket World Cup match. Photo / AP
England's Ben Stokes, centre, reacts and celebrates with teammates after taking a catch to dismiss South Africa's Andile Phehlukwayo during their Cricket World Cup match. Photo / AP

South Africa kept pace early in their reply, but the loss of Quinton de Kock for 68 off 74 balls curtailed the necessary momentum and left them 129 for three after 23 overs. The loss of two more wickets in four balls reduced the Proteas to 144 for five in the 27th, effectively sealing their demise. Add Stokes' one-handed pluck at deep mid-wicket from a full-blooded Andile Phehlukwayo slog-sweep and the hosts were deserved 104-run winners.

For neutral fans that hardly mattered. The entertainment suggested cricket lovers are in for a treat at the event's 12th edition.

Fortunately the match wasn't just a batting smorgasbord as many feared. Clever bowling, scintillating fielding and shrewd captaincy offered blessed respite and compelling theatre.

Organisers got it right, too - and they need to if the tournament is to live up to the "world's greatest cricket celebration" billing.

Stewards and volunteers appeared helpful but not overly officious – a difficult equilibrium to master.

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Fans were engaged throughout, immersed in a kaleidoscope of colours with a tinge of English powder blue pervading.

And what of the treats on the cuisine front you might ask? Well, after wandering in the gate, a simple glance revealed a plethora of tastes have been catered for. If the Peking duck and cheese on toast are a gauge, fans will also be served well off the field. No one will held to ransom by pies, chips or hot dogs on a stick.

Overcast skies eventually rolled in but it proved an early summer for England, now they need to see what they can harvest in the coming weeks on and off the field.