Anderson and Bairstow combine to put England in charge
James Anderson enjoyed a memorable day as England put themselves firmly in charge of this Investec Test Match with a great batting and bowling performance against South Africa who closed on 220-9 in their first innings, still 142 runs behind.
Anderson, bowling for the first time from the newly named ‘James Anderson End’ and roared on by a partisan full house, took a wicket with his third ball on his way to Emirates Old Trafford Test-best figures of 4-33.
Earlier Anderson had provided solid support in a 10th wicket partnership of 50 with Jonny Bairstow who played a great innings to take England to a big first innings total but had the agonising experience of getting out for 99.
But after two days’ play, England are well-set to close to close out a third victory in this four-match series.
England resumed their first innings today on 260-6 and South Africa bowled a good line and length early on before Bairstow finally scored the first runs off the bat in the fourth over with a four clipped to the square leg fence.
Toby Roland-Jones followed with a driven four off Kagiso Rabada but then sliced the next delivery to Temba Bavuma at backward point attempting to repeat the shot, to give the visitors an early breakthrough at 271-7.
Moeen Ali produced a beautiful straight drive for four off his third delivery from Rabada and was the catalyst in a rapid partnership of 33 from 24 balls as England took the game to their opponents.
Bairstow struck two boundaries and collected four leg byes in the following over from Morne Morkel as the pair threatened to cut loose and take the game away from South Africa.
The relief on Faf du Plessis’ face when he caught Moeen at second slip off Rabada for 14 was obvious, but the South African skipper would have less pleased when wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, diving to his right, dropped Bairstow on 53 off Rabada.
It proved to be a very costly miss.
Stuart Broad thumped one four off Morkel who responded by bowling him next ball for 7, but that was a prelude to an astonishing assault by Bairstow who added 50 off 49 balls with last man Anderson who provided great support while contributing just 4.
Bairstow expertly farmed the bowling while hitting one six into the Pavilion seats off Duanne Olivier along with six fours as England soared past the 300-mark.
Anderson faced 15 deliveries, each one accompanied by a loud cheer from the crowd as Bairstow moved rapidly towards a potential century.
Agonisingly, he fell one run short, lbw sweeping at spinner Keshav Maharaj for 99 but England will have been delighted at their total of 362 after being 187-5 twenty-fours earlier.
There was time for five overs before lunch and the crowd erupted once again when Anderson, bowling for the first time from the 'James Anderson End’, struck with his third ball trapping Dean Elgar, a centurion last week at the Oval, lbw for 0 with an inswinger.
It was the dream start for England, with South Africa 12-1 at lunch and it got better early in the afternoon when Hashim Amla, who had looked in great touch while compiling 30, got a faint nick to a leg side delivery from Roland-Jones’ third ball to be well caught by the diving Bairstow.
That wicket left South Africa in trouble on 47-2 and England bowled well at Heino Kuhn and Temba Bavuma keeping the ball straight and giving the batsmen little to hit.
It led to a relatively quiet passage of play with 37 runs scored across 16 overs during the latter part of the afternoon but the introduction of spin brought instant drama.
Bavuma drove Moeen’s first ball towards Alastair Cook at mid-off but got in a running mix-up with Kuhn and very nearly paid the price, given not out on review.
Kuhn then swept wildly at Moeen’ second delivery, the ball popping up but dropping short of Bairstow, but he succumbed to the third ball, edging tamely to Ben Stokes at first slip for 24 to leave the visitors on 84-3 just before tea.
Bavuma and du Plessis battled away during the evening session to rebuild the innings but made slow progress against some accurate bowling, the pair adding 47 in 13 overs as play progressed in something of a meandering fashion.
It was the returning Anderson who made the decisive breakthrough with two wickets in three balls, bowling both the dogged Bavuma, surprisingly offering no shot, for 46 and du Plessis via an inside edge for 27 to leave the visitors in disarray on 132-5.
Anderson recorded his best figures in a Test at Emirates Old Trafford when he collected a fourth wicket, Theunis de Bruyn edging to Root at slip for 11, and it meant the Lancashire ace had taken 3-6 in 4 overs.
Further wickets soon followed. Maharaj fell lbw to Moeen for 11, de Kock edged Broad behind to Bairstow for 24 before Rabada with 23 and Morkel (18 not out) produced some lusty blows to steer the visitors past the 200-mark.
The day closed with an appropriately superb catch by Stokes at gully, diving to his left and clutching the ball one-handed just inches above the turf to end the innings of a disbelieving Rabada and cap a very good day for England.
Photo: SImon Pendrigh