33rd over: South Africa 99-7 (Jansen 30, Maharaj 14) How has Broad not got a wicket in this over? Well, because he hasn’t hit the stumps, pads or outside edge. He’s come close, though. That final ball was a jaffa, moving away from Maharaj off a perfect length. Earlier in the over Maharaj takes a wild swipe at a bumper and then keeps out an in-swinging yorker. That was about as fun as a wicketless maiden can be.
Do I owe Foakes an apology? Steve Hoare has a different view on that dropped catch:
“On TV slomo they showed how the seam changed direction just before it got to Foakes. It changed the direction of the ball. Maybe shoulda still caught it but it looks less like a howler and more like a weird ball that just fooled him.”
I’m digging my heels in and doubling down! A howler I say! An absolutely howler!
32nd over: South Africa 99-7 (Jansen 30, Maharaj 14) Short, pulled, BANG, four. Maharaj has clattered that Robinson bumper in front of square. Stokes then sends Leach out to patrol the fence and Maharaj takes on the short ball again. Absolute mad man! Lucky for him he doesn’t catch all of it and it reaches Leach after a couple of bounces. England reverting to their old ball tactics again. Jansen is more circumspect and is able to ride the bounce with more comfort. He starts the over with a single and moves into the 30s.
31st over: South Africa 93-7 (Jansen 29, Maharaj 9) Who’d be a bowler? Broad saw two edges go down in his last over and this time he’s a witness to Maharaj carving him to the point boundary with a dashing stroke. Broad also pushes one down the leg side. He looks a little grumpier than he did 20 minutes ago.
“Hi Daniel.” Hi Andy Cosgrove. All good with you?
“To help me visualise how easy the Foakes drop was, if it had been Buttler, how many paragraphs in tomorrow’s match report would it have taken up?”
I can envisage thousands of words committed to this single act. That was a howler from Foakes.
“How much cricket do you think we lost yesterday? There was a huge dump of rain mid-to-late morning in my part of London. I know the Oval drains quickly, but the ground must be quite wet to start with after the last few days, so I’m guessing there would have been very little play, if any, even without the death of the monarch.”
We definitely would have lost some cricket yesterday, but the way these teams bat there would have been enough time to get through half an innings at least.
30th over: South Africa 89-7 (Jansen 29, Maharaj 4) Jansen might have been fortunate with his boundary in the last over but there was nothing lucky about this shot to Robinson. It’s a proper half volley but the lanky lad gets well forward and clatters it back past the bowler. Robinson responds with an effort ball bouncer and Jansen ducks underneath it. What’s more, it’s a front foot no-ball. A rare win for South Africa against Robinson.
Interesting stats over here. I still think Foakes is a fine ‘keeper, but this isn’t great reading. Would love to know the reason behind these numbers.
29th over: South Africa 83-7 (Jansen 25, Maharaj 4) Jansen
could should be sitting down with his mates in the shed. Instead he’s still out there after Foakes shelled a sitter. Jansen gets more luck a few balls later as another edge flights towards Pope at third slip but he’s unable to hold on as it reaches him at boot level and the ball trickles for four.
OK, it wasn’t the easiest catch in the world, but at this level that was a gimme. Broad finds the outside edge of Jansen and it moves towards Foakes who has to move to his right. The ball swerved a little and it hit his right thigh. Broad scowls at his ‘keeper. Finally some luck for the Saffas.
28th over: South Africa 79-7 (Jansen 21, Maharaj 4) Bang on, again, from Robinson. Maharaj plinks a drive off the front foot and times another off the back foot but picks out the man at cover point. He eventually finds a gap towards fine leg and takes two, moving his total Test tally to 1,000 runs.
27th over: South Africa 77-7 (Jansen 21, Maharaj 2) Another really good over from Broad. These are ideal conditions to be a tall seam bowler. Just one run for Maharaj as pushes one past mid-off. Janse is thumped on the pad but it’s always rising.
26th over: South Africa 76-7 (Jansen 21, Maharaj 1) Robinson is back from the end that saw him cause absolute carnage in his opening spell. He’s on the money, inviting the drive, moving it off the seam, extracting bounce. Lovely bowling. Jansen is takes three runs – first with a couple through cover and another down the ground – before Maharaj scampers a single to get off the mark with a cheekily scampered run. Still, it’s probing stuff and Robinson beats Jansen with a bit of nibble away off the deck.
