England booked their place in the ICC Champions Trophy final by demolishing an outclassed South Africa at The Oval. James Anderson did the early damage, with James Tredwell and then Stuart Broad taking over as South Africa were bowled out for 175. Jonathan Trott then led England’s successful run chase and finished unbeaten on 82 as they won with 75 balls to spare.
The day began badly for South Africa on three different fronts. The first piece of bad luck was the news that Dale Steyn was ruled out of this crucial fixture with a groin injury, while the second was the loss of an important toss. James Anderson and Steven Finn - playing in place of Tim Bresnan, who is on paternity leave - then proved true the adage that trouble comes in threes by utilising the early swing with the new balls to dismiss an opener apiece in their first overs.
Colin Ingram was the first to go, leg-before to an inswinger that had followed a huge outswinger earlier in the over from Anderson. Finn then took the key wicket of Hashim Amla, caught in two minds as to whether to play, the ball grazing the toe of the bat as he withdrew it a fraction too late.
Much talk coming into the match had centred on England’s ability - through fair means or foul - of gaining reverse swing with the older ball, but thanks to the muggy conditions this morning at The Oval they were able to rely on swing of the conventional variety.
There is no better exponent of conventional swing in world cricket at present than Anderson, and Alastair Cook gave him a lengthy opening spell as he sought to capitalise on South Africa’s poor start.
The Proteas again promoted Robin Peterson to number three, as they had with much success against India, and it looked like it might work once again. He and the increasingly dependable Faf du Plessis took the score to 45, but his departure, leg-before to Anderson, would trigger the collapse that would cost them the match.
They lost six for 35 in all, with James Tredwell benefiting from some poor shots to further prove himself a more-than-able deputy to Graeme Swann. Following AB de Villiers’ dismissal to Stuart Broad courtesy of a wild swish outside off-stump, Tredwell tormented JP Duminy, almost dismissing him twice before making it third time lucky when he dragged on to his stumps. He then had du Plessis, as well as Chris Morris, edging through to Jos Buttler to make it 80 for eight. He was also instrumental in the dismissal of Ryan McLaren, run-out by Jonathan Trott at slip after being lured down the pitch by a flighted delivery.
It was only thanks to a South African record ninth-wicket stand between Rory Kleinveldt and David Miller that they recovered to pass 150. The pair added 95 and made the most of England’s change bowlers and conditions that were easing as the balls aged and the sun shone.
Broad, though, ended the innings with a brace of short balls just as South Africa may have been thinking about posting a total that would have at least given their weakened bowling attack a chance. He had Kleinveldt and Lonwabo Tsotsobe hurried and edging through to Buttler, who finished with six catches to help counter some of the criticism levelled at him with regard to his wicket-keeping.
England then lost both openers with 41 on the board, but the dismissals were pretty much against the run of play. It was over to their Mr. Dependable, Jonathan Trott, to come to the crease and see them home alongside Joe Root.
Trott actually out-scored Root comfortably during the stand of 105 that took them to the brink of victory. Root fell just before the end, attempting a too-cute fine sweep and being bowled behind his legs, but Trott remained and finished with a strike rate of almost 100.
© Cricket World 2013