England wrap up series and successful summer with win over South Africa | England v South Africa 2022

England took just under half an hour to administer the coup de grace to South Africa on the final morning of the Test summer at the Oval, romping to a nine-wicket victory in the deciding match in front of a scattering of fans for whom the allure of free tickets and the guarantee of a home victory had proved strong enough to justify the journey to Kennington.

The greatest concern that England faced along the way was a concussion test for Ollie Pope after he attempted a reverse ramp off Marco Jansen and succeeded only in deflecting the ball off his wrist and into his chin. England had needed only a trivial 33 runs when the light dimmed and stumps were called on day four, with all 10 second-innings wickets in hand, and with the weather forecast dry, the outcome was never in the slightest doubt.

Having resisted mounting clamour for Zak Crawley to be dropped after a run of disappointing scores England were rewarded with a fluent 69 off 57, including a cover drive for four to win the match, and an opening partnership of 108, England’s highest of the summer and their third-highest of the last five years.

In a display of extraordinary optimism Jansen had spoken on Sunday night of the possibility of halting England’s victory procession by taking quick wickets when play resumed. Instead Kyle Verreynne behind the stumps put down an apparently straightforward chance to dismiss Alex Lees off Kagiso Rabada in the first over of the day, and off the second, bowled by Jansen himself, the same batter edged just over Keegan Petersen at third slip, the fielder reacting slowly and managing only to wave at the ball as it flew past.

Lees was eventually dismissed by Rabada in the third over, a successful review proving the batter had been trapped lbw, after which Pope and Crawley motored relatively serenely to their target.

England’s Ollie Pope got a whack on the chin after attempting a reverse scoop shot on Monday.
England’s Ollie Pope got a whack on the chin after attempting a reverse scoop shot on Monday. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Victory completes a remarkable first summer in charge for the captain, Ben Stokes, and coach, Brendon McCullum. Having won just one of 17 matches before their appointment England have won six of their seven Tests since, with New Zealand, India and finally South Africa all overcome.

The one reverse had come in the opening game of this series, when England were emphatically outplayed in losing by an innings and 12 runs at Lord’s. They levelled the series in a similarly one-sided match at Old Trafford the following week, this time winning by an innings and 85 runs, to set up what proved an unusual and memorable decider at the Oval.

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