England close in on emphatic win over South Africa

By Sports Desk September 11, 2022

England enjoyed a fantastic day at The Oval to close in on victory in the third and series-deciding Test against South Africa.

In the hunt for a fourth consecutive Test series win against the Proteas, England bowled and batted superbly on Sunday to leave them requiring just 33 runs on day five with all 10 wickets still in hand.

The hosts wanted to get the win wrapped up early when Alex Lees (32 not out) and Zak Crawley (57 no) powered them to within touching distance of victory, but bad light stopped play to the frustration of a full house and England captain Ben Stokes.

England had started the day at the crease but secured only a 40-run lead, requiring Stokes (3-38) to lead the England attack in their response, making the breakthrough when he drew an edge from Sarel Erwee (26).

Stuart Broad (3-45) also contributed handily, even if his first wicket – moving him past Glenn McGrath into fifth in the all-time list – came as Dean Elgar opted not to review an incorrect lbw decision.

James Anderson lured Keegan Petersen into an edge to Ollie Pope, then Broad exploited a weakness in Ryan Rickelton's defence.

Ollie Robinson's 50th and 51st Test wickets further diminished South Africa's hopes, before Stokes capped a draining spell with dismissals either side of tea, delivering a beauty to Marco Jansen (4) and finding an edge from Kagiso Rabada (0).

Broad and Anderson completed the job to leave South Africa 169 all out and set a target of 130, although England then survived a series of early scares.

Rash work from Lees saw him put down by Jansen, only narrowly escape when he appeared to be run out and loop a wild shot just beyond Keshav Maharaj.

Lees and Crawley soon settled, though, with the latter lashing his way to 50 in 36 balls before the umpires called time, much to England's chagrin.

Stoic Stokes leads by example

England's captain was clearly struggling with that troublesome, persistent left knee injury, but he kept himself in the attack late in the second session.

That paid dividends with the brilliant dismissal of Jansen that brought on tea, the swing on the delivery leaving the batsman with little chance as it knocked off leg stump, and Stokes carried on that form after the break when he sent Rabada packing. 

Those wickets came in the ninth over of a marathon 11-over spell, and Stokes was clearly in pain by the end of it, requiring treatment for the efforts that brought England to the brink of a sixth win in seven Tests under Brendon McCullum.

 

Broad joins Anderson at the top

Broad's first wicket of the innings might have come in bizarre fashion, but it saw him surpass Australia great McGrath as Test cricket's second-most successful seam bowler.

Partner in crime Anderson is the only paceman to have taken more wickets than Broad in the longest format, and Sunday bizarrely marked four years to the day since the 40-year-old had himself passed McGrath against India.

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