England’s red-ball summer has come to a close, with the Three Lions winning the deciding Test at the Oval against South Africa. This summer has seen the biggest upheaval in how the side play their cricket, embracing the ‘BazBall’ revolution under new head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes. This swashbuckling approach has produced some scintillating displays over the summer, and the latest series win took the Three Lions to six wins out of seven under McCullum and Stokes. Check out SinkorSwimSports as we go through 5 things we learned from the England vs South Africa Test series.
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Prior to the start of the series, South Africa skipper Dean Elgar had made a point of dismissing the hype around England’s ‘BazBall’ revolution. It looked as though the captain might have gained the psychological upper hand after the 1st Test, however, England’s response in the 2nd and 3rd matches in the series left no one wondering if the team’s approach was right or not.
The South Africa series was, however, perhaps the first time we saw BazBall going through some tweaks. After being skittled in the 1st Test, England adjusted their approach in the 2nd Test at Old Trafford with a more measured, pragmatic batting approach that saw Stokes and Ben Foakes score their only centuries of the summer.
Jimmy And Broad Are Still Class
It seems like light years ago now, but England came into the summer with huge question marks hanging over the two most successful bowlers in their history. Following their omission from the West Indies tour, Stokes had made it crystal clear both James Anderson and Stuart Broad were focal cogs in his blueprints, and both have shown they are still well worth their selection this summer.
James Anderson finished the South Africa series with only Kagiso Rabada bowling more overs than his 71.2. The most prolific fast bowler in Tests bagged 10 wickets at 16.60, recording the most maidens (17) and lowest economy rate (2.12) of any player on either side. Stuart Broad was superbly managed by Stokes throughout the series, most notably at Old Trafford where he was denied the new ball, and finished the series with the joint-most wickets (14 at 15.57).
Robinson And Potts Shut The Door
Without established names like Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, or Jofra Archer, England have turned to Durham’s Matthew Potts and Sussex’s Ollie Robinson this summer to complete their bowling attack. Potts had a superb time of things in the matches against New Zealand and India to cement his place in the England set-up, however, it was the emergence of Ollie Robinson against South Africa that has really shut the door on this seam attack.
Having recovered from having his fitness questioned by England bowling coach Jon Lewis, Robinson was brought into the Test team for the 2nd Test and instantly made an impact. Always adept at finding a steady length, Robinson was given new ball duties alongside Anderson and picked up 12 wickets at 15.00, the best of any bowler in the series. Keep that fitness up and we’re looking alright, Ollie.
Foakes Is Key
Ben Foakes had been drafted in as England’s Test match wicket-keeper from the beginning of the summer and had already showcased why so many consider him the finest in the business against New Zealand. However, it was against South Africa that he showed he could deliver the kind of scores with the bat that make England’s long tail look a little bit stiffer.
Often batting when there are only bowlers and a limited number of deliveries on offer, Foakes closed the series with the fourth-most runs from both sides (133). He scored his first century on home soil during the 2nd Test and looks as though he is beginning to feel settled with his role in this Test team.
Ollie Pope Embraces New Role
Ollie Pope was promoted to number three in the batting lineup ahead of the summer in an effort to unlock some of his immense potential, and the signs for England are that things are starting to click for the Surrey man.
Pope finished the South Africa series as the highest run-scorer from both sides with 179 runs coming at an average of 44.75, the only batsman to finish with an average higher than 40. He scored 73 out of the 165 England managed in the first innings at Lord’s and helped the side to a lead with 67 at his home ground in the 3rd Test. He certainly rides his luck at times with his frenetic approach to batting, but if England can continue tapping into Pope’s potential, some huge scores could be just around the corner.
Red Bulls, James Anderson and Christian Pulisic enthusiast. Still unsure how Wes Brown wrangled himself a Champions League medal – Premier League, Cricket and Major League Soccer contributor at SinkorSwimSports.