That is not what South Africa needed straight after lunch. The final ball of the first over of the session kicks enough off a back of a length and takes the shoulder of Zondo’s blade. The ball loops to Lees at backward point and the last recognised batter for South Africa has to depart. He survived an lbw review earlier in the over, with replays showing the ball sliding down leg, but he’s gone now. Broad has kicked things off with a tight line targeting the stumps. Zondo might as well keep his whites on. My guess he’ll be back on the park sooner rather than later.
25th over: South Africa 72-7 (Jansen 18, Maharaj 0)
What a session for England as they ripped out the South African top order. 1, 0, 12, 11, 0, 3. Those are the scores of the six men dismissed. More impressive numbers belong to Robinson who claimed figures of 8-2-21-4 in a spell of bowling that was as good as anything seen on this ground.
Apart from Mulder, who gifted his wicket away with an ugly swipe away from his body, and perhaps Petersen, who shouldered arms to a straight one from Robinson, all the South Africans were got out by wonderful seam bowling. Anderson and Broad picked up one each with Foakes snaffling four catches behind the stumps.
A partnership of 33 is building for the seventh wicket between Zondo and Jansen, but they have a lot of work yet to do.
We all wondered if three days was enough time for a result. On this evidence we’ll have more than enough.
I’m off to grab a bite. Catch you after the break.
24th over: South Africa 69-6 (Zondo 21, Jansen 17) That Anderson maiden brings us to the close of the first session as the teams head into lunch. England’s session by some distance.
23rd over: South Africa 69-6 (Zondo 21, Jansen 17) A maiden from Leach as he bowls round the wicket to Jansen. Not much flight, which is surprising as I’d expect he’d look to get it above Jansen’s eye line. But there is drift, which Jansen watches carefully and bunts back with a delicate touch.
22nd over: South Africa 69-6 (Zondo 21, Jansen 17) Three runs for Jansen off this Anderson over. There’s two down the ground from a hard push and another on towards the leg side from the back foot. Jansen said that he wants to be regarded as a genuine all-rounder and he’s looking to back his words up with hard graft.
“This is not a Mariana Trench of a collapse,” says Steve Taylor, referencing my admittedly cliched line earlier on. “It is an England of a collapse! You know that if we took up one of the things the Germans do so well, Englandtestcollapse would be a single word. It’s great of the Saffers to pay such homage to their hosts at such a difficult time.”
Bravo Steve. Love that correspondence.
21st over: South Africa 66-6 (Zondo 21, Jansen 14) Spin now, with Jack Leach entering the scene. Zondo is more than happy to deal with him and the batter skips down the track and plays a gorgeous lofted drive over mid off for six. A cricket stroke of real quality as he held his shape superbly. There’s another display of expert batting with a scything cut shot that beats the man sweeping on the off side. Zondo is a relatively short man and plays spin well. There are two examples of that. Just a few overs to go til lunch. These two really need to hang about.
No matter what, you can always rely on English cynicism.
“In placation of the vengeful jinxing gods of hubris can I humbly suggest that Rob Durbin is some sort of mischievous interloper who in no way represents the perennially scarred England supporter. Just saying”
Say away, Brian Withington. Say away.
20th over: South Africa 56-6 (Zondo 11, Jansen 14) A rare loose ball from Anderson brings out an ugly hack from Zondo. Maybe he was surprised by the width on offer and felt he had to do something. He does get a single off the final ball with a dab past point.
19th over: South Africa 55-6 (Zondo 10, Jansen 14) Just the one off that Broad over. That’s off the bat of Zondo off the final ball as he moves into double figures. Great little chat with Barney now about the external pressures Zondo faces. Being a black batter means something in South Africa. He’s carrying a lot on his shoulders. Not that he’ll be thinking of that right now. Surviving til lunch is his only concern.
18th over: South Africa 54-6 (Zondo 9, Jansen 14) That’s the end of Robinson’s opening spell with figures of 8-3-21-4. Unreal. Anderson comes back into the attack and starts with a maiden to Jansen. There’s an appeal for lbw but he never really looked convinced. Sliding down I reckon. Tight on the stumps throughout and Jansen more or less keeps it out.
“Those 20 quid tickets on Monday looking an absolute steal.” That’s if we get there, ‘Showbizguru’.
