England's best victory of new Ben Stokes era sets up series decider with South Africa

Ben Stokes took the man of the match award, naturally - GETTY IMAGES
Ben Stokes took the man of the match award, naturally - GETTY IMAGES

A memorable summer of Test cricket that started with such low expectations is set up for a grand finale at the Oval.

England ensured the third Test will be a series decider against South Africa by beating them in Manchester by an innings and 85 runs inside three days with this the best victory of the new era.

Their previous four wins were breathless, adrenaline charges that needed a sprint in the final straight to overhaul opponents they had been trailing. This time they led out of the blocks on day one and never let South Africa back in bowling them out for 151 and 179.

Ben Stokes was the architect of the team’s revival in June with his strong leadership and chemistry with coach Brendon McCullum, putting a new engine in what is essentially the same team that was thumped in Australia.

But this was the first time he had fully delivered as a player himself. His 103 and four for 47 from 21 overs in the match came in a week when he was the only story in town thanks to his documentary. Some would have let the fuss distract them, but not Stokes who grabbed the game with the bat and ball - bowling the inspirational spell on Saturday afternoon just as he team had looked flat for the first time in the match.

He broke the stand between Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen that had restored South Africa’s self esteem, the dismissals opening the door for Ollie Robinson and James Anderson to finish the game off with the second new ball. They needed just 31 balls to polish off the final five wickets, Robinson nailing the last by splaying Lungi Ngidi’s stumps to cap a good return to Test cricket.

England bowler Ben Stokes celebrates after taking the key wicket of Rassie van der Dussen - GETTY IMAGES
England bowler Ben Stokes celebrates after taking the key wicket of Rassie van der Dussen - GETTY IMAGES
No many arguments against this man of the match decision - GETTY IMAGES
No many arguments against this man of the match decision - GETTY IMAGES

Stokes took the man of the match award, naturally, but in truth this was a team performance with wickets shared around in both innings and important runs for Ben Foakes and a new side shown by Zak Crawley. England batted with good restraint and an eye on the end goal rather than hot rodding it from the start, proving they can play more than one way.

James Anderson enjoyed a good Test playing in front of his home crowd for the first time since 2018 (the games in 2020 were behind closed doors)  with six wickets in the match. He reversed the old ball to perplex batsmen before roaring in with the second new ball to finish with three for 30. Stuart Broad adapted to his new role as first change well and Robinson made England’s attack look more cutting, his four for 43 in the second innings proof perhaps he is over his fitness problems. South Africa helped too by weakening their side by picking two spinners and leaving out Marco Jansen. Surely he comes back next week.

Stokes was the Saturday hero, the man who relished the tough moment the most. With dirt streaking his trousers and sweat soaking through his shirt, Stokes bowled 14 overs either side of tea, taking two for 30, occasionally flexing his left knee and grimacing.. Three of the longest spells by an England bowler over the last ten years have been bowled by Stokes, all of 14 overs or more, his gluttony for punishment and work ethic why his left knee is in pieces.

Stokes grabbed the Test with the bat and ball  - GETTY IMAGES
Stokes grabbed the Test with the bat and ball - GETTY IMAGES

Van der Dussen and Petersen had been batting for 30 overs when Stokes came on, having come together at 54 for three with their team sinking fast. They survived a working over outside off stump by Anderson reversing the ball - hiding it in his run up to keep them guessing - and saw off everyone else before Stokes decided he had to do something about it himself.

He bowled six overs for eight before tea, instantly finding more bounce and heat out of the pitch. He could have had van der Dussen in his last over of the session but England did not appeal for a faint edge that showed up on snicko.

He continued after the break and in another eight overs made the difference, taking two for 22. It was reminiscent of Headingley three years ago when he bowled 24 overs in a spell and here in 2020 when in an empty, covid closed stadium, he bent his back and sent down a brutal spell of bumpers to break open West Indies.

He started with the short ball theory and six on the legside this time before realising he could get movement out of the pitch and went fuller, which is when he is more dangerous.

Three balls into the final session, van der Dussen played at a wide ball he had been leaving earlier and was caught behind for 41 from 132 balls. It ended a stand of 87 from 44 overs - South Africa’s longest partnership in England for 10 years - and as usual in these situations a team only has the appetite for one defiant rearguard.

Seven balls later Stokes bowled a nasty lifter outside off stump that rocked Petersen back on his haunches and he gloved behind after a gutsy 42 from 159 balls that included only one four for from a normally free flowing player.

Simon Harmer and keeper Kyle Veryenne saw South Africa through to the new ball but it took only three balls for Anderson to strike. Harmer was bowled through a big open gate, the ball nipping to hit off stump.

In the next over Keshav Maharaj edged Robinson to fourth slip, the extra zip with the hardness of the new ball catching him out. Anderson produced another in the channel outside off stump that moved fractionally late and Kagiso Rabada edged to first slip driving.

