This was a grim reality check for the Ben Stokes revolution

·40-min read
This was a grim reality check for the Ben Stokes revolution - AP
This was a grim reality check for the Ben Stokes revolution - AP

South Africa marked this famous win with a team photograph in front of the Lord’s pavilion not long after tea should have been taken on day three of the Test.

By then the England revolution had been halted in its tracks as effectively as the Tube strike had crippled London’s transport on Friday. South Africa, winners by an innings and 12 runs, inflicted the first defeat of the Ben Stokes era and what a walloping it was too, England bowled out for 149 and their two innings lasting just 496 balls – or 82 overs – basically a day’s play (at modern over-rates).

Only twice before have England lost so quickly at home. Those defeats were either in Victorian times or against a great West Indian attack but you suspect that under Stokes England's wins and losses will be of the spectacular variety.

Dean Elgar had told his players before the match to be inspired by Lord’s, not daunted, and their team photograph will hang with pride in Cape Town, especially if they can go on and win the series.

Elgar warned his side had improved and he was good to his word, as the tourists' outstanding attack exposed old England failings. The top three are jittery and vulnerable on pitches that help the pace bowlers and when Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow have quiet Tests - they contributed 32 runs in four innings here - the shallowness of England’s batting becomes evident.

Stokes’s one-paced batting – 100mph – has only come off in one Test at Trent Bridge this summer and Ben Foakes did his best to reinforce the view he struggles against quick bowling.

There were some poor shots, and the errors grew as the game went on, but it was mainly great fast bowling by an attack without a weak link that is smartly captained, too.

More than 36 per cent of balls bowled by South Africa were 87mph or quicker. England managed just 0.2 per cent at that pace – and that was the difference. Bairstow was dismissed by a 91mph snorter from Anrich Nortje and Alex Lees by one that touched 90. It is not that South Africa’s bowlers are necessarily more skilful - they are just those few clicks quicker, a factor which maximises variable bounce or assistance from the pitch.

Anrich Nortje tore through England's middle order with a hostile spell  - PA
Anrich Nortje tore through England's middle order with a hostile spell - PA

South Africa won a useful toss on day one but Friday was a good batting day with the sun shining, and yet they bowled England out in 37.4 overs, the bowlers working in partnerships and ensuring there was no let-up.

England do not have the potency to match. They allowed South Africa to take the game away from them on the second evening when Keshav Maharaj and Marco Jansen added 72 for the seventh wicket, making the most of gaps on offer as England stuck with the short-ball policy.

It continued in the morning with the second new ball, Stokes bowling the enforcer role when England had the greatest ever fast medium swing bowler to call upon. From 210 for six and 45 ahead, South Africa bowled again with a 161- run lead, more than their thin batting line-up should have managed.

Elgar pulled a surprise by throwing on left-arm spinner Maharaj after only eight overs and his two wickets before lunch opened up England. Nortje with three for nought in 10 balls blew England away. Kagiso Rabada was man of the match for seven wickets, his pace, nasty bouncer and clever slower ball the perfect package.

The challenge of Test cricket is that the same bowlers will be ranged against the same batsmen next week. Fast bowling can have a cumulative effect, particularly on tail-enders. Stuart Broad’s eyes-shut swipes disguised how little resistance came from the tail in either innings. Multiple Australian attacks have spooked England tail-enders in the past, and South Africa have the tools to do the same.

South Africa added 37 in 11 overs to their overnight score, England persisting again with the bumper. Matty Potts is not a bouncer bowler and nobody seems willing to tell Stokes to come off and give another tactic a go. Potts took a wicket, Jansen driving at a full-length ball, when he pitched it up.

The lead was substantial and in Zak Crawley England have an opener with deep problems while Lees looked far less assured than he did earlier in the summer in both innings.

Keshav Maharaj trapped Zak Crawley plumb in front - ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS
Keshav Maharaj trapped Zak Crawley plumb in front - ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

Crawley could barely find the middle, three or four leading edges landing safely against Ngidi and Rabada while Lees was dropped at slip in the third over.

Crawley played a poor sweep to Maharaj’s third ball and did not bother to review the lbw. Ollie Pope has an average record against spin – averaging 23 in Tests – and was deceived by Maharaj’s flight.

Root’s dismissal was lame, poking at a wide ball from Ngidi he could have left, but it was reward for the bowler, who cranked the pace up to 90mph while bowling with skill and accuracy.

Nortje was now steaming in from the Nursery End, pushing Bairstow back with a 95mph length ball. The Yorkshireman thumped a couple of fours but was drawn into defending a ball in the channel that straightened to flick the edge.

Lees nicked Nortje bowling round the wicket, perhaps thinking about the short ball messed up the footwork, while Foakes just dangled his bat and was caught behind, England 85 for six.

Broad swung Nortje away for six, and made 35 off 29 but lobbed Rabada’s skilful slower ball, the benefit of so much T20 cricket, to mid-off.

