When England and South Africa met in the 4 match Basil D’Oliveria Trophy the stage was set for both the teams to move up the ICC test championship table and improve upon their performances in the previous series. However, it was the English who swept the series 3-1, after losing the first series opener.
While people may argue that South Africa lacked the venom post the retirement of their big guns, England too was not at their best over the last one year. They had a humiliating tour to Caribbean, losing the Tests 2-1 before surrendering to Kane Williamson’s men 1-0 in November. Moreover, though English team began the tour as favourites, the start was a not a promising one.
First, they lost their key players to illness which saw them go down in the first Test by 107 runs, then they suffered a huge setback when Jofra Archer and Rory Burns were ruled out of the second Test due to injury. Things could have gone downhill for the visitors but with their back against the wall, the English side turned up and scripted a remarkable turnaround to notch up an impressive 3-1 series victory.
The series win was England’s third consecutive series win in the rainbow nation. It also earned England 90 championship points and took them to the third spot behind India and Australia in the ICC Test Championship points table.
Series In Numbers
Pic Credit – Yahoo
This was England’s second overseas victory in the last 4 years but considering the fact that they won their last three matches by 189 runs, an innings and 53 runs and 191 runs respectively, it shows how dominant they were post their defeat at Centurion. Their dominance can also be understood by the fact that 3 of the top 5 highest run scorers of the series were from their side.
On the batting front, Wicket Keeper Batsman Quinton de Kock (who fought the lone battle from the South Africa) topped the list with 380 runs in 4 matches with an average of 47.50 followed by Dominic Sibley (324 runs at 54), Ben Stokes (318 runs at 43.42) and Joe Root (317 runs at 45). For South Africa, Rassie van der Dussen was their second highest run scorer with 274 runs.
In the bowling department, two South African’s Anrich Nortje and Kasiso Rabada occupied the first two spots with 18 wickets at 27.11 and 14 wickets at 28.92 respectively. However, numbers doesn’t always show the real story. Isn’t it? Nortje and Rabada averaged far more than two of England’s best bowlers in the series, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood who accounted for 14 and 12 wickets at 19.42 and 13.58 respectively. Moreover, all the three hundreds and four of the five century stands scored in the series was made by the English batsman which speaks volume of their dominant performance.
The problem with South Africa was their inability to convert their starts into big scores. 23 times South Africa batsman touched the 30 run mark in the series and only 10 of them were converted to half centuries. England, on the other hand, converted 12 of the 30’s into fifties which also included three centuries. Three of England’s batsmen scored more than 300 runs in the series in contrast to South Africa’s one.
As a team, England notched up scores of 499, 400 and 399 while South Africa managed a highest of 284. For a team that didn’t cross 300, this drubbing was inevitable. Also, English bowlers took more 5 wicket hauls than the South Africans. England registered a total of 4 fifers in comparison to South Africa’s three.
Plenty of Positives For England
Pic Credit: The Independent
In terms of performance, Ollie Pope and Mark wood were a huge plus for England. Pope finished the tour with 266 runs in 5 innings of the 3 tests he played at an average of 88.67, highest in the series, including a test hundred.
Along with Pope, it was a fairy-tale series for Mark Wood too. This was his first consecutive tests since 2017 and the pacer backed it up with two back to back match winning performances which also saw him register his career best figures of 9-100 in Johannesburg.
Another plus for England was Dominic Sibley who showed great determination and scored 324 runs at an average of 54 including his maiden Test hundred. Sibley faced a total of 784 balls, highest in the series.
Tough Road Ahead For South Africa
Pic Credit: Cricket.com.au
The series loss meant that South Africa has lost 8 of their last 9 Test and their chances of getting their hands on the Test championship is all but over.
The Proteas fielded 5 debutants in the series which tells you the story of their weak core. South Africa needs time, and as Faf pointed out that they’re in a rebuilding face and it’ll take time for them to get out of this transition.
For England though, they have a pretty settled unit and with new guys such as Ollie Pope, Dominic Bess, and Dominic Sibley coming in and performing, they have a bright future ahead.
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