Proteas’ pace attack shatters England’s ‘Bazballers’
A rain disruption provided hosts England with some respite after they found themselves against the ropes in the first of three Test matches against South Africa.
Parts of England may be suffering from some of the worst droughts to hit the country in decades. However, the Proteas ensured that it rained wickets on the opening day of their first of a three-match series against the English in London.
That was before actual rain disrupted play to ease the ongoing drought and put paid to England’s batting capitulation.
The first day ended with South Africa in control after picking up six wickets, while the hosts recorded a paltry 116 runs before play was called off.
Generally reliable South African seam bowling army general Kagiso Rabada led from the front for the Proteas as he picked up two early and valuable wickets of both the English openers.
Rabada showed his class in the third over when he enticed English opener Alex Lees with a short ball outside off stump, which swung away and drew the batter into an edge. That was comfortably taken by wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne.
The star bowler wasn’t done yet though. In the ninth over, he returned to dismiss the remaining English opener, Zak Crawley.
After being hit for four in the previous over, Rabada exerted his revenge in the best way possible. He delivered a sumptuous ball, which Crawley attempted to block, but could only succeed in prodding it to the grateful hands of Aiden Markram.
Rabada, who had been a doubt for the first Test while recovering from an ankle ligament injury, reflected on his contribution after the match.
“I didn’t know if I was going to make the first Test match or not. But luckily, I did. And this week, leading up to the first Test, I felt I could actually play. So, I’m glad that I got through it,” Rabada told journalists.
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Five overs after Rabada’s brace, the Proteas landed another body blow to the English batting unit when 22-year-old Marco Jansen trapped Joe Root leg-before-wicket (LBW).
Then pacer Anrich Nortje, who had been hit for a couple of boundaries in the preceding overs, bowled a full one – full of menace that is – uprooting the stumps of the dangerous Jonny Bairstow for a duck.
Soon after, Nortje nabbed the prized wicket of Ben Stokes. This after the England skipper had helped the home side reach the 100-run mark with a 45-run partnership alongside England’s lone shining light on day one, Ollie Pope (61 not out).
That milestone was short-lived though as Nortje zipped one in which had some late movement, with Stokes edging it to Keegan Petersen in third slip.
With that wicket, the 28-year-old concluded a highly successful first session for South Africa, before the match went to lunch. Nortje would continue charging horns first into the English’s batting pride after the lunch break.
His third wicket of the day was another Ben, this time Foakes. Once more, he delivered a pacy ball which dislodged the bails. It was Nortje’s 5oth international Test cricket wicket.
Rabada, reflecting on the Proteas’ highly effective pace attack after stumps were called, said: “We’ve always bowled the same. There was a bit in the wicket today. And I guess we got reward for putting the ball in the right areas,” he said.
“We’ve got some pace. We’ve got bounce. We’ve got guys that can swing it. So, in terms of pace attack, we have all the ingredients to be a formidable [pace attack].”
The Proteas, which sit at the summit of the World Test Championship table, will look to press on and dismiss the remaining English willow-wielders on the second day, while building momentum towards their goal of winning a first Test series against England since 2012. DM