England broke down South Africa’s rearguard resistance to win a thrilling second Test at Newlands and level the series at 1-1.
Ben Stokes conjured more magic in Cape Town with two wickets in consecutive balls to remove Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje, before sealing the win by removing Vernon Philander.
That came after Sam Curran made a crucial breakthrough by removing opener Pieter Malan for 84 and Joe Denly took the wicket of Quinton de Kock, who’d just reached his half-century.
The winning moment for England as Ben Stokes gets the wicket of Vernon Philander
That sparked wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands as England levelled the series
Victory had been far from assured at many points during the day but England prevailed
The final moment as Philander’s wicket sparks celebrations among the England players
Stokes celebrates the wicket of Dwaine Pretorius as England closed in on victory
James Anderson took a great catch to remove Rassie van der Dussen off the bowling of his new ball strike partner Stuart Broad as England closed in.
Stokes then took over, removing first Pretorius and then Nortje, who was grabbed by Zak Crawley after a juggling act in the slips.
And, roared on by thousands of English supporters in the stands, Stokes took the final wicket of Philander to wrap up victory by 189 runs.
For a good chunk of the day, it appeared that England could be frustrated in their pursuit of what is a vital win for Joe Root’s captaincy as the overs ticked down.
They needed eight wickets to win at the start of the fifth day’s play and still required five after tea as the Proteas dug in on a surface proving unhelpful to England.
Stokes is mobbed by his delirious team-mates after taking the wicket of Nortje next ball
Stuart Broad (right) smiles after taking the key wicket of Rassie van der Dussen at Newlands
James Anderson congratulated by Joe Denly after taking the catch to remove Van der Dussen
But Stokes and England rallied brilliantly in blistering heat to blow away the South African tail, with the final three wickets falling in the space of 14 Stokes deliveries.
It really was fitting that England’s cricketing hero of 2019 should wrap things up, having taken six catches at second slip – a joint England record among non-wicketkeepers – in the match and then smashed 72 off 47 balls in the second innings.
It was England’s first win at Newlands since 1957 and inflicted what is only South Africa’s second defeat on the ground since they were re-admitted to Test cricket.
The dramatic manner of England’s win will also be seized upon by advocates of the five-day Test match at a time when the ICC are preparing to discuss the possibility of making four-day Tests mandatory from 2023.
‘This is why five-day cricket should always be around,’ said man of the match Stokes in his post-match interview, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd.
Joe Denly celebrates the vital breakthrough of Quinton de Kock, who’d just reached his 50
Sam Curran jumps for joy after taking the important wicket of South African opener Malan
Malan’s innings of 84 off 288 balls had been stoic before Curran made the breakthrough
It looked like England might be left frustrated for parts of the day as they searched for wickets
First Test (Centurion)
South Africa won by 107 runs
Second Test (Cape Town)
England won by 189 runs
Third Test (Port Elizabeth)
Fourth Test (Johannesburg)
Series level at 1-1 with two matches to play
Malan, Van der Dussen and De Kock had all knuckled down to South Africa’s task at hand, grinding out 342 deliveries between them.
At one stage, Malan and Du Plessis stalled England’s momentum for almost 18 overs before Du Plessis gifted his wicket trying to sweep Dom Bess and finding only Denly at square leg.
Curran then found some extra bounce off a placid pitch to find Malan’s edge, with Stokes holding onto a low catch.
But England were again held up as Van der Dussen and De Kock blocked their way through another 169 deliveries to reach tea.
By this time, England were trying all kinds of imaginative field positions and when De Kock, having just reached 50, swung at a Denly long-hop, he picked out Zak Crawley at short mid-wicket.
Van der Dussen was now the main resistance and there were 20 overs left when Broad invited him into a shot down the leg side and found the safe hands of Anderson, who’d just been shifted from mid-on to leg slip.
It then fell to Stokes to carry England home with 20 overs left. Root wrapped his fingers around a Pretorius edge, then Crawley held Nortje at third slip.
There was no hat-trick, but Stokes sealed it when Philander prodded to Ollie Pope.
Dom Bess is congratulated after taking the important wicket of Faf du Plessis on day five
Keshav Maharaj, the South African nightwatchman, inspects a broken bat in the first session
England skipper Joe Root said: ‘A brilliant performance by the whole group of players, who showed character, patience and belief today.
‘The guys really stood up and put in a brilliant performance and we’ve had an unbelievable 12th man with us this week, the crowd. It’s been like a home match.
‘We have a lot of very young players at the start of their careers and to be on the right side of a result like that is a great opportunity to learn and improve.
‘We found ourselves at times under a lot of pressure but some individuals really stood up and wrestled back the momentum in our favour.’
On Stokes, he added: ‘You can throw the ball to him and put him in any situation and know he’s going to stand up for you.
‘He is a brilliant role model for all the other guys coming through, a brilliant senior player. He can change a game for you from any situation. He is world class and deserves all the plaudits he will get from this game.’
Ollie Pope (left) and Jos Buttler appeal in vain for the wicket of Rassie van der Dussen
The Newlands crowd enjoy the final day of the Test match on a glorious sunny day
England bowler Broad said his side’s victory, played out in front of thousands of their travelling fans in Cape Town, felt ‘very special’.
‘The crowd has been exceptional today, an incredible day’s play and a great Test match actually,’ Broad told Sky Sports.
‘We had to work incredibly hard. We knew we were going to have to do that from yesterday’s play – incredible discipline from South Africa throughout the day.
‘But we kept saying: “One bit of magic. Let’s try some funky fields. One breakthrough and we can apply some pressure”.’
Broad was full of praise for Stokes following his brilliant late spell with the ball and also the team’s all-round fielding display.
‘Stokesy’s finish and the catching towards the end is something we’ve worked a lot towards,’ Broad added. ‘We’re very proud of the standard of taking our chances and the character we’ve shown throughout the Test match.
‘The pitch slowed down a lot and we had to get a bit more creative. It did spin, but again quite slowly.
‘Stokesy’s innings yesterday gave us the impetus to have more overs at South Africa and we needed them.’