Potts was bowled hacking at Jansen, Anderson leg before soon after. Normally Saturday of the Lord’s Test is one of the summer's grand social occasions. Not this time. Instead, England can spend it reflecting on what went wrong.

South Africa blow England away to prove the enduring power of pace

By Scyld Berry, at Lord's

Try standing in the central reservation of a motorway. Or, rather safer, just imagine it.

Cars in the outside lane are exceeding the speed limit. The fastest of them are whizzing past you at 95mph. And it is your job, with a cricket bat in hand, to hit the driver’s wing mirror as it passes – and not just hit an edge of the mirror but middle it.

This is what it was like for England’s middle order when they faced up to Anrich Nortje on the third and what proved to be the final afternoon at Lord’s. Nortje’s competitive intensity had been on full show when he had batted in the morning, defying England’s bouncers. In return, and reprisal, he launched his rockets.

The Lord’s crowd went relatively quiet as England’s finest batsmen were blown away. There is nothing like it in cricket: the spectacle of the outright fast bowler overwhelming opponents with sheer speed. And Nortje’s choreography and the intensity of his desire were up to the same standard, as he screamed into his sun-hat when his captain Dean Elgar would not accede to his apparent request to switch to the Pavilion End.

It is beyond human instinct to react against pace in the mid-90s except in survival mode. If we are padded up and sent out to bat against Nortje, we should be able to duck or flinch out of the way out of some deliveries.

But only highly conditioned reflexes can score runs against his like. If the synapses of the brain have been expanded by batting from infancy, programming the trajectories and speeds of a hard ball, the player might have developed the capacity - after reading every cue in Nortje’s run-up and delivery – to upper-cut the short wide ball, or follow through if the ball is pitched up, in addition to ducking. Two or three conditioned reflexes.

England’s supporters on the ground, treated to little more than half of a day’s play, could only sigh at the inability of their team to reply in kind. Nortje is a rich man’s Matty Potts.

But it was not ever thus. It was only three years ago that Jofra Archer was bowling similar rockets, from the same Nursery End, against Australia’s Steve Smith and - once he had been concussed by Archer - the man who replaced him, Marnus Labuschagne.

It was earlier in the same year that Mark Wood bowled every whit as fast as Archer or Nortje on a quick pitch in St Lucia. Data, even the most incisive, does not include the distance from the bat at which the slips stand, but I have never seen any slips stand deeper than England’s did then.

Nortje – the pronunciation almost rhymes with snorter – was not alone. All of South Africa’s pace bowlers were faster than England’s fastest. Marco Jansen was South Africa’s slowest in average speed at 83mph (instead, he swung the ball most) and even he was quicker than England’s four seamers, who all came in at 81mph or 82mph.

Marco Jansen castled Matty Potts as England capitulated - AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Marco Jansen castled Matty Potts as England capitulated - AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

South Africa have always produced speedsters. Some of them might not have been very skilled, just whacking it in halfway as fast as they could, but there have been plenty of quicks, especially up on the Highveld in Johannesburg and Centurion.

The latest research, commissioned for England’s high-performance review, shows that the average speed of pace bowlers in the county championship is slower than that of their counterparts in the other main Test-playing countries.

Hence the flat pitches in early season in the last couple of years in the championship. Counties are being encouraged to produce bowlers of real pace or real spin, not dobbers between 70mph and 80mph. But what incentive is there for the young bowler to bowl 20 overs a day at 90mph? The ECB have to place the potential few on central contracts, and reward them handsomely for not signing up for T20 franchises.

Nortje is a rich man’s Potts partly because Nortje did not have to bowl 40 overs per game in the first six championship matches of this season, as Potts did for Durham. Lungi Ngidi is the Steady Eddie in the mid-80s. Kagiso Rabada has all the tools: not only the quicker ball at 90mph, and a bouncer whose ferocity startled Joe Root on day one, but a slower ball that suckered Stuart Broad: so much more efficient than trying to bounce out tail-enders with energy-sapping barrages.

England can yet win this series, as South Africa’s top order is none too seasoned. But to do so they will have to drag South Africa down to their level, by staging the last two Tests on green seaming pitches which reward those of lesser pace.

South Africa thrash England inside three days at Lord's – as it happened

04:42 PM

Stokes' post-match brief

This isn't a wake-up call or anything like that. Just unfortunately we were unable to execute in the way we wanted to play this week and South Africa were better than us.

04:32 PM

And another indigestible statistic

04:29 PM

The third shortest Lord's Test

04:25 PM

On Zak Crawley

Zak's an interesting one, the expectation is that he has to be consistent at the top of the order. That's not too easy in England. We are asking him to chase great moments, to go and win games for England. It takes a great deal of trust from Ben and the leaders of the side but also from him as well. He is obviously hurting now.

