England leveled their four-match series against South Africa with a pulsating 189-run final-day victory in Cape Town on Tuesday, meaning it is all to play for in the final two Tests.
After such an enthralling win, there were plenty of talking points and much for coach Chris Silverwood to take on board. With that in mind, here are five things we learnt from the second Test…
1. Five-day Tests still get the blood pumping
There has been a lot of talk throughout the cricketing world about reducing Test matches to four days. This has already been trialed in some series and is deemed something that may generate more interest in the game.
However, the events at Newlands are proof that five-day Tests can still produce drama and excitement of the highest order.
2. Dom Sibley is providing answers
Rory Burns has established himself as England’s opener over the past two years but has been in desperate need of a partner–a problem England have faced for far too long.
An unfortunate footballing injury to the Surrey captain meant England looked inexperienced at the top of the order ahead of the second Test with their opening pair, Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley, both still finding their feet at this level.
But a brilliant second-innings ton from that man Sibley has suggested he could be the answer at the top of the order for England and that he can kick on for the rest of the series and build his 133 not out.
Missed our full review of the second Test? Catch up with it here.
3. Joe Denly is a surprising bowling option
Very few people would have expected Joe Denly to bowl 18 overs in the second innings; more than Sam Curran and the same as James Anderson.
But the top-order batman’s leg breaks proved to be a tricky prospect for the South Africans, particularly the left-handers. Without his two wickets, chiefly Quinton de Kock’s, England may not have got the victory.
He looks someone that could be a weapon for England if used correctly and is certainly a handy player for Joe Root to have up his sleeve.
4. James Anderson may have to be managed from now on
After missing the series in New Zealand, Anderson showed how important he is to his country in the second Test, with a first-innings five-wicket haul.
However, he only bowled two overs after lunch on the final day due to a side strain, and at the age of 37, these niggles are becoming more common.
Unfortunately, it has now been revealed that he will miss the rest of the series with a rib injury.
Clearly, Anderson still has the class to open the bowling for England but he may need to be managed more carefully from now on. Whether that means reducing his workload or resting at times in a series–Root and co may need to be careful to ensure they can keep England’s highest wicket-taker going.
5. Ben Stokes remains a miracle man
What more can you say about Ben Stokes? Is there a more influential player in the world currently?
Be it with his catches in the first innings, his belligerent 72 off 48 balls in the second innings, or his match-winning spell in the final session, Stokes continues to write history for England and produced another iconic display.
There is simply no way the opposition can keep him out of the game and it is hard to think of a better all-rounder in the world.