Ben Stokes: England’s second Test victory over South Africa is the benchmark

England captain Ben Stokes praised his side for their ‘benchmark’ performance, which swept South Africa off the pitch at Emirates Old Trafford in three days.

Stokes began his reign with four adrenaline-pumping chases against New Zealand and India before plunging back to earth with a epic loss to the Proteas at Lord’s last week.

England returned to winning ways in Manchester, overturning the Tourists with 151 and 179 to triumph with an innings and 85 runs two days to go.

Despite the painful nature of the result, it was a feat that required more determination and more nuance than the thrillers that lit up early summer.

Ben Foakes tackled a determined century, with Stokes digging deep even in the early stages of his first skipper’s ton, while Zak Crawley shelved his natural attacking instincts to survive a crucial first night passage.

Their collective resolve was tested again on Saturday as Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen faced them in a frustrating 43-over stand before an inspired double strike from Stokes ended their resistance.

“I think what we did incredibly well was appreciate that we didn’t feel like this was a wicket where we could go out and play the way we discussed it,” he said.

Ben Foakes should have won the Player of the Match award according to captain Ben Stokes (Nick Potts/PA).

(PA wire)

“Cricket is about how you bat, throw and play and I think the way we’ve batted, thrown and played this whole game is the benchmark for the standards we set. I think that’s real progress for the team.

“It didn’t feel like a wicket where you could stand there and hit through the line because of the variable bounce it offered. Some balls went through and bounced, some skidded at a good pace.

“It was an amazing team effort all round and the way we bounced back from the disappointment at Lord’s last week was obviously very gratifying.”

Despite Stokes’ eagerness to share the applause – he suggested Foakes should have won his Player of the Match award and made a point of drawing attention to Crawley’s reticent 38 – he couldn’t resist his own role at heart hide of victory.

Having already played his part with the bat, he stepped up to crush South Africa’s resistance when he dismissed determined fourth-wicket pair Petersen and Van der Dussen deep into the second innings in the middle of a grueling 14-over spell .

James Anderson has won Glenn McGrath’s title as the most prolific fast bowler in international cricket history (Mike Egerton/PA)

(PA wire)

Where most cricketers would have happily settled and awaited the new ball that later brought a clatter of five wickets in 30 deliveries from James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, he demanded more of himself and got it.

“When you’re bowling the older ball when nothing’s really happening, you have to create your own energies and your own theater around it,” he explained.

“It’s something I’ve done with the older ball throughout my career, just to try to run in and hit the wicket as hard as possible, to try and make something out of nothing.”

He bade farewell with a nod to his hometown hero Anderson, whose name echoed around his home turf throughout the Test. At the age of 40 he wrote another page in the record books and took the title from Glenn McGrath as the most prolific fast bowler in international cricket history.

He finished with match counts of six for 62 and now has 951 scalps across all formats.

“He’s a testament to himself and a great ambassador for the game,” Stokes said.

“I said before this game started that I honestly can’t see when he’s going to stop. He doesn’t act like a 40-year-old. You can see he’s just enjoying every moment that he’s out there.” Ben Stokes: England’s second Test victory over South Africa is the benchmark

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