South Africa crush England to level Test series
|Second Investec Test, Trent Bridge, day four|
|South Africa 335 & 343-9 dec: Amla 87, Elgar 80, Moeen 4-78|
|England 205 & 133: Cook 42, Philander 3-24, Maharaj 3-42|
|South Africa won by 340 runs; series level at 1-1|
England’s batting crumbled for a second time to give South Africa a 340-run win on day four of the second Test.
Chasing an improbable 474, the home side were bowled out for 133, as only Alastair Cook (42) offered any prolonged resistance.
Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj took three wickets, while Chris Morris and Duanne Olivier claimed two apiece.
The four-match series is level at 1-1, with the third Test at The Oval beginning on 27 July.
England and new captain Joe Root have much ponder for that game, specifically the make-up of their top order and whether or not to retain left-arm spinner Liam Dawson.
For South Africa, who have not lost a series in this country since 1998, this is a first win at Trent Bridge for 52 years, in the process becoming the first touring side to win a Test on this ground for a decade.
England roll over again
A seventh defeat in 10 Tests is a horrible statistic for England, although the mitigating circumstance is that seven of those matches were played in unfamiliar subcontinental surroundings.
However, a problem going further back is a weakness when batting second. In the past 10 matches when England have fielded first, they have won only once, a run going back to 2015.
In that time, they have been unable to settle on a top-order line-up and batting was once again their undoing in this match.
Realistically, the game was lost when they were bowled out for 205 in the first innings, but the second-innings capitulation, in less than two sessions under warm sunshine, was feeble
Going down without a fight
Though the Trent Bridge surface was showing signs of wear, perhaps only Gary Ballance can say the conditions contributed to his demise.
Keaton Jennings was bowled by Philander, leaving a huge gap between bat and pad, while Ballance’s stride back towards the stumps left him exposed when the same bowler got one to keep low.
The ugliest dismissal belonged to Jonny Bairstow, who tried to hit left-arm spinner Maharaj over the top and was held at mid-on.
The strokes of Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad were nearly as poor, with both men caught playing sweep shots.
The last five wickets went down for 11 runs, the last three without an addition to the score.
Paceman Olivier got numbers 10 and 11 – Mark Wood and James Anderson – in successive balls. England lost all 10 wickets in the space of 38.4 overs.
South Africa surge back
South Africa were humbled by 221 runs in the first Test, but looked galvanised by the return of captain Faf du Plessis, who was absent at Lord’s following the birth of his child.
Their batting showed greater discipline than the home side, while their bowling was relentless and penetrative.
Philander was a menace with the new ball, relying on accuracy and movement rather than pace, but the most impressive moments of the day were conjured by Morris.
Bowling with extreme pace, he first uprooted Root’s off stump with a searing away-swinging yorker, then produced a vicious bouncer to remove the usually unflappable Cook.
All of this was achieved without suspended paceman Kagiso Rabada, who will return at The Oval to strengthen a Proteas side that has been vastly superior in Nottingham.
More to follow.