England blew away South Africa to move into a commanding position on day two of the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers–posting a first innings total of 400 before reducing the hosts to 88-6.
The Three Lions just seem to be getting better and better as the tour wears on and there are certainly arguments to be made that this was their best day of Test cricket under Chris Silverwood.
One of the things that has been so exciting about the South Africa tour so far is that every player has contributed and this Test has been no different.
In the first innings, seven players finished with scores of 30+, while four of Joe Root’s bowlers took wickets today.
Happy days. 🏴🎺🏏 pic.twitter.com/mLnL5nFR3k
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) January 25, 2020
The skipper hit his 47th Test half-century this morning as he made a positive start alongside Ollie Pope, who picked up his third 50 of the series.
However, the South African quick bowlers found their feet and English wickets began to tumble at an alarming rate.
Faf Du Plessis’ men looked to have reduced the tourists to a respectable score at 318-9 but Mark Wood and Stuart Broad had other ideas.
The duo carved the South African attacking to all corners, putting on 82 and hitting a combined seven sixes.
Missed Mark Butcher’s thoughts on Ollie Pope. Check them out here.
Wood, who made 35 from 39 balls, showed his batting credentials at Port Elizabeth but Broad has not looked the same with bat in hand since he took a nasty blow to the face in 2014.
Today was reminiscent of his confidence and strokeplay early in his career, as he made a swashbuckling 43 from 28 balls.
Hopefully, this can be the start of the third act of the 33-year-old’s batting career.
England were eventually bowled out for 400 but the lower-order duo’s big hitting meant the momentum was firmly with them.
Even so, South African openers Dean Elgar and Pieter Malan showed some resolve to see through the new ball spells.
After playing a starring role with the bat, it was Wood that made the key breakthrough with the ball dismissing Malan for 15 with a 94mph+ delivery.
Wood has had some really bad luck with injuries but he looks back to top form now and was the key man in Root’s attack, finishing the day with figures of 3-21.
Four of England’s five seamers contributed wickets as they tore through the South African top order–leaving them 88-6, trailing by 312.
If Root’s men can pick up where they left off this evening, the series could be wrapped up tomorrow–such was the quality of their display today.