You try to bank the good experiences, we have a great deal of belief, but South Africa were too good for us on this surface,

04:21 PM

McCullum: 'We were outplayed'

We couldn't absorb the pressure this time [as we have at times in the past four victories].

We play the game with a clear mentality, the skipper and I, but I thought we were timid. You've got to be smart enough to make decisions, we tried to absorb it but we got a couple of jaffas.

South Africa deserved to win, they played very well.

It's not always going to be rainbows and butterflies. We have to suck it up. We were just outplayed. That's life.

04:17 PM

Rabada speaks

Always special to contribute to a team success. For us to get over the line, especially at Lord's, is really special.

All I try and do is repeat my processes and get into the contest and do what's best for the team and for myself.

The pitches here are different, bowling with the Duke's ball is different. It's about adjusting your lengths, and getting used to the ball

04:15 PM

Kagiso Rabada is the man of the match, but first his captain, Dean Elgar

We thought they'd bat hard and get a big lead. When it was our turn to bowl, we had to put the ball in the right areas. The guys did a great job.

I have got a great think-tank behind the scenes. Good coaches who give great advice. As things work out, with Kesh[av Maharaj] getting a few wickets. And bringing Anrich [Nortje] who bowls at the speed of light.

I am just looking to get better as captain

04:11 PM

Ben Stokes speaks

Captains before have also been criticised for the way the teams have played. This is not a wake-up call or anything, but we haven't executed our plans well. South Africa have played better.

I don't want to make excuses. Maybe there was a case for some of the guys to get a first-class game, but I don't want to be talking about it.

[What can you do better at Old Trafford?] Probably win the toss."

03:52 PM

South Africa win by an innings and 12 runs

South Africa won a toss that was vital to win but from that moment onwards their bowlers have had England by the throat with withering pace and relentless precision. We can debate strategy all we like but the gap in quality is what won this game for South Africa who used all their grit and nous to cobble together a decent score, confident that they could blow England away again, almost at will.

03:49 PM

Wicket!!

Anderson b Jansen 1  Castled by an off stump yorker.  FOW 149 all out.

03:48 PM

OVER 37: ENG 149/9 (Leach 0 Anderson 1)

After those two body blows, Anderson gets off the mark with a push through cover for a single.

England have been outclassed here with bat and ball but especially with ball. The relentlessness of the pace and precision of South Africa's attack offers a stark contrast with England's mid-eighties merchants. Oh for Archer/Wood/Stone.

But is 'Bazball' to blame? Potts played a rash shot, Foakes a poor one but the rest were undone by excellent bowling from four supreme practitioners plus Maharaj's guile.

03:40 PM

Wicket!!

Stokes c Maharaj b Rabada 20  Two wickets in two balls, one to end Jansen's over, the other to start Rabada's.  Stokes pulls hard and Maharaj takes a very good, running, sliding catch at deep midwicket.  FOW 146/9

03:39 PM

Wicket!!

Potts b Jansen 1  There will be no criticism of him for swinging and missing at a fast straight one because that's the strategy. FOW 146/8 

03:38 PM

OVER 35: ENG 143/7 (Stokes 17 Potts 1)

That was fun, but 'mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head' etc.

03:29 PM

Wicket!!

Broad c Elgar b Rabada 35 Did him with the slower ball. Broad backed away, was deceived by  the cutter and clthed it to mid-off.  FOW 141/7

03:28 PM

OVER 34: ENG 137/6 (Stokes 15 Broad 33)   

Broad sways out of the way of a bouncer from Jansen that follows him, it kisses his gloves and keeps rising over Verreynne for four. The next ball is another bumper that vaults batsman and keeper and England run a bye, raising the fifty partnership in the process. Nortje is sent for a breather and Rabada will come back from the Nursery End.

03:25 PM

OVER 33: ENG 129/6 (Stokes 14 Broad 28) 

Stokes joins the feast with a blistering off drive that flashes past Nortje in his followthrough. There were shouts of 'catch it' but losing his right hand would not have been a smart career move for Nortje who has delivered, in this spell, the fastest over England have faced in the past 10 years.  Stokes retreats to clip a cut through point for a single and Broad winds up against Nortje again, winding up Nortje in the process, smoking a drive through cover for four followed by a single through point.

England trail by 32.

03:20 PM

OVER 32: ENG 119/6 (Stokes 10 Broad 23) 

Broad's licence to pongo is awarded by Stokes' example. The captain skips down and swings and misses at Jansen, does it again and gleans a leg-bye. Broad flashes hard outside off and takes four over the slips.

Nortje and Elgar - Adrian Dennis/AFP
Nortje and Elgar - Adrian Dennis/AFP

03:15 PM

OVER 31: ENG 114/6 (Stokes 9 Broad 19)

Broad backs away and swings hard at Nortje's short balls, swatting the first over point for four and the pulling the second just wide of the man at midwicket placed there for that shot for another. After fending one just wide of short leg, Broad plays a Botham v Lillee Old Trafford '81 no-look-hook for six over fine leg. Backing away again he flaps two off the top edge wide of a scurrying, diving point's grasp. Fun in the sun, though they trail by 47. Time for Marco Jansen.

