JOHANNESBURG: England blew through South Africa’s resistance quickly in the end to win the fourth and final Test by 191 runs on Monday and clinch a convincing 3-1 series victory.
Mark Wood took four wickets as South Africa were all out for 274 in their second innings on the fourth day at the Wanderers, way off the huge target of 466 that would have been a world record if South Africa got there.
The success is a massive boost for a young English team who overcame several obstacles on a tough tour and calms questions over Joe Root’s captaincy.
“It took a lot to pick ourselves up after losing the first test and that’s been extremely pleasing. It’s taken a big effort from every one and it’s a very exciting time for English cricket,” said Root as he took the series trophy.
For South Africa it marked a 108-year low as they lost for the eighth time in their last nine Tests for their worst run since 10 defeats in 11 tests between 1910 and 1912.
Wood took 4-54 — finishing with nine wickets in the game — and Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes added two more for England as they took the last six South African wickets for 39 runs.
“England were better than us in every department with both ball and bat,” said home skipper Faf du Plessis. “We have to give them credit for being the better team.”
Bowling fast, Wood clinched it with the wicket of Anrich Nortje, caught behind by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. The decision didn’t immediately go England’s way, but the tourists reviewed and the TV replays confirmed their triumph.
The England players were already celebrating in the Johannesburg sunshine anyway.
Star all-rounder Stokes proved his worth on the final day, as he’s done all series, with crucial breakthroughs to get rid of stubborn South Africa opener Dean Elgar (24) and captain Faf du Plessis (35). The wicket of du Plessis broke South Africa’s most meaningful partnership.
Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen put on 92 in a period of fight from the home team after lunch but England removed both in the space of an over on the brink of tea and surged to victory from there.
Stokes bowled a ball which hit a crack and kept low, deflecting off the toe of Du Plessis’ bat into the stumps. Van der Dussen was out for 98 when he lofted a catch to Broad off Wood next over to end his chance of a maiden Test century in his debut series.
After tea, Broad produced the ball of the day, a fierce, rising delivery in the direction of Temba Bavuma’s throat that Bavuma gloved behind in an effort to fend it off.
Broad had Dwaine Pretorius caught at fine leg in his next over and the rest followed.
Quinton de Kock hit another swashbuckling knock before Wood forced him to mistime one and Chris Woakes took an easy catch at mid-off.
There was a nice moment when South Africa’s Vernon Philander was out. It was Philander’s final Test before retiring from international cricket and he’d been struck down by a right hamstring tear the day before. He still came out to bat and England players lined up to shake his hand as he walked off after getting out for 10.
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 400 (Z. Crawley 66, J.E. Root 59, O.J. Pope 56, D.P. Sibley 44, S.C.J. Broad 43; A. Nortje 5-110). SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings) 183 (Q. de Kock 76; M.A. Wood 5-46). ENGLAND (2nd Innings) 248 (J.E. Root 58, D.P. Sibley 44; B.E. Hendricks 5-64).
SOUTH AFRICA (2nd Innings):
P.J. Malan c Stokes b Woakes 22 D. Elgar c and b Stokes 24 H.E. van der Dussen c Broad b Wood 98 F. du Plessis b Stokes 35 Q. de Kock c Woakes b Wood 39 T. Bavuma c Buttler b Broad 27 D. Pretorius c Curran b Broad 2 V.D. Philander c Buttler b Wood 10 A. Nortje c Buttler b Wood 4 B.E. Hendricks run out 4 D. Paterson not out 0 EXTRAS (B-4, LB-2, W-3) 9 TOTAL (all, out, 77.1 overs) 274 FALL OF WKTS: 1-39, 2-89, 3-181, 4-187, 5-235, 6-239, 7-260, 8-267, 9-273. BOWLING: Broad 10-1-26-1; Curran 11-2-38-0 (1w); Wood 16.1-3-54-4 (1w); Woakes 14-3-47-1; Stokes 16-4-47-2 (1w); Root 7-1-37-0; Denly 3-0-19-0. RESULT: England won by 191 runs to win four-match series 3-1. UMPIRES: R.J. Tucker (Australia) and J.S. Wilson (West Indies). TV UMPIRE: B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia). MATCH REFEREE: A.J. Pycroft (Zimbabwe). MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Mark Wood. MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Ben Stokes. FIRST TEST: Centurion, South Africa won by 107 runs. SECOND TEST: Cape Town, England won by 189 runs. THIRD TEST: Port Elizabeth, England won by an innings and 53 runs.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020