England close in on victory after woeful day for Proteas

Monday, 20 Jan, 2020

"I have to find a way to get the guys ready for tomorrow and for the last Test match as well".

'Don't!' he said. 'I thought Africa was the sunniest place in the world and then I come here and it's like Durham.

"I love it. I've waited quite a while to come back so I was trying to have fun, take it all in and play with a smile on my face".

Then a man who has been plagued with injury problems and has had four operations on his chronic left ankle talked of making the most of every England game while he can.

Sliced and diced by England's quicks, South Africa found the tourists' spinners nearly unplayable too, with Dom Bess keeping a tight line, but Root rampant.

England had chances to dismiss de Kock throughout his unbeaten 63- three times he edged to Ben Stokes at slip off the spinners, and three times he was put down.

While the hosts were saved by the resistance from de Kock and Anrich Nortje on the third day, it was only captain Du Plessis who managed to occupy any significant amount of time in the middle in the second innings. He had added 54 for the seventh wicket with Vernon Philander, 27 not out, when stumps were drawn.

The four-test series is level at 1-1 but England is now in prime position to take a crucial lead with one test to play.

Any hopes of a defiant stand crumbled immediately as England, inspired by Broad, took four wickets for the addition of one run to end the innings inside the opening half hour.

Dean Elgar (13 not out) and Pieter Malan (1 not out) began South Africa's second innings with the home side needing to negotiate the best part of five sessions to salvage a draw, potentially aided by rain showers forecast for Sunday and Monday.

Root took the next four wickets, bowling from the same end from where fellow off-spinner Dom Bess took five wickets in the first innings.

Following Ollie Pope's century on the second day, it was the second breakthrough performance by a 22-year-old for England.

Root claimed Test-best figures of 4-31 and was ably assisted by Stuart Broad and Mark Wood as South Africa ended the fourth day still 188 runs adrift.

He was initially banned for two matches after being docked three demerit points but this was reduced to one on appeal, enabling him to complete the series but putting him on the threshold of a ban. Stokes's near instant impact, in the 62nd over, only legitimised the questions over how long it took Root to introduce him to the attack. Nortje also was dropped by England - twice.

He was Root's fourth and final victim of the day, providing Pope's fifth close catch of the match after a thick edge into his front pad.

South Africa's captain, Faf du Plessis, pronounced before the third Test that his team had made "huge steps in the right direction" against England, following a run of five consecutive defeats.