England v South Africa: Hosts hold slim advantage at The Oval in decider

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England v South Africa: Hosts hold slim advantage at The Oval in decider
Third LV= Insurance Test, The Kia Oval (day three of five)
South Africa 118: Robinson 5-49, Broad 4-41
England 154-7: Pope 67, Jansen 4-34
England lead by 36 runs
Scorecard

England hold a narrow advantage over South Africa in the third and final Test after 17 wickets fell on a day that began with cricket paying tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

A minute’s silence was observed at The Oval and was followed by the crowd joining in the singing of God Save The King.

Sustained applause had barely ended when Ollie Robinson bowled Dean Elgar, setting the seamer on the way to 5-49.

With Stuart Broad also claiming 4-41, South Africa were bowled out for 118 in only 36.2 overs, something of a recovery from their earlier 36-6.

At 84-2 and with Ollie Pope en route to 67, England had the opportunity to take a firm grip on the contest, but a number of rash shots caused the hosts to slide to 133-6.

They had reached 154-7, a lead of 36, when bad light stopped play an hour early.

Even though this third day was the first of the match to contain any play, the clatter of wickets has ensured a positive result is likely.

The series is level at 1-1 after an innings victory apiece in the opening two Tests.

Poignant tribute precedes action-packed day

Any doubts about the decision to continue the match were perhaps removed by the poignant ceremony at the beginning of the day.

The Oval fell silent as the players and umpires entered the field through a military guard of honour. When Laura Wright gave the first performance of God Save The King at a major sporting event in 70 years, the sound of the crowd singing along was highly emotional.

While the mood remained respectful throughout, the cricket itself became the spectacle, with the joint-most wickets in a single day of a Test at The Oval since 1933.

There was movement in the pitch, but not enough to justify the low scores. Robinson and Marco Jansen were superb with the ball, South Africa’s batting was flimsy and England’s occasionally reckless.

Even in a match short on time, regular Test batting would have given England a sizable lead at some point on the fourth day, with plenty of overs remaining to bowl out South Africa again.

As it is, England still hold the upper hand, but South Africa will feel they have a chance that midway through the day they might have thought had gone.

Robinson leads England charge

Robinson only returned to the England team for the second Test after eight months out of international cricket, but has swiftly re-established himself as the natural successor to Broad and James Anderson.

Fitter and quicker than in his first stint as a Test cricketer, Robinson bowled an immaculate length to exploit the hint of seam movement on offer.

Elgar was bowled through the gate and Keegan Petersen lost his off stump offering no shot. Kyle Verryenne nibbled behind and when Wiann Mulder chased a wide one to offer an edge, Robinson had four in his first spell.

England were relentless, South Africa timid, looking every inch an inexperienced side that had not played any cricket in the two weeks since they lost the second Test.

Broad took over in an excellent spell after lunch, getting extra bounce to have Khaya Zondo caught at point, persuading Keshav Maharaj to under-edge on to his own stumps and inducing last man Anrich Nortje to chip to mid-off.

In between, Robinson ended Jansen’s resistance on 30, an edge to third slip giving the Sussex man his best figures in Test cricket and third five-wicket haul.

South Africa check England momentum

Jansen almost single-handedly kept South Africa in it, first with his runs, then by taking the first four wickets to fall.

The left-armer bowled Alex Lees through the gate and pinned Zak Crawley lbw, before Pope and Joe Root added 41 for the third wicket.

Pope was busy, playing cuts and flicks, while Root looked in ominous touch until he was guilty of England’s first poor stroke – a slash at a wide one that was stunningly caught by Petersen at third slip.

Debutant Harry Brook unfurled some nice drives for 12 but needlessly helped Jansen to long leg, and captain Ben Stokes was far too aggressive. He had already been dropped from a skier to mid-off before he loosely edged a drive off Nortje to slip.

Pope poked at Kagiso Rabada to be caught behind and Broad swished across the line to fall in the same manner.

Ben Foakes was joined by Robinson, who was batting at the end of a day when his bowling should have had his team in a much stronger position.

‘It was a huge honour’ – reaction

England seam bowler Ollie Robinson: “It felt like a really special morning to be a part of. To show our respects in the way we did was a huge honour for us. The silence when we walked down the steps was something none of us had ever experienced.

“The message was clear from Ben, to be positive to try to force a result, to play brave cricket. I think we did that today.”

England’s Stuart Broad, speaking to Test Match Special: “It was very special looking around the stadium and seeing a lot of faces in here, and it felt right to be in a cricket stadium.

” It was a really good day, it felt like everyone was showing a lot of respect to the Queen and celebrating her life with playing a sporting game.”