South Africa thrash England as ‘Bazball’ era comes back down to earth

LONDON: South Africa inflicted England’s first defeat of the ‘Bazball’ era as they won the first Test by crushing innings and 12 runs with more than two days to spare at Lord’s on Friday.

England were dismissed for 149 in their second innings before tea on the third day, with the Proteas effectively winning the game in six sessions after most of Wednesday’s first day was lost to rain.

Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj struck twice before fast bowler Anrich Nortje followed up with a superb spell of three wickets for no runs in 10 balls as the visitors, leaders of the World Test Championship table, took a 1-0 lead in a three-match series.

England had won all four of their previous Tests under the new leadership of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, after whom ‘Bazball’ is named.

Each of those wins, however, came after batting aggressively in the fourth innings, rather than having to set a total and before this match, South Africa captain Dean Elgar questioned whether a policy of all-out attack would work against his formidable bowling line-up.

But although former captain Andrew Strauss said England had folded like a “deck of cards” it wasn’t until Stokes joined forces with Stuart Broad, who hooked Nortje for six, during a seventh-wicket stand of 55 that they batted in ‘Bazball’ style.

England’s top order were simply overpowered on a sunny day during an innings that lasted just three hours and was finished inside 38 overs.

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