England registered their first overseas win by an innings since 2011 Sydney as they comprehensively outplayed South Africa in Port Elizabeth. Tailenders Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson frustrated the visitors for a while on the fifth morning, but the end was inevitable and Sam Curran’s run out saw England emerge victors by an innings and 53 runs. Maharaj did equal the record for most runs in an over in test cricket (28) as he took Joe Root to the cleaners, but there was precious little otherwise to cheer for the home fans.
Here are our talking points from the clash in PE.
1. Proteas get selection wrong.
It’s the batsmen who have struggled more in recent times, but the Proteas bizarrely opted to strengthen their bowling for this game and dropped batting all rounder Dwaine Pretorius. Even worse, the extra bowler selected- Dane Paterson, toiled hard but was clearly ill-suited to this track. The conditions did not help Vernon Philander either and despite playing five bowlers the Proteas were forced to chase leather as England racked up nearly 500 runs after choosing to bat first.
2. South African batsmen continue to struggle
South Africa’s batsmen again came a cropper as England ran through them at St George’s Park. In the first innings, the Proteas lost half their side for 109; in the second innings they were 83/6 at one stage. While England had two centurions in Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes, the highest score from a Proteas top six batsman was 63 from the bat of Quinton De Kock, with none of the others even crossing 40. The fact that the Maharaj/Paterson last wicket partnership was the hosts’ highest of the innings tells a story by itself.
Since AB de Villiers' retirement (April 2018), #Proteas batsmen have scored only five centuries in 26 innings
— thecricketblog (@thecricblogger) January 19, 2020
3. England’s youngsters impress
Ben Stokes again proved his worth in the longest format, and he was ably supported by England’s youngsters. The visitors had five players younger then South Africa’s youngest player in KG Rabada and each of the quintet played vital roles- Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley laid the platform upfront, Ollie Pope brought back memories of Ian Bell with a sparkling 135, Sam Curran made a crucial 44 and effected the run out that won England the game and Dom Bess claimed a 5 er in the first innings. If they continue to progress at this level it will only augur well for the side’s future.
4. Rabada suspended for Wanderers test
Not only did South Africa lose the PE game, but they were also dealt a body blow when speedster Kagiso Rabada was declared unavailable for the Wanderers test. Rabada received a one game suspension after picking up a demerit point for his celebration after dismissing England skipper Joe Root in the first innings.
5. Will Temba Bavuma play in Johannesburg?
Zubayr Hamza looked all at sea against England’s bowlers, particularly the pace of Mark Wood, and South Africa may consider bringing back Temba Bavuma for the Wanderers test. The Proteas on an average need to field two Black Africans in every XI- Rabada was the only BA player in each of the three previous test and his unavailability will only further complicate matters on that front. Bavuma made 180 for the Lions against the Dolphins in the domestic franchise competition and could be recalled to the XI on his provincial home ground.