The fourth and final test match of England’s tour of South Africa came along with England leading the series 2-1.
Having come from behind in the series thanks to impressive wins in the second and third test matches, England are looking to maintain their lead, while South Africa need a positive result to tie the series.
Highlights for each day of this potentially decisive test match are below, courtesy of the UK’s Sky Sports, who make their official highlights embeddable. I put them together, with some added context. I don’t publish scoresheets or anything else here. I imagine you could find those elsewhere 🙂
Table of Contents
Day One Highlights
Crawley and Sibley made nice starts, with the former making a first Test 50, before South Africa came back into this match. Denley looked to be set, but edged one on 27. Stokes did not cover himself in glory, getting out cheaply, before rising to the bait when a supporter taunted him as he left the pitch having scored only 2- he was surely annoyed with himself for chasing a wide ball which didn’t need playing.
Pope and Root steadied the ship, leaving England on 192/4 at stumps.
Day Two Highlights
Another exciting and topsy-turvy day. Root and Pope looked well set, early on, before a flurry of England wickets appeared in danger of completely de-railing what had looked to be a building innings. Buttler will be disappointed, as the situation should have allowed his free-flowing style to flourish.
Instead, it was Woakes, Wood and Broad who came in and scored runs for fun at the end, taking the score to exactly 400. All England’s players, except Curran, contributed with the bat, in a deeper performance than we have been used to seeing – without that middle order wobble, this could have been an even bigger score, but this pitch did offer something to the seamers throughout.
We soon learned how much… as South Africa were skittled down to 88/6 at stumps, after Wood, Curran and Stokes picked up important wickets. The catching was a real highlight – very assured.
Day Three Highlights
After his cameo with the bat, Woods converted his three wickets into a nice five-for as he helped England to a large first innings lead, getting South Africa all out for 183. de Kock (76) was the standout performer for the hosts – without his useful knock, they’d have been in serious trouble.
Coming out and adding to their tally on a deteriorating pitch is the modern way, and in doing so, everyone got a start for England, but only Root was able to hang around as an anchor. Again, Buttler (8) had a setup he would usually like, but his form did not turn around.
England posted 248 all out, and importantly, they did it quickly: Root was out last ball of the day, to set South Africa exactly two full days to get 466. On this pitch, that seems like it will be almost impossible. This did not look like a record-breaking fourth innings batting track – more like the opposite.
Day Four Highlights
England wrapped up the win with a day to spare, as South Africa went aggressive with the bat. Many of the South African batsmen made a start, but flashing this hard, the wickets came at regular intervals.
Van der Dussen (98) was unfortunate not to make a ton, while Mark Wood picked up another 4 wickets, to take his tally for the match to 9. He got Man of the Match, while Stokes picked up player of the series – both seem correct awards, given Stokes’ performances with bat, ball and in the slip cordon over the four tests have been outstanding, while Wood has proved to be the difference between the two sides in this test match.
Other than Wood, Broad was also terrific, as he picked up five important wickets across the two innings, and was by far the most economical bowler – pressure which often counted down the other end – as well as taking the score into well better than par in the first innings’ stinging tail.
South Africa said goodbye to Philander in this match, who was clapped off by both teams.
England look a young side on the up. South Africa are still rebuilding.