By Ryan Moran
- South Africa 475: de Kock 129, Stokes 4-86. 248-5: Amla 96, Anderson 3-47.
- England 342: Cook & Root 76, Rabada 7-112. 101: Taylor 24, Rabada 6-32.
- England record 2-1 series victory to lift the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy.
Pretoria, South Africa- Kagiso Rabada ripped through England’s batting line up to secure a consolation victory, with the series already won by the tourists.
Alastair Cook’s side ended a bittersweet fourth test match by celebrating their first series victory on foreign soil in five attempts. A fifth day batting collapse ended the series on a sour note but didn’t take away from the outstanding individual performances throughout the four matches.
Trevor Bayliss’ side started the last day of the fourth test needing 329 runs to win, with seven wickets in hand and James Taylor (24) partnering Joe Root (20) at the crease. The pair continued on 52-3, an unbroken partnership of 34 to improve upon, with Yorkshire batsman Root reprieved after Quinton de Kock failed to react quick enough to take the catch as Dane Piedt found the edge.
De Kock’s drop didn’t prove too costly as both Taylor and Root fell in quick succession, Taylor gloving a Morne Morkel delivery behind before Piedt dismissed his man, miscuing a drive to first slip.
Jonny Bairstow was dealt a lifeline, as he fished at a wide Rabada delivery with Dean Elgar taking the catch high to his right hand side only for the bowler to have overstepped the crease line. This decision meant premature celebration for the fast bowler’s first test ten wicket haul but he wouldn’t have to wait long.
Bairstow fell without scoring another run, Rabada caged the Yorkshireman into nicking the ball behind for a second time in a matter of moments. The England wall was starting to crack; those cracks were exploited by the young Rabada with only Moeen Ali able to hold out. The tail all dropping to the 20-year-old after Ben Stokes was drawn into pulling Morkel, only to be caught on the boundary by Stephen Cook.
Having lost all seven wickets in the morning session, Morkel’s 3-36 was overlooked because of Rabada’s 6-32, accumulating overall figures of 13-144, the second youngest player to achieve a 10 wicket haul. His haul is also the second best in South African test history, only being outdone by his hero Makhaya Ntini, the first black fast bowler to play for the national team, with figures of 13-132 against the West Indies in 2005.
Having only taken two wickets in three tests, Rabada’s stock has risen tenfold, adding 22 wickets over the three tests against England. The man of the match spoke to the BBC about his feat:
“It was a bit up and down so the key was to hit the deck and bowl the ball in a good area and I believed you’d get your rewards.”
While the Proteas have failed to retain their number one test ranking, the future looks bright with the likes of Rabada and Piedt still having their best years in front of them and making such a big impression in this series.
South African opening batsman Cook graced the Centurion Stadium with a test debut 115, making England pay for errors in the field. The debutant was dropped on 47 and punished the bowling attack for inconsistent line and length.
Hashim Amla also flourished, without the burden of the captaincy looming over him. Having been dropped on five, the batsman looked comfortable as he made 109 before playing onto his stumps off Stokes in the first innings. His consistency continued as a second innings total of 96 steered his side towards victory.
AB De Villiers endured a torrid time at the crease with a third successive duck, James Anderson’s ongoing battle with the batsman coming to the forefront, De Villiers trapped by Anderson in front of the stumps for LBW. This was the tenth time the South African captain has been dismissed by the England bowler, who had England’s best second innings figures of 3-47.
England rallied in their first innings but fell 133 runs short of the host’s 475, Root and Cook making 76 runs apiece while Alex Hales failed to make an impression from the opening spot, once again, with 15.
Stokes was named player of the series but failed to have a great impact in the final test, with 43 runs over two innings and figures of 5-122. His 258 in Cape Town pulled his side towards a series lead and set a record in the process, the fastest double century by an Englishman. His 12 wickets and 411 runs earned him the accolade of player of the series, speaking to the ECB Stokes said:
“Getting back home it will be nice to look back on, I’ve had a lot of praise for it.
“It’s nice to be recognised for stuff throughout a series but the most important thing for me has been the consistency – that’s been the best part of this trip so far.
“I didn’t slack off after Cape Town like I could have done. I’ve worked hard with ball and bat and it’s paid off.”
As the test series comes to a close, the ODI series is about to get underway in Bloemfontein at 08:00 GMT
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