Stuart Broad took 5-14 to leave South Africa reeling at 71-8 at tea on day three at the Wanderers.
It’s over. By the end of today, England will have won the third Test and taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-game series. It’s a result they deserve considering they have played the better cricket over the course of the past three matches.
There have been moments in this series where South Africa have been competitive. Indeed, they did well on the morning of day three to fight back and limit England to 323 and a moderate lead of 10 runs. The Proteas would have been encouraged by the performance of 20-year-old Kagiso Rabada, who led the way in that session and finished with career best figures of 5-78.
But not for the first time in this series, and indeed over the past 12 months, South Africa’s batting let them down. None of the South African batsmen scored a half century in the first innings at the Wanderers. In the second dig, Rabada, a specialist bowler, is currently the top scorer with 16.
The Proteas should be criticised for their lack of temperament at the Wanderers. They should be crucified for the inability to construct partnerships of substance. It’s become something of habit. In the last five Tests, South Africa have lost five wickets for 12 runs or fewer on four separate occasions.
But take nothing away from England and Stuart Broad in particular. In the period after lunch, they were nothing short of outstanding.
The overcast conditions and considerable seam movement at the Wanderers played a part. But Broad still had to make that advantage count. First to go was Elgar, who couldn’t resist sparring at a delivery outside off-stump. Then it was Van Zyl, who seemed destined to perish after playing and missing repeatedly. The opener eventually found the edge and Ben Stokes made no mistake in pouching the catch at slip.
When Broad had AB de Villiers caught behind for 0 thereafter, the England team celebrated wildly. Two overs later, Broad had accounted for another key man in Hashim Amla. James Taylor should be credited for an amazing reflex catch at short leg.
Temba Bavuma was next to depart after playing the ball onto his stumps. In little over an hour after the break, Broad had taken 5-14.
Taylor was in the mix again when he dived to his right to dismiss Dane Vilas. The South African wicketkeeper-batsman hit the ball well, and Taylor did an outstanding job to hang onto the half-chance at short leg.
Stokes produced the delivery of the day to breach Chris Morris’s defences, and then ended Rabada’s resistance on the stroke of tea. The Proteas limped to the break with only two wickets remaining and a lead of just 61 runs.
It shouldn’t take too long for England to claim the last two scalps and then chase down a small target. England are well placed to win this game with two days to spare, and the series with a match still to play at Centurion.
For ball-by-ball commentary, click below:
SA 1st innings 313 – Dean Elgar 46, Hashim Amla 41, Ben Stokes 3-53, Steven Finn 2-50
England 1st innings 323 – Joe Root 110, Ben Stokes 58, Kagiso Rabada 5-78, Morné Morkel 3-76
SA 2nd innings 71-8 – Kagiso Rabada 16, Stuart Broad 5-14, Ben Stokes 2-23
SA lead by 61 runs