England in survival scrap after South Africa set mammoth chase

Scyld Berry
Wearing a new hat: Joe Root faces his first crisis as captain - PA

England retreated in good order on the third day of the second Test. But a retreat it is, which will end in South Africa levelling this series on day four or five, and deservedly, because they are better equipped for attritional cricket than this England side, which is multi-talented but collectively does not do self-abnegation and draws.

In limiting South Africa to 268 runs for the loss of eight more wickets before their declaration, England were as spirited as could be. Joe Root always tried to take wickets, in preference to falling back on defence, and his vice-captain Ben Stokes brought all his energy to the toil in spite of his left knee. As a key indicator of this team’s morale, England caught everything, including a couple of swirlers in the gusting wind, as a ball that whistled past James Anderson at gully could barely be classified a chance.

Joe Root wasn't defensive in the second innings and always tried to take wickets Credit: Getty Images

All these plusses, which prevented anyone scoring the first century of this series for South Africa, will serve England well in the rest of this series at the Oval and Old Trafford - if not here. It was hairy enough for England to survive four overs before the close, and the unevenness of this pitch is only going to become more pronounced for Morne Morkel, while even Liam Dawson has made a ball spin spitefully. So England will do well to survive until the second new ball, never mind the third.

But whether England lose today or tomorrow, the three main reasons will stay the same: their selection, their bowling on the opening morning, and their first innings collapse when they lost their last six wickets for 37 runs, not to the might of Morkel and Vernon Philander but Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj, to be dismissed in only 51.5 overs, having tackled difficult conditions with little more sagacity than England’s one-day team at Lord’s against South Africa and Cardiff against Pakistan.

Morne Morkel will enjoy the uneven pitch as South Africa close in on victory Credit: Getty Images

It was rather too complacent to name the same 12 on the day - last Sunday - that the Lord’s Test finished. The maxim about the right time to change a team is after a victory not a defeat: it should have a little bearing. Mainly, however, more research had to be done into the Trent Bridge pitch: was it really going to be one for two spinners in defiance of all modern precedent? The curious official re-branding of Dawson as England’s first spinner, and Moeen Ali as the second, can only have complicated the picture.

Durham’s Mark Stoneman should have been selected in a squad of 13 for this Test, with a view to batting at number three in the event of this pitch not resembling a turner last Friday morning. South Africa, after all, got their balance spot on: four seamers, one spinner. England would then still have had plenty of batting in the locker if, or rather when, the new ball made early inroads - with Gary Ballance at five, Ben Stokes at six and Jonny Bairstow at seven. Less of a suggestion of square pegs in round holes than the existing batting order.

England, secondly, failed to maximise the new ball in the opening session. Anderson had a field-day - a day too late. He found his rhythm and the right length in his spell of four wickets for four runs, but they were tailenders. Heino Kuhn was the unsung hero for hanging on until the game’s 28th over, by when batting was feasible for Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock who staged the match-shaping stand of 113.

Mark Stoneman should be called up for the squad for the third Test Credit: Getty Images

Thirdly, England will lose because of their batting collapse after Root had staged his superlative, Dexter-ish counterattack of 78 off 76 balls. With the wisdom of hindsight he would no doubt have throttled down, but strokeplay was so easy, for him, and he is only 26. Even so, England should not have then lost three wickets each to Morris and Maharaj: both Jonny Bairstow - after perhaps his sketchiest innings for England, certainly as a keeper/bat - and Stokes were bowled out, but Moeen and Dawson cooperated. Ballance could be the ballast that du Plessis is for South Africa, but not if he is succumbing to the new ball at three.

It has been a characteristic of England to win one game and lose the next, but these three specific reasons go further in accounting for the result than this generalisation. It is too early to tar England with the same brush: they will surely lose this game by a large margin of runs, given the pitch’s caprice, but on day three at any rate Root’s team suggested they will be harder to beat than the one which lost nine of 16 Tests last year.

Dean Elgar batted well for his 80 Credit: Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

South Africa demonstrated the right rate to bat here - three not four runs an over - as Dean Elgar clipped, sliced and squirted 80, Hashim Amla made a man of the match bid with 78 and 87, and Faf du Plessis added his 60 before being torpedoed. If Stokes from the Radcliffe Road end could bowl a shooter on day three, Morkel with his extra height could do a realistic imitation of West Indian fast bowlers on broken pitches in the 1980s.

Half a million bricks went into the construction of the Radcliffe Road stand; for almost five hours Amla seemed no less solid. The most disturbing feature for England is that Mark Wood has not penetrated on the two slow pitches, and has only one wicket for 197 and a bruised heel to show for it. Philander slog-swept a couple of consecutive sixes off Moeen, but he still became the first England offbreak bowler to take four wickets in a Test innings here since 1956, so ineffective has spin been.

6:46PM

Ottis Gibson, England bowling coach

This morning in the huddle, the captain said he wanted people to stand up. Anderson and Broad are fantastic for us and I thought Wood bowled well in patches.

Stokes was fantastic today and the spinners didn't have a lot to do but Moeen got four wickets for us.

Woody is our X-factor bowler. He's trying to run in and be aggressive. The wickets haven't come but he's given the team some honest effort.

Credit: Sky Sports

6:38PM

Close of play: ENG 1/0 (Cook 0* Jennings 0*)

The hosts require 474 to win, in theory. There are six sessions to survive. 

