First Test Match at Centurion, SA
South Africa 284 & 272 all out (61.4 overs)
England 181 & 268 all out (93.0 overs)
Courtesy: The Guardian
England crumbled to 268 all out as South Africa’s seamers wrapped up victory in the first Test at Centurion. What a way to end the year on a high!
For all their battling England never managed to get their noses in front on the final day after beginning on 121-1 in their chase of a record 376. The South Africans remained patient and took their chances. On Sunday morning 50 runs were scored for the loss of two wickets, quite a contrast to the 124 conceded by England in the first session on Saturday. Vernon Philander began with a string of maidens and there were just two scoring strokes in the first half hour, both from the bat of Joe Denly, a glide for four and a rather magnificent pulled six off Rabada.
Rory Burns could not rediscover the fluency of the previous evening. His first single was perilous, a push to short-leg left him out of his crease and the throw from the substitute, Rudi Second, missed the stumps and produced an overthrow. There would not be many more runs for Burns. Perhaps relieved that the drip-drip torture of facing Philander had come to an end, Burns attempted to pull the second delivery of the day from Anrich Nortje and could only splice it gently to mid on.
In fact England did not lose this match on the final day. It was their batting on the second afternoon and their bowling on the third morning that gifted the initiative to the South Africans, who held their nerve and discipline thereafter. Losing seven wickets for 39, conceding 124 runs in a session, many of which were scored by a true No 11, is a guaranteed recipe for defeat unless the game is taking place at Headingley.
On Sunday the wickets were shared among the South African bowlers but maybe the decisive contribution on a bowler-friendly surface came from Quinton de Kock, the highest runscorer in the Test. In total his forthright approach produced 129 runs, which was more than the margin of victory and he received the man of the match award.
England were badly handicapped by the flu bug rampaging through their ranks, which affected not only their preparations, but also the wellbeing of some of the players during the game. Afterwards they announced they were taking the precaution of keeping Craig Overton and Dom Bess in their party in Cape Town. Chris Woakes and most worryingly of all, Jack Leach, who has been suffering for a fortnight, are still laid low.