The Standard Bank Proteas made an emphatic statement about their prospects of emulating the series-winning classes of 2008 and 2012 when they thumped England by 340 runs with more than a day and a session to spare in the second Test match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Monday.
The series is now level at 1-1 with two matches to play with the next one starting at The Oval in London on Thursday week – a venue of which the older hands in the Proteas squad will have very fond memories. On their last visit there in 2012 Hashim Amla scored a treble century, Morne Morkel put in a superb spell on the fourth evening, culminating in the wicket of Kevin Pietersen and the Proteas equalled a record by winning by an innings for the loss of only two wickets.
Their other big positive is that they will be able to select a full-strength side for the first time in the series with Kagiso Rabada coming back from his ban and no apparent injury concerns.
The return of Rabada will give the Proteas a fearsome pace attack following the superb display by all of Morkel, Vernon Philander and Chris Morris this morning. There has been criticism of England in this match for the quality of their batting, it could not be said this morning when Philander and Morris took two wickets each with high quality bowling.
Morkel was desperately unlucky not to get a wicket but the pressure he applied from the one end was significant. Philander took 2 wickets up front in the space of 19 balls, 15 of which were dot balls. Morris produced the delivery of his career to date when he bowled England captain Joe Root with a late swinging Yorker. He also accounted for England’s other big gun, Alastair Cook, and at that stage had figures of 5-3-3-2 with his two wickets coming in the space of 20 balls, including 18 dot balls.
Thereafter, England repeated their 7/62 collapse of the first innings with one of 6/61. England, in fact, batted a combined total of only 96.1 overs from their two innings.
For good measure, Duanne Olivier, who will have to make way for Rabada, finished the match with two wickets in two balls and he will continue to grow from the experience.
Philander was named Man of the match for his 96 runs and 5 wickets but in truth it was a real team performance that displayed a lot of character after the hiding at Lord’s and the unavoidable other disruptions.
It was South Africa’s third win at Trent Bridge and their first since unity. It was also by far their biggest winning margin. (CSA Media)