A shambles at Lord’s the previous week, the tourists reduced England to rubble without arguably their best bowler thanks to captain’s inspired leadership
Faf du Plessis has been the captain with the Midas touch since his return to the South African camp on the final morning of the chastening defeat at Lord’s last week, with their resurgent series-levelling performance in Nottingham covered in his gilded fingerprints.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the leader who oversaw a 2-1 away series in Australia last year, and shrugged off an almighty ball-tampering row with a combative century in Adelaide, should have an impact on this series but the difference has been palpable, not least given that their head coach, Russell Domingo, is back home following a bereavement.
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• Coach watched in disbelief as side collapsed against South Africa
• Captain hits back at ‘very unfair’ criticism from Michael Vaughan
Joe Root said his England side must learn quickly from their series-levelling 340-run defeat by South Africa after a grim collapse on the fourth day in Nottingham that their head coach, Trevor Bayliss, watched in disbelief and described as a “shocker”.
England now head to the third Test at The Oval next week with the series level at one apiece and questions swirling over their inconsistency – they have lost seven of their past 10 Tests and followed their last three victories with a defeat – and a fragile batting line-up that was bowled out for 133 in 44.2 overs chasing a fanciful 474 to win.
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• Moeen backs England to bat for two days to escape with at least a draw
• ‘Cookie, when he gets in, is hard to get out and hopefully we will see that’
Moeen Ali on Sunday night optimistically talked up England’s chances of batting six sessions and escaping from Trent Bridge with at least a draw, provided Alastair Cook can survive the new ball and produce an epic innings that lays the platform for the remainder of the batting order.
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South Africa batsman followed a first-innings 78 with a controlled 87 spread over 180 balls that demonstrated old-fashioned virtues of bedding in
For a little while now the talk has been of a big four in Test cricket, with Steve Smith, Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli seemingly locked in a game of musical chairs at the top of the batting rankings as the premier players of this generation.
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• Bowler’s five-wicket haul undone by team’s performance with bat
• ‘We’ll try and make sure it doesn’t happen again’
Jimmy Anderson had little time to savour a seventh five-wicket haul at his happy hunting ground of Trent Bridge, describing England’s chastening second day against South Africa as one they must learn from quickly if they are to become harder to beat.
Solidity was Joe Root’s stated aim on assuming the captaincy in February. But two Tests into his tenure England have demonstrated their inconsistency once more, going from a romping four-day victory at Lord’s to a desperate situation in Nottingham, where South Africa will resume their second inningson Sunday 205 runs ahead for the loss of one wicket.
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The captain’s attacking response to his side being three for two was England’s only bright spot on a day when South Africa revitalised the Test series
The honours board that sits up high in the Long Room of the history-soaked pavilion at Trent Bridge does not record scores of 78 but in just shy of two hours at the crease Joe Root delivered a gem of an innings that, while ending in personal disgust, should not pass without mention.
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• Yorkshireman had not kept for six weeks before South Africa series
• Bairstow took spectacular legside catch to dismiss Faf du Plessis
Jonny Bairstow has shown fine form with the gloves at the start of the series with South Africa, putting this down to the break from keeping wicket while part of the England one-day set-up rather than any additional hard work in training.
After a near flawless performance in the win at Lord’s, which featured an acrobatic leg-side catch to start South Africa’s fourth-day collapse and some tidy work standing up to the stumps on a spinning track, the Yorkshireman took this through to Trent Bridge.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/14/england-south-africa-jonny-bairstow-keeping-safely
Nottingham has been a charm for England in recent years but fans settled for a brilliant battle between the home bowlers and visiting batsmen
The MCC World Cricket Committee sounded a warning about the future health of Test cricket last week but beyond this startling top line was a reminder from the think-tank led by Mike Brearley that there remains so much to be celebrated about the longest form of the game.
An undulating first day at Trent Bridge was the latest example of what a compelling spectacle it remains, with England and South Africa wrestling for control throughout the course of three gripping sessions, trading punch and counterpunch before the tourists eventually closed on a competitive if not indomitable 309 for six.
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