Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were the star performers as South Africa blew away England’s top-order and reduced them to 116/6 when rain arrived and washed out the rest of the first day of the first Test at Lord’s on Wednesday.
Rabada set the tone for a brilliant bowling performance by the Proteas after captain Dean Elgar had won the toss and elected to bowl first, removing both openers, Alex Lees (5) and Zak Crawley (9), before Anrich Nortje ripped through the middle-order with the big scalps of Jonny Bairstow, comprehensively bowled for a duck, and Ben Stokes caught in the slips for 20 with the last delivery before lunch.
Only six overs were possible after the break before the weather intervened.
Nortje finished the day with an explosive 3/43 in nine overs, while Rabada was classy in taking 2/36 in 12.
Rabada said the Proteas pacemen had exploited what was in the pitch and stuck to good plans.
“There was a bit in the pitch and we were able to get rewards for putting the ball in the right areas. Test cricket is about doing something over and over, but you do have slightly different plans for the various batsmen.
“These days you have analysts and lots of data, so you sometimes change your strategy just a little. But generally I just try and keep it simple.
“We have got pace, bounce, swing and guys who can bowl quick bumpers, so our pace attack has all the ingredients to be formidable,” Rabada said.
Ferocity of Nortje
Even a bowler as intimidating as Rabada was made to look like a friendly uncle though by the sheer ferocity of Nortje. Having been out of Test cricket for more than a year, the 28-year-old certainly showed what the Proteas have been missing as he came roaring in, regularly hitting 150km/h.
The in-form Bairstow was castled middle-stump, while Stokes, who was looking ominous, was undone by late movement at high pace.
“It was going to take something special to get an in-form batsman like Jonny out and that was really quick from Anrich,” Rabada said. “He’s very passionate, hence the celebration, and rightfully so because it was a very good ball.”
Left-armer Marco Jansen chipped in with the key wicket of Joe Root, trapped lbw for eight by a booming inswinger. He had reason to feel peeved because reviews showed the ball was just clipping the outside of leg-stump, which was not enough for his referral to be upheld.
Ollie Pope was the one English batsman to prosper, fighting hard for his 61 not out, which came briskly, off 87 balls. Busy and compact, he had struck four fours in a fine display of positive batting.