England's Mark Wood. Picture: ACTION IMAGES/PETER CZIBORRA/REUTERS
England's Mark Wood. Picture: ACTION IMAGES/PETER CZIBORRA/REUTERS

England completed a comprehensive 3-1 series win on the fourth day of the fourth Test at the Wanderers on Monday.

Asked to score 466 to win and level the series SA, despite some purposeful resistance early in the afternoon, fell well short as they were bundled out for 274 in their second innings to lose the match by 191 runs.

It was the Proteas’ third successive Test series defeat after the humblings administered in 2019 by Sri Lanka at home and India away. It was also England’s second successive series win on SA soil.

The series defeat follows a tumultuous time in SA cricket. With some issues remaining unresolved, it will heap further pressure on the game’s highest decision makers as well as Cricket SA’s director of cricket Graeme Smith.

As expected, the sins of the first innings caught up with SA in their second stint at the crease.

Again England’s Mark Wood was the destroyer in chief,
bagging four wickets to go with the 5/46 he captured in the
first innings.

On the warmest day of the Test, Wood ran in from the Golf Course end every stride more determined than the previous.

Often he would bang the ball in short of a length on an unresponsive surface but he delivered with such force the SA batsmen were on the back foot in every sense.

SA did get a foothold in the middle session as Rassie van der Dussen (98) and Faf du Plessis (36) negotiated the England attack. The quicks all toiled on a flat surface and captain Joe Root, who had bowled a few profitable overs from a Proteas perspective before lunch, turned to Joe Denly.

Van der Dussen took a liking to him too and he was removed from the attack after just three overs.

Du Plessis, who has been struggling for runs of late, dug deep. He was patient and even got hit a few times but toughed it out until Ben Stokes was  reintroduced into the attack 20 minutes before tea.

One of the deliveries from the Corlett Drive end kept a little low and the ball found the bottom of Du Plessis’s bat before crashing into the stumps. He ruefully looked at the bottom of his bat after his 92-ball stay.

However, even bigger blows were delivered from the other end where Wood was charging in. He hit Van der Dussen flush on the chest, which had the batter drop to his knees consumed with pain. He required attention and returned to his feet.

Wood kept charging in, changed his angle during his next over and duly got Van der Dussen to drive injudiciously.

Bavuma, who scored 27 off 29 deliveries, got a brute of a delivery from Stuart Broad. It had him jump and fend in vain as he gloved one to Buttler.

Dwaine Pretorius displayed the never-say-die qualities of a lemming in his short stay. When a bit more caution should have been the order of the day he went on the pull against Broad and skied the ball to short fine leg where Sam Curran took a smart catch.

By now the Barmy Army was in full voice. The lads were imploring their team to "Get De Kock out".

But the man who fell next was playing in his last Test.

Vernon Philander, who bowled only nine overs in the England second innings due to a grade two hamstring tear, came out to bat at the fall of the sixth wicket.

With slightly restricted mobility he hit a few lusty blows before glancing one off his gloves down leg side to the wicketkeeper.

It was a rather tame end to a glittering career.

How he will be replaced is not the only question facing SA cricket over the coming months.

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