03:09 PM

OVER 30: ENG 98/6 (Stokes 9 Broad 3)

Spurious review from South Africa when Maharaj hits Stokes on the pad when sweeping but given the angle from over the wicket it would have had to turn a mile to hit the stumps, which it didn't. England run a leg bye from an overthrow before the burnt review. Broad sweeps for two and then presses a single through cover.

03:05 PM

OVER 29: ENG 94/6 (Stokes 9 Broad 0)

Stokes almost knocks himself off his feet trying to hit Nortje over the Edrich Stand but fails to connect.  He has to settle for two off a crisp punch through mid-on and a single tapped down to point. Broad defends the ball off his body then finds the edge when pushing forward but the ball drops short of a diving third slip.

South Africa's Anrich Nortje celebrates taking the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow - Adam Davy/PA Wire
South Africa's Anrich Nortje celebrates taking the wicket of England's Jonny Bairstow - Adam Davy/PA Wire

02:58 PM

OVER 28: ENG 91/6 (Stokes 6 Broad 0)

Stokes drives handsomely for four through cover and reverse sweeps for a single. Maharaj then ties Broad in knots as the left-hander attempts to perfect his sweep strategy ... but fails.

02:54 PM

NOT OUT

DRS shows that the ball would have shaved the top of leg stump as Broad went down to paddle sweep.

02:52 PM

South Africa review

Broad lbw b Maharaj

02:52 PM

OVER 27: ENG 86/6 (Stokes 1 Broad 0) 

Captain, your ship is sinking. Considering they were 58 overs short of a full day on Wednesday, this could be a very quick defeat indeed in terms of overs and minutes in an era of increasing frequency for three-day Tests.

02:49 PM

Wicket!!

Foakes c Verreynne b Nortje 0  Terrible shot. The ball wouldn't have hit another set of stumps on top of another set of stumps but his mind scrambled by extreme pace, Foakes has a flick at it and nicks it through to the keeper.  FOW 86/6

02:44 PM

Wicket!!!

Lees c Verreynne b Nortje 35  Nortje dispatches the left-hander from round the wicket, doing him with pace and precision, eliciting a whisper of an edge as he pushed forward to one that straightened on him late.  FOW 86/5

02:43 PM

OVER 26: ENG 85/4 (Lees 35 Stokes 1) 

Lees pokes a single off Maharaj down to the point boundary rider, Stokes, the Archbishop of Bazballery, demonstrates that there will be no resiling from the one true faith with two reverse sweeps, only one of which connects, but it gets him off the mark with a single. Lees sweeps in the traditional way and earns three, smartly run.

02:40 PM

OVER 25: ENG 81/4 (Lees 31 Stokes 0) 

Even from the 'wrong end' Nortje's pace and angle poses problems for Bairstow. The batsman began the over with a rasping square cut for four, fiddled after a wider, fuller one and departed when Nortje tightened his line and maintained such sharp pace.

Stokes is struck on the thigh from round the wicket first ball and then is yorked by a wide one as he jabbed his bat down to try to chop it through point.

02:34 PM

Wicket!!

Bairstow c Verreynne b Nortje 18  Nortje drops to one knee and starts punching the air after a 91mph beauty, tearing towards off-stump off a good length draws a feathered edge.  FOW 81/4

02:32 PM

OVER 24: ENG 77/3 (Lees 31 Bairstow 14)

Elgar will keep Nortje in his box at the other end as long as Maharaj is threatening Lees' dismissal from the Pavilion End. Bairstow uses his feet to pat a single but his former Yorkshire team-mate is not so nimble and gets into an unholy tangle trying to reverse sweep, missing the ball and wearing it in the ribs as he crouched down instead.

02:29 PM

OVER 23: ENG 75/3 (Lees 30 Bairstow 13)

Bairstow mistimes a pull off Nortje slightly but runs four anyway when the ball is chased down to long on by Ngidi. The run-rustler turns an ordinary batsman's single into two when he Harrow drives, then we see both faces of Jonny: an imperious square cut for four, followed by a big yahoo at a drive, beaten for pace outside off.

Nortje wants the other end and turns the air blue in frustration at himself when Bairstow blocks a good length 94mph delivery unfussily.

02:24 PM

OVER 22: ENG 65/3 (Lees 30 Bairstow 3)

Just the single of Maharaj's eighth and enough turn to keep Bairstow quiet until he pokes one wide of slip.

02:22 PM

OVER 21: ENG 64/3 (Lees 30 Bairstow 2)               

Anrich Nortje is brought on to see if lightning (pace) can strike twice against Bairstow. He is on at the Nursery End, the end from which he demolished Bairstow's timbers on Wednesday, but not his preferred end. Lees takes a single and a two through square leg, the latter flinched off his ribs wide of short leg. Bairstow punches a single off the back foot through cover.