The writing quickly appeared on the wall for South Africa - GETTY IMAGES
The writing quickly appeared on the wall for South Africa - GETTY IMAGES

The combo continued as the crowd roared in Robinson and Anderson every ball. Robinson found lift outside off stump and Anrich Nortje nicked behind for the ninth wicket. The first ball of Robinson’s next over knocked over Ngidi’s stumps, ending the Test.

It was a surprise the match had lasted until nearly 5.30pm given England’s start to the day. Dean Elgar was bowled by an Anderson special that pitched and held its line to hit the off stump. Robinson went round the wicket to Sarel Erwee, who chased after a ball that rose and left him to give Foakes a catch low down.

Broad bowled Aiden Markram with possibly the best delivery of the day, but it was a fractional no ball, his boot just landing over the fraying edges of the white line. Broad was not happy, checking with the umpire on why it was called when so close. Markram’s poor Test continued when he played at a wider ball from Broad that went straight to Crawley at second slip. Broad turned around to check with the umpire who gave a thumbs up.

It was thumbs down for England from that point onwards as Petersen and van der Dussen blocked until Stokes broke their will.

England win by an innings: how day three unfolded

06:33 PM

Michael Vaughan on Ben Stokes

The quote from his dad in the movie that has just come out about him - Ben just does it when it matters - really resonates with his entire career.


06:25 PM

Nick Hoult's England player ratings

You can probably guess who he's talking about here.

What a week he has had. Outstanding hundred, the kind of patient, well crafted Test innings he was always capable of playing. Inspirational bowling when England started to flag and look flat.


06:12 PM

Jimmy Anderson on Ben Stokes’s spell

Frightening. He’s an absolute freak. He’d just got a hundred yesterday as well, batting for however long, and then to put in that sort of spell…and get the wickets that he did. That was the key, breaking them open before the second new ball. It made a huyge difference. Can you imagine if he had a body that functioned properly?!

He’s an absolute machine, and he leads by example. He’s not just a good captain on the field. The way he shows us how to play the game is real credit to him.

Jimmy Anderson walks off after England's victory - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP
Jimmy Anderson walks off after England's victory - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

06:06 PM

The player of the match is Ben Stokes

The performance gives us a lot of confidence and sets us up for the decider next week. The way [Zak Crawley] applied himself was incredible – it was a new-ball wicket, and he really set us up. It was a match-defining innings. Ben Foakes should be receiving this award: the innings he played, and his keeping all summer has been incredible. Ollie Robinson has had some tough times but all the hard work he has done has been worth it.

In my innings I wanted to adapt to the pitch as much as anything. Having a positive mindset makes your decision-making better. The knee was okay today. I felt in really good rhythm and I like having the ball in my hand when it’s reverse swinging.

05:59 PM

Dean Elgar’s verdict

England were far better than us and congrats to them for the way their play. [Any regrets about batting first?] Not at all. We had a plan but the first innings let us down massively. There’s a lot of learnings and I’m sure we’ll go back to the drawing board.

Rassie [van der Dussen] has a fractured finger and I think he'll be ruled out of the series, which is a shame after the way he played today.

05:55 PM

Ben Stokes's match

05:47 PM

South Africa's collapse

They were 141/3 and then 172/5 before losing their last five wickets for seven runs against the second new ball. They fought hard today, especially in the afternoon session, but it all became too much at the end.

England produced a superb team performance with the ball. Even whey Petersen and van der Dussen were batting for 43 overs, England kept such control of the scoring rate that the innings went nowhere. And then Ben Stokes, the player of the match by a Rusholme curry mile, blew the innings open by dismissing both men. Anderson and Robinson cleaned up at the end to finish with 3/30 and 4/43 respectively.

05:44 PM

England win by an innings and 85 runs!

Wicket! Ngidi b Robinson 0 Ollie Robinson finishes the job, cleaning up Lungi Ngidi to complete a brilliant win for England. They were thrashed at Lord's, and now they have returned the favour to set up a series decider at the Oval. FOW 179

Ollie Robinson celebrates after bowling Lungi Ngidi to seal victory for England - Mike Egerton/PA
Ollie Robinson celebrates after bowling Lungi Ngidi to seal victory for England - Mike Egerton/PA

05:42 PM

Over 85: SA 179/9 (Verreynne 17, Ngidi 0)

Verreynne stands firm to deny Anderson the match-winning wicket, at least for now.

05:39 PM

Over 84: SA 178/9 (Verreynne 17, Ngidi 0)

At different times and in different ways, England's four seamers have bowled brilliantly today.

