Du Plessis urges team to follow Elgar's lead in final Test

Rachel Hardy
August 6, 2017

Joe Root continued to shrug off the burdens of captaincy with yet another half-century in the fourth Investec Test but South Africa again exposed frailties in England's top order.

Out came Moeen at nine, not for the first time, and for 15 minutes he was magisterial, unfurling three silky boundaries way beyond the capabilities of a proper No9.

The dismissal sparked wild scenes as the Oval celebrated its first Test hat-track in its 100th match - and the first by an English spinner since Tom Goddard in 1938.

South Africa will look to Hashim Amla for a big contribution after the star batsman twice fell cheaply to England debutant seamer Toby Roland-Jones in south London.

Yet it would have been so much worse had it not been for three gritty knocks from Cook, Root and particularly Stokes, whose battling effort, latterly in company with Jonny Bairstow, very almost saw off the second new ball as the sun stretched across Old Trafford.

Despite losing Malan and Root, England fought back through Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow's 65-run partnership, during which Stokes surpassed his fifty.

The paceman's cricketing home has never been his favourite hunting ground in Test matches but by taking four cheap wickets on another sunny Manchester afternoon he registered his best figures here (four for 33).

Anderson was, by a margin, England's best pace bowler, as the hosts methodically wore down any South African resistance.

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After England were justifiably criticised for their reckless batting during their embarrassing 340-run defeat at Trent Bridge, they needed to find a No. 3 with a sound technique and an excellent temperament to replace the injured and incapable Gary Ballance. He defended well on both occasions, hardly played any reckless shots and exuded calmness throughout his patient accumulation of runs.

Westley, in just his second Test, walked out to join Essex colleague Cook with England 35 for one in the 13th over.

The touring side, who began the day on 117-4, always knew history was against them, with a team starting the final day of a Test four wickets down having secured draws only three times. But then he edged to second slip off fast bowler Rabada.

"He is a very level-headed guy, he's got a very strong character and throughout he has been very much the same in the way he has approached his training and each game", said Root. He might not have got too many in the previous test, but dropping him could be a disaster.

After passing 5000 runs by driving Morkel and then bringing up 50, there was no escape for Root when Olivier had him plum in front, but the television umpire did spare Bairstow late in the day, replays appearing to show that an edge from Maharaj did not carry to Dean Elgar.

But victory at Old Trafford would at least ensure South Africa maintains a proud away Test record.

The Fourth Test starts on 4 August.
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Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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