James Anderson struck late on the second day to maintain England’s ascendancy over South Africa in the first Test after Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali had done the earlier damage for the home side at Lord’s. Anderson snaffled out a 99-run stand between Temba Bavuma and Theunis de Bruyn that threatened to haul South Africa back into the match, removing the latter batsman to leave the tourists on 214 for five at the close of play.
South Africa still trailed England’s first-innings total by 244 runs, with Bavuma unbeaten on 48 and nightwatchman Kagiso Rabada on nine not out. There is still much work for England to do on a surface that offered them little more than the odd turning ball, but they have showed enough ingenuity to suggest that they can do a job against a brittle-looking South African batting lineup.
Broad and Ali caused the problems for South Africa in the morning when England extended their innings to 458, and they did the same with the ball in the afternoon. While Dean Elgar and Heino Kuhn saw South Africa through to lunch without any damage after England had been bowled out, Broad struck in his first over after the break when he got one to seam away from the debutant, whose edge was pouched by Alastair Cook at first slip.
Elgar and Hashim Amla, two of just three senior batsmen in the South African lineup, put on an encouraging stand of 72 over the next hour and a half, seeing off the new ball in the process. Elgar was unusually fluid by his own standards, sweeping Liam Dawson and driving the seamers well down the ground as he went to fifty from 90 deliveries.
But Ali won the battle of the beards when he trapped Amla (29) lbw with his first delivery to the right-hander. After tea he changed ends and struck again, as Elgar pushed too forcefully and was caught by Gary Ballance at short leg for 54. Ali had passed 2,000 Test runs in the morning, and Elgar’s wicket gave him 100 dismissals in just his 38th Test, making him the second quickest Englishman to reach both landmarks and the fifth overall.
When Broad trapped JP Duminy plumb lbw for 15, South Africa were 104 for four and in a familiar position. In three of their previous four Test innings they were at least four wickets down by the time they had reached that score.
They desperately needed a contribution from Bavuma and de Bruyn, but they only half got one. The pair saw off the rest of a probing spell from Broad and also took on the spinners with success, which allowed them some breathing space against an old ball.
De Bruyn survived a tight lbw call to Mark Wood, but otherwise there was a fair degree of composure from the right-hander in his first Test outing in the middle order, where he is accustomed to playing in domestic cricket. Bavuma also showed good touch, hitting just two fours but still managing to move the scoreboard along.
Things changed when Broad and James Anderson bowled in tandem and the runs began to dry up. An errant waft of the bat saw de Bruyn edge behind for 48 as the partnership was ended on 99, leaving South Africa to rebuild once more when the third day’s play gets underway.
Much like their first day, when England scored 357 for five, South Africa’s morning was a mixed affair. They dismissed Joe Root after he had added just six runs to his overnight 184, and built some rhythm with two double-strikes, but let themselves down at crucial moments once again.
Morne Morkel made the initial breakthroughs, finding the edge of Root’s bat before trapping Dawson lbw two balls later. But South Africa’s chance to get on a roll and keep England below 400 was spurned when umpire Paul Reiffel turned down an lbw appeal from Vernon Philander against Broad. South Africa elected not to review, and replays showed that Broad should have been out.
With that reprieve, a period of all-or-nothing cricket began from both teams. South Africa set attacking fields for their seamers, and Broad and Ali looked to take advantage of the gaps. They had put on 46 when Rabada made the next double-strike, bowling Ali for 87 and then trapping Mark Wood lbw for a duck.
At 413 for nine England’s innings looked set to be wrapped up, but Broad increased the strength of his counterattack and South Africa lost their heads. They began dropping short rather than targeting the wickets, and Broad was only too happy to take up the challenge. He slashed and hooked his way to fifty in 45 balls – his first half-century since 2013 – at which point even Anderson joined the fun, advancing down the pitch to pull Rabada over midwicket for six.
Morkel eventually ended the fun when Anderson edged behind to Quinton de Kock, leaving Broad unbeaten on 57. Morkel thus finished with figures of 4 for 115, though Philander was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 67. Once again though, it was difficult not to wonder what might have been for South Africa had they taken their chances and run with the momentum that was generated at various points of the innings.