South Africa Trouble The Scorers, And England

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - South Africa trouble the scorers, and England. D Elgar c Thigh b Tricep 47

South Africa Trouble The Scorers, And EnglandD Elgar c Thigh b Tricep 47

Scorers are invariably as honest as a day’s play is long, faithfully dotting and dashing down the details on paper and screen, over after over, session after session, without fear or favour or the likelihood of getting to the teatime treats before the press or the umpires or the suits scoff the lot.

Without scorers to weave the fabric of the game, cricket would be a shapeless mess of estimates, guesses and opinions. The hard, objective facts they capture and preserve for immediate consumption and posterity would be lost the instant they happened. But sometimes honesty gets in the way of truth. Like it did after lunch at Lord’s on Thursday, when James Anderson bowled to Dean Elgar and…

The scorers were duty-bound to record that Elgar had been bowled. And, officially, he was. But not in any real sense by Anderson. Closer to the fact of it was that Elgar was bowled by bits of his own body.

What has gone down as Anderson’s 658th Test wicket was produced by a delivery from around the wicket that veered legside. The ball hit Elgar’s forward thrust thigh and rose to meet his horizontal tricep, and then fell to earth and trickled onto the wicket with just enough force to pop a bail off the stumps. D Elgar c Thigh b Tricep 47. Perhaps the most old-fashioned player in the game took a dim view of his dastardly downfall, and left the scene effing and blinding in the most old-fashioned way.

That ended the stand at 85, South Africa’s highest opening partnership in the six Tests they have played in England after the match at Headingley in August 2012 – when Graeme Smith shared 120 with Alviro Petersen in the first innings and another 120 with Jacques Rudolph in the second dig. Before Thursday, all 10 of the South Africans’ first-wicket stands of 50 or more since readmission had featured Smith. Elgar has been compared to Smith for his cussedness at the crease, and, unkindly, his uneasiness on the eye, especially for a left-hander.

Elgar’s 47 on Thursday, off 81 balls, which is positively stoic in these days of baldfaced bat-throwing, explained why. It was about grit, not glamour. Sarel Erwee’s 146-ball 73, too, was an exercise in batting for the team and the bigger picture, not for keeping up with the appearances marketed by trendy buzzwords geared towards fixing what ain’t broke. Certainly, if South Africa could find a few more where they came from, they would take them gladly.

Happily, for the visitors, they did. An XI that looked a batter light going into a match against opponents who bristled with the likes of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes reached stumps on the second day with a lead of 124. As much as Elgar and Verreynne pulled their weight, so did the rest of South Africa’s line-up. Nobody was dismissed having faced fewer than 20 balls and all made it to double figures.

The best of them were Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj, who smacked 72 off 75 for the seventh wicket to push the lead past 100; South Africa’s third half-century stand of the innings and a performance that tilted the balance firmly in the visitors’ favour. “Watching that partnership gave us more energy,” Erwee told a press conference. “The changeroom started buzzing more, which was lovely to see. Guys are wanting each other to do well; that’s what our team spirit’s about. It’s not about individuals, but how they’re contributing to the team. We’re in a good space with our team spirit and how we’re pulling for each other.”

England didn’t register any 50 partnerships. The ‘Bazballers’ were dismissed inside the first hour, adding 49 to their overnight score before losing their last four wickets. Kagiso Rabada flashed a look that might have melted Father Time clean off the clock tower when Erwee, at first slip, had four grabs but still dropped the edge offered by the anchoring Ollie Pope to the last ball of the day’s first over. But Pope added just six more runs before Rabada bowled him off the edge for 73. Rabada then induced a spooned catch from Stuart Broad to backward point and trapped Anderson in front to end the innings with 5/52 – his first five-wicket haul in England, nevermind at the ground that likes to think of itself as the home of cricket. Rabada marked his feat by unleashing a mighty roar into the sky.

Broad had no doubt got over being among Rabada’s victims by the time he was asked, at a press conference, for his view on South Africa’s spearhead: “I’ve really enjoyed playing against him. He’s a fantastic competitor. He’s got great attributes to be a fast bowler. He swings the ball, he keeps fit, and he bowls quick. I enjoy watching him bowl when he’s not playing against England. So we should enjoy the skill set he’s got and what he offers world cricket.

“He doesn’t show a lot of emotion on the field – I wouldn’t upset him if I called him a slightly grumpy fast bowler – but he certainly celebrated his fifth because he knew he had written his name into the history of the honours board. It’s always very special to get on the Lord’s honours board, particularly for players from away teams, because the opportunity doesn’t come around too often.”

Broad didn’t sound as if he was campaigning, but his words will at once hearten and hurt South Africans who are wondering what their team have done to deserve being awarded just 28 Tests in the 2023-25 future tours programme. That’s fewer than Australia, Bangladesh, England, India and New Zealand. Across the formats, South Africa will play more matches than only Zimbabwe and Ireland. The harsh reality is that CSA need the money their T20 tournament will, they hope, make in its January window more than they need international cricket.

So Broad, along with the rest of us, should savour players like Rabada while they can see them at this level. They will trouble the scorers significantly less frequently in future.

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