02:18 PM

OVER 20: ENG 60/3 (Lees 27 Bairstow 1)               

Bairstow gets off the mark with a flick of the wrist through midwicket for a single, Lees works one behind square, past short leg and in front of leg slip.

02:13 PM

OVER 19: ENG 57/3 (Lees 25 Bairstow 0)               

Killer blow for Ngidi and he celebrates accordingly before greeting Bairstow with a hooping, cross-seam inswinger that beats everything. The bowler ramps it up to 91mph, targets the Bairstow gate and the stumps with a full length, pace and inswing. Until the last ball, that is, which spits up at Bairstow and he manages to keep it down with quick hands.

Wicket maiden.

02:07 PM

Wicket!!

Root c Markram b Ngidi 6  Suckered into playing at one needlessly, he almost steers it down Markram's throat at second slip. Very hard hands from Root, totally out of character.  FOW 57/3

02:06 PM

OVER 18: ENG 57/2 (Lees 25 Root 6)             

Root plays that remarkable shot where he moves his legs into a position to reverse sweep but paddles it into the legside anyway. They run a single. Lees drives for one and then Root plays the orthodox/unorthodox reverse sweep to make three.

02:03 PM

OVER 17: ENG 52/2 (Lees 24 Root 2)             

Jansen has now closed the gap at fourth slip between him and Peterson at third and is standing in front of him for the first time after that Lees thick edge in Ngidi's previous over. There is a big gap between point and mid-off but Ngidi only goes full enough occasionally and Lees slices his drive off the final ball too close to point to ruin the maiden.

01:58 PM

OVER 16: ENG 52/2 (Lees 24 Root 2)           

Well as Maharaj has bowled, Jansen would be more of a threat to Root. The spinner comes round the wicket to Lees who uses the unusual angle of left-armer to left-hander to work two through the onside, then burgles a single to cover with a firm push.

01:55 PM

OVER 15: ENG 49/2 (Lees 21 Root 2)           

Root goes up on his toes to cover the bounce of a back of a length delivery from Ngidi, gliding it late fine of point for a single. It's his moneymaker shot, the one that gets him into trouble sometimes in Australia but is far too productive to jettison. Lees drives, bat away from his body, feet planted in the crease and thick edges it wide of third slip for four. The next ball is fuller and he taps it, more toe than meat, through cover for a single.

Lees is not particularly elegant even at his most fluent but he is toiling today for timing, climbing into a pull and bottom edging it into the ground. Verreynne makes a sharp stop to save four.

01:50 PM

OVER 14: ENG 41/2 (Lees 14 Root 1)         

Maharaj posts a slip, leg slip, silly mid-off and short leg for Lees who gets off strike wisely off the first ball of his new spell, pushing a drive through mid-on for a single. The catchers retreat for Root, leaving only a slip and he gets off the mark with a clip through cover.

Pope trapped lbw - ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
Pope trapped lbw - ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

01:45 PM

OVER 13: ENG 39/2 (Lees 13 Root 0)         

Ngidi comes round the wicket to Lees and starts with five dot balls, using the angle to test both edges of the left-hander's bat. The final ball, though, is on middle and Lees works it through midwicket for a single.

01:42 PM

The players are back out

And play will resume with Lees facing Ngidi who has switched to the Nursery End.

01:10 PM

LUNCH: ENG 38/2 - trail by 123

Difficult morning for England and the loss of two wickets may turn lunch to ash in the mouths of some of their supporters. The ball turned square a couple of times yesterday but that is not Maharaj's forte. He weaves his spell by changes of flight, pace and mastery of skid. Root is a wonderful player of spin and will have faced him at Headingley as Yorkshire team-mates. Hope remains but this is yet another sticky situation for England this summer. They have managed to crawl out triumphantly from deeper holes but South Africa have a formidable attack.

01:06 PM

OVER 12: ENG 38/2 (Lees 12)         

Jack Leach bagged his wicket yesterday with flight, Maharaj has taken two today with a much flatter trajectory, skidding the ball on to the right-handers and giving most watchers the impression that England's ship is sinking. It will take a Root 'boy stood on the burning deck' innings to extricate England from this ... or  Bairstow and/or Stokes step into the breach.

01:01 PM

Wicket!!!

Pope lbw b Maharaj 5  Like Stokes in the first innings, Pope departs in the final over before lunch, pinned on the knee roll as he tried to work it away off the back foot. Looked on first viewing as if it might be heading down the legside but DRS lit up three reds and showed it hitting leg stump full on.  FOW 38/2

01:00 PM

South Africa review   

Pope lbw b Maharaj

12:59 PM

OVER 11: ENG 37/1 (Lees 11 Pope 5)       

Another high quality, probing over from Rabada let down only by the first ball that cannoned into Pope's pads and rebounded fine for four leg byes as Pope tried to flick it away. The next ball jags in and strikes Pope on the hip but the right-hander is up to the test, knowing when to hold 'em, knowing when to fold 'em, leaving a couple of ones tight to off stump and blocking the others.

