England v South Africa: How the Test series was won
England triumph in series of huge momentum shifts
By David Ruse
Last Updated: 14/08/17 8:59am
England are toasting a first home win over South Africa in a Test series since 1998 after a Moeen Ali-inspired, 177-run victory in the final game at Old Trafford.
The series featured more twists and turns than a nightclub dancefloor - England's hammerings of the Proteas at Lord's and The Oval sandwiching a thrashing by the tourists at Trent Bridge.
So, as England look ahead to the three-Test tussle with West Indies - starting with the day-night encounter at Edgbaston on August 17 - let's look back at how they beat South Africa 3-1…
What you probably want as a new captain leading your side into a Test series for the first time is a slice of luck. Joe Root received one on day one at Lord's, when JP Duminy - with, unfortunately for him, his most notable contribution of the series - spilled the England skipper at gully on 16. A mere 174 runs later, South Africa had their man…
Root became the sixth Englishman to score a century in his maiden Test in charge, following in the footsteps of MacLaren, Lamb, Strauss, Pietersen and Cook, with his total of 190 lifting England, who were 76-4 and 190-5 up to 458, Moeen Ali (87) and Stuart Broad (57no) having fun at the end and James Anderson even hitting a six!
Spin took over from that point, with Ali and Keshav Maharaj bagging four wickets apiece in the following two innings and then Ali nabbing a six-for in the fourth - and completing his maiden 10-wicket haul in Tests - as South Africa, set 331 to win, wilted to 119 all out. England had downed the Proteas for the first time at HQ since 1960 and had all the momentum…
And they quickly lost it! South Africa were shorn of the banned Kagiso Rabada but reinforced by Faf du Plessis, the skipper returning following paternity leave. The batting line-up that had laboured in London stood up in Nottingham with two scores in excess of 300, Hashim Amla notching a brace of fifties, sealing them both with sixes off Liam Dawson.
England were not so adept with the blade, earning strong criticism from Nasser Hussain after folding to 205 and 133 all out, Root the only man to pass fifty in either innings for the hosts, the captain striking a brisk 78 from 76 balls in his first dig, before being undone by a corking yorker from the recalled Chris Morris second time around.
Anderson was a rare bright spot for Root's side, collecting his 300th Test scalp in England when Dean Elgar cracked him to backward point, bagging his 22nd five-wicket haul in Tests and seventh at Trent Bridge. The batting failings, though, which culminated in England lasting just 44.2 overs in their second innings, meant South Africa had all the momentum….
And they quickly lost it! In a series of dramatic swings, it was a composed century by Ben Stokes - his most responsible in an England jersey, according to Hussain - and a typically defiant 88 from Alastair Cook that lifted the hosts to an above-par 353 on a fruity Oval track, South Africa hamstrung by swing king Vernon Philander battling tummy trouble.
Stokes' efforts were made to look even more impressive when South Africa were shot out for 175, Toby Roland-Jones, one of three debutants, alongside Middlesex colleague Dawid Malan and Essex batsman Tom Westley, ousting five of the Proteas' top six on a bow to remember, Temba Bavuma (52) the only man to provide any proper resistance.
England declared, eventually, in their second innings with a lead of 491 - Westley completing a debut fifty - before their much-vaunted all-rounders Stokes and Ali came to the fore. Stokes dismissing Quinton de Kock and Du Plessis in the space of two balls to rip the heart out of the innings and Ali ending it with a hat-trick, rendering Elgar's doughty 136 in vain in The Oval's 100th Test. England had all the momentum...
And they didn't ship it! Having become the first England spinner to complete a hat-trick in 79 years - Tom Goddard the previous, also against South Africa, in 1938/39 - Ali underlined his ever-growing importance to the side by setting up a series-sealing win in Manchester with a rumbustious 75 not out from 66 balls and the securing it with a five-wicket haul.
Elgar, who displayed butterfingers more than once at Old Trafford, shelled Ali at slip when the left-hander had 15 and England's lead was 295. Uber costly. Ali's dashing knock, which included Jonny Bairstow catching the six that sealed his fifty on the England balcony, propelled Root's boys to a lead of 379, before Morne Morkel (4-41) ousted last man Anderson.
South Africa threatened to make things interesting when Amla and Du Plessis shared a fourth-wicket stand of 123 but when the former was pinned lbw by Ali, the Proteas folded, Ali dismissing Morne Morkel and Duanne Oliver from successive balls to end the contest. Moeen was promptly named England's Man of the Series after becoming the first man to take 25 wickets and score more than 250 runs in a four-match Test series. Second spinner, you say…