6:34PM

OVER 4: ENG 1/0 (Cook 0* Jennings 0*)

Another appeal against Cook now! It looked close, but Hawkeye suggests that Philander's delivery was just creeping over the top.

Credit: Sky Sports

The rest of the over is accurate and nippy, forcing Cook to play.  The final ball jags back into the batsman's body. That's the close.

6:29PM

OVER 3: ENG 1/0 (Cook 0* Jennings 0*)

A leg bye that deflects off Cook's pads allows England to get off the mark and make a minuscule dent in this monstrous victory target. Then there is another big lbw shout against Jennings! This time Paul Reiffel says not out. We will squeeze in another over.

6:25PM

OVER 2: ENG 0/0 (Cook 0* Jennings 0*) 

Jennings leaves the first ball and then nibbles at two typically probing back-of-a-length deliveries. The fourth tails back in slightly after Jennings shoulder arms. Philander completes another testing maiden.

6:22PM

OVER 1: ENG 0/0 (Cook 0* Jennings 0*)

Superb over from Morkel. He beats Cook on the outside edge second ball and makes the opener play twice more. Cook survives, though.

Here comes Vernon Philander, who is sure to give Jennings a similarly difficult examination.

6:19PM

Review!

Wow. Alastair Cook is trapped in front first ball! And Paul Reiffel gives it out! Cook reviews and a couple of seconds to ponder it, and...DRS' ball-tracker suggests it was going over the top.

Phew. Colossal relief for the England side.

6:17PM

England are out

Here come Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings, who is on a pair. Just over 10 minutes will probably mean three or four overs. Morne Morkel, fresh from whacking a few fours at the end of South Africa's innings, has the ball in his hand.

Credit: Sky Sports

6:10PM

End of innings: SA 343/9 dec

Faf du Plessis has called in Morne Morkel, leaving England 474 to win.

Credit: Sky Sports

The hosts will have around 10 minutes to face this evening. Awkward. Little. Period.

6:08PM

Wicket! Philander c and b Ali 42

Morkel hits another four down the ground before giving the strike to Philander, who mooses Moeen for two consecutive sixes and then smashes one straight back to the bowler. FOW 343/9.

6:04PM

OVER 103: SA 326/8 (Philander 30*, Morkel 12*)     

Philander and Morkel pick up a single each from Dawson. 

6:00PM

OVER 102: SA 324/8 (Philander 29*, Morkel 11*)    

Morkel pushes a couple into the leg side and then melts Moeen for two straight boundaries.

5:57PM

OVER 101: SA 314/8 (Philander 29*, Morkel 1*)   

In between a single each for Philander and Morkel Dawson gets one to spin absolutely miles down the leg side for four byes. The camera cuts to Faf du Plessis laughing outside the South Africa changing room. No wonder. The lead of 444 is now a formidable one.

5:53PM

OVER 100: SA 308/8 (Philander 28*, Morkel 0*)             

Liam Dawson is coming back into the attack so we have spin from both ends. 

5:51PM

Wicket! Maharaj c Broad b Ali 1

Fantastic catch from Stuart Broad. Maharaj tries to take Moeen downtown, but Broad ambles across from long-on to haul in a great grab. FOW 307/8.

Drink this in. 

5:48PM

Unwelcome guest of the day

It's always amusing to see stewards having serious conversations with punters in fancy dress. Trent Bridge is hosting Donald Trump this afternoon.

Credit: Sky Sports

 

5:46PM

OVER 99: SA 306/7 (Philander 26*, Maharaj 1*)            

Faf du Plessis is lurking on the dressing room balcony. It looks likely that England will have to bat again tonight. Keshav Maharaj has come in and looks busy, scampering a single. 

5:42PM

Wicket! Morris c Ballance b Ali 13

Moeen's first ball rags back into Philander, another delivery that underlines England's task. After Philander adds a single, Morris slices one over the covers for two and then top-edges a sweep. Gary Ballance circles around from short fine leg and clutches the skier. FOW 304/7

5:37PM

OVER 97: SA 301/6 (Philander 24*, Morris 11*)           

Philander nudges a single and Morris drives Stokes for another four through the covers before adding two more through square leg. South Africa pass 300 with a lead of 431.

We're going to have a bit of Moeen Ali.

5:34PM

OVER 96: SA 294/6 (Philander 24*, Morris 5*)          

This is enjoyable. Alex Hales, England's limited-overs opener, is in the crowd with a group of mates.

Credit: Sky Sports

Meanwhile, South Africa take seven off what might be Mark Wood's last over in this spell. The highlight is a gorgeous drive down the ground for four from Chris Morris.

5:28PM

OVER 95: SA 287/6 (Philander 22*, Morris 0*)         

Another ball from Stokes keeps low - a worrying sign for England given they will have to bat long and well to salvage this Test. It flies down the leg side past Jonny Bairstow for four byes.

Then Philander squeezes a wide, full ball into the floor behind the wicket. It smashes into Bairstow's right hand just below the thumb...

Credit: Sky Sports

...and the wicketkeeper requires treatment from the physio.

Credit: Sky Sports

That one really hurt, and South Africa nicked a single too.

5:22PM

Succession plan

Credit: Getty Images

The snappers at Trent Bridge have been on Root Watch and this is another nice shot of a conversation between England's new skipper and Alastair Cook, their old captain. It has been a day of furrowed-brows and frowning.

