Proteas need a miracle to get ahead against England in test
After a tour of England characterised by defeat thus far in the one-day internationals, T20s and the ICC Champions Trophy, the Proteas got off to a none too promising start in this week’s test series at Lord’s.
Having allowed England to get off to a healthy start to the test (458 all out), Russell Domingo’s men – who went into the game without regular captain Faf du Plessis – find themselves with their backs to the wall with two days left in the game.
With England on 119/1 in the second innings, a lead of 216 with nine wickets remaining after dismissing the visitors for 361, it would appear the best South Africa can hope for from this match is a draw, despite a spirited response to England’s first innings total.
After waking up to the knowledge that fast bowler Kagiso Rabada would be banned for the second test at Trent Bridge for mouthing off at Ben Stokes after dismissing him, the Proteas had to deal with allrounder Vernon Philander not being able to bowl for the initial part of England’s second innings.
This was after he was struck in the hand by James Anderson while batting to his half century earlier in the day. While X-rays revealed just bruising, as opposed to a fracture, it still meant he bowled none of the 51 overs sent down by his team-mates.
This allowed the lead, which was 97 when the Proteas were bowled out, to balloon to more than 200.
The Proteas need his skill as they look for the kind of luck that borders on miraculous to turn this one around.
For all its gutsiness, the Proteas’ response was undermined by a failure by batsmen to kick on if the four unconverted half-centuries in the innings – Dean Elgar (54), Temba Bavuma (59), Quinton de Kock (51) and Philander (52) – were anything to go by.
While not many would have expected allrounder Philander, who must love the ground because he generally gets runs and wickets there, to convert his 50, that certainly would be the case with the other three.
This is especially so in the case of Bavuma and De Kock, who were respectively authoritative and belligerent enough to suggest a big knock was on the cards for either.
Bavuma looked comfortable in a typical rear-guard action innings and De Kock, whose 51 came off 37 balls (10 fours), batted with the kind of freedom that gave no hint to the fact that the dry pitch had become uneven.
Simply put, for the South Africans they had no Joe Root (190) to the Ben Stokeses (56), Moeen Alis (87) and Stuart Broadses (57) with that one big score to underpin the innings.
But, in all fairness to England, having put the runs on the board (458), they also bowled with great discipline, with Ali the pick of the bowlers with his 4/59 – a haul that included three of the Proteas’ top five batsmen.
SPORTSMANSHIP England’s Joe Root shakes hands with South Africa’s Hashim Amla at the end of the innings yesterday