12:56 PM

OVER 10: ENG 33/1 (Lees 11 Pope 5)       

A single apiece of Maharaj, Lees's on the sweep, Pope's flicked through midwicket from deep in his crease.

Crawley lbw b Maharaj - Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra
Crawley lbw b Maharaj - Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

12:49 PM

OVER 9: ENG 31/1 (Lees 10 Pope 4)     

Rabada fires a slanting bouncer over Pope's left shoulder and it sails away for four byes, Verreynne having no chance. He continues with shorter stuff to Pope who opens the face to dab two down to third and then pitches up and Pope whisks a single through midwicket.

Lees ends the over with a crisp off-drive, sweetly timed, for three.

12:46 PM

OVER 8: ENG 21/1 (Lees 7 Pope 1)     

England preach loyalty but Crawley looks cooked and deserves a rest for his own sake as much as ours. Maharaj did bowl that one flatter but it was straight and would have hit the top of middle.

12:41 PM

Wicket!!

Crawley lbw b Maharaj 13  It's England's policy to get after the spinner in his first over and Crawley obeys the instructions, kneels to sweep and is pinned in front of middle. FOW 20/1

12:40 PM

OVER 7: ENG 18/0 (Lees 7 Crawley 11)   

Nice stroke from Lees, square driving Rabada for two but he chases a short wide one at the end of the over and is beaten by late movement. Time for some South Africa spin for the first time in the match.

12:36 PM

OVER 6: ENG 16/0 (Lees 5 Crawley 11)   

'Has tha' bat got an 'ole in t'middle?' South Africa, by way of Bradford Park Avenue, might well ask Crwaley who gleans two off another leading edge as he closed the face. He was looking to work it through square leg but instead flapped it at catchable height through midwicket for two.

He is clinging on to the precipice by his finger nails at the moment. In fairness, both are.

12:32 PM

OVER 5: ENG 14/0 (Lees 5 Crawley 9) 

A leading edge almost sinks Crawley as he closes the face on Rabada too late but the ball lands short of cover. The next ball is pitched further up, in the slot, and he drives for two then tickles a single off his toes down to fine leg.

Rabada ends the over with a tempter to Lees, shorter and moving away as he followed it but, gladly for him, failed to connect.

12:28 PM

OVER 4: ENG 11/0 (Lees 5 Crawley 6) 

Crawley uses Ngidi's angle of attack to twist a straight one through square leg for a single. Lees, more assured of his place for the next Test than his partner, looks to be batting on shakier ground so far, nicking a defensive to a ball from round the wicket into his pad. Seems to be troubled by movement in and out but ends the over in better fettle after a judicious but tight leave and a solid forward defensive.

12:23 PM

OVER 3: ENG 10/0 (Lees 5 Crawley 5)

Crawley flicks a single through midwicket and Lees gets off the mark with a good stride into a full one to cover drive for four. Two balls later Peterson gives him a life by diving across second slip from third to tip a woolly waft round the post. Second slip only had to move a foot to get both hands to it and it was arrowing towards his midriff. Lees runs a single in relief.

12:19 PM

OVER 2: ENG 3/0 (Lees 0 Crawley 3)

Good nut first up by Ngidi, nipping back into Crawley's thighpad. Too high to warrant a sincere appeal but South Africa groan loudly all the same. The next two veer in to Crawley as well, the batsman defending one and letting the other go as Verreynne has to hotfoot it to his left to prevent four byes.

Crawley defends another nip-backer and runs two via the inside edge to deep backward square then pinches the strike with a firm pat through point, a firm pat of affection for a cocker spaniel.

12:14 PM

OVER 1: ENG 0/0 (Lees 0 Crawley 0)

Rabada begins with three slips, Jansen at fouth some distance behind third and a catching point, two strips across, plus short leg.

Lees lets the first one go by and the third as Rabada tries to locate his line. He pushes the second ball crisply to mid-off, too crisply to snatch a single despite Crawley's eagerness and allows the rest of the over to thud into Verreynne's gloves.

Ngidi, contrary to earlier rumours, will share the new ball.

12:07 PM

South Africa 326 all out - lead by 161 runs

Quite a lot of seemingly unnecessary damage inflicted by South Africa from 192 for five as England's tactics proved very expensive last night. They wrapped up the final three wickets for 44 but South Africa will be delighted by the magnitude of their lead. Lungi Ngidi isn't warming up to bowl which should give England an opportunity of they can tire the other three. Both Broad and Stokes ends with figures of three for 71.

11:59 AM

Wicket!!

