South Africa (475 & 248-5 declared) beat England (342 & 101) by 280 runs.

South Africa bounced back after losing the Test series to England by thrashing the visitors in Centurion by 280 runs. Led by Man of the Match Kagiso Rabada, their bowlers dismissed Alastair Cook’s men for just 101 runs on the final day to reduce their arrears (belatedly) in the Series to 2-1. Despite a heartening overall victory on foreign soil, the only good news for England from the fourth and final Test match was all-rounder Ben Stokes receiving the Man of the Series honour.

‘Dead rubber’ syndrome

It was a disappointing ending for the away side after so many highlights on the tour so far. Cook’s men had promised that there would be no ‘dead rubber’ approach to the match, yet there were glaring similarities to the manner in which they finished the Ashes last summer against the Aussies.

In truth, they never recovered after a sluggish first two sessions on day one. By effectively giving their hosts a 200-run start before their bowlers knuckled down to the task at hand, they handed them the early initiative. With the pitch deteriorating as the match wore on, Cook’s team were never able to regain a foothold.

South African batting stars

Nevertheless, the South African batsmen deserved great praise for the application they showed in that first innings.

The three Proteas century-makers Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock proved that they could post sizeable scores against the previously formidable England powerhouses of James Anderson, Stokes and especially Stuart Broad.

England had trailed the home side by 133 runs after their first knock, with Cook (76), Joe Root (76) and Moeen Ali (61) not quite able to repair the damage, as Rabada’s 7-112 ripped the heart out of their top and middle-order.

Declaration piled pressure on

Even rain delays and a much-improved bowling effort second time around, could not prevent captain AB de Villiers’ men from accumulating the runs they needed quickly enough to push England back into a corner. Amla’s brave 96 and Temba Bavuma’s 78 ensured that their opponents would need to chase down an improbable 381 on a tricky surface.

Tame manner of defeat

Defeat always looked likely for England but it was the rather tame manner in which they succumbed that would have hurt Trevor Bayliss and his staff most. They showed little real appetite for the battle as Rabada (6-32) continued to skittle them out cheaply second time around. James Taylor top-scored with 24 as it all seemed a bit too much for their still clearly developing side.

Rabada the star throughout

By contrast, de Villiers’ side seemed determined to prove a point to the upstarts from abroad. Rabada in particular provided evidence that there is rich promise in their bowling ranks, after being deprived of potential match-winners Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander. His astounding match analysis of 13 – 144 proves that at just 20-years-old he should have a wonderful future with his nation.