PORT ELIZABETH: England captain Joe Root on Monday hailed a complete performance by his team after they beat South Africa by an innings and 53 runs on the fifth day of the third Test at St George’s Park, taking an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
“It was a brilliant template for us moving forward as a team,” said Root. “Big first innings runs and then we really drove the game from that point forward.”
Root said the solid start by young opening batsmen Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley had laid the foundation for a double century partnership by Ben Stokes (120) and man-of-the-match Ollie Pope which enabled England to make 499-9 declared before bowling out South Africa for 209 and 237.
Root said Pope, whose 135 not out marked a maiden Test hundred, and fellow 22-year-old, off-spinner Dom Bess, who took the first five wickets in the first innings, had made ‘massive contributions’. “It’s exactly what we are after in terms of our development as a team moving forward. It fills the whole group with a massive amount of confidence.”
Root said England, who lost a two-Test series to New Zealand before Christmas, were not yet the finished article. “But we’re heading in the right direction. We’ve got a group of players who are willing to learn and we’re very clear on how we want to play.”
England were held up by a last wicket stand of 99 between Keshav Maharaj (71) and Dane Paterson (39 not out) and it needed a direct-hit run-out by Sam Curran from mid-on to clinch the result shortly before lunch after South Africa added 135 runs in losing their last four wickets.
The partnership between Maharaj and Paterson was easily South Africa’s best of the match and showed up an otherwise poor batting performance by the hosts.
It was South Africa’s seventh defeat in their last eight Tests, the only exception being their win in the first Test against England when it seemed that radical changes in the team management, including the appointment of Mark Boucher as head coach, might have heralded a new dawn.
The win extended England’s unbeaten run in Test series in South Africa, going back to 1999-2000 when Nasser Hussain’s team were beaten by a side led by Hansie Cronje.
That series ended with England gaining a consolation win in a contrived finish to a Test in Centurion which was later revealed to have been orchestrated by Cronje in collaboration with a bookmaker.
Since then England have won two series in South Africa and shared one.
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 499-9 declared (O.J. Pope 135 not out, B.A. Stokes 120, Z. Crawley 44, S.M. Curran 44, M.A. Wood 42; K.A. Maharaj 5-180).
SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings) 209 (Q. de Kock 63; D.M. Bess 5-51, S.C.J. Broad 3-30).
SOUTH AFRICA (2nd Innings, overnight 102-6):
P.J. Malan lbw b Root 12
D. Elgar b Wood 15
Zubayr Hamza c Buttler b Wood 2
F. du Plessis c Pope b Root 36
H.E. van der Dussen c Pope b Root 10
Q. de Kock c Wood b Root 3
V.D. Philander c Pope b Broad 13
K.A. Maharaj run out 71
K. Rabada c Broad b Wood 16
A. Nortje b Bess 5
D. Paterson not out 39
EXTRAS (B-12, LB-1, W-1, NB-1) 15
TOTAL (all out, 88.5 overs) 237
FALL OF WKTS: 1-18, 2-22, 3-44, 4-66, 5-74, 6-83, 7-102, 8-128, 9-138.
BOWLING: Broad 10-5-14-1 (1nb); Curran 6-0-46-0; Wood 16.5-6-32-3 (1w); Bess 22-11-36-1; Stokes 5-2-9-0; Root 29-13-87-4.
RESULT: England won by an innings and 53 runs to lead four-match series 2-1.
UMPIRES: B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia) and R.J. Tucker (Australia).
TV UMPIRE: J.S. Wilson (West Indies).
MATCH REFEREE: A.J. Pycroft (Zimbabwe).
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Ollie Pope.
FIRST TEST: Centurion, South Africa won by 107 runs.
SECOND TEST: Cape Town, England won by 189 runs.
FOURTH TEST: Johannesburg, Jan 24-28.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020