TELFORD VICE at Lord’s
IT all looked so different at lunch on Sunday, when South Africa had bowled themselves into the realms of an unlikely victory over England in the first test.
But that prospect receded with alarming haste as the afternoon wore on, and it was the home side who celebrated the drawing of first blood.
And how that blood gushed.
England dismissed South Africa, who chased 331, for 119 in a scant 36.4 overs to win by 211 runs with a day and 14 overs to spare.
Off-spinner Moeen Ali, who scored 87 and took 4/59 in the first innings, claimed 6/53 to complete a career-best match haul of 10/112.
South Africa lost at Lord’s for the first time in the seven tests they have played here since June 1960 — 57 years ago.
Ominously, that series was also the last South Africa have lost in England.
Their bowlers did all they could to pull the game out of the fire, but their batsmen have pressing questions to answer before the second test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Friday.
In particular the test future of JP Duminy, who has failed to reach 50 in 10 of his last 12 innings, is in serious doubt.
That problem, at least, has a straightforward solution in the return of Faf du Plessis from paternity leave.
The enforced omission of Kagiso Rabada, who has been banned for the second test for disciplinary reasons, is also surmountable with Chris Morris and Duanne Olivier in South Africa’s squad.
But what South Africa are going to do about the rest of their under-performing batting line-up is difficult to fathom, even considering the fact that 19 wickets fell on Sunday on a pitch that was increasingly receptive to spin.
How transformation imperatives will be met is also hard to see, given that the most likely options for replacing two players of colour — one of them black African — are white.
England resumed their second innings on 119/1, Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance took their partnership to 59 before Morne Morkel had a driving Cook smartly caught in the covers by Temba Bavuma for 69.
Morkel removed Ballance in his next over, caught behind for 34, and seven balls later Keshav Maharaj bowled Joe Root — who scored 190 in the first innings — off the edge of his bat for five.
A slide of four wickets for 10 runs in 39 balls was complete when Rabada trapped Ben Stokes in front for a single.
Maharaj bowled Moeen Ali for seven with a delivery that pitched outside the left-hander’s off stump and turned sharply to hit the outside of leg.
Rabada condemned Liam Dawson to a pair for the match by bowling him with a full toss that left middle stump lying metres away from the wicket.
Stuart Broad, who hammered an unbeaten 57 off 47 balls in the first innings, was gone first ball when another wickedly turning delivery from Maharaj took the edge and was superbly caught by Theunis de Bruyn at short leg.
But the South Africans let things slip after lunch — which England reached on 182/8 — and Jonny Bairstow was given enough support by tailenders Mark Wood and James Anderson to score 51 before being being stumped off Maharaj to end the innings.
The home side batted on for 11.1 overs of the second session, and added 51 runs.
Maharaj had 4/84 with Morkel and Rabada splitting the other six wickets.
Dean Elgar and debutant Kuhn were separated after seven overs of South Africa’s second innings when Anderson had Kuhn caught down the leg side for nine.
Thirteen balls later Elgar was on his way for two when Moeen took a hard-hit return catch.
JP Duminy pulled meatily at Wood with that became the last ball before tea — and was well held by Moeen at short midwicket for two.
Reduced to 25/3 at tea, South Africa lost their remaining seven wickets for 94 runs.
Bavuma’s 21 was their top score.