“What a time to have Covid!” Ah. Hope you clear up as swiftly as a South African batting collapse.
17th over: South Africa 54-6 (Zondo 9, Jansen 14) Broad hasn’t been as consistent as the other two bowlers but he’s still bowled the occasional peach. One at the top of the over beat Zondo all ends up. And then again to close out the over. Between that he strays on the pads and Zondo squeezes a couple towards the leg side.
Credit for the men in the white hats? This from Kieron Shaw raises a good point:
“After those two Broad reviews, it occurs to me again that when a team’s confident review reveals the umpire having been correct all along, there should really be a round of impressed applause from the crowd for the umpire.
“They don’t get much, umpires. And the best ones have such an incredible symphony of sensory instincts – able to capture and tease apart tiny variations in height and length, and multiple minor sounds and visuals, all in a nanosecond. So when the technology shows them to have been slightly off, it’s very unfair. It would feel very cricket for the crowd to graciously acknowledge when the umpire has in fact displayed terrific instincts, proving everyone else in the ground wrong. “
Fully agree with you Kieron. It’s a tough job and we’re quick to give them grief when they get it wrong. Maybe you can start a movement?
16th over: South Africa 52-6 (Zondo 7, Jansen 14) At last, some genuine quality from a South African batter. That is as good an on drive as you’ll see from the lanky Jansen who gets forward and eases Robinson down the ground for four. The ball before a mean bouncer thwacked him on the shoulder and later in the set he almost feathers an outside edge. But fair play to the tall, young lad. He’s showing some fight.
Well, that explains a thing or two
15th over: South Africa 48-6 (Zondo 7, Jansen 10) A (comparative) deluge of runs from Jansen’s bat. First a strong flick to the midwicket fence and then another worth three that forces Jack Leach to run round from fine leg and sweep up. There’s a review for lbw but, as Ali Martin next to me pointed out, “you know it wasn’t out because Broad appealed [in the direction of the umpire]”. Indeed. It was going over Zondo’s leg stump. Two reviews burned now for England.
It was a moving morning with tear jerking renditions of the anthems as the teams paid their respects to the Queen. Simon Burnton was there to capture the moment:
14th over: South Africa 41-6 (Zondo 7, Jansen 3) Quality again from Robinson. This is McGrath-like. Wonderful bowling and what a spectacle. Not if you’re South African, mind. Jansen is off the mark with a push through mid on worth two and takes another one through that same vacant area. Zondo then does well not to nick Robinson from a lifter off a good length.
13th over: South Africa 37-6 (Zondo 7, Jansen 0) Oooh, there’s an appeal for caught behind off the inside edge of Jansen’s blade. Broad and Foakes are convinced and Stokes wastes no time reviewing. Nothing doing. No bat or flick of the pocket. Not sure what they heard. No matter. Broad is tidy and threatening after Zondo’s nudge for one down to fine leg.
Rob Durbin, that is a ripper of an email, mate:
“May I cheekily suggest that assuming England rissole the SA lower order fairly cheaply they declare their first innings at 0-0, bowl SA again and knock off the runs before tea time?”
You know what, that is brilliant. Go on Ben Stokes. Do it!
12th over: South Africa 36-6 (Zondo 6, Jansen 0) I’m running out of ways to describe South Africa’s predicament. A deep, dark hole doesn’t cut it. This is the Mariana Trench of a batting collapse. Robinson picks up a wicket with a loose ball but to be fair, he could have got one earlier in his set with another jaffa that lifted and moved and almost took Mulder’s outside edge. He has four now.
First a word, now a phrase. John Starbuck is in an inventive mode:
“Coining another saying: ‘into the tail before lunch’ – sounds like a whole-animal chef’s preparation.”
I’ve said before that the South Africans hadn’t done much wrong despite the scorecard. Until now. That is a dreadful shot from Mulder, regardless of the context of the game. It’s a wide one from Robinson and the right hander wafts at it without moving his feet. It catches the edge and Foakes takes his fourth catch of the morning. Dreadful from Mulder. He might as well keep his whites on. At this rate he’ll be out there again shortly.
Time for a hero.
“Zondo and Mulder sounds like a terrible X-Files spin off”,” says Miranda Jollie. Dean Elgar will hope these two inexperienced players can bend time and space to rescue his team.