5:19PM

OVER 94: SA 282/6 (Philander 21*, Morris 0*)        

Wood completes a fifth maiden. Meanwhile, this encapsulates where England are. The celebrations of Stokes' wicket were muted.

5:14PM

OVER 93: SA 282/6 (Philander 21*, Morris 0*)       

Philander ruins a potential maiden for Ben Stokes by crunching the final ball of the over through the off side for four. 

5:09PM

OVER 92: SA 278/6 (Philander 17*, Morris 0*)      

The only three runs from another decent Wood over come from a squirt down to third man from Philander.

5:06PM

OVER 91: SA 275/6 (Philander 14*, Morris 0*)     

Stokes takes an early opportunity to bounce Chris Morris, but the South African ducks underneath it well. Here is how Stokes extracted du Plessis.

5:03PM

Wicket! Du Plessis lbw b Stokes 63

The men in the middle exchange leg-side singles off Stokes and then a ball keeps low from back of a length. Du Plessis is hit in front. He calls for a review, but Paul Reiffel's on-field call is not going to change. FOW 275/6.

Credit: Sky Sports

5:00PM

OVER 90: SA 273/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 13*)    

A good over from Wood, and a maiden. One ball completely flummoxed Philander, but the South African is still there.

4:56PM

Damning indictment 

Undeniably, England require an injection of energy or a significant stroke of luck - something, anything to haul themselves back on top. 

4:54PM

OVER 89: SA 273/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 13*)   

A Mexican wave is rolling around the stands with noise swelling and dying sporadically. Ben Stokes is back. He's bowled well today, and a pulled Philander single is the only run from the first over of his spell.

4:49PM

OVER 88: SA 272/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 12*)   

Mark Wood takes over from Stuart Broad and beats du Plessis outside off on the way to registering a maiden.

4:46PM

OVER 87: SA 272/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 12*)  

Philander drives Anderson for two, nudging South Africa's lead to 402.

Forget successful chases, there has just been one fourth innings total higher than that.

Credit: Sky Sports

4:42PM

Hanging tough

This is a captain's innings from du Plessis. Not pretty or fluent, but extremely important.

4:41PM

OVER 86: SA 270/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 10*) 

Philander crashes a four through the covers and then edges Broad for another boundary down to the vacant third man area. His inside edge brings another single to make it nine from the over.

4:37PM

Nice

Well executed, indeed.

4:36PM

OVER 85: SA 261/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 1*)

Anderson unleashes a snorter that so nearly snicks the outside edge of Philander's bat. Philander gets off the mark the next delivery, though - the 20th of his innings.

4:33PM

OVER 84: SA 260/5 ( du Plessis 62*, Philander 0*) 

Broad nips the ball back in and there is a stifled lbw shout. Then du Plessis responds with arguably the most authoritative shot of his innings so far, a lovely extra cover drive. Broad kicks the turf and shores things up for the rest of the over.

4:29PM

OVER 83: SA 256/5 ( du Plessis 58*, Philander 0*) 

Anderson dots up Philander for a maiden.

4:27PM

OVER 82: SA 256/5 ( du Plessis 58*, Philander 0*)

Impressive control from du Plessis, who forces a back-foot punch back past Stuart Broad for one. Philander scrambles a leg bye as he continues to play his way in and then Broad has du Plessis trapped in front...or does he? The umpire is unconvinced.

Joe Root calls for a review immediately and we see that the ball would have gone over the top. Good decision.

4:19PM

OVER 81: SA 254/5 ( du Plessis 57*, Philander 0*)     

A loose old Anderson loosener is short and wide, du Plessis going back to muscle it through the off-side for one. Philander negotiates the remainder of the over well.

Meanwhile, Moeen is top of the pops.

Credit: Sky Sports

 Here is his latest wicket. Bavuma should be frustrated with this.

4:14PM

OVER 80: SA 253/5 ( du Plessis 56*, Philander 0*)    

Interestingly, Joe Root is taking the new ball at the earliest possible opportunity. James Anderson marks out his run and will attempt to make some immediate inroads. 

4:13PM

Wicket! Bavuma c Root b Ali 15

Moeen is bumped for four over wide mid-on by du Plessis before Bavuma is brought onto strike with a single. Bavuma is down the pitch but can only toe the ball tamely to mid-off. Here comes Vernon Philander. FOW 253/5.

4:09PM

OVER 79: SA 248/4 ( du Plessis 51*, Bavuma 15*)   

A tidy over from Dawson sees just one du Plessis single. Nasser Hussain is leading a comparison of Dawson's action with that of Monty Panesar.

Credit: Sky Sports

4:06PM

OVER 78: SA 247/4 ( du Plessis 50*, Bavuma 15*)  

Stuart Broad has to dive at mid-on after Bavuma comes down the pitch to drive Moeen. Du Plessis and Bavuma trade singles and then the former punches three through the covers off the back foot. That's his fifty. A gritty effort that is grinding down England.

4:02PM

OVER 77: SA 241/4 ( du Plessis 46*, Bavuma 13*) 

A leg-side single to Bavuma brings du Plessis back on strike. He flips a shovelled sweep over his shoulder for two, picking up another couple into the leg-side to make it five from the first over of the evening session.

3:59PM

Gulp

It needs something truly historic for England to win this game. 

The players are back out with Liam Dawson about to resume.

 

3:48PM

Plenty to ponder

A good shot of Joe Root preparing to take to the field after lunch. The captain can be fairly pleased with England's character over the last session, although they are a long way behind in this game.

