England collapsed to a 340-run defeat well inside four days as their batting failed embarrassingly once again in the second Investec Test against South Africa at Trent Bridge.
Set a world-record target of 474 in a match dominated by the tourists from the start of day two, England never got started despite perfect conditions under cloudless skies – and were bowled out before tea for a flaky 133.
After falling well short by their own admission of required standards in the first innings too, Joe Root’s team had lost all 20 wickets in 96.1 overs as South Africa emphatically levelled the four-match series at 1-1.England captain Joe Root: “It’s been contrasting emotions in the last couple of weeks. It’s really important as a side we stay tight and don’t mope or dwell too much on this. There’s obviously areas to improve and learn quickly from, we have to take the positives out of it and come back really strongly at the Oval. We’ve got to learn quickly from that and, if we find ourselves in a similar position, we have to react better than we did here. Credit has to go to South Africa, who played very well over the course of the game, but we’ve got to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Tweet of the day
Flying colours in the character test
Returning captain Faf du Plessis spoke of a “huge test of character” for his team here, after their capitulation at Lord’s and without banned strike bowler Kagiso Rabada and their coach Russell Domingo. They shaded day one, then won the next three by a landslide. They have passed with distinction.
The match was already up, realistically, when Jonny Bairstow took the brave option against Keshav Maharaj. He doubtless did not want to be a sitting duck in case the slow left-armer produced the perfect delivery, as he had to him in the first innings. The critics were in full voice after he instead plonked a catch straight to mid-on. It was not that bad an idea, to clear the ring fielder and maybe push him back on the fence at some point, but he made a horrible hash of it.
Stat of the day
96.1 – In overs, England’s collateral stay for the loss of 20 wickets. Woeful.
Pack this one away, England and Root. Make the most of a short break, report back to The Oval next Tuesday – perhaps with a personnel tweak here or there – in the knowledge that the series is still up for grabs … against very good opponents.