05:36 PM


Nortje c Foakes b Robinson 0 We've had four overs with the second new ball, and England have taken a wicket in each of them. Robinson, who has bowled beautifully on his return to Test cricket, produces a cracking delivery to have Nortje caught behind. England are one away from a thumping victory. FOW 179/9

05:33 PM

Over 83: SA 178/8 (Verreynne 16, Nortje 0)

That's Anderson's 100th Test wicket against South Africa, 19 years (gulp) after his first. A lot has changed since then, and not just the colour of hair.

05:31 PM


Rabada c Root b Anderson 2 The old man is too good. Rabada, beaten by the previous delivery, edges a big drive into the hands of Root at first slip. A third wicket for Anderson, who has been magisterial today. FOW 178/8

05:26 PM

Over 82: SA 177/7 (Verreynne 15 Rabada 2)

There are five slips for KG Rabada, who gets off the mark with a clip for two.

05:23 PM


Maharaj c Pope b Robinson 2 Two in two overs with the second new ball! Maharaj flashes Robinson to fourth slip, where Pope takes a really smart catch. FOW 175/7

05:20 PM

Over 81: SA 174/6 (Verreynne 14 Maharaj 2)

England still have plenty of time to get South Africa out of there tonight.

05:14 PM


Harmer b Anderson 16 Jimmy Anderson strikes second ball with the second new ball! It was a beautiful delivery, ripping back off the seam to bowl Harmer through the gate. England are four wickets away from a brilliant victory. FOW 172/6

Jimmy Anderson (right) celebrates the wicket of Simon Harmer (left) - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Jimmy Anderson (right) celebrates the wicket of Simon Harmer (left) - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

05:11 PM

Over 80: SA 172/5 (Verreynne 14 Harmer 16)

England appeal unsuccessfully for caught behind when Verreynne is taken down the leg side by Foakes. It was a superb catch from Foakes, but replays confirm the ball hit backside rather than bat.

A maiden, and that should be the end of a mighty spell from Stokes either side of tea: 14-3-30-2. He looks utterly spent.

Ben Stokes. - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP
Ben Stokes. - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

05:07 PM

Over 79: SA 172/5 (Verreynne 14 Harmer 16)

Leach has finally moved over the wicket to the right-handers. It's a bit late now, as this is his last over before England take the new ball. In fact, he only tries it for two balls before switching back round the wicket. Harmer defends every delivery, which means another maiden for Leach. His figures are 23-13-26-0, and that should be his last over for a while.

05:03 PM

Over 78: SA 172/5 (Verreynne 14 Harmer 16)

It looks like Stokes will punish himself until the second new ball. That would make this his 13th and penultimate over, and he has understandably lost some of the ferocious purpose he showed either side of tea. Harmer defends a few and flicks the final ball through midwicket for a single.

04:59 PM

Over 77: SA 171/5 (Verreynne 14 Harmer 15)

Leach returns in place of Broad. This spell feels like filler before the second new ball becomes available after 80 overs, though you can never be sure. Harmer just back in his crease to cut confidently for three.

04:56 PM

Over 76: SA 168/5 (Verreynne 14 Harmer 11)

Stokes looks weary after bowling 11 overs on the trot, but the masochist in him has decided to continue. Harmer forces him through extra cover a couple to move into double figures. South Africa trail by 96.

04:51 PM

Over 75: SA 165/5 (Verreynne 14 Harmer 9)

When Broad goes a bit too straight, the busy Verreynne flicks a couple through midwicket. The line of the next delivery is perfect, just outside off stump, and Verreynne is beaten. That was beautifully bowled.

04:46 PM

Over 74: SA 163/5 (Verreynne 12 Harmer 9)

The tempo of the innings hasn't changed much all day. South Africa are scoring at around 2.2 per over, and because of that they are still well behind even though they have batted almost 75 overs.

04:42 PM

Over 73: SA 162/5 (Verreynne 11 Harmer 9)

Harmer feels a place too high at No7 but he's played well so far, getting solidly in line to keep out the reverse-swinging ball. A maiden from Broad.

04:38 PM

Over 72: SA 162/5 (Verreynne 11 Harmer 9)

Harmer steers Stokes to third man for four. This is turning into a marathon spell from Stokes, 10 overs now either side of tea. In the match he has taken 4/41 and scored a brilliant century. If he doesn't win the player of the match award, we'll have seen something pretty extraordinary.

04:33 PM

Over 71: SA 157/5 (Verreynne 11 Harmer 4)

Broad replaces Leach, who has pretty but slightly disappointing figures of 21-12-23-0. The low bounce is an increasing threat to the batters. Verreynne does well to keep out a grubber from Broad and then edges well short of Foakes. The low bounce helped him that time. South Africa trail by 107.

04:29 PM

Over 70: SA 157/5 (Verreynne 11 Harmer 4)

Harmer diligently defends a couple of homing missiles from Stokes before being beaten by another snorter. That wasn't dissimilar to the ball that extracted Petersen.