Credit: Getty Images

3:41PM

OVER 76: SA 236/4 ( du Plessis 42*, Bavuma 12*)

After du Plessis works one, Moeen opts to come around the wicket to Bavuma.

His first ball with this approach slides across the batsman, who simply leans in and strokes it for four through the off-side. Bavuma, starting to look assured against the spinners, adds another single and that is tea. South Africa lead by 366.

3:38PM

OVER 75: SA 230/4 ( du Plessis 41*, Bavuma 7*) 

A horrible drag-down from Dawson gifts Bavuma his first boundary, which comes from a pull shot. Here's a snap of the Hampshire spinner appealing for Amla's wicket earlier.

Credit: Getty Images

3:36PM

OVER 74: SA 226/4 ( du Plessis 41*, Bavuma 3*)

Bavuma sweeps carefully for one, du Plessis sweeps harder for four. Five off Moeen's over.

 

3:31PM

OVER 73: SA 221/4 ( du Plessis 37*, Bavuma 2*)    

Bavuma sweeps Dawson and du Plessis pushes to mid-off, both shots picking up singles to take South Africa's lead to 350.

Bavuma then steers to a diving Mark Wood at cover for another run to pinch the strike.

3:29PM

OVER 72: SA 218/4 ( du Plessis 36*, Bavuma 0*)    

An uneventful, tidy Moeen maiden is racked up.

3:29PM

Well I never

 

3:26PM

OVER 71: SA 218/4 ( du Plessis 36*, Bavuma 0*)   

Dawson has found a touch of rhythm and limits South Africa to another, pretty much identical, du Plessis single - squeezed wide of mid-on.

3:24PM

OVER 70: SA 217/4 ( du Plessis 35*, Bavuma 0*)  

A solitary du Plessis single off Moeen starts South Africa's consolidation in the wake of losing Amla. Here's the wicket:

3:22PM

WICKET! Amla lbw b Dawson 87

The on-field decision from Paul Reiffel is overturned. Amla was a long way down, but DRS comes to the bowlers rescue and grants Dawson some sweet revenge. FOW 216/4.

Credit: Sky Sports

 

3:19PM

OVER 69: SA 216/3 (Amla 87* du Plessis 34*)      

Hashim Amla doesn't seem like a vindictive man at all. However, he is treating Liam Dawson with utter disdain today. Amla looks at one ball and that is enough. He bounds down the track to the next one and goes over mid-off. The ball bounces fractionally short of the rope.

But now Dawson hits Amla in front. A big appeal is turned down but Dawson, mouthing "he didn't hit it", convinces Joe Root to review!

3:14PM

OVER 68: SA 212/3 (Amla 83* du Plessis 34*)     

I always think this takes some stones. Quinton de Kock, dismissed just before lunch for one, merrily walks around the boundary for a net while his mates accumulate runs in the middle.

Credit: Sky Sports

Two more this over, a single each. Liam Dawson is returning...

3:11PM

OVER 67: SA 210/3 (Amla 82* du Plessis 33*)    

Broad strays straight and Amla picks up another four through midwicket. There is a single through square leg next before a run out chance! 

Du Plessis pushed to Moeen at wide mid-off and hared up the track. Moeen's throw missed, though.

3:06PM

OVER 66: SA 204/3 (Amla 77* du Plessis 32*)   

Continuing his proactive approach to spin, Amla paddles Moeen around the corner for four runs. He then punches a single off the back foot to the the offside, taking his partnership with du Plessis to 50. He's doing that thing where he makes batting look very easy.

3:04PM

OVER 65: SA 199/3 (Amla 72* du Plessis 32*)  

Amla pings a pull shot that is well fielded by Liam Dawson close to the boundary. That is the only run off Broad's over.

His grimace from slightly earlier in the day sums up England's predicament. South Africa are well on top.

Credit: Getty Images

 

3:00PM

OVER 64: SA 198/3 (Amla 71* du Plessis 32*) 

Here comes Moeen. South Africa, especially the otherwise stoic Amla, have gone after spin so far in this innings. Sure enough, after Amla works an offside single, du Plessis unfurls a sweep that fails to connect. A good start from Moeen with only one off the over. That will hearten a watching Saqlain Mushtaq, who has been helping out England as a coaching consultant.

Credit: Sky Sports

2:54PM

OVER 63: SA 197/3 (Amla 70* du Plessis 32*) 

As Broad joins six dots for a maiden there is an interesting debate in the Sky Sports commentary box between Nasser Hussain and Shane Warne.

Essentially, Warne is bemused that off-spinner Moeen Ali has only bowled three overs in this innings. 

2:50PM

OVER 62: SA 197/3 (Amla 70* du Plessis 32*)

There are a few gasps from behind the wicket as du Plessis drives uppishly at Wood. Then a fuller ball is steered behind point more convincingly for four.

A second boundary arrives in the same area, which is not particularly pretty - du Plessis ending up with one hand on the bat. He keeps the strike with a legside single, making it nine runs off the over.

2:42PM

OVER 61: SA 188/3 (Amla 70* du Plessis 23*)   

Amla hits 70 by accidentally nutmegging himself via an inside edge - not with a Nat Sciver piece of genius. Then du Plessis works a legside single and it is drinks. South Africa lead by 318 runs.

2:39PM

Faf du Plessis pull shot

Credit: Getty Images

He's big on bottom-hand, Faf du Plessis, and South Africa's captain has scored a good deal of his runs off the back foot as well.

