It was a perfect start for Mark Boucher and Graeme Smith as they engineered a famous South African win against England and the hosts will now hope that continues into the new year in the second test at Newlands in Cape Town starting from Friday.
With neither team looking in great form to run away with the result, this match could witness another close contest.
Quinton de Kock (95 & 34) led the Proteas with the bat and was primarily responsible for their surge. There was promise from Rassie van der Dussen, who scored a second-innings 50. With Aiden Markram ruled out of the Test, South Africa could bring in Pieter Malan for his debut.
Vernon Philander produced yet another wonderful all-round effort (81 runs, four wickets) to showcase his worth to the side. Kagiso Rabada with seven wickets was the lead bowler for South Africa, who looked the better-balanced side than their visitors.
England had the same old problems of inconsistent top-order performances, barring Rory Burns (93 runs). Captain Joe Root would hope to come big on his scores, which are currently finding a bump in the 40s. With the sick bug still causing problems, the visitors are left with few choices in their squad.
That bug could also take Jofra Archer out of the equation for this Test, leaving them light on choices. The visitors face questions over the composition of the final XI, as the lack of a spinner could hurt their chances. Dom Bess could be in for a recall, but if Archer is fit that could come at the expense of James Anderson or Stuart Broad.
After a sequence of poor performances, the Proteas got back to winning ways in the first Test. That said, there is still so much to chance before they can call themselves consistent. England, on the other hand, continue to be poor on their travels. However, if there is one side that can make adversity look like a step to redemption, it is England. Whether that will happen in this Test is anybody’s guess. For now, it is advantage South Africa.
History & Statistics
- South Africa have won their last four Newlands Tests.
- South Africa have lost only once at this venue since April 2006 in 18 Tests (W13, D4, L1).
- South Africa haven’t lost a New Year Test at Newlands since against New Zealand in 1962, winning 16 of the 22 such Tests hence (W16, D6).
- South Africa haven’t lost to England at Newlands since 1957, winning three of the six Tests hence.
- England have lost 13 of their last 21 away Tests (W4, D4, L13).
- England have lost their last two away Tests against South Africa, and the last time they lost three in a row was between 1928-30.
- England haven’t lost consecutive Tests to South Africa since 2008.
A strong performance with the bat as a night watchman and an equally important performance as a bowler – Anrich Nortje is going to be South Africa’s key player for this match.
Ben Stokes returns to the ground of his famous double century (258 – his highest Test score) and might spring back to life.