Ben Stokes lauds England for setting the benchmark with innings win in Manchester

Hosts crush South Africa at Old Trafford to level Test series

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England captain Ben Stokes said his team had set a "benchmark" after overpowering South Africa by an innings and 85 runs in the second Test at Old Trafford on Saturday to level the series.

Victory, with more than two days to spare, brought England back into the three-match series following South Africa's equally dominant innings and 12-run triumph at Lord's last week.

England have won five of their six matches since Stokes succeeded Joe Root as skipper but this one was built on the traditional style of red-ball cricket rather than the Three Lions' new brand of attacking game.

Stokes's men were on top from the start in Manchester, reducing South Africa to 77-5 before lunch on the first day after Proteas skipper Dean Elgar. The Proteas were eventually dismissed for a meagre 151 in their first innings.

England then made 415-9 declared featuring all-rounder Stokes's 103 - his first Test century as England captain - and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes's Test-best 113 not out.

A stubborn 43-over stand of 87 between Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen kept England at bay on Saturday until Stokes removed both batsmen after tea.

That paved the way for another collapse. South Africa slumped to 179 all out after succumbing to the new-ball thrust of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson as their last five wickets fell for just seven runs in 31 balls.

Anderson took 3-30 as he became the leading wicket-taker among pace bowlers across all formats by moving past Australian Glenn McGrath's total of 949 with his second scalp. He was well supported by the returning Robinson (4-43).

"Cricket is about how you bat, bowl and field and I think that the way we batted, bowled and fielded this whole game is the benchmark of the standards we've set," Stokes said.

"It didn't feel like a wicket where you could stand there and hit through the line because of the variable bounce that it was offering."

Bowling as a fourth seamer, which Stokes was at Old Trafford, can be something of a supporting role, but not in his eyes.

"When you are bowling with the older ball, when nothing is really happening, you have to create your own energies and own theatre around that," he said.

South Africa captain Elgar insisted they will regroup quickly before the series decider at the Kia Oval in a fortnight's time.

"The bottom line is we need runs from the middle order, and at the moment that is letting us down quite a bit," Elgar said. "As much as guys don't want to hear it, I think they know that already.

"I don't want to treat a guy like a schoolkid, that's definitely not my way because I wouldn't have liked that when I was a younger player, but we'll definitely have a few chats going forward.

"Sometimes you can go into panic mode when things like this happen. Myself and the coach (Mark Boucher) are definitely not those kinds of guys to panic. We know we're still a good side.

"Let's not forget why we're here. We're here to win a Test series and we're in a great position to still a win a Test series. We'll clear our minds, let the dust settle and focus on the third Test."

Updated: August 28, 2022, 5:08 AM
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