South Africa beat England by 280 runs in their final test match, although England already had the test series wrapped up and many critics have called this test a ‘dead rubber’.
South Africa began the test match in a positive fashion, scoring 475 runs, including centuries from the debutant Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla and AB De Villliers, before being bowled out. Ben Stokes was the pick of the English bowlers from the first innings taking 86-4 from 27 overs, adding to his all-round credentials, especially after winning Man of the Series.
England, in reply, only managed 342 runs, not least due to the outstanding bowling from Kagiso Rabada, who took seven wickets. South Africa then declared their second innings at 248-5 which meant that they had a lead of 381 to defend. Even though this would have been a difficult target for the English to achieve, nobody expected what would materialise.
Indeed, England fell short in spectacular manner, where, once again, the aforementioned Rabada was the pick of the bowlers, taking six wickets, in an innings which saw the English lose their last seven wickets for just 43 runs.
Despite this, captain Alistair Cook was not alarmed by the defeat, stating that:
Whether that’s [the loss] the end of the tour mentality I don’t know. If you’d offered me 2-1 before the series I would have snapped your hand off.
This batting collapse should not, however, take anything away from the victory that England have achieved away in South Africa, who were, before the series, ranked the number one test side in the world. After the Ashes victory, this is another positive step forward for the ECB and everyone involved in the English game.
There will now be an ODI series against South Africa consisting of five matches followed by two Twenty20 matches ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup which begins, for England, on the 16th March, against Chris Gayle and West Indies.