England v South Africa: Hosts lose by innings on third day at Lord’s


First LV Insurance Test, Lord’s (day three of five)
England 165 & 149: Lees 35, Broad 35; Nortje 3-47
South Africa 326: Erwee 73, Jansen 48, Elgar 47; Stokes 3-71, Broad 3-71
South Africa won by an innings and 12 runs

England were blown away to lose the first Test against South Africa by an innings and 12 runs inside three days.

Needing 161 to make the Proteas bat again, the home side spectacularly and swiftly unravelled to 149 all out at a stunned Lord’s.

The first defeat of the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era was not caused by the swashbuckling approach that brought four wins at the beginning of the summer, but a timid surrender to some magnificent Proteas bowling.

Anrich Nortje was sensational, bowling at rapid pace to take three wickets for no runs in 10 balls.

Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj began the collapse with two wickets, including under-pressure opener Zak Crawley for 13.

England earlier took the last three South African wickets for 39 to bowl the Proteas out for 326, despite bizarrely persisting with short-ball tactics.

Though the South Africa lead was sizable, England should have made better use of the best batting conditions of the match to at least drag the contest into the weekend.

Instead they go one behind in the three-match series, with the second Test at Old Trafford starting on Thursday.

Familiar defeat for new England

England have played some thrilling Test cricket this summer, capturing the imagination of the public not only with their results, but the scintillating manner in which they have been obtained.

This defeat was not about ‘Bazball’ coming unstuck, rather England reverting to some of the bad habits that saw them earn only one win in 17 Tests before Stokes and McCullum took over.

They can argue, with some justification, they were on the wrong end of a crucial toss as they slipped to 116-6 on a first day that was ideal for bowling.

But the way they conceded the momentum by bowling too short on the second evening, then followed up with the same failed tactics on Friday morning before tamely succumbing with the bat, had all the hallmarks of an ‘old England’ performance.

How they respond to this defeat will be fascinating. Before this Test, Stokes said he would still have trusted England’s new method even if they had lost all four of their previous matches.

Now it is the job of the captain and coach to ensure the belief and confidence they have built remains intact, but also find a way of combatting a superb South Africa attack.

Nortje blasts through England

The afternoon collapse overshadowed England’s strange morning, when perhaps the bouncer assault endured by Nortje in his 28 not out gave the paceman a little extra motivation when he came to bowl.

By that point, Crawley was lbw from an ill-judged sweep at Maharaj and Ollie Pope was leg before on review playing across the line to the same bowler.

When Joe Root poked Lungi Ngidi to second slip, the three-day finish looked increasingly likely, and Nortje’s terrific burst made it a reality.

Bowling in excess of 90mph and moving the ball down the Lord’s slope, Nortje had all of Jonny Bairstow, Alex Lees and Ben Foakes caught behind as England lost three wickets for five runs.

Stuart Broad chanced his arm, swiping 35 from 29 balls in a stand of 55 with Stokes, only to be deceived by a Kagiso Rabada slower ball for the second time in the match.

Matthew Potts was cleaned up slogging at Marco Jansen, Stokes hit Rabada to deep mid-wicket and last man James Anderson was bowled by Jansen to complete the thrashing before tea.

Across the match, England were bowled out twice in less than 83 overs, the third-shortest amount of time they have batted in a home Test defeat.

Brilliant win for superb South Africa

This is a superb win for South Africa, a team top of the World Test Championship and defeated only once in their past six series.

Captain Dean Elgar had questioned the sustainability of England’s aggressive approach, with the Proteas then carving a victory from old-fashioned Test values.

Their batting was determined, but it was their talented and balanced bowling attack that engineered an emphatic triumph.

Nortje and Rabada, who took five wickets in the first innings, were supported by left-arm seamer Jansen, the muscular Ngidi and wily spinner Maharaj.

Should they need to adapt to conditions at Old Trafford and the third Test at The Oval, they can call on off-spinner Simon Harmer, the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship over the past six seasons.

They are one win away from ending a run of three straight series defeats by England, stretching back 10 years.

‘Don’t poke the bear’ – reaction

England captain Ben Stokes: “This isn’t a wake-up call or anything like that. We haven’t been able to execute the way we would like and South Africa were better than us.”

South Africa captain Dean Elgar: “It was some of the quickest bowling I have seen. The catch our keeper [Kyle] Verreynne took to get rid of Jonny Bairstow was one of the quickest balls he has ever had to catch and it was a pretty big wicket at the time.

“It was a hostile spell of bowling. He is an angry man and you don’t want to poke the bear.”

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook: “England didn’t bat like ‘Bazball’. They were bowled out. Nortje bowled exceptionally. It was genuinely quick bowling.

“South Africa were quick, accurate and on a pitch that did a little bit, they got far more out of it by bowling quicker. England weren’t good enough, that is the crux of it. Fantastic batting conditions today but South Africa blew them away.”

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