After the defeat of an innings and 53 runs at the Port Elizabeth, sports pundits and fans expected Proteas to make a comeback at the Wanderers Stadium in Illovo, Johannesburg and draw the test series at 2-2. However, the South African batting line-up crumbled against England’s bowling, failing to deliver a united front and establish long and steady partnership.
The fourth match in many areas was a mirror of what happened in the last three test matches against England. Just like the previous three tests, the South African team had a control over the first innings of the fourth match until a steady partnership from England frustrated the bowlers to bowl at wrong areas, which the England batsman took advantage of.
On the contrary, Proteas failed to make steady partnerships in both its innings resulting in a defeat of 191 runs at the end of the match. Had England decided to impose follow-on on South Africa, the team would have suffered humiliating defeat like the defeat of an innings and 53 runs at the Port Elizabeth.
In this match, the steady partnership came at two intervals from England’s team in the first innings – the 101 run partnership between Joe Root and Ollie Pope and 82 run partnership for the last wicket between Mark Wood and Stuart Broad. These two partnerships helped England achieve a score of 400, in response to which Proteas could only score 183 runs.
As England decided to not impose follow-on, they converted the lead of 217 runs into a lead of 465 runs after they scored 248 runs in the second innings. Giving the host team a target of 466 runs, England bowlers managed the rest and clinched victory to name the series for themselves.
Despite the series defeat against England, considering the history of the South African cricket team and the calibre of its players, a great comeback from them is still expected. Proteas only need to move past to strengthen their batting line-up and believe in steady and long partnerships between the wickets.
Since the time of renowned legends Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis, South African team is known for reversing the tide of the match at any point and emerge victorious. After the association of Smith, Boucher and Kallis, fans and sports critics are optimistic about the chances of a comeback and maybe even winning the ICC Test Championship.