South Africa’s top-order had no answer for Ollie Robinson on Saturday evening, with the England seamer claiming career-best figures of 5/49 from 14 overs to help roll the Proteas for 118 at the Oval.
Robinson could seemingly manipulate the Duke ball at will in London, beating both sides of the bat with relentless accuracy on day three of the third Test.
The 28-year-old was tailor-made for English pitches, repeatedly getting the ball to wobble and nibble in overcast conditions; he’ll no doubt pose a massive threat in next year’s Ashes series.
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After the first two days of the series decider were abandoned due to weather and the death of Queen Elizabeth II, England captain Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to field first — a decision that quickly paid dividends.
Robinson, who is bowling slightly faster than last season according to the all-knowing CricViz boffins, kicked off the carnage by dismissing South African captain Dean Elgar for 1 in the second over, sending the left-hander’s off stump cartwheeling towards the slip cordon.
The right-armed paceman then knocked over Proteas No. 3 Keegan Petersen with an absolute seed that nipped back and struck the top of off stump — the South African sheepishly walked back to the sheds for 12 after electing not to offer a shot.
Robinson, who currently boasts a Test bowling average of 19.79, snared another three scalps to clinch the third five-wicket haul of his international career, now sitting one breakthrough shy of 50 wickets in English whites.
“(I’m) still focusing on the same things — accuracy, bounce, bit of movement,” he told reporters in the post-match press conference.
“The things we’ve noticed a little bit more is later on in the day, my pace has stayed more level compared to what it was maybe 12 months ago, which is something I’ve really worked on in the last three or four months. Those second, third and fourth spells, there’s a bit more intensity to them than maybe there was before.
“With the weather around, the wicket being under the covers for three days, it did feel like one of the bowlers was going to get a bagful.
“Fortunately it was me and it’s put the team in a great position going forward.
“I actually didn’t feel that great. My run-up was all over the place, couldn’t find a rhythm, I was just trying to focus on smashing out the length, really. I felt better at Old Trafford, obviously didn’t get the rewards, but it’s not the best I’ve felt.”
Robinson was assisted by veteran seamer Stuart Broad, who cleaned up the South African tail in the afternoon session to finish with 4/41 from 12.2 overs and equal the legendary Glenn McGrath’s career tally of 563 Test wickets.
“He is a hero of mine,” Broad told Sky Sports after stumps.
“He obviously played a lot less games. He was one of the greatest bowlers of all time, in my opinion.
“It feels very special, and hopefully I can get one more to join Jimmy (Anderson) as a one-two in the list of seamers.”
The South African innings only lasted 36.2 overs, with the Proteas registering their lowest Test score on English soil since 1960.
England was 7/154 at stumps in response, with South African seamer Marco Jansen taking 4/43 from 11 overs to keep the visitors in the contest.
The tall left-armer dismissed both openers cheaply before removing former England captain Joe Root in the 17th over for 23, with Petersen holding onto a smart catch at third slip.
England No. 3 Ollie Pope brought up the ninth half-century of his Test career before South African paceman Kagiso Rabada caught his outside edge on 67.
The third Test between England and South Africa will resume on Sunday evening, with the first ball of day four scheduled for 8pm AEST.