England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day July 17, 2017

England routed as South Africa surge to series-levelling win

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South Africa 335 (Amla 78, de Kock 68, Philander 54, Anderson 5-72) and 343 for 9 dec (Amla 87, Elgar 80, du Plessis 63, Moeen 4-78) beat England 205 (Root 78, Maharaj 3-21, Morris 3-38) and 133 (Philander 3-24, Maharaj 3-42) by 340 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Highlights - SA secure crushing 340-run win

The excellence of South Africa's pace attack turned the Trent Bridge Test into a rout as England were dismissed in only 44.2 overs, their hopeless pursuit of a world-record 474 to win on a deteriorating pitch transformed with indecent haste into a 340-run defeat.

Faf du Plessis missed South Africa's defeat at Lord's to be at the birth of his first child but he has supervised a staggering turnaround at Trent Bridge, where England had not lost since 2007, which told not just of South Africa's skill but invited increasing questions about England's ability to perform when the going gets tough.

England's coach Trevor Bayliss, appointed primarily because of his reputation in the limited-overs cricket, has now overseen a sequence of seven defeats in England's last 10 Tests. A 4-0 trouncing in India was embarrassing enough, but this feckless batting display will probably attract the loudest condemnation of all. "We've had a shocker," he said.

Data suggests no surface degenerates more reliably than Trent Bridge in Tests in England - and that is normally no bad thing - and South Africa made voracious use of their opportunity, removing England's top four by lunch and then rushing through the rest of the scorecard in unconstrained fashion.

This is an England batting line-up that at its best can be highly entertaining, but which gives the impression it can only swim with the tide. Joe Root, two matches into his Test captaincy, must gather together resolve if his first series in charge is not to end in defeat.

South Africa's new-ball attack, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, were at the peak of their game and this time they gained excellent support from Chris Morris with only Duanne Olivier, an unimpressive stand-in for Kagiso Rabada, failing to pose a perpetual threat.

Philander repeatedly battered away on an excellent line and length as if determined to wear his own hole in the pitch, Morkel possessed uncomfortable bounce and Morris mixed up bouncers and yorkers with alacrity as England struggled to muster resistance. Morkel went wicketless, scant reward for his consistent menace only a few months after he feared his career might be over because of back trouble.

England had a single to their name overnight. It felt utterly worthless; their defeat looked only a matter of time. Perhaps they could have planted it and hoped it germinated, or framed it and put it on the wall. Wickets would not be long delayed. By the time the lunch clock brought temporary release, they had careered to 79 for 4. Only 16.2 overs later it was all over.

Alastair Cook put up most England resistance, scrambling 42 from 76 balls before he became the fourth England batsman dismissed, hurried by Morris' excellent bouncer and punching it away from his face down the leg-side where Quinton de Kock held the catch.

Cook's Trent Bridge record almost defies belief. In 10 Tests at Nottingham, he averages 21.93, less than half his Test average and has managed a solitary half-century - 50, nothing more, nothing less - against Australia in 2013.

Jonny Bairstow holed out to mid-on as England collapsed © Getty Images

It was asking a lot for him to remedy that on this sort of surface. The sound track of the morning was the rapping of pads and the yelping of South Africa fielders as thick edges dropped wide of slips and flew past gully.

Keaton Jennings got off the mark by hooking a bouncer from Morkel, a show of resolve perhaps, although his shot could have fallen anywhere. He has been in mediocre first-class form all summer which did not inspire confidence. He fell in the second over of the morning, Philander wasting no time in creating a gap between bat and pad to bowl him.

Gary Ballance never got out of his ditch. His only scoring shot careered unhealthily through gully, off Philander. Pushing forward to Philander, he was beaten by low bounce, extremely late on the shot. He also required attention from the physio when Morkel struck him on the bottom hand and, as the match ended, was heading for an x-ray on his left index finger.

South Africa's successful review, to win the lbw decision was a model of grown-up conversation. They had lost a review in the previous over - Cook narrowly surviving because of Morkel's high bounce - and du Plessis demanded responsible information as he might if lives were at stake.

Philander, who delivers from so close to the stumps that his chances of lbw are heightened, was adamant, the captain conceded and the wicket was theirs.

Root, the captain, played inside a swinging yorker from Morris. Another excellent delivery from a South Africa attack hunting England down with admirable skill.

If England's top three includes two players whose Test match aptitude must now be in question, their middle-order, so destructive at times, seems unable - or unwilling - to adjust to the more controlled tempo of Test cricket's more demanding days, traipsing through the most hazardous streets as if it was a suitable place for a picnic.

Jonny Bairstow's self-admonishment was clear as he tried to hit Keshav Maharaj's left-arm spin down the ground and only succeeded in dragging it to deep mid-on. Moeen Ali, who gives the impression that he has two gears - marked enjoyment and boredom - reached 27 with his usual sang-froid and then top-edged a sweep at the same bowler to Heino Kuhn in front of square.

