PLAYS OF THE MATCH
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.
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.
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. –