2:37PM

OVER 60: SA 186/3 (Amla 69* du Plessis 22*)  

Wood persists with going around the wicket. He whistles a couple past Amla's ears and hits the deck in another sense too, stumbling in his follow-through.

Credit: Sky Sports

 Amla is perfectly content to duck the shorter balls, but whips a single off the penultimate ball.

2:32PM

OVER 59: SA 185/3 (Amla 68* du Plessis 22*) 

Stuart Broad is into the attack. One of those crazy, Stuart Broad wicket-clusters would be handy for England. That is to say, they need a spark from somewhere. 

It isn't coming this over. Broad is driven through mid-off by du Plessis. Moeen Ali should perhaps have got down to that. 

2:28PM

OVER 58: SA 181/3 (Amla 68* du Plessis 18*) 

Wood skids from stump-to-stump. Amla works one and then du Plessis muscles a shortish, wideish delivery through extra cover. Wood responds well, rapping the batsman on the gloves...

Credit: Sky Sports

 ...but then du Plessis picks up another legside single when the bowler goes around the wicket for the final ball.

2:23PM

OVER 57: SA 175/3 (Amla 67* du Plessis 13*) 

A pulled single from du Plessis starts the over. Stokes goes fuller to Amla, who glances one more, and finishes well with a riser to du Plessis. That could be him done for now, though.

2:19PM

OVER 56: SA 173/3 (Amla 66* du Plessis 12*)

Wood keeps things tight to Amla, firing in a yorker to complete a maiden.

Cookie Monster, it turns out, is at Trent Bridge with Minnie Mouse. Of course.

Credit: Sky Sports

 

2:16PM

OVER 55: SA 173/3 (Amla 66* du Plessis 12*)      

Stokes starts with four dots, one of which is a short ball that du Plessis drags into his pads. The bowler then asks for some assistance with a foothole...

Credit: Sky Sports

 ...and a groundsman comes to his aid with a big mallet:

Credit: Sky Sports

 Prodded singles to du Plessis, on the offside, and Amla, on the legside, finish the over.

2:11PM

Pitch it up to dry up du Plessis?

 Serious number-crunching, that.

2:10PM

OVER 54: SA 171/3 (Amla 65* du Plessis 11*)     

A zippy set from Wood. The Durham man touches 88mph and slightly hurries du Plessis on the back foot a couple of times. Du Plessis pulls a single off the last, though.

2:06PM

Cookie Monster takes its seat

Donning a pair of hot dogs, oddly. On a diet, perhaps.

Credit: Sky Sports

 Mark Wood will replace Anderson.

2:04PM

OVER 53: SA 170/3 (Amla 65* du Plessis 10*)    

Stokes tries some short stuff at du Plessis, who ducks one bouncer before rolling his wrists over the second to manufacture a single to deep backward square. That makes the lead 300. 

2:01PM

OVER 52: SA 169/3 (Amla 65* du Plessis 9*)   

A run! Du Plessis flips Anderson behind square on the leg side for a single. England's swing king has a chirp at his adversary, and then gets more frustrated as Amla glances him fine for four. Anderson responds by beating Amla outside off.

1:57PM

OVER 51: SA 164/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 8*)  

Stokes spears his first two balls down the legside but then finds his off-stump areas. Amla has to play out the rest of the over with a straight bat, and inside-edges the last ball into his pads to draw some slip-cordon groans out of England. Three maidens in a row for England now.

1:52PM

OVER 50: SA 164/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 8*) 

Nasser Hussain drops the knowledge bomb that Amla's play-and-miss in the previous over was his only play-and-miss of a 110-ball innings so far.

Meanwhile, du Plessis does not look comfy. Anderson jags one back at him that narrowly misses the off peg before there is an uncertain waft/cut thing. Anderson registers another maiden. A good start from England.

1:48PM

OVER 49: SA 164/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 8*) 

Busy, bustling maiden from Ben Stokes. The fourth ball of the over is a beautiful seed, which beats the bat and thwacks into Jonny Bairstow's gloves. It is going to take something even more special to extract Amla, though. 

1:45PM

OVER 48: SA 164/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 8*) 

Anderson begins accurately to former Lancashire colleague du Plessis. The South Africa skipper leaves the first couple of balls outside off stump before stabbing at the third and the fourth, which trickles through the slip cordon for four. There are a couple of pokey drives from du Plessis to end the over. 

1:41PM

Afternoon session

The players are out in the middle. Sir Ian Botham is speculating about the momentum that England might or might not have built up with those two wickets before lunch. 

James Anderson is going to get us underway. Can England begin what would be a pretty astonishing rescue act?

1:22PM

Being Monty

Hello, everyone. Charlie here to take you through the rest of the day from Trent Bridge.

With South Africa's lead already at 290 and Hashim Amla purring, it looks bleak for England. They are going to need a historic chase, as this gorgeous graphic shows.

Highest fourth innings totals at Trent Bridge

Meanwhile, Sky Sports are playing an intriguing mini-documentary on Monty Panesar - his remarkable, high-fiving rise, subsequent fall from grace and rebuild.

Remember these wicket celebrations? Charming.

Credit: Sky Sports

It turns out that Panesar took 10 wickets for Bedfordshire against Staffordshire in the Unicorns Championship three-day competition at the start of this month. 

He's 35 and ends the feature with the sign-off that he want to play for England again. What a story that would be.

