LONDON: Ollie Robinson returned his best England figures before South Africa hit back in the third and deciding Test at the Oval as 17 wickets fell on Saturday after cricket paid its respects to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Sussex seamer Robinson took 5-49 in 14 overs, his third five-wicket innings haul in 11 career Tests, as South Africa were dismissed for just 118.
Veteran quick Stuart Broad enjoyed a return of 4-41.
Yet an extraordinary third day — but the first active one in the game — finished with England 154-7, a lead of just 36 runs.
Left-arm quick Marco Jansen, who had top-scored for the Proteas with 30 after he was unluckily left out of the second Test, took the first four England wickets en route to 4-34 in 11 overs.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada then captured the key wicket of Ollie Pope, out for 67 on his Surrey home ground.
Pope fenced at a good-lenth ball outside off stump and was caught behind — to his evident disgust — as a sparkling 77-ball innings featuring 52 runs in boundaries ended tamely.
Surrey and England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, fresh from his unbeaten hundred in the second Test at Old Trafford, was 11 not out when bad light ended play half an hour before the scheduled close even though the floodlights were on.
“With the weather around, the wicket (pitch) being under the covers for three days, it did feel like one of the bowlers was going to get a bagful,” Robinson told reporters. “Fortunately it was me and it’s put the team in a great position.”
Broad’s haul meant he equalled retired Australia great Glenn McGrath’s career total of 563 Test wickets, with only England team-mate James Anderson (665) having taken more Test wickets by a fast bowler.
“He (McGrath) is a hero of mine,” Broad told Sky Sports after stumps. “He obviously played a lot less games (124 Tests to Broad’s 159).
“He was one of the greatest bowlers of all time, in my opinion.”
The opening day was washed out without a ball bowled and there was no play on Friday following the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch on Thursday, with just three days’ play left in this match.
But South Africa thrashed England by an innings and 12 runs at Lord’s inside three days before the hosts were as quick in winning the second Test in Manchester by an innings and 85 runs.
Stokes had opted to field first after winning the toss on Thursday and and Saturday’s overcast conditions favoured the bowlers.
After a minute’s silence in memory of the Queen, with the first rendition at a major sporting event in the reign of Charles III of ‘God Save the King’, South Africa’s longstanding top-order problems again became apparent.
But batting coach Justin Sammons refused to blame the unusual start to proceedings for the Proteas’ latest collapse.
“On the day they (England) were better than us and throughout the tour that’s generally been the case,” he said. “We know we haven’t been good enough as a batting group, but we are working hard to get to the standards we need to get to.”
South Africa captain Dean Elgar, the team’s most experienced batsman, was bowled between bat and pad for just one by Robinson and his exit was the catalyst for a slump to 32-5 in the first hour alone.
But Khaya Zondo, in his maiden Test innings, responded by lofting spinner Jack Leach for six.
Together with Jansen, he doubled the score from 36-6 to 72-7 before falling to Broad, who also dismissed Jansen, for an admirable 23.
England have had their own batting problems and the towering Jansen removed the struggling opening pair of Alex Lees (13) and Zak Crawley (five) with two probing deliveries.
And when star batsman Root, chasing a wide Jansen delivery, was brilliantly caught by Keegan Petersen at third slip for 23, England were 84-3.
England debutant Harry Brook got off the mark in style by cover-driving Jansen for four but fell for 12 when, after rain stopped play for 30 minutes, he carelessly hoisted Jansen to Rabada at long leg.
And there was still time before the close for both Stokes and Broad to depart for six apiece.


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By Dipak

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