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Jonny Bairstow 99

There’s was a big help­ing hand from the South African cap­tain who moved the field out far too early and gifted Bairstow 10 quick runs – also De Kock dropped him. Then Bairstow took con­trol, with some pow­er­ful late cuts, a glo­ri­ous ramp on one knee of Olivier, fol­lowed by a power drive for six into the old Pavil­ion. He will re­gret that sweep shot against Ma­haraj that led to his down­fall, but ul­ti­mately, he en­ter­tained and ripped the match away from South Africa.

Moeen Ali

ended the game, but the spell that set it up for Eng­land was An­der­son’s from the End that now car­ries his name on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon. South Africa hadn’t re­ally as­serted them­selves, and with his home crowd in full voice, he knocked over Bavuma and Du Plessis in one over, end­ing what­ever re­mote hopes South Africa had of pos­si­bly pulling off a mir­a­cle. The spell read as fol­lows: 7-3-13-3. South Africa’s bats­men didn’t keep Eng­land in the field very long in this se­ries, but Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon had dragged on a bit, it was the penul­ti­mate over of the day’s play and you’d have for­given if his mind was on din­ner plans – in­stead he flung him­self low to his left, and with what looked like a claw, snapped the ball up mil­lime­tres off the grass from a sear­ing drive by Rabada. Stokes may not be ev­ery­one’s favourite in SA, but he’s an amaz­ing crick­eter, ca­pa­ble of turn­ing a match in a mo­ment.

Ben Stokes

is a very spe­cial per­son and crick­eter. He is cen­tral to Eng­land’s per­for­mances in all for­mats and he was su­perb not just in this Test but the en­tire se­ries. What­ever all that chat was about him be­ing the ‘sec­ond spin­ner’ can now end. He’s the pri­mary spin­ner and he’s a bet­ter bats­men than No 8 but it’s un­der­stand­able that Eng­land keep him there. He scored 252 runs in the se­ries and claimed 25 wick­ets, be­com­ing the sec­ond English­man to score 250 runs and take 25 wick­ets in a se­ries. The other is Ian Botham (in the 1981 Ashes). Moeen trumps Botham though be­cause he achieved the feat in four Tests, mak­ing him the only crick­eter to have done that. South Africa’s bats­men were dread­ful in three out of the four Tests, notch­ing up a high­est score of 361 in the first in­nings of the Lord’s Test. Ver­non Phi­lan­der fin­ished with the high­est av­er­age among the South Africans of 44, as clear an in­di­ca­tion as any that the top six (or seven) as it was into games didn’t do their jobs. South Africa’s bowlers, bowled for 11 con­sec­u­tive days in the se­ries and in­di­ca­tion that the bats­men sim­ply didn’t bat suf­fi­cient time in the se­ries. Only twice in the se­ries did South Africa face 100 over in the in­nings – that first in­nings at Lord’s – and the sec­ond in­nings at Trent Bridge, the only match they won in the se­ries. “It was a com­bi­na­tion of things; the qual­ity of the Eng­land bowlers, they were just re­lent­less. As a bat­ting unit, we just never felt like we could get on top of them. And then we missed a lot of chances, dropped all those catches, and you can’t give guys like (Bairstow) and (Ali) chances like we did in this game.” – Faf du Plessis, tries to ex­plain where it all went wrong for the Proteas in the se­ries. –

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