04:23 PM

Over 69: SA 156/5 (Verreynne 10 Harmer 4)

Harmer survives a caught-behind appeal after pushing forward at a ripper from Leach. No review, so on we go.

04:21 PM

Over 68: SA 151/5 (Verreynne 9 Harmer 1)

Stokes's spell: 8-2-19-2. It's been a mini-masterpiece of heart, personality, intent and skill.

04:17 PM


Petersen c Foakes b Stokes 42 Awesome. Absolutely awesome from Ben Stokes. He has just dismissed Keegan Petersen with a vicious delivery. It burst spectacularly from a length to take the shoulder of the bat, and Ben Foakes took a simple catch. Stokes has blown the doors off this South African innings. Petersen battled impressively to make 42 from 159 balls; he had no chance of playing that delivery. FOW 151/5

Ben Stokes celebrates the wicket of Keegan Petersen - Mike Egerton/PA
Ben Stokes celebrates the wicket of Keegan Petersen - Mike Egerton/PA

04:14 PM

Over 67: SA 150/4 (Petersen 42 Verreynne 8)

Jack Leach continues after tea. Petersen makes a rare excursion outside his crease, but only to drive the ball straight back to the bowler. A maiden, again.

04:11 PM

Over 66: SA 150/4 (Petersen 42 Verreynne 8)

The new batter Kyle Verreynne softens his hands to edge Stokes along the ground for four, then pulls perkily through square leg for another boundary. Good stuff.

04:07 PM


Van der Dussen c Foakes b Stokes 41 He's got him this time! Stokes, who has bowled a classic old-ball spell, tempts van der Dussen into chasing a very wide delivery, and Ben Foakes does the rest. It's the perfect start for England after tea, and the end of a really brave knock from van der Dussen: 41 from 132 balls with a damaged finger. FOW 141/4

Rassie van der Dussen walks off after being dismissed by Ben Stokes - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP
Rassie van der Dussen walks off after being dismissed by Ben Stokes - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

03:44 PM

Tea: South Africa trail by 123

Admirable stuff from Petersen and van der Dussen, who batted throughout the afternoon session to give South Africa a bit of hope in this game. They only scored 53 in 29 overs between lunch and tea, but they resisted some challenging bowling from Anderson and Stokes in particular.

03:42 PM

Over 65: SA 141/3 (Petersen 42 van der Dussen 41)

Oh my, it turns out van der Dussen edged that awayswinger from Stokes in the previous over. Nobody appealed, but UltraEdge shows a clear spike as the ball passed the bat.

Petersen plays out another over from Leach, his 11th maiden in 19 overs, and that's tea.

03:39 PM

Over 64: SA 141/3 (Petersen 42 van der Dussen 41)

Van der Dussen instinctively pulls his top hand away after defending a heavy ball from Stokes. This is a terrific spell from Stokes, who beats van der Dussen with a marvellous awayswinger from wide of the crease.

We've had only 20 runs from the last 14 overs.

03:35 PM

Over 63: SA 141/3 (Petersen 42 van der Dussen 41)

The assured Petersen plays out yet another maiden from Leach. He has 42 from 146 balls, van der Dussen is 41 from 123.

03:32 PM

Over 62: SA 141/3 (Petersen 42 van der Dussen 41)

Van der Dussen reaches outside off stump to drive Stokes through extra cover for a couple, then squirts a couple more past backward point. He's nine away from a quietly courageous half-century.

03:28 PM

Over 61: SA 137/3 (Petersen 42 van der Dussen 37)

Leach replaces Broad and is worked for a couple of singles. That's all. It's not the end of the world if England don't take another wicket before the second new ball, so long as they keep control of the scoring rate. South Africa are scoring at around 2.2 per over in this innings.

03:24 PM

Over 60: SA 135/3 (Petersen 41 van der Dussen 36)

Stokes beats van der Dussen with consecutive deliveries, the second of which was a jaffa that ripped off the seam. He's giving everything, as usual, to force a wicket with the old ball.

Ben Stokes in action at Old Trafford - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Ben Stokes in action at Old Trafford - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

03:19 PM

Over 59: SA 135/3 (Petersen 41 van der Dussen 36)

As well as these two have played, there is a danger that South Africa will fall in a heap against the second new ball. At this rate of scoring, South Africa will need to bat another 120 overs to set England any kind of target. It's so difficult - if they try to attack and make a misjudgement, the door will be open anyway. And it's not a pitch that lends itself to quick scoring. Damned if they do, etc.

03:16 PM

Over 58: SA 132/3 (Petersen 39 van der Dussen 35)

One from Stokes's over. I don't know what else to tell you; it's extremely attritional right now, as it has been for much of this partnership. Who will blink first?