1:09PM

Lunch: England 160/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 4*) over 47, lead by 290

85 for two in the session off 25 overs. England rather flat to start with. A DRS howler when Broad had Amla caught behind but England failed to ask for the review. Stokes with his heavy metal and Anderson with his classical swing have given England a bit of hope, but... not really? Dawson roughly treated, Moeen unused.

Amla playing the match situation brilliantly, he's just looking to bat all day. If he manages another couple of hours, and his team-mates score around him, England are going to be chasing 400-plus. So much time left in the game that it is hard to look beyond a chastening defeat for the hosts.

After lunch, we welcome Charlie Morgan for his Telegraph over-by-over dayboo. I leave you in his capable hands.

1:02PM

OVER 47: SA 160/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 4*)   

Stokes digging the ball in to Amla, who is not buying. Stokes angles the ball into him from a length now, Amla leaves. Some 'ooos' from England, because he left it early and it wasn't a million miles away from the off stump. Amla sees out the rest of the maiden and that is lunch.

1:00PM

OVER 46: SA 160/3 (Amla 61* du Plessis 4*)  

Anderson. Desperate for another before lunch. Accurate, classy. Amla takes a single off the first ball. Any flies on Hash, they're paying rent. Faf survives.

12:55PM

OVER 45: SA 159/3 (Amla 60* du Plessis 4*) 

Stokes hammering out a furious, ferocious spot half way down the pitch as he looks to rough Amla up. Just a single off the over.

12:52PM

OVER 44: SA 158/3 (Amla 59* du Plessis 4*)

Du Plessis off the mark with four through leg. Anderson squares him up last ball.  Anderson having a word with Faf. Wants to watch that. Ref will be looking to even it up after the Rabada red card.

12:49PM

WICKET! de Kock c Bairstow b Anderson 1

Alas poor de Kock, we hardly knew ye. Anderson comes back on, and is, yet again, on his game right away. Third ball is a lovely delivery outside off, perfect length, does just enough. No shame in nicking that. FOW 154/3

The lead is 284. Is it too late for England to bowl themselves back into this?

12:45PM

OVER 43: SA 154/2 (Amla 59* de Kock 1*)                    

QdK at his rightful position in the order, rather than the utterly ludicrous 8 he came in at Lord's (nightwatchman above him but still). Greeted with a spicy meatball from a fired up Stokes that smacks into his glove as he defends his face.

12:42PM

WICKET! Elgar c Anderson b Stokes 80

England answered, and Ben Stokes delivered! An over full of pace, aggression, and short-pitched bowling. He bangs the ball in, Elgar tries to flip it over the legside, and/or duck out of the waynot quite a shot, not exactly a leave either. Funny looking effort. Dollies it up to square leg. FOW 153/2

12:39PM

OVER 42: SA 153/1 (Elgar 80* Amla 59*)                   

Is that Nottinghamshire Police? Come quickly, a young man has been assaulted...

Hash has had poor Dawson on toast there, whacked down the ground for four, then a six, glorious lofted shot and with an unmistakable air of dismissiveness about it. Nice way to get to a fifty. A leg-stump delivery a couple of balls later, that's soon being fetched from the legsied fence and the modern SA great that is Hashim Amla has taken Dawson for 14.

Joe Root is now facing his first proper crisis as England captain. Amla looks like he fancies another 311* here.

12:33PM

OVER 41: SA 139/1 (Elgar 80* Amla 45*)                  

Stokes fancies a change of ends and will try his luck from the Pav. Just one off the over.

12:28PM

OVER 40: SA 138/1 (Elgar 80* Amla 44*)                 

I don't imagine Hashim Amla as the sort of guy who lies awake at night worrying. I am pretty much certain he does not lay awake at night worrying about Liam Dawson. He's smacked the England spinner down the ground with an air of dismissal here. A single to he and Elgar makes six runs in the over.

Alarming to think that we are some hours away from the midpoint in the match, given how far behind England are in it.

12:22PM

OVER 39: SA 132/1 (Elgar 79* Amla 39*)                

For Wood to be at his most effective, he has to be express. He's around the 86mph mark here and that's just not quite rapid enough. Finds the edge of Elgar's bat here, but it's always going downwards as it runs through gully for four.

Something needs to happen for England here. Is it Liam Dawson?

12:18PM

OVER 38: SA 126/1 (Elgar 74* Amla 38*)               

Short ball from Stokes. Elgar pulls for four.

12:14PM

OVER 37: SA 122/1 (Elgar 70* Amla 38*)              

Mark Wood bowling either side of the wicket. Eight off the over. Four of them cut hard and late by Amla. Shaun Pollock, whose birthday it is, says that Wood's pace is down and speculates that this is because he's got a sore ankle and he cannot brace his front foot as firmly as he'd like as he lands for his delivery stride.

12:06PM

OVER 36: SA 114/1 (Elgar 67* Amla 33*)             

Stokes barrels in. Nothing much happening. A gritty hour from this South African pair has blunted any England hopes of getting on a roll. England take drinks looking and feeling pretty ordinary.

12:02PM

OVER 35: SA 113/1 (Elgar 67* Amla 32*)            

Getting some lift from the surface, Wood bends his back for some short stuff at Elgar. Who guides the ball through gully for four.