At least Ben Stokes showed a willingness to buckle down against his natural instincts, not for the first time, before pushing back a wary drive at Philander.

The end was rapid, as if England's three pace bowlers, still aching from their work on the third day, had observed the efforts of the batsmen on the fourth and decided they had seen enough. England, though, had been outplayed both with bat and ball and the lack of ready-made replacements for Anderson and Broad must be a huge concern.

Stuart Broad indulged in a slog-sweep and was lucky only to get a groan from his home crowd, and, lo and behold, Olivier wrapped things up with two in two. Mark Wood spliced to gully, James Anderson poked to the keeper.

At the on-field press conference, du Plessis looked like a man you would not mess with and Root looked as if he needed to become that man overnight.

The series swung markedly from England to South Africa and conceivably in the last two Tests it could swing back again. But it is South Africa who look ingrained in the ways of Test cricket.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • david on July 18, 2017, 17:38 GMT

    @Dinesh. Dinesh, why don't you get someone to show you how to use Statsguru so you can check your facts. FYI RSA has beaten SL in 14 tests and lost 5. This makes the claimed 10 of 11 a little difficult to buy. It was not in ODI's either as RSA has a winning record against SL there as well.

  • frankj5872380 on July 18, 2017, 15:43 GMT

    The proteas have lost just 4 test series in the last decade be it home or away. Unfortunately for England it seems as if that stat is not going to change. Very good decision by SA to drop Dumminy and play Morris. SA will take this series 3-1. Good news for England supporters is that Balance will most likely miss the 3rd test due to a broken finger which means that Stoneman will play. Rabada will be eager to make mark on this series and so will Morris.

  • Mohamed on July 18, 2017, 14:52 GMT

    @DINESH ON JULY 18, 2017, 10:42 GMT are you for real? SL was stretched by ZIM. I think this is one occasion when you shouldn't be looking for positives, even in victory.

  • Varun on July 18, 2017, 14:39 GMT

    @Dinesh haha mighty lankans got trashed 3-0 in test 5-0 in odi. Last time we came sri lanka we won both test and odi series.

  • Johannes on July 18, 2017, 14:36 GMT

    I am a SA supporter and it is always easy to have advice for your opponents. In my view Eng's or rather Root's problem is not Jennings, Ballance or Dawson. You can easily without any problem drop them or shuffle your batting order. Rather the problem lies with Broad and Anderson. From what I saw on TV these two elder statesmen call the shots and Root is a minor decision maker. A case of deja vu. So, the solution is: drop one or both or them or make Broad captain for the rest of the series as well as the Ashes series later this year!

  • Anees on July 18, 2017, 14:19 GMT

    @Wayne on what grounds do you drop Bavuma when he was the top Scorer for SA in the game that South Africa just lost a game that De Bruyn played in too...Everyone says Bavuma is only in because he is a quota player yet even if he performs people still want him dropped??

  • Prem on July 18, 2017, 12:41 GMT

    England must drop Jennings and Ballance and bring back Hameed to open with Cook; and Billings at no. 3 to provide some momentum. Jennings and Ballance both underperformed in the win in the first Test and loss in the second. Interesting to see what South Africa does to their XI now that Rabada will be back for the third Test.

  •   Ravikiran Hande on July 18, 2017, 11:55 GMT

    @DINESH: Mighty Lankans!!! they struggled to win against a no 11 ranked team at home after already surrendering the ODI series!!! The pitch was by no means a rank turner and ZIM is not SA. Also I dont recall even one single team in the recent past which got beaten by SL 10/11 times. Which world do you live in?

  • Devinderpal Singh on July 18, 2017, 11:50 GMT

    At least 3 players shouldn't be selected for the Tests this summer; Ballance, Dawson and Wood. Ballance should be replaced by one of the most in-form cricketers in the country i.e. Samit Patel, but actually picked as a batsman first, not spin bowler who can bat. Any talk of Buttler is absolute garbage rationale. Dawson is simply awful and is clearly a nepotistic pick by the coach, who loves the guy. Dawson certainly showed he has "something about him", which was no legitimate Test match spinner quality! Burn! He should be replaced by Rashid, or possibly Leach. Wood should only be picked if he is bowling at his fastest, which management should have known beforehand, yet ignored. Pathetic. He should be replaced by Woakes, if he is available, and if not, then Roland-Jones, with Footitt being brought into the squad. My eleven would be: 1. A.Cook, 2. K.Jennings, 3. J.Root, 4. S.Patel, 5. B.Stokes, 6. J.Bairstow, 7. M.Ali, 8. A.Rashid, 9. T.Roland-Jones, 10. S.Broad, 11. J.Anderson.

  • Thomas on July 18, 2017, 11:47 GMT

    THE OVAL: Cook, Hales, Stoneman, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler (wk), Ali, Broad, Wood, Anderson.

    Nothing else to say.

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