03:11 PM

Over 57: SA 131/3 (Petersen 39 van der Dussen 34)

Broad is slightly too straight to van der Dussen, who flicks to fine leg for a single. He has faced 104 balls now, an admirable effort for somebody whose index finger is at least badly bruised and probably broken.

03:07 PM

Over 56: SA 130/3 (Petersen 39 van der Dussen 33)

Both batters pull singles off Stokes, who is banging everything into the pitch. One thing England have done well, with a bit of assistance from South Africa, is control the scoring rate, which is currently around 2.3 per over. It means South Africa will still a fair way behind when the second new ball is taken.

03:02 PM

Over 55: SA 128/3 (Petersen 38 van der Dussen 32)

Van der Dussen survives a huge LBW appeal after playing around a nipbacker from Broad that keeps a bit low. I can't believe Ben Stokes hasn't reviewed this because it looks plumb.

And - who knew - Ben Stokes is a genius, because replays show the slightest inside edge. It's also a wonderful decision from the umpire Chris Gaffaney. I would have given that all day long, and I'd have been wrong.

02:57 PM

Over 54: SA 128/3 (Petersen 38 van der Dussen 32)

Ben Stokes is coming into the attack for the first time in this innings. He has just a wide slip for van der Dussen, a statement of intent to bowl plenty of short stuff. Van der Dussen flaps a pull round the corner for a single; that's your lot.

02:52 PM

Over 53: SA 127/3 (Petersen 38 van der Dussen 31)

Broad replaces Leach after the drinks break. It looks like England have got some hard yakka ahead for the next few hours, because this old ball is doing the square root of bugger all.

Petersen tries to pull a short ball and misses, though that was down to execution rather than anything unusual about the delivery.

02:43 PM

Over 52: SA 125/3 (Petersen 37 van der Dussen 30)

Petersen pulls Robinson for a single. He has hit only one boundary in 116 deliveries, but his first job was to get South Africa back in the game and he's done that. The partnership is now 71 in 29.2 overs, and that's drinks.

02:39 PM

Over 51: SA 122/3 (Petersen 36 van der Dussen 29)

It's stalemate at Leach's end, and I'm not sure which side benefits most from that. South Africa will be happy to survive given the match situation, but at some stage they need to up the rate. The new ball is 29 overs away.

02:35 PM

Over 50: SA 121/3 (Petersen 36 van der Dussen 29)

You'd think Robinson's extra bounce would make van der Dussen more uncomfortable, but he's playing so well and he gets his fifth boundary with a dragged pull through square leg. England won't be worrying yet, but they certainly wouldn't say no to a wicket.

Ben Stokes and James Anderson rue a near miss at Old Trafford - Stu Forster/ECB
Ben Stokes and James Anderson rue a near miss at Old Trafford - Stu Forster/ECB

02:30 PM

Over 49: SA 116/3 (Petersen 36 van der Dussen 25)

Out of nothing, Leach gets a delivery to turn and bounce viciously past Petersen's defensive push. The rest of the over is defended with authority by Petersen, but that was more encouraging for England - or maybe for South Africa, who are only 148 runs away from making England bat again. If they can get a lead of 150, the fourth innings will be very interesting.

02:27 PM

Over 48: SA 116/3 (Petersen 36 van der Dussen 25)

Ollie Robinson is on for Jimmy Anderson. It has all gone a bit quiet, on the field and in the stands, and Petersen keeps the scoreboard moving with a pair of twos. This is good stuff from South Africa, who could easily have rolled over after the loss of three early wickets.

02:22 PM

Over 47: SA 111/3 (Petersen 32 van der Dussen 25)

It's slightly surprising that England haven't tested van der Dussen with a bit of rough stuff, though Stokes did have problems with his knee earlier in the game. For now Leach continues to wheel away without success - his last ball is a leg-stump half-volley that van der Dussen puts away with the minimum of fuss. That's the first boundary Leach has conceded in this innings, from his 84th delivery.

02:18 PM

Over 46: SA 106/3 (Petersen 31 van der Dussen 21)

Anderson is going to have one more over, and he beats van der Dussen with consecutive deliveries. The first was a beauty, the second a poor shot that probably stemmed from the previous ball. A maiden from Anderson, whose post-lunch spell has been masterful.

02:14 PM

Over 45: SA 106/3 (Petersen 31 van der Dussen 21)

Leach slows one down to induce a leading edge from Petersen that rolls safely on the off side. It is - yep - a maiden, Leach's sixth in 13 overs. But he remains wicketless, and that's where he'll be judged.

02:11 PM

Over 44: SA 106/3 (Petersen 31 van der Dussen 21)

Anderson is making van der Dussen play at almost everything, which means more jarring against the bat handle and more pain. Then he swerves one the other way to beat van der Dussen's instinctive defensive grope. It's a fascinating contest, and van der Dussen lands a jab of his own with a cover drive for two off the penultimate delivery. South Africa trail by 158.

