England have produced a number of fine Test all-rounders in their history and Ben Stokes, perhaps the best in the world at the moment, is the latest in a line which stretches back through Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham to Trevor Bailey and then to Wilfred Rhodes.
“It felt like one of those intimidating spells that Flintoff used to bowl; heavy and at the batsman,” said Stuart Broad after the day’s play. “Today, he [Stokes] bowled as quick as I’ve seen him bowl. He had the wind behind him and his tail was up. The bouncer that hit Elgar early in his spell really fired him up.
“It was a great little period for us to get two key batsmen out with genuine pace. It was an exciting session. When Stokesy gets that momentum it’s great to see. He’s a player who goes with the momentum of the game and he dragged the team with him for that spell.”
“The pitch showed signs of a little bit of variable bounce.I thought we bowled really well today. The pitch hasn’t done heaps today. It seamed more on day one, day two and swung with the overheads but as soon as the sun comes out, it’s played a bit better for the batsmen.”
England had delayed their declaration until tea, increasing their lead to 491. Some, including former South African captain Graeme Smith, thought that decision conservative but Stokes confirmed England had stuck to their original plan. “We always knew the target we wanted to be ahead when the day started,” he told BBC Sport.