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The rise and rise of Moeen Ali

Finally, England have won a Test series against South Africa after 19 years. The last ...

The rise and rise of Moeen Ali

Finally, England have won a Test series against South Africa after 19 years. The last time England beat South Africa on their soil was in 1998 when they beat the Proteas 2-1. South Africa won the Test series in 2008 (2-1) and in 2012 (2-0). The 2003 five-Test series in England ended in a 2-2 draw.

England won the Basil D’Oliviera Trophy 3-1. They won the opening Test at Lord’s by 211 runs. South Africa bounced back in the second Test at Nottingham and won it by a huge margin of 340 runs. England took an unassailable lead in the Test series by winning the third Test by 239 runs at The Oval. The hosts beat Proteas in the last Test at Manchester by 177 runs.

After their re-entry to international cricket, South Africa played their first Test series against England in 1994 in England. It ended in a 1-1 draw.

A 3-1 Test series win over South Africa gave England six points and they jumped from 99 to 105 points.

Despite losing seven points with this series loss, South Africa remain on the second place with 110 points.

India are on the top with 123 points. If they win the third and last Test against Sri Lanka in Pallekele, they will move to 125 points.

It was Joe Root’s first series as England captain. Root is confident that his first Test series win as captain would be the start of a new era for England cricket.

Frequent collapse of inexperienced top and middle order was a major cause of South Africa’s defeats. South Africa missed AB de Villiers, who has not played Tests for 19 months. His last Test was against England in Johannesburg, when he was stand-in captain following Hashim Amla’s resignation.

South African captain du Plessis said: “I would love to play with AB, we all know how good he is and we missed him a lot, but we should take responsibility in his absence.  We need to find someone else to fulfill that role. If AB comes back it’s a huge bonus but I don’t expect him to come back into the Test team.”

South Africa’s new opener Heino Kuhn scored only 113 run in the series — the second worst for an opener from South Africa in Tests having played a minimum of eight innings. Kuhn’s top score was 34 in the series.

South Africa were also without ace fast bowler Dale Steyn who is nursing a shoulder surgery. He had been expected to recover before the England tour, but that did not happen.

Steyn played his last Test at Perth against Australia last November. Despite Steyn’s absence, South Africa had enough bowling strength with Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell, but they all failed to restrict England.

England are fortunate to have two top level all-rounders in their team, Ben Strokes and Moeen Ali.

They have played 31 Tests together; both of them have scored five centuries each.

Moeen was the star of the series. He ended the series with a record 25 wickets, including a hat-trick at The Oval.

With his five-wicket haul in the fourth Test, Moeen became the first ever player to take 25 wickets and score more than 250 runs in a four-Test series.

The last to achieve the double was R Ashwin, against England in 2016.

Moeen’s performance helped him retain his fourth position in the Test all-rounder rankings, and a career-best 21st slot in the batting rankings.

England fast bowler James Anderson’s 20 wickets in the series pushed him to No 2 in the Test bowling rankings. He displaced India’s Ashwin.

England’s captain Joe Root was the most successful batsman of the Test series with 461 runs, averaging 57.62, including one hundred and three fifties. Amla was the highest run-getter for South Africa with 329 runs at an average of 41.12, including three half-centuries.

Moeen with his 25 wickets stole the show. He averaged only 15.64. Fast bowler Morne Morkel took 19 wickets at an average of 26.36 for South Africa.

Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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