England v South Africa, Third Test, Day Three, Analysis: How South Africa were bowled out

Freddie Wilde uses CricViz data to explain how South Africa were bowled out for 175 in their first innings.

South Africa’s first innings was a classic case of some good bowling and some poor shots combining to produce a dramatic batting collapse. The 178 run lead seized by England increased their WinViz from 44% at the start of the innings to 76% at the end – and should be a match-winning advantage.

Ball-tracking analysis shows England’s pace bowlers to have bowled a higher proportion of deliveries on a good length and found more deviation than in the preceding two Tests in this series. Although their line was not as consistent as at Lord’s and Trent Bridge the combination of the good length and the extra lateral movement made things difficult for South Africa.

When the bowlers are bowling as England did, putting the ball in good areas and finding deviation off the pitch, batting is never easy.

England's PacersGood LengthGood LineGood Line & LengthDeviation
First Test, Lord's68.1%58.8%41.2%0.513°
Second Test, Trent Bridge67.0%56.3%36.5%0.653°
Third Tests, The Oval73.9%51.5%39.8%0.725°

Shot-type analysis shows South Africa to have left alone or defended 60% of their balls (64% for the first five wickets) – roughly in-line with the proportion left alone or defended by England in their first innings, indicating that their broad approach was not necessarily an issue.

However, some of South Africa’s dismissal shots helped contribute to their own downfall. Both Heino Kuhn and Quinton de Kock were guilty of playing across the line of the ball—a dangerous method when the ball is moving—while Faf du Plessis’s decision to not play a shot and Dean Elgar’s to play a shot were both bad misjudgements. Hashim Amla is perhaps the only player in South Africa’s top five to not be at fault for his dismissal – a ball that bounced a lot and deviated sharply away.

Often in dramatic batting collapses such as this by South Africa the batting team is slightly unlucky, edging balls that they may otherwise have missed and then those edges flying to fielders rather than gaps. This was only partially the case in this innings. 50% of South Africa’s false shots against pace were edges—in line with the global average—however, 20% of their edges resulted in wickets, fractionally above the 14% global average.

Given that England bowled accurately and got the ball to move, and given that four of South Africa’s top five played poor shots, this bad luck seems fairly apportioned.

This was, in many respects a classic batting collapse in classic English conditions, and it is one that has put England in pole position to take a lead in this series.

Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket

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