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England 415 for 9 dec (Foakes 113*, Stokes 103) beat South Africa 151 (Anderson 3-32, Broad 3-37) and 179 (Petersen 42, Robinson 4-43) by 123 runs
Test centuries and all that, sure, they're nice. But for Ben Stokes, you get the sense that nothing can beat the sensation of a job well done that accompanied his down-and-dirty exploits on the third afternoon at Emirates Old Trafford.
After the highs of his game-changing stand with Ben Foakes on Friday, came the low, visually at least, of England's captain bending for breath between balls during his gut-busting 14-over spell, either side of the tea break. And yet, his apparently everyman figures of 2 for 30 were best expressed by the events that bookended them.
Straight after Stokes, however, came England's second new ball, and the sight of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson completing the job they had started with such surety in the long-distant morning session. On their watch, England ripped out the remaining five wickets in 31 balls before stumps, to square the series with an innings-and-85-run victory that was no less crushing than the one they had themselves suffered at Lord's last week.
And, in between whiles, came the interventions that made the victory surge possible, two moments of raw inspiration that their captain dredged from within himself, to rip apart South Africa's burgeoning resistance and lay bare their futile prospects.
Van der Dussen, who was subsequently confirmed to have suffered a broken left index finger that will rule him out of next week's third Test, battled with huge resolve after arriving at an uncompromising 54 for 3 in the 14th over of the day - often removing his top hand on impact as England probed his stumps and forced him to dig deep for the cause. But, after 20 minutes of cooling off during the interval, he was lured outside his eyeline as Stokes shaped one away at good pace, and Foakes behind the stumps plucked a priceless chance.
One over later, and Stokes produced an even more awesome moment. Petersen had been bloodless in his resolve in the middle session, denying himself any attacking impetus as he set himself and his team for survival. But Stokes' response was a sizzling lifter - fast, straight and climbing wickedly off the seam and into his gloves as he tried to rear out of harm's way.
At 151 for 5, with 2 for 19 in eight overs, Stokes could arguably have pulled himself out there and then, the glory moment secure, and handed the attack back to his frontline quicks. But with the ball now 68 overs old, he instead took it upon himself to shoulder the burden for the remainder of its 80-over life. Within 5.1 overs of the replacement, his instinct was proven to be spot on.
The end came with startling speed. After a chastening match with the ball, Simon Harmer had got himself into line with determination throughout his 48-ball stay. But Anderson's second delivery with the new ball was simply too good - full, straight, seaming, and decisive, as it burst through the gate into the top of the off stump.
Robinson responded with equal authority - his fourth ball climbed at Keshav Maharaj for a sharp edge to Ollie Pope at fourth slip, and from there it was a race to the bottom. Anderson found Kagiso Rabada's edge for Joe Root to stoop at first slip, before Robinson wrapped up the collapse by delivering back-to-back ducks on Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, and seal impressive comeback figures of 4 for 43.
And so ended another one-sided three-day Test, although it was a significantly more compelling day of action than might have been envisaged after the first hour of action.
South Africa had fought hard on the second evening, following England's first-innings declaration, to reach 23 for 0 at the close. But that resilience was unpicked with haste upon the resumption, with their captain and linchpin Dean Elgar falling within 15 minutes of the resumption - brilliantly outfoxed by Anderson, whose 662nd Test wicket took him to 949 in all internationals, bringing him level with Glenn McGrath as the most prolific seamer across formats. By the day's end, of course, he was out on his own at the top.
Opening up from his very own End, Anderson needed just four deliveries to line up Elgar and send him on his way for the sixth time in Test cricket. The third of those jagged wickedly from round the wicket and lifted past Elgar's splice; the next, a fraction fuller, skidded straight past a now-crease-bound batter, to pluck out his off stump for 11.
Sarel Erwee was similarly out-thought, as Robinson switched to round the wicket from over, and confounded his alignment with the perfect full length. And then came Broad - relegated to first-change status for this match but gagging for his slice of the action.
Within five balls, Broad trimmed Aiden Markram's bails with the ball of the Test so far, only for the third umpire to belatedly call no-ball. Nonplussed but undeterred, Broad settled for luring Markram outside off in his second over instead… but pointedly curbed his enthusiasm until he'd received word from umpire Chris Gaffeney that his front foot had been given a clean bill of health.
And that could have been that, especially with van der Dussen visibly hampered. But, with watchfulness to the fore, he and Petersen set their sights on survival.
However, England's grip on the contest was not exactly loosened in a middle session that yielded just 53 runs, with 123 still needed for parity by tea. With his spinner, Jack Leach, bowling dry from the James Anderson End, conceding 19 runs in as many overs, Stokes was able to rotate his seamers with attacking fields, including close catchers at silly mid-off and mid-on, and keep them fresh for the new ball.
Six of those pre-tea overs were from Stokes himself - a tight, channelled burst of aggression that yielded just eight runs and a constant threat of reverse-swing, including a thin snick off van der Dussen in the penultimate over of the session that England failed to notice. But it mattered not in the final analysis. After the break, everything came flooding out, as England squared the rubber in the style that their captain has ordained.
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