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England turn the tables with innings victory of their own

In a stunning reversal England have defeated South Africa by an innings and 85 runs in the second Test at Old Trafford. All the doomsayers will now have to wait until the deciding third Test at The Oval to inflict more potential criticism of Bazball.

This time it was the bowlers who led England to victory, with South Africa dismissed for a paltry 179 following their first innings 151. James Anderson, bowling from the end named after him, showed what a remarkable cricketer he is at the age of 40 to still be highly motivated to take wickets.

Rather than be a defensive bowler he has been given free licence by Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum to implement an attacking mindset.

“I think I’ve smiled more than I ever have on a cricket field, I’m absolutely loving it,” Anderson said.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last few months. The way Ben and Brendon want to play, my role’s become a little bit different. I am not a defensive bowler anymore at all. They want me to take wickets the whole time and think about taking wickets the whole time. So that is my sole focus, and the group’s sole focus.”

The bowler to attract more attention however was Ollie Robinson, who is a new, slimmed down, athletic version of the unfit, overweight bowler we saw in the last Ashes series. He is bowling with good pace and took 4 for 43 to clean up the South African tail and take England to victory.

He has done enough to keep ahead of Matthew Potts for the highly anticipated third Test on September 8.

Ollie Robinson of England bowls

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The inspiring skipper Ben Stokes was deservedly named player of the match for his four wickets and 12th Test match century. He broke the backs of the South Africans in the second innings when he dismissed Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen, when they were staging a fightback to give South Africa a chance.

His attacking philosophy is a joy to watch and is a model for his fellow players to follow.

Although Zac Crawley’s innings of 38 appears insignificant, it was an innings of great character and paved the way for the other batsmen to follow. The scrutiny by his critics may have lessened after his innings and given him confidence for The Oval.

Ben Foakes top-scored for England with 113 in their solitary innings. No.1 batsman Joe Root is still not into double figures after three innings.

Van der Dussen will more than likely miss the third Test with a broken finger which made him wince constantly with every shot. Fast bowler Anrich Nortje looks impressive with genuine pace and a fearsome bouncer. The all-rounder Marco Jansen will surely be named for the next Test to replace Simon Harmer.

Stuart Broad and Anderson are emphasising why it was a blunder to drop them for the tour of the West Indies back in March. Both give the impression of going on and on with their Test careers.

The third Test cannot come around quick enough with many questions to be answered.

England have the momentum now and surely Joe Root will fire this time. Bazball is a label invented by the media, when it just means an attacking mindset belonging to all players. Against New Zealand and India, it was implemented to chase down big scores. Against South Africa, it was the bowlers’ turn to win the match for England.

South Africa need to move on quickly from this match and start afresh for The Oval, with Nortje a threat to England.

Whose turn will it be to stand up for England? Alex Lees is due for a substantial contribution, maybe it will be his time. Ollie Robinson will also play a role in an England victory.

What a turnaround!

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