Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis said the bold decisions made before and during the second Test match allowed them to dominate from day one.
What a difference a week makes. One week half the team is under scrutiny after a Test match that saw them outplayed, the next they go and play a sensational four days of cricket.
It was the complete performance from the Proteas. At the toss, returning captain choose to bat first, this despite the Trent Bridge pitch being notoriously good for fast bowlers and carrying an extra seamer at the expense of a batsman. After getting through the first session unscathed, fifties from Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander gave them a healthy 335.
In their second innings, more fifties from Dean Elgar, Amla and Du Plessis handed the English 474 for victory. On both occasions, the English were bowled out in less than 50 overs, courtesy of some superb bowling from Man of the Match Vernon Philander, aided by Morne Morkel, Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj.
The return of the skipper, as well as the inclusion of an extra seamer and the promotion up the batting order for Quinton de Kock, were but a few of the reasons why the Proteas were able to remain on top throughout, and Du Plessis said it was down to a number of ‘brave decisions’ that allowed them to do so.
‘We knew it would be tough but we are used to making those brave decisions,’ said Du Plessis at the post-match press conference.
‘Back in South Africa we prepare green wickets and we’re not scared of batting first. For England to only get one wicket and us to get 56 runs in that session [morning session on day one] set the tone.
‘Pretty much from the toss to the last ball that we bowled, we were in control of this Test match.’
De Kock, who has made it publicly known that he’d prefer to bat higher up the order, was given a chance at No 4. While he failed in the second innings with one, he scored a brisk 68 in the first innings, and Du Plessis hinted at giving him an extended chance in the position.
‘It wasn’t a case of making a decision that’s just a once off, I’m a big believer, in giving guys a fair opportunity,’ du Plessis admitted.
‘We all know that the way he plays is the way he plays, so we are not going to ask him to change that. He’s going to put pressure on the opposition and he’s a good enough cricketer to understand when to adapt his game to play certain situations, so he’ll learn a lot from this.’
CSA confirmed the return of Kagiso Rabada at the expense of Duanne Olivier for the third Test at the Oval, which will further strengthen a side that have found a news sense of confidence.
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