England vs South Africa, 1st Investec Test
Dean Elgar followed his England counterpart, Joe Root, in providing a captain’s example for South Africa at Lord’s, as his unbeaten half-century led them to 96 for 2 at tea. England claimed two wickets during a sweltering afternoon session, Hashim Amla foremost among them, as Root shuffled through his six-man attack in search of further rewards.
The pace slackened in the heat, after a frantic morning session in which England added 101 to their overnight score while losing their last five wickets. Stuart Broad, who made his first Test fifty in four years, and Moeen Ali scored the majority of those runs and they also added a notch each in the wickets column. Elgar, however, produced the sort of nuggety performance that he said would be a feature of his captaincy before the Test began to keep England at bay.
He had his moments of anxiety, with a near run-out in the second over as South Africa began their reply before lunch and a wild slice wide of slip against Liam Dawson. With Root looking to build pressure by employing spin at both ends on a surface that was already betraying puffs of dust, Elgar responded by going after Dawson, ensuring his removal from the attack after sending down four overs at a cost of 29. After a morning beano with the bat, Broad claimed a wicket in his opening over of the afternoon session. Heino Kuhn, making his debut at the age of 33, could do little about a textbook delivery that swung a touch and left him off the seam before taking the edge on its way to Alastair Cook at first slip. Moeen then trapped Amla lbw, playing back to a ball that spun in to hit him in line with off stump, to end a 72-run stand with Elgar.
England’s innings of 458 appeared a solid enough foundation on which Root to begin his captaincy, though it took a pair of ticklish stands featuring Broad to get them there. Only once has a team lost a Lord’s Test after passing 400 in the first innings and Percy Chapman’s England team of 1930 had the excuse of Don Bradman being in the opposition.
Getting there was not plain sailing, however. Root’s maiden innings as Test captain was ended on 190 and Moeen fell short of a first Lord’s hundred as South Africa fought back impressively on the second morning.
Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada both claimed two wickets in three balls, either side of Moeen and Broad adding 46 for the eighth wicket. Broad then combined with James Anderson for an even livelier partnership of 45 in less than five overs to check South Africa’s momentum. Morkel was hooked into the Grand Stand from consecutive balls as Broad raised a 45-ball fifty, while Anderson did the same to Rabada, much to the enjoyment of another capacity crowd.
After Morkel struck in his second over to remove Root, who added six runs to his overnight score, and Dawson, Broad flashed and dashed with the control of a man trying to bat on a skateboard to take England careening past 400. He could have been given out lbw on 4 but South Africa chose not to review, was perhaps in control of two of his ten boundaries, and also saw Amla fail to hold a difficult slip catch off the top edge, but pulled and drove with abandon on the way to his highest score since the second-innings 65 that controversially helped to dig England out of trouble at Trent Bridge during the 2013 Ashes. South Africa’s attack were left nursing their figures, with three conceding more than 100 runs, although Morkel finished with a deserved four-for after finding a fuller length and a smidge of assistance from the pitch.
Broad’s initial partner, Moeen, looked to be continuing unflappably towards a hundred, swatting back-to-back boundaries off Vernon Philander to pass 2000 runs in Test cricket.—AFP