02:07 PM

Over 43: SA 104/3 (Petersen 31 van der Dussen 19)

Leach hasn't been as threatening as England would have hoped. He's not bowling badly, and has conceded only 12 from his 12 overs, but it might be time to try pace at both ends.

02:04 PM

Over 42: SA 104/3 (Petersen 31 van der Dussen 19)

So close! Petersen flicks Anderson just wide of Pope, diving to his right at silly mid-off. Pope may even have got a touch, though if so it was a desperately difficult chance. The next ball almost bounces back onto the stumps from Petersen's defensive stroke, but he stays calm and flicks three through mid-on to bring up a cussed fifty partnership. Well played gentlemen.

01:59 PM

Over 41: SA 98/3 (Petersen 26 van der Dussen 18)

Petersen fails to punish a full toss from Leach, driving it straight to mid-on. Another maiden.

01:57 PM

Over 40: SA 98/3 (Petersen 26 van der Dussen 18)

Nice batting from Petersen, who drives Anderson through mid-off for three. Anderson continues to bowl very straight, particularly to van der Dussen, trying to maximise any reverse inswing. It's intriguing stuff.

01:53 PM

Over 39: SA 95/3 (Petersen 23 van der Dussen 18)

Van der Dussen emerges from his bunker to cuff Leach through square leg for three, then the assured (when he's not being hit in the box) Petersen waves a single into the off side. At some stage they will need to increase the scoring rate, but for now they are doing a good job of inching South Africa back in the game.

01:49 PM

Over 38: SA 91/3 (Petersen 22 van der Dussen 15)

Jimmy Anderson returns to the attack, with both a silly mid-off and silly mid-on for van der Dussen. The ball is tailing in a touch, and van der Dussen does very well to dig out a lovely inswinging yorker. Anderson ends a good over by hitting Petersen in an exceedingly delicate place.

Keegan Petersen is hit in a painful place - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP
Keegan Petersen is hit in a painful place - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

01:44 PM

Over 37: SA 90/3 (Petersen 22 van der Dussen 14)

Leach starts after lunch to Petersen, who back cuts a couple. Those are the only runs from the over. Leach still hasn't conceded a boundary: 9-4-8-0.

01:41 PM

The players are back on the field


01:03 PM


An excellent morning for England, who took three important wickets to retain control of the game. Anderson, Robinson and Broad picked up one apiece, all bowling with intensity, relentless accuracy and a soupcon of reverse bowling. Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen, batting bravely with a broken finger, saw South Africa through to the interval. They trail by 176 runs.

Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen walk off at lunch - Jon Super/AP
Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen walk off at lunch - Jon Super/AP

01:01 PM

Over 36: SA 88/3 (Petersen 20 van der Dussen 14)

A delivery from Root beats van der Dussen and Foakes before running away for four byes. Van der Dussen diligently defends the remainder of the over, and that's lunch.

12:59 PM

Over 35: SA 84/3 (Petersen 20 van der Dussen 14)

Foakes appeals for caught behind when Petersen pushes at a leg-side delivery from Leach. Nobody else is interested, but it was a beautiful take from Foakes. Of course it was. Another maiden from Leach, who has good-looking figures of 8-4-6-0.

12:56 PM

Over 34: SA 84/3 (Petersen 20 van der Dussen 14)

Root continues to van der Dussen, who scrunches a wide half-volley through extra cover for four. He's playing extremely well in the circumstances, and with oodles of courage.

12:53 PM

Over 33: SA 80/3 (Petersen 20 van der Dussen 10)

Yes, Leach has changed ends. Petersen, back when he should probably be forward, fiddles a thick edge wide of slip. It's another maiden. Thus far South Africa have concentrated exclusively on survival against Leach, who has bowled seven overs without conceding a boundary.

12:50 PM

Over 32: SA 80/3 (Petersen 20 van der Dussen 10)

Joe Root replaces Leach, which might be to facilitate a change of ends. The first ball is a low full toss which Petersen puts away for four, and another pleasant drive brings him two more. Petersen is quietly playing a good little innings.

12:47 PM

Over 31: SA 73/3 (Petersen 13 van der Dussen 10)

A nasty grubber from Broad is well defended by van der Dussen. This is interesting day-three pitch - it's certainly not a minefield, but nor is it trustworthy.

Fifteen minutes to go until lunch.

12:42 PM

Over 30: SA 72/3 (Petersen 12 van der Dussen 10)

A maiden from Leach to van der Dussen, who is hanging on admirably despite the discomfort of a broken index finger on his top hand. Leach looks good today - he's bowling at good pace but with a nice dip as well.

