The men’s England test cricket team continued their incredible run of form as they secured a 2-1 series victory over South Africa earlier this month. Their win concluded a fantastic summer for the Brendon McCullum-coached side, which also included dominant victories over New Zealand and India preceding their fixtures with the Proteas.
As we look back on a phenomenal series between England and South Africa, read on as we provide a recap of each of the three test matches.
Entering in exceptional form and as the prohibitive favourites in the online bet marketss– England were under a lot of pressure to finish their summer unbeaten. On the other hand, their opponents South Africa were playing with house money – as it was one of the more inexperienced sides to have toured in quite some time. However, they were young, hungry and had some amazingly talented players both with the bat and ball. None more so than world-ranked fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, who was cleared to play despite battling a niggling ankle injury in the lead-up.
After winning the toss and electing to bowl, South Africa dominated from the opening over, dismissing the home side for a measly total of 165. Rabada starred with the ball, taking five wickets off 19 overs. Ollie Pope was the only bright spot for the hosts in the first innings, scoring 73 from 102 deliveries.
It went from bad to worse for McCullum’s men, as the Proteas all but put the game out of reach in their first innings with the willow, registering a reasonable total of 326 in large part thanks to Sarel Erwee’s, captain Dan Elgar’s and Marco Jansen’s scores of 73, 47 and 48 runs respectively.
Trailing by 161 runs and with plenty to do, England required a gallant effort from its batting line-up in the second innings if they had any chance or either winning or salvaging a draw in the first test. They weren’t able to do so, as they were bowled out for yet another humiliating score of 149 – handing the Proteas a decisive win by an innings and 12 runs.
With their backs against the wall and the series on the line, it was imperative England started their second test at Old Trafford well. They did just that, bowling out the away side for 151 runs – with veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad leading the wicket takers with three apiece.
The home side built on their success with the ball and dominated their opponents at the crease, with captain Ben Stokes and fellow middle-order batsman Ben Foakes securing centuries for their team en route to an imposing first innings total of 415. That was too difficult for the Proteas to overcome, as they once again fell cheaply for 179 runs – ensuring England reigned supreme and levelled the series at 1-1.
With the devastating news of Her Majesty the Queen’s passing and the possibility of inclement weather threatening to stop play proceeding, there were many of those who partake in the betting tips free who predicted the series to end in a draw. However, the third and final test went ahead, with hosts England coming away with the chocolates in comfortable fashion at The Oval.
In what was overcast conditions, England elected to bowl after winning the coin toss. It proved a masterstroke, as the bowling attack made light work of the Proteas batting line-up – dismissing them for the lowest total of the series, 118. Ollie Robinson’s spell was particularly impressive, as he took five scalps off just 14 overs. With the decisive third test in their grasp, England couldn’t capitalise and put the game to bed in their first innings with the bat – scoring a disappointing 158 runs.
Stokes’ side didn’t let that deter them though, as they produced an exceptional second innings with the ball that saw all four pace bowlers secure two wickets or more. As a result, they bowled South Africa out for 169 – leaving the hosts with a target of 130 runs to win. England chased it down comfortably, losing just one wicket in the process on their way to a victory and 2-1 series win.
Their form against South Africa and throughout the entirety of the summer of cricket is a stark contrast from the English team that toured last winter – one that was castigated for their sub-par performances en route to a 4-0 drubbing in the Ashes at the hands of an impressive Australian outfit. Heads appeared to roll as a result of their humiliating defeat, with then-coach Chris Silverwood quitting – and long-time servant Joe Root standing down as captain.
Whether they came to that decision voluntarily is unknown – however – there was a new guard of leadership in place in the months subsequent with McCullum appointed as coach and Stokes promoted to the captaincy role.
With the success McCullum and Stokes has experienced at the helm, they will be hoping it can continue into next summer when they host yet another dangerous Australian side. Boasting world-class batsmen such as Marcus Labuschagne, Steven Smith and David Warner – to go along with elite bowers in Pat Cummings, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon – they will need to replicate this summer’s form if they have any shot at winning back the urn.