11:57AM

OVER 34: SA 108/1 (Elgar 63* Amla 31*)           

Double change. It is Stokes. Again, decent stuff until, again, a ball onto the legs. Elgar is miles across his stumps, taking guard on off. This ball is probably on about middle but is easily clipped away. Looks like Root and Stokes are not quite on the same page here. Root's got him a seven-two field (ie hang the ball outside off) but Stokes is bowling on the wicket.

11:54AM

OVER 33: SA 104/1 (Elgar 59* Amla 31*)          

I am a massive fan of Mark Wood. I love watching him bowl, the wild, joyous thrill of his run-up, his passion, his sense of humour. Seems like a terrific lad. It would be nice if he took some wickets. He has 1/151 in the series so far. Decent start to this over, right lines, but then a poor ball on the pads. "You cannot bowl there with a seven-two field," sighs Nasser Hussain. Indeed. Broad has himself a lengthy chase and dive to the midwicket rope.

11:49AM

England need something   

Is it Mark Wood?

11:46AM

OVER 32: SA 101/1 (Elgar 56* Amla 31*)         

Broad joins Anderson in the Misery Guts Club as he meticulously sets his field, bowls to it, and then Mooen Ali makes a schoolboyish misfield at short midwicket. England are flat, cross and on course for a defeat.

11:40AM

OVER 31: SA 99/1 (Elgar 55* Amla 30*)        

Really not happening for England today. Amla cuts a wide ball from Anderson. Stokes, at point, misfields and it goes for four.

Credit: Sky Sports

Anderson looks thoroughly delighted with life. Ball's not swinging all that much, just to compound his unhappiness.

11:38AM

OVER 30: SA 94/1 (Elgar 55* Amla 25*)       

Broad. Elgar. Anderson! Slashed to gully where Jimmy makes a wonderful effort, gets a hand to it. I suppose technically I have to control + b that as a chance but it would have been, in Sir Ian's words "an 11/10 catch".

11:33AM

OVER 29: SA 94/1 (Elgar 55* Amla 25*)      

Quiet over, three off Anderson. I'm still stunned by Broad not wanting that reviewed.

11:31AM

OVER 28: SA 91/1 (Elgar 52* Amla 25*)     

Broad very nearly pulls off the two-card trick. Pushes Amla back with the bouncer fifth ball. And sixth ball, it's in the channel, Amla fiddles at it. Caught! Surely? No! And, would you believe it, England have not reviewed. Broad not asking for a review. Now we really have seen it all.

Credit: Sky Sports

Warne: "Amla had a guilty look about him, he just put his head down." 

Credit: Sky Sports

Would have been out. Amazing scenes.

11:23AM

OVER 27: SA 89/1 (Elgar 51* Amla 24*)    

Bit of width for Jimmy, first moment for Elgar against James. Cuts for a couple. Now he thick edges for two, Stokes half stops it at third slip. Nothing's looked like carrying so far. Anyway, that brings up Dean Elgar's fifty. Well batted. He's needed a bit of luck but you cannot fault the determination.

And so we get to the sixth score in the fourth innings list, 284/6 in 2004 as England beat the Kiwis thanks to an unbeaten 104 from Thorpey.

11:18AM

OVER 26: SA 85/1 (Elgar 47* Amla 24*)   

Broad with a probing maiden to Amla. Not shown him the bumper yet.

Back to fourth innings scores...

England made 290/4 to earn a draw here against the Aussies in 1973, batting for 148 overs in a "chase" of 451. There is much to admire and enjoy about England's current team, but I don't think they've got that performance in them.

11:18AM

OVER 25: SA 85/1 (Elgar 47* Amla 24*)  

Anderson is at it. Lovely bowling to Elgar. Pestering that fourth or fifth stump line.

Fourth innings totals here. There have been some big-uns in defeat.

New Zealand made 440 and lost in 1973. And 345 ten years later, also losing. in 1930, Australia made 330 and lost. in 2013, one JM Anderson took five wickets as Australia scored 296 in defeat.

11:12AM

OVER 24: SA 84/1 (Elgar 47* Amla 23*) 

Broad. Good attacking line to Elgar. Threatening. But here's a nice shot from Dean, a drive down the ground firm and true for four runs. The same score the next ball, but these are ill-gotten gains. Broad squares up the South African opener, who gets in a tangle. It squirts off his edge, down into the turf, and penetrates the slip cordon for a boundary.

Oh dear. Dr Warne has the diagnosis already, and it's not good. "England look a bit flat. A few hands on hips."

11:04AM

OVER 23: SA 76/1 (Elgar 39* Amla 23*)

Yes Jimmy! Starts with a peach, right on the money. Shaves the edge of Elgar's bat as it snakes through to the keeper. A single now. Amla. Anderson finds the line to the right-hander straight away as well. Thick outside edge goes downwards.

11:00AM

205 runs to the good

Overcast. "Good bowling day, bit in the pitch. England need to get rid of the dangerous Amla early or they are going to pile on the runs," says Shane Warne. Sir Iron Bottom: "If ever there was a crucial session... Ball should swing, it's a bit warmer this morning."

Here is his successor as England's swing king, James Anderson.

Overnight score was SA 75/1 (Elgar 38* Amla 23*) off 22 overs, 205 ahead

Ben Stokes appealing for the wicket of Hashim Amla Credit: GETTY IMAGES

10:54AM

Just a few minutes until play starts

Bit cloudy this morning in Nottingham. Ball should swing, one imagines. No rain forecast.

10:28AM

Great historical stuff on Sky Sports 2 now

Atherton on Larwood, Bradman and Bodyline.