Ngidi c Bairstow b Broad 0  A mixture of the sacred and the profane, not in that order. Bairstow dropped a sitter moving to his right and then swooped down with lightning reflexes to grab the ball with his left hand before it kissed the turf.  FOW 326/10

11:58 AM

OVER 89: SA 326/9 (Nortje 28 Nigidi 0)     

Nortje is taking a liking to Stokes' bowling. He may be stepping away but his hand speed allows him to rack up successive fours, the first chopped gracefully down to third man, the second larruped through the covers.

11:54 AM

OVERS 87 & 88: SA 318/9 (Nortje 20 Nigidi 0)   

Apologies - slight technical issue wiped out the 87th over entry which had Nortje's classy on-drive of Stokes for four as its highlight.

Broad then struck with the first ball of the 88th over but could not induce Ngidi to play a shot to the remaining five which troubled neither pads nor stumps.

SA lead by 153.

11:48 AM

Wicket!!!

Jansen c Crawley b Broad 48  Orthodoxy pays off, Broad angles it in down the channel, Jansen went for the drive and nicked off to second slip where Crawley took the catch with his fingers pointing upwards.  FOW 318/9

11:44 AM

OVER 86: SA 314/8 (Jansen 48 Nortje 16)   

Oh no. Having broken Jofra Archer and Mark Wood by forcing them to bang it in, they ask Stuart Broad to continue the bombardment from round the wicket and he manages to do so, but at 79mph. Is this the result of analysis or just a hunch? Seems a mad waste of a great bowler's talent.

After Nortje slaps three over mid-off, a voice in the crowd yells 'Pitch it up!' and Broad mercifully obliges but probably only because Jansen is on strike. He changes to over the wicket and immediately looks more threatening, nipping the ball into the right-hander.

11:40 AM

OVER 85: SA 309/8 (Jansen 47 Nortje 12) 

Jansen strolls a leg-bye off Stokes, Jansen flicks one through square leg. After the ebb, here is the flow.

11:38 AM

OVER 84: SA 306/8 (Jansen 47 Nortje 10) 

Potts really isn't equipped to bowl leg theory, the wicket of Rabada notwithstanding. He's just too short. Nortje steps back to another riser and slashes it over the slips. Crawley at third man thinks he has a chance of getting to the ball before it bounces but it looked all but impossible. The ball races past him after it bounces for four.

Nortje has another dart at a short one, clubbing it over cover for three.

11:32 AM

Nick Hoult reports

Lots of empty seats at Lord’s for the start. Not a surprise given the chaos caused by the tube and bus strikes in London. Shame because it will be a ‘strap yourself in’ kind of day. Having paid £140 you don’t want to miss much of the action.

11:31 AM

OVER 83: SA 296/8 (Jansen 45 Nortje 2)

England continue with their twin-track approach, bouncing Nortje and trying to find Jansen's edge. Stokes almost gets one to kiss Jansen's glove but he gets them out of the way in the nick of time and jogs a bye when a short one shoots down the legside.

Jansen pushes a single to cover.

Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes - Adam Davy/PA Wire
Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes - Adam Davy/PA Wire

11:25 AM

OVER 82: SA 294/8 (Jansen 44 Nortje 2)

Potts pitches up and beats Jansen with a ripper that angles in, hits the seam and sears away as the batsman gropes blindly in its wake. Nortje took a single off the first ball by tucking a rib-tickler round the corner.

11:23 AM

OVER 81: SA 293/8 (Jansen 44 Nortje 1)

No sign as yet of the stiff leg Stokes seemed to be carrying yesterday after hyperextending his knee. He bounds in, bristling with aggression, targeting Jansen's off stump. The allrounder casually pushes a single to cover and exposes Nortje to four balls again. The No10 batsman sways out of the road of one of the chest-high bouncers then follows a wider one, chopping it over Anderson at gully for a single off a thick edge.

11:18 AM

OVER 80: SA 291/8 (Jansen 43 Nortje 0)

Potts treats Nortje to some chin music in the last over before the new ball after Jansen pats a single to mid-on. Stokes will take the new ball. Jansen has no inhibitions about exposing Nortje.

11:11 AM

OVER 79: SA 290/8 (Jansen 42 Nortje 0)

In fact Stokes does have an orthodox field for Jansen, pitches it up and the all-rounder flicks a single off middle and leg through square leg.

Nortje, by contrast, is greeted by a bouncer that he ducks and another he fends off his sternum wide of Pope at bat-pad.

11:07 AM

OVER 78: SA 289/8 (Jansen 41 Nortje 0)

I was about to write in curmudgeonly fashion that the wickets of Maharaj and Erwee had only emboldened England in their embrace of leg theory for the tail instead of the orthodox line they reverted to for Verreynne successfully. There is no one in front of square on the off side. But the short ball ploy works, even when practised by the skiddy Potts, and he succumbs. Stokes will open from the Pavilion End.