12:38 PM

Over 29: SA 72/3 (Petersen 12 van der Dussen 10)

Van der Dussen edges Broad short of the slips and away for four. He's starting to look uncomfortable now, and is frequently taking his top hand off the bat when it makes contact with the ball.

Rassie van der Dussen defends awkwardly - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP
Rassie van der Dussen defends awkwardly - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

12:34 PM

Over 28: SA 67/3 (Petersen 12 van der Dussen 5)

Petersen slices a cut stroke off Leach, with the ball flying over slip and short of gully. It's been a confident start from Leach, who now has figures of 5-1-6-0.

12:31 PM

Over 27: SA 65/3 (Petersen 10 van der Dussen 5)

van der Dussen flinches for the first time, pulling his bottom hand off the bat as he defends against Broad. When Broad decides to test him with a quicker bumper, van der Dussen top-edges a pull for four. This is really brave stuff from van der Dussen, but he's not oozing permanence.

12:27 PM

Over 26: SA 61/3 (Petersen 10 van der Dussen 1)

Jack Leach replaces Ollie Robinson, who bowled an interrogative spell. He starts to van der Dussen, who thus far has shown no obvious signs of discomfort from his (probably) broken finger. Van der Dussen gets off the mark with a single to the cover sweeper.

12:24 PM

Over 25: SA 60/3 (Petersen 10 van der Dussen 0)

A maiden from Broad to Petersen. South Africa trail by 204.

12:20 PM

Over 24: SA 60/3 (Petersen 10 van der Dussen 0)

An errant delivery from Robinson scuttles down the leg side for four byes. van der Dussen then survives a big LBW appeal - surprisingly big, as it looked like it was comfortably missing leg. Ben Stokes agrees and has no interest in a review.

12:14 PM

Over 23: SA 54/3 (Petersen 9 van der Dussen 0)

Rassie van der Dussen comes in at No5 despite a (probably) broken finger. He is beaten by his second ball, with Foakes (but not Broad) appealing for caught behind. England's three seamers have bowled quite brilliantly this morning.

12:11 PM


Markram c Crawley b Broad 6 That'll do! Markram edges Broad straight to second slip, where Crawley takes a smart catch. Broad turns straight round to the umpire - not to appeal, but to wait for confirmation that it wasn't a no-ball. Chris Gaffaney puts his thumb up and South Africa are three down. It was a loose stroke from Markram, a big drive at a length ball. FOW 54/3

England celebrate the wicket of Aiden Markram - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
England celebrate the wicket of Aiden Markram - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

12:03 PM

Over 22: SA 54/2 (Petersen 9 Markram 6)

Robinson gets one to follow Petersen, who wears it painfully on the hip bone. Batting looks pretty uncomfortable right now, physically and especially mentally. Time for drinks.

11:58 AM

Over 21: SA 49/2 (Petersen 7 Markram 4)

Markram, duly reprieved, gets off the mark by shovelling the next ball to the midwicket boundary.

11:57 AM

Markram bowled off a no-ball!

Oh dear. It was a stunning delivery from the new bowler Stuart Broad, which roared off the seam to brush the off bail, but the third umpire has called no-ball. It's tight, and Broad isn't remotely impressed, but it's the right decision.

11:52 AM

Over 20: SA 43/2 (Petersen 6 Markram 0)

After a spectacular start to his Test career, Aiden Markram has had a rough time. He averages 13 from his last eight Tests and 25 since his great series against Australia in 2017-18. Robinson fancies a cheap wicket, and his hands on his head with consecutive deliveries bounce over the stumps. They were risky leaves - the bounce hasn't always been consistent on this pitch - but Markram survives.

11:47 AM

Over 19: SA 43/2 (Petersen 6 Markram 0)

The ball is certainly reversing - not a huge amount, but enough to make batting a precarious business.

11:46 AM

Petersen is not out!

It was a jaffa from Anderson, but Petersen missed it by a fair distance. DRS wins again.

11:45 AM

South Africa review!

Petersen c Foakes b Anderson 6 I don't think he has hit this.

11:42 AM

Over 18: SA 39/2 (Petersen 2 Markram 0)

South Africa still trail by 225.

11:40 AM


Erwee c Foakes b Robinson 25 Beautifully done by Ollie Robinson! He moved around the wicket to Erwee, who was too late trying to leave a good delivery that straightened to shave the edge and was taken just above the ground by Foakes. That's reward for Robinson's immaculate line, which constantly challenges a batter's judgement of off stump. FOW 39/2

Sarel Erwee walks off after being dismissed by Ollie Robinson - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP
Sarel Erwee walks off after being dismissed by Ollie Robinson - Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

11:35 AM

Over 17: SA 39/1 (Erwee 25 Petersen 2)

Anderson is hiding the ball in his run-up, which either means it's reversing or he wants the batters to think it's reversing. I think it's the former: he gets one to curve back into Petersen, who defends solidly. A challenging maiden ends with a nervous inside-edge onto the pad from Petersen.

