Ben Stokes illuminated another difficult day for England by taking three South African wickets during a long and taxing second day and, though the tourists extended their lead to 124 at stumps, Stuart Broad said the feeling in the home dressing room was good. “We’re really positive that we’ve got ourselves back in the game,” he said.
Having recovered from positions of adversity to win their first four Tests of the summer, England will refuse to be daunted by the situation they face in this one.
After reducing South Africa from 138 for one to 210 for six – with Broad taking the last of those wickets, his 100th at Lord’s – a freewheeling partnership of 72 between Keshav Maharaj and Marco Jansen returned the tourists to the ascendancy.
“When you get bowled out relatively cheaply in the first innings, you’ve got to make it a first- versus fourth-innings game,” said Broad. “So we’ve got to try to get enough ahead that we can try and defend that on day four and five on a relatively dry pitch. I think the game’s set up really nicely.
“Obviously we’re going to have to have a couple of great days, but we’ve proved this summer that anything can happen and we feel really positive in the changing-room that we’ve got ourselves back in the game.”
Sarel Erwee top-scored for South Africa with a commanding 73, an innings that ended when he fended Stokes’s bouncer to Ben Foakes behind the stumps. The England captain then trapped Rassie van der Dussen lbw in his next over, before returning to dismiss Maharaj shortly before stumps.
“He carries an inspirational style about what he does,” Broad said. “We needed a couple of breakthroughs. The bouncer to get rid of [Erwee] was a really big wicket, it gave us a bit of energy and got the crowd going a bit. And that’s what those sorts of players do – they put bums on seats because you want to see these guys, the theatre they bring, and I thought Stokes brought great theatre in that middle period after tea.”
Broad admitted the partnership between Maharaj, who was dismissed for 41, and Jansen, who remains unbeaten on the same score, caused some frustration – but also some optimism. “They played really well, a little counterattacking moment,” he said.
“We had the ball swinging, then we changed the ball and it didn’t really do anything for us. I thought it was really good cricket from South Africa to realise conditions had changed and they could get on top and attack us a little bit. But it was really good batting conditions, particularly when the ball got softer. That’s something we’ll want to take forward, knowing that once the ball gets softer we can score a lot of runs.”
Erwee, by contrast, thought “conditions got a bit trickier as the day went on, the wicket got a bit two-paced”. The 32-year-old was playing only his fifth Test innings but seemed anything but overawed by his surroundings.
“I’m trying to do my best as possible, I’m trying to stay in the moment and not think about other things that can fill my mind,” he said. “There are times, when you’ve got a drinks break or you’re changing gloves, you look around and think: ‘Wow, it’s the home of cricket, it’s a special place.’ But I try to control my thoughts as much as possible.”
The opener said his team had been re-energised by Jansen and Maharaj’s contributions as the shadows lengthened. “Watching that little partnership just gives you a bit more energy,” he said. “I think the changing room started buzzing a bit more. Guys are wanting each other to do well, that’s what our team spirit is about.
“We’re in a good position at the moment, we’re full of confidence, and we’ve got a bit of momentum with that partnership at the back end. If we rock up tomorrow with the same energy we’ll stay ahead of the game, I’m sure.”