Professor Atherton Credit: Sky Sports

10:20AM

Nice piece by Jon Liew on James Anderson

Back in March, in a small room in the Headingley pavilion, a few of us were granted an audience with James Anderson. It was a cold day, the rain was splattering against the windows, and the familiar, languid rhythms of the Test summer seemed as distant as ever. So, in a strange way, did Anderson. With England in white-ball mode, England’s leading Test wicket-taker cut an almost peripheral figure, his thoughts preoccupied with the new county season and an extended stint with Lancashire.

The conversation soon turned to swing bowling, of which Anderson is one of the world’s greatest proponents. But he was also concerned: about the march of short-form cricket, and its impact on his craft.

“People want to watch high-scoring games, sixes being hit,” he lamented. “Whereas actually, I’d like to see a bit more skill. I don’t see why bowlers should get punished with short boundaries, flat wickets and balls that don’t swing.”

Like a master cartographer in the age of satnav, Anderson looks into the future, and is not quite sure he likes what he sees. He sees a game increasingly preoccupied by Twenty20, in which the art of swinging a red cricket ball - an art he has spent a lifetime mastering - is becoming undervalued to the point of obsolescence. Even Test cricket is beginning to experiment with pink balls now.

King of swing James Anderson is still supreme theatre at Trent Bridge

10:17AM

Real shame to hear that Woakes will be out for a while

Chris Woakes is set to miss the whole series against South Africa due to the side strain he suffered last month in the opening game of the Champions Trophy.

Woakes has returned to training but is still unable to use his front arm fully while bowling and with a lack of championship cricket for Warwickshire between now and the end of the South Africa series, he is unlikely to return to international cricket until England play the West Indies next month.

Woakes could be back in time for the fourth Test at Old Trafford but that coincides with a championship game for Warwickshire, and England are likely to want him to play in that match instead.

England suffer blow with Chris Woakes now likely to miss entire South Africa series

10:14AM

Here's Nick Hoult's take on day one

South Africa’s captain Faf Du Plessis called this match a ‘huge test of character’ for his team and they have risen to the challenge to put themselves in a position to level the series.

Their resurgence has left Joe Root facing up to the realities of what it means to be the England Test captain in only his second match after the team’s batting crumbled in a rerun of so many performances of the recent past. England have new leadership, but the same old problems persist.

They capitulated on a pitch offering assistance to the bowlers and failed to show the discipline and patience Test match cricket sometimes requires from players.

Their ultra aggressive, white heat approach cost them badly. Devising a Plan B has to be top of Root’s list.

They batted in one gear, flying along in the outside lane at 100mph but on a pitch seaming and swinging, and against two excellent South Africa fast bowlers, it was a gamble that backfired spectacularly to cost them a 130 run first innings deficit.

England batting frailty leaves South Africa well on top after second day of second Test at Trent Bridge

10:11AM

Good morning

Tyers here. Welcome to our live blog of the third day from Trent Bridge. 

A quick game's a good game, as the old hands like to say, and with 15 wickets going down on day two, the chances of this lasting all five days look remote. Bad news for the bar takings in Nottingham and, in all likelihood, bad news for Joe Root's new regime. England batted briskly but badly on Saturday, scoring 205 at four an over, when they would have been much better off trying to chip away at South Africa's 335. That is looking like a match-winning opening bid right now, especially after Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla watchfully guided the tourists to 75/1 at the close.

Not for the first time, England need a massive performance from one or both of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. You can never rule that out, especially not at Trent Bridge. They have nine five-wicket hauls between them here, including Broad's magnificent 8/15. Jimmy has an absurd seven five-fers here, only Beefy at Lord's (8) has owned an English ground more comprehensively. Between then, 96 wickets here, and England will need a few more quick ones starting in about 50 minutes time.

The South Africa lead is already 205, coincidentally England's first innings score.

10:02AM

Our preview

Yesterday, England admitted their batting fell below the required standards at Trent Bridge, but they still believe they can beat South Africa from a highly-improbable position.

James Anderson was the only England bowler to take a wicket - he managed five of the 15 which fell on a hectic second day - but it was England's batting which let them down as they were bowled out for 205 in little more than 50 overs.

They therefore conceded a first-innings deficit of 130, despite Anderson's five for 72, and were 205 adrift after South Africa reached 75 for one at stumps second time round.

South Africa seamer Chris Morris wonders already whether that might be enough for victory, depending on the overhead conditions to come in Nottingham.

Anderson, meanwhile, was left ruing a home innings which stumbled almost immediately to three for two and then, despite a briefly successful counter-attack from captain Joe Root (78), faltered terminally as the last six wickets fell for only 62 runs.

"We set ourselves such high standards with the ball and the bat, and we didn't do ourselves justice today," said England's all-time leading wicket-taker.

"It's frustrating to be bowled out for such a low score. But you're going to have days like that, we have a fairly young side still. We'll try and learn from days like this, not every day is going to be perfect. We'll try and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Anderson acknowledges that only a special performance over the remaining three days can keep England ahead in the series, after their win at Lord's - but he is not ruling it out.

"We need a couple of people to stand up with the ball to make inroads, and then bat out of our skin in the fourth innings to chase whatever total we are set," he said.

"There's plenty of time left in the game - that's a positive for us. There's time to fight back. There's plenty of character in this team. I know we can do it, it's just a case of dusting ourselves down and doing it."

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