ESPNcricinfo – Inspired by Moeen Ali it took England just 24 overs to surge to an overwhelming 241-run victory on the final morning in Durban. AB de Villiers, South Africa’s last realistic hope of salvaging something, fell in the first over of the day and there was scant resistance after that as England went 1-0 up in the first Test of an overseas series for only the second time since 2004.
Although South Africa were four down overnight, after the late dismissal of Faf du Plessis on the fourth evening, England might have expected to be made to work reasonably hard to extract the last six wickets but it all came surprisingly swiftly for them. In the end it was over 20 minutes before lunch when Morne Morkel was lbw to Stuart Broad with South Africa’s last seven wickets tumbling for 38 from the dismissal of du Plessis.
In the field, England made a habit of setting the tone early in an innings in a bowling stint. Broad removed Stiaan van Zyl second ball of the first innings then claimed Temba Bavuma second ball of the third day and Moeen continued the theme today with his third delivery of the morning when, from round the wicket, he got one to straighten at de Villiers who was playing deep in his crease. De Villiers called for the DRS – he had to, really – but the ball was pitching in line and clipping leg stump.
Jonny Bairstow had a fourth day of contrasting fortunes – a key innings of 79 followed by the missed stumping offered by de Villiers – so there was a heartening moment for him when he took the opportunity presented by Bavuma when he walked past a delivery from Moeen, which slid on past the outside edge. It was a simpler stumping chance as the ball did not spin sharply like the one Bairstow missed, but he took it confidently and his team-mates were quick to congratulate him.
Moeen had a third for the morning when the angle from round the wicket worked again as Kyle Abbott was trapped on the back foot. His seven-wicket match haul was the second best of his career after the eight he claimed against India, at the Ageas Bowl, in 2014.
Steven Finn continued his impressive work from the previous day, giving the nightwatchman Dale Steyn a working over before knocking back the off stump with a fuller delivery. Broad was the outstanding quick in the first innings, but Finn took that honour second time around.
Before play, James Anderson bowled six high-intensity overs on the outfield and appears on track to return for the Cape Town Test. That would mean a likely omission for Chris Woakes, presuming all the pacemen pull up well from their exertions here, but he at least managed to open his wicket tally for the Test – a game where he has bowled consistently at good pace – when Dane Piedt popped a catch to short leg.
With just two days between Tests, the extra few hours off England earned themselves will be welcomed by the fast bowlers but, barring the lack of a century and Bairstow’s two errors, it is South Africa with all the problems heading into the New Year Test at Newlands. It has been a 2015 to forget in Test cricket for South Africa, but a year of transition for England’s five-day outfit has concluded with a significant success.
Scores: England 303 (Compton 85, Taylor 70, Steyn 4-70, Morkel 4-76) and 326 (Bairstow 79, Root 73, Piedt 5-153) beat South Africa 214 (Elgar 118, Broad 4-25, Moeen 4-69) and 174 (Finn 4-42) by 241 runs.
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