11:01 AM

Wicket!!!

Rabada c Broad b Potts 3 Stunning catch at mid-on! A short ball, flat-batted and Broad took a couple of steps backwards, leapt and took a blinder one-handed that would merit a place in the Stokes catching hall of fame.  FOW 289/8

10:59 AM

Jerusalem rings out around the ground

There is a strike by workers on the London Underground today but it is difficult to tell whether it has affected prompt attendance as the stands usually take time to fill up, day one of an Ashes Test apart. There are big gaps in the lower Tavern, the Grandstand and the upper Mound as the players come out. Matthew Potts will open the bowling from the Nursery End.

10:37 AM

Just had an interesting conversation with Scyld Berry

He points out that Lungi Ngidi is not warming up and yesterday posited that he was injured when he did not open day two's play from the Pavilion End. That would mean South Africa would be reduced to three quicks, Marco Jansen taking the new ball with Kagiso Rabada, and a lot of work for Maharaj if England can see off the opening 30 overs.

10:34 AM

Hello from Lord's

Welcome to live coverage of day three of the first Test between England and South Africa from Lord's which begins with the touring side 124 runs ahead with three wickets left and the new ball three overs away.

England put up Jack Leach last night for interview on Test Match Special and he was extremely equivocal, answering 'maybe',  'I don't know' and 'only time will tell' to a number of questions about whether he expected it to turn so much on day two, England's position in the match and whether it will turn even more in the fourth innings. I suppose after a topsy-turvy day like yesterday, it was the perfect straight bat but not very enlightening.

England employed all their grit and resilience to claw their way back into the match but conceded the initiative in that third session when testosterone overtook the little grey cells, they took off Leach and proceeded to try to bounce Keshav Maharaj out. He refused to be lured into the trap, played cunningly and made 41 vital runs until he finally succumbed to temptation, his job already done.

Although he would not say it, given how much the ball did turn yesterday, England still have a fighting chance if they can post a target above 150. The only question is whether they have the batting to withstand South Africa's pace quartet long enough to get there and much of that will depend, I suspect, on Joe Root. Looks a belter of a day for a long innings but even when the sun is shining, Messrs Rabada, Ngidi, Jansen and Nortje will cloud the horizon. One thing, though. Only Rabada has looked comfortable from the Nursery End. Perhaps if they can hold out long enough to force one of the other quicks to run up the hill and fight the slope, there will be opportunities to score.

Play starts at 11am, lunch at 1pm, tea at 4.10pm and close at 7pm to compensate for the loss of play on day one.

10:24 AM

'Bazball' meets its Kryptonite: South Africa's attack and the moving ball

England have vowed to keep on attacking but South Africa's pace and movement provided sternest test of the summer. Read Tim Wigmore's full analysis of a chastening day here. 

09:43 AM

Good morning

Welcome to our coverage for day three of the first Test of England v South Africa at Lord's. After a rain-interrupted opening day, Thursday was a day where South Africa really got stuck into England. They took the final four wickets for 49 runs, leaving England with a meagre 165 first-innings total. Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the bowlers with five wickets an a well-deserved appearance on the honours board but it was a strong performance all-round. England never really got into the game.

The South Africa batsmen then took off where the bowlers left off, with a strong opening partnership of 85. England then hit back at regular points after that, reducing the tourists to 210/6, but then a 72-run stand between Keshav Maharaj and Marco Jansen put England well behind in the game again.

Nick Hoult adds a bit more detail from his match report from Lord's:

Stokes, with three for 53 across three spells, was forced into bowling more than he would have wanted due to the lack of cutting edge from the rest and while he did pull South Africa back after a commanding start, a sparky seventh-wicket stand of 72 from 75 balls between Keshav Maharaj and Marco Jansen took the day away from England.

England have always managed to find a way back this summer and are impossible to write off because the players feed off Stokes’s belief he can win from any position. Those who beat the Tube strike to be at Lord’s on Friday are set for a thriller but this time they start their second innings not chasing a target, but trying to set one up from the position of a sizeable first-innings shortfall. It is new territory but something they will try to seize.

Stuart Broad, certainly, was talking up England's chances despite a difficult day with the bat and in the field.

“We've got a genuine feeling like we're still in this game.  We've proved this summer that you know, anything can happen and we feel really positive in the change room that we've got ourselves back in the game.

“I know South Africa are 120 ahead, but there's no doubt it was pretty good batting conditions, particularly when the ball got softer.

“When you get bowled out relatively cheaply in the first innings, you’ve got to make it a first versus fourth innings game. So we've got to try and get enough ahead that we can we can try and defend that on day four and five on on a relatively dry pitch.”

Broad said that England were confident that they could defend “anything above 150” in the fourth innings of the Test.

“We feel like tomorrow is a must-win day,” he said. “We’re going to have to have a couple of great days.”

Hard to argue with his final assessment there.