Lunch South Africa 69 for 6 (Zondo 21*, Jansen 17*, Robinson 4-21) vs England
On what remains the third day of this third and final Test at The Oval but was actually the first after Thursday’s washout and Friday’s suspension of play, both national anthems were finally sung – without musical accompaniment by Laura Wright – including the first rendition of God Save the King at a sporting event since 1952.
Play got underway in slightly more batter-friendly conditions than when Ben Stokes won the toss and opted to bowl first 48 hours earlier. You wouldn’t know it, however, as South Africa lost five wickets inside the first hour, three of them falling to Robinson and one each to Stuart Broad – who still managed to extract plenty of movement in both directions to trouble the batters relentlessly – and James Anderson.
But it was the lines and lengths of the three England seamers that did for the tourists, whose selection shake-up aimed at shoring up their batting largely flopped.
Robinson, who came under criticism for his fitness levels at the end of England’s ill-fated Ashes tour last winter and subsequently spent seven months out of the Test side after a series of health and injury problems, bowled eight overs on the trot while taking 4 for 21, including bowling three maidens.
His third ball – the eighth of the match – to remove South Africa captain Dean Elgar was a gem – on a length and shaping in as Elgar played around it only to see his off stump go cartwheeling.
Anderson struck next over, drawing an outside edge from Sarel Erwee with a length ball outside off that moved ever so slightly away from the batter, who sent a catch straight to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
Robinson then clipped the top of off stump as Keegan Petersen left a fuller one, and then had Kyle Verreynne caught behind for a second-ball duck with an excellent length delivery that moved away off the pitch slightly and found the outside edge.
In between, Ryan Rickelton, playing his third Test – and first since April – after being brought in to replace the injured Rassie van der Dussen, had just started to settle when Broad lured him into a drive and had him caught behind for 11. At that stage, South Africa were in disarray at 32 for 5.
The visitors had brought in Wiaan Mulder for the first time this series, locked at 1-1, but he provided Robinson’s fourth wicket – and Foakes’ fourth catch – when he chased a full, wide ball that swung away late to leave South Africa at 36 for 6.
The pair put on an unbroken stand worth 33 by the interval – easily the strongest union of the innings so far – but with only three days’ play in this match possible, England were well on their way to ensuring a result when they had their opponents 69 for 6 at lunch.