Ricochet News

England embarrass Proteas at Lords

By Marc Jacobson - Jul 10, 2017
England embarrass Proteas at Lords

The Proteas suffered yet another loss on English soil, when they crumbled to a 211-run defeat to England in their first of four Tests at the Lords Oval in London on Sunday.

South Africa have now seemingly slipped from their top berth in world cricket, after a horrid tour to England has seen them ascend to earth modestly. This was the fist ever loss at the Oval for any South African side since 1960.

Beginning their tour, the Proteas lost 2-1 in their opening three-match ODI Series, followed by a meagre slump out of the ICC Champions Trophy group stages, before then going down 2-1 in the three-match T20 Series against the hosts.

Losing their first test convincingly, now adds to their misery in the north. The Proteas’ bowlers, however, evidently did their pitch duties partially better, with glimpses of hope showing England up at stages.

With England batting first, they seemed to almost buckle when they stood at 76/4 on day one, but then newly captained Joe Root broke through that barrier exceptionally scoring a superb 190, partnered well by Ben Stokes’ 56 and player-of-the-match Moeen Ali’s 87.

With that upright ascendency, tail-ender Stuart Broad then smashed 57 not out, included with eight fours and two sixes.

England’s solidified middle to lower order batting, guided the side to a stern 458 all out. Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander bowled well in the opening stages of that first day, with both of them knocking out England’s top order. Morkel took four wickets for 115, while Philander with the best economy rate, took three for 67 runs.

Kagiso Rabada contributed later on, with 3/123 bowling figures, and included in one of his wickets was his ‘curse’ language-wicket of Stokes, which controversially slapped him with a second-Test ban against England.

Frankly though, South Africa made the game harder for themselves through dropped catches and wicket no-balls, with sloppy bowling and poor fielding almost exactly contributing to Root’s lengthy spell in the middle.

The Proteas then attempted well with the bat to chase down the total, but fell short on 361 all out. Their innings saw four half-centurions through Temba Bavuma (59), captain Dean Elgar (54), Philander (52) and Quinton de Kock (51).

With 97 runs behind, South Africa avoided the follow-on, but England pulled away further, when their opening three set a fine foundation to play off.

On 139/2 near the end of day three, the hosts looked to achieve far-to-reach total, as Alastair Cook scored 69 to glide through the opening stanza. Morkel took all three opening wickets, before Jonny Bairstow took to the crease and lasted until the end, before Keshav Maharaj picked him off for 51.

Bairstow was also a product of being dropped on just seven by Philander in the deep, but then went on to make a contributable score.

Evidently, the wicket started really turning in tough conditions as day four grew on, with South Africa taking seven wickets for 63 in the opening session. With this, Maharaj took 4/85, Morkel 3/64 and Rabada 3/50, ironically again including Stokes’ wicket from an LBW dismissal.

Chasing an ambitious 361 for victory, South Africa took to the crease, but the conditions did not allow them to gain any real leeway, as England’s Ali capitalised on the turning wicket and took excellent 6/53 figures.

Before tea on day four, the Proteas were already on 25/3, and it was then that their cracks began getting exposed. After tea, England utilized both spinners in the form of Ali and Liam Dawson, for which the former took all the reigns with 10/112 match figures, as South Africa suffered a rapid collapse.

Bowled out for a meek 119 in their second innings, no batsman made it further than 21 for South Africa, and while the wicket proved tricky, even on England’s part in the beginning of day four, there seems to be some grave concerns for the Proteas.

Faf du Plessis will to the least return to captaincy for the second Test, but simple basics in the field and accurate bowling is what is needed to clean up their act.

It is also about time that South Africa’s top-order batsmen begin anchoring their innings', especially the underperforming JP Duminy, who is surely now in the firing line.

The second Test is set to start on the 14th of July in Nottingham.   

Image: Moeen Ali celebrating his wicket of newcoming Proteas opener, Theunis de Bruyn.