When the first Test began at Lord’s between England and South Africa three days ago, there was once again talk of ‘Bazball’ and that the hosts would romp to victory. But it was other way round as the South African bowlers turned the table on England and won the game by an innings and 12 runs.
England this summer had won all four Test matches beating New Zealand 3/0 and a strong Indian team too, with all the wins coming from behind by Ben Stokes’ team. But South Africa was up for the challenge. They first bowled England out cheaply in the first innings and managed to get a healthy lead of 160 with all their bowlers chipping in. And one expected England to claw back in the second innings as they did all summer but it was not to be as Anrich Nortje, Kasigo Rabada, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj and Lungi Ngidi did not give the English batsmen an inch. They blew England away for just 149 runs to stun the Poms on their own turf.
What did South Africa do different compared to New Zealand and India to win? Well, they ensured that their pace attack was relentless and had a wily spinner in Maharaj. Their openers put on a good score with Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee and their tail in Marco Jansen and Maharaj batted sensibly and got them a sizeable lead. They held on to their catches and their captain Elgar was spot on in his bowling changes. They beat England by playing aggressive but at the same time smart and in a controlled manner.
With this win South Africa has made their chances of making it to the World Test championship finals. But can they sustain this in the next two Test matches? Time will tell.