Cricket: South Africa on top after Sarel Erwee half-century, Kagiso Rabada five-for
South Africa 289 for 7 (Jansen 41*, Rabada 3*) lead
England 165 (Pope 73, Rabada 5-52, Nortje 3-63) by 124 runs
South Africa had refused to believe the hype around England in the build-up to this Test, and they found contributors from all quarters while maintaining the ascendency on day two at Lord’s – defying a typically talismanic display from Ben Stokes as the home side attempted to Baz-brawl their way back into contention.
The tourists had assumed the dominant position as Sarel Erwee’s composed half-century built on the efforts of the visiting attack. Kagiso Rabada claimed a spot on the Lord’s honours board while wrapping up England’s innings inside the first hour, and South Africa were just two wickets down and approaching parity when play resumed after tea.
But Stokes orchestrated a response during the evening session, taking three of the five wickets to fall and once again leading from the front with a display of physical intensity. Erwee was dislodged by a ferocious bouncer, and Rassie van der Dussen pinned in front hanging back in expectation of the short ball; Stokes then returned at the end of the day with England flagging to break a 72-run stand for the seventh wicket.
South Africa had gone from 160 for 2 to 210 for 6, just 45 runs in front, before the late counterpunch from Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj consolidated their advantage. Maharaj was caught hooking at Stokes but Jansen showed his all-round ability with a volley of boundaries as the shadows lengthened at Lord’s.
The England fightback began with Jack Leach, whose first ball following the tea interval found Aiden Markram’s outside edge. Stokes then brought himself on for a spell of short-pitched bowling, a tactic England have employed with increasing regularity, and it did not take long to produce the desired result as Erwee, who had been unflappable for much of the day, was on the receiving end of a head-hunting bouncer that he could only glove through to the keeper.
The threat of the short ball did for van der Dussen, who was trapped on the crease by a fuller delivery and wasted a review in confirming it would have crashed into leg stump. A few overs later, Stuart Broad found Kyle Verreyne’s outside edge to record his 100th dismissal at Lord’s.
Responding to an England total that looked meagre even when placed in the context of being asked to bat in the toughest conditions of the match so far, South Africa set about their innings with a discipline that was in keeping with captain Dean Elgar’s preferred method. That did not necessarily mean playing attritionally, though, their scoring rate of 3.75 an over comfortably quicker than England’s far-flightier batting effort.
Elgar is a character with little time for frippery and there was a business-like air to his 85-run opening stand with Erwee.
The pair set about blunting England’s new-ball attack before lunch, with Elgar successfully reviewing after being given out caught behind off Broad, and then became more expansive during the afternoon session.
So comfortable was their progress, as early morning cloud gave way to bright sunshine, that it was a surprise when a stroke of bad luck contributed to Elgar’s downfall just shy of fifty.
James Anderson had begun his second spell with an unplayable delivery on off stump that left Elgar groping blindly.
But it was a much less-threatening line of attack that brought the breakthrough for England, as Elgar attempted to work away a leg-side delivery, which deflected off his thigh pad and then into his top arm before spinning back to bowl him behind his legs – a dismissal as unusual as any in the career of Anderson, who claimed his 658th Test wicket, and first as a 40-year-old.
Erwee continued in unruffled fashion, picking off drives and whips through midwicket on the way to his second 50-plus score in Tests.
The most dramatic incident before his dismissal came when Keegan Petersen went looking for a single that wasn’t there and had to be sent back, only for Broad to hurl wide of the stumps at the non-striker’s end just as Stokes raced in to try and pull off a run-out.
Petersen looked far less comfortable, barely surviving Anderson’s spell, but he lasted long enough to notch South Africa’s second successive fifty stand before being lured into flashing an edge to the cordon by Matthew Potts.
Watching England this summer had seeded the expectation that they would attempt to “Bazball” their way out of trouble on the second morning, but there was little in the way of lower-order fightback to derail South Africa.
Rabada capped a consummate display with three of the last four wickets to fall, claiming his 12th five-for in Tests and enhancing his status as one of the most-penetrative fast bowlers of all time. Jansen was also in business, as the quicks carried out Elgar’s bidding with alacrity after England had been inserted in favourable conditions on Wednesday.
The home side’s best hope of getting to a score above 200 lay with Ollie Pope, resuming on 61 not out overnight. He received another let-off in the first over of the morning, as Erwee unsuccessfully juggled a straightforward chance at first slip off the bowling of Rabada.
But with Broad setting his stall out to swing at every other ball, South Africa gained the breakthrough they were after at the other end, Pope venturing a drive against Rabada only to see the ball cannon flush into leg stump. His 73 from 102 balls was 53 runs clear of England’s next-best.
The tail eked out a few more, with Broad crashing Anrich Nortje through the covers before miscuing a Rabada slower ball gently to point. Leach then played all around a full one from Jansen to lose his off stump, and Anderson was pinned lbw first ball as Rabada finished England off.