Moeen Ali was the enforcer again as England surged to a four-day victory over South Africa at Old Trafford and delivered a 3-1 success in new captain Joe Root’s maiden series.
Moeen (five for 69), who kick-started England’s campaign with a 10-wicket haul at Lord’s and then finished the Oval Test in the blink of an eye with a hat-trick, this time ended proceedings with a mere two wickets in two balls as James Anderson (three for 16) also chipped in appropriately to consign the tourists to defeat by 177 runs.
The off-spinner’s intervention was badly needed as Hashim Amla (83) and Faf du Plessis (61) hinted briefly at significant resistance, and even sowed fleeting doubts about the inevitability of a home win as they got worryingly comfortable in a fourth-wicket stand of 123.
England captain Joe Root was only seven years old the last time South Africa lost a Test series on these shores, a 2-1 home win over five Tests in 1998. By contrast England’s skipper in that series, Alec Stewart, turned 54 earlier this year.
Ball of the day
Stuart Broad turned in an irresistible spell with the new ball but looked as though he may have to settle for moral victories and near misses. Then he speared one in at Dean Elgar from the round the wicket to the left-hander, who had little option but to play and hope for the best. The inevitable edge followed, all the way into Jonny Bairstow’s gloves.
What’s in a name?
Thirteen years after his first Test appearance at his home ground, and seven matches down the line, Anderson returned his career-best figures at Emirates Old Trafford, claiming seven for 54. All it needed was for Lancashire to rebrand part of the ground in honour of the Burnley boy, who began the game by appearing at a presentation at the newly-christened James Anderson End.
Tweet of the day:
Injured South Africa seamer Dale Steyn (@dalesteyn62) hails the close catching work of Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes as they share four sharp takes in the tourists’ collapse.
For South Africa this long and gruelling tour of England, which started with a warm-up match in Hove on May 19 and took in an unsuccessful Champions Trophy as well as defeats in all three formats, is finally over. A spell licking their wounds and sifting through some weak links in the side will now be in order before returning to the fray at home to Bangladesh at the end of next month.
As for England, matters turn with haste to the first ever day/night Test match in this country. The West Indies are the opponents at a floodlit Edgbaston and much of that time will be spent acclimatising to those new conditions and working with the pink Dukes ball.