England v South Africa, Third Test, Day Two, Analysis: England’s match awareness

Freddie Wilde uses CricViz data to analyse how England batted intelligently according to changing circumstances at The Oval.

On day two at The Oval England did better than merely replicate their defence-focussed batting performance of the first day and showed the skill and awareness to adapt their strategy according to the situation.

Against an excellent South Africa pace attack in helpful conditions for bowling England recognised the importance of capitalising before the second new ball was due, scoring at 4.00 runs per over. Then, when the new ball was taken England reined themselves in once more, scoring at 2.46 runs per over for the first 15 overs of the new ball. For the last 8.2 overs of the innings as wickets begun to fall England attacked again, scoring at 7.20 runs per over.

EnglandLeft Alone or DefendedAttackedRun Rate
Day One63%16%2.89
Day Two Pre-New Ball46%24%4.00
New Ball (15 Overs)63%18%2.46
Post-New Ball32%44%7.20

England’s approach was embodied by Ben Stokes, whose 112 (153) was marked by clear accelerations and decelerations in scoring rate in line with England’s broader strategy.

Ben StokesLeft Alone or DefendedAttackedStrike Rate
Day One52%20%47.72
Day Two Pre-New Ball30%30%75.00
New Ball (15 Overs)73%10%23.33
Post-New Ball 4%57%182.60

Although the phases of Stokes’ innings when he attacked were most dramatic, it was the phases when he defended that were most impressive. His technique in defence was particularly notable: standing out of his crease to Vernon Philander to reduce the effects of lateral movement and getting well forward onto the front foot.

When he did attack he did so primarily on the on side, where he scored 78 of his 112 runs and 10 of his 13 boundaries – perhaps considering attacking shots outside off stump more high-risk. It was also apparent that he targeted the left arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, against whom he scored 29 off 21 balls.

Stokes’ attack was calculated and his defence was strong and together, alongside Alastair Cook, he lifted England from a position of danger at 120 for 4 to one of strength at 353 all out.

Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket

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