11:30 AM

Over 16: SA 39/1 (Erwee 25 Petersen 2)

Erwee is dropped at second slip off Robinson! It was a desperately difficult chance, which almost came to Crawley on the half-volley as he dived forward and to his right. Robinson is bowling beautifully here; even when Erwee gets three runs, it's from a thick edge through the cordon.

11:25 AM

Over 15: SA 35/1 (Erwee 22 Petersen 1)

South Africa's No5, Rassie van der Dussen, has his index finger in a splint after hurting it in the field. I'm sure he'll bat, but it won't be a comfortable experience. If South Africa are to back in this game, one of Erwee, Petersen and Markram needs to make a hundred. Erwee has made a pretty assured start, though he's just been beaten by another excellent delivery from Anderson. His line is relentless.

11:18 AM

Over 14: SA 33/1 (Erwee 21 Petersen 0)

Ollie Robinson replaces Joe Root. He hits Erwee amidships, with the ball threatening to roll back onto the stumps before Erwee bats it away. A good start from Robinson, his line as tight as ever. A maiden.

11:16 AM

Over 13: SA 33/1 (Erwee 21 Petersen 0)

That's James Anderson's 662nd Test wicket.

11:15 AM


Elgar b Anderson 11 Sensational bowling from James Anderson! He beat Elgar with a gorgeous, lifting outswinger and followed up with a deadly delivery. It straightened a fraction, kept a bit low and sent the off stump flying as Elgar pushed defensively down the wrong line. He was definitely unsettled by the previous delivery. FOW 33/1

Dean Elgar is cleaned up by Jimmy Anderson - Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Dean Elgar is cleaned up by Jimmy Anderson - Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

11:10 AM

Over 12: SA 32/0 (Erwee 20 Elgar 12)

Root continues, in fact, and gets one ball to turn extravagantly, albeit from well wide of Elgar's off stump. Later in the over, Elgar shapes to play a ball that spits nastily into the gloves of Foakes. Promising stuff from Root, a bowler who is so frequently described as underrated that we probably can't call him underrated any longer.

11:07 AM

Over 11: SA 32/0 (Erwee 20 Elgar 11)

On Sky, Mark Butcher reckons Root bowled that over so that Leach could switch ends. That would make sense, especially as Jimmy Anderson is on at the James Anderson End. Or is it James Anderson at the Jimmy Anderson End.

Erwee drives pleasantly through the covers for three, with Leach scurrying after it to save a run with a sprawling stop. As usual, England's seamers are bowling over the wicket to Erwee and round to Elgar. The over ends with a jaffa that swerves past Erwee's rigid defensive push.

10:59 AM

Over 10: SA 28/0 (Erwee 17 Elgar 11)

Well, I never. The gentleman opening the bowling is... Joe Root. I suppose there's a certain logic to it, with two left-handers at the crease.

He has an LBW appeal turned down first ball when Erwee misses a sweep. Missing leg. Pitched outside leg in fact. Erwee gets the first runs of the day with a crisp drive to the extra-cover boundary.

Joe Root - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Joe Root - Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

10:58 AM

Here come the players

Test cricket is never more enticing than when bat and ball have an even chance of success. Today should be a good day.

10:28 AM

The scene in Manchester

Emirates Old Trafford - Mike Egerton/PA
Emirates Old Trafford - Mike Egerton/PA

10:24 AM

Stokes earns the right to play

It's notable that, for all his barnstorming brilliance, most of Ben Stokes's best Test hundreds have involved a judicious start. Once he got going yesterday, he was irresistible. But in football parlance, he earned the right to play. Scyld Berry wrote this terrific piece on his century.

10:13 AM

A bad day for Simon Harmer

There are levels to this thing of ours, as Simon Harmer found out on a frustrating afternoon at Old Trafford.

10:07 AM

Hello and welcome

To our live coverage of day three at Old Trafford. It could be the final day; it might be the antepenultimate day. None of us really know what to expect, given the variables involved - a pitch of many moods, a ball that will go very soft but should reverse swing, a South African side that fight to the death but have a tail beginning at No7, an England team that... well, don't get me started on them.

South Africa will resume on 23/0, still trailing by 241, after the Bens dominated day two in Manchester. Stokes and Foakes made terrific centuries – Stokes’s was a beauty – to give England the kind of lead that looked unlikely when Anrich Nortje blowtorched the top order.

England won’t want to chase much more than 150 in the fourth innings, so there is an opportunity for South Africa to grind their way back into the game. Their captain Dean Elgar, in particular, gets high on challenges like this. But if England dismiss him early on, they could get the job done in a hurry.