England ripped through the Proteas batting order to win the first Test at Lord’s by 211 runs. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result, as well as the quality of the South African batting performance, is certainly cause for concern. England needed only 36.4 overs and fewer than two sessions to claim 10 South African second-innings wickets. Conditions favoured the bowlers, and yet questions must be asked of the top-order’s shot selection and temperament late on day four.
England have scored a victory – their first against the Proteas at Lord’s since 1960 – as well as a psychological blow to their opponents ahead of the three remaining games in this series. South Africa have much to rectify in the lead-up to the second Test at Trent Bridge. While regular skipper Faf du Plessis will bolster the batting lineup, they will be without a key seamer in Kagiso Rabada, who will be serving a suspension.
The momentum is with England and new captain Joe Root. How different things may have been had JP Duminy held that catch at gully on day one. Root would not have gone on to score 190 and set England up for a commanding first-innings total of 458.
England’s spinners played a key role in the victory at Lord’s. The Proteas batsmen battled against Moeen Ali and Liam Dawson in the first innings. When the pitch deteriorated on day four, the visitors appeared to have no response. Ali finished with figures of 6-53 in the second innings and 10-112 in the match.
The Proteas may take heart from their own bowling performance. England resumed their second innings at 119-1 on day four. A fiery Morné Morkel spell yielded the key wickets of Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance, and ultimately sparked a collapse. Keshav Maharaj made a big contribution with 4-85 as England finished on 227.
That said, England did well to frustrate South Africa in the period after lunch. Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood put on 45 runs for the ninth wicket. That partnership allowed England to set South Africa a target of 331; a formidable target considering no side, bar the West Indies team of 1984 had ever chased down a score of 300-plus at Lord’s.
The Proteas lost their first three wickets before the tea break. Heino Kuhn flashed at a ball down the leg side. Dean Elgar was caught and bowled, while JP Duminy hit a long hop straight to mid-wicket. The decision-making by the South African batsmen during this period was shocking.
Liam Dawson trapped Hashim Amla lbw right after tea to leave the Proteas reeling at 28-4. Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma put on 38 before the former chopped an Ali delivery back on to his stumps.
Ali accounted for Bavuma and then Theunis de Bruyn. Maharaj and Rabada followed, the latter dismissal marking Ali’s 10th in the Test.
South Africa will be hard-pressed to turn things around ahead of the second Test.
England 458 (1st innings) – Joe Root 190, Moeen Ali 87, Morné Morkel 4-115, Vernon Philander 3-67
SA 361 (1st innings) – Temba Bavuma 59, Dean Elgar 54, Moeen Ali 4-59, James Anderson 2-44
England 233 (2nd innings) – Alastair Cook 69, Jonny Bairstow 51, Keshav Maharaj 4-85, Kagiso Rabada 3-50
SA 119 (2nd innings) – Temba Bavuma 21, Quinton de Kock 18, Moeen Ali 6-53, Liam Dawson 2-34
England won by 211 runs
Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images