BEN STOKES winced with a hint of a limp as he dragged his battered body through a series of tumultuous overs.
The England captain took two wickets in seven balls, and the intensity and ferocity of his bowling threatened to alter the first Test.
Stokes took a third wicket minutes from the end of day two and although South Africa are still top of the table it would have been far worse without Stokes’ intervention.
In a heroic spell just after tea, he removed opener Sarel Erwee for 73 with a brutal bouncer and then had No.5 Rassie van der Dussen lbw for 19.
When Stuart Broad hit Lord’s with his 100th Test wicket, South Africa was up 210-6 by just 45 runs.
But 6ft 8in all-rounder Marco Jansen and spinner Keshav Maharaj produced a spectacular late counterattack that took a seventh wicket partnership of 72, including 50 of 30 balls in one phase.
England were beginning to look discouraged and Stokes, returning late in the day, conceded 16 runs from his first overback.
But in his second he persuaded Maharaj to hit a catch in the middle of the wicket.
Stokes suffers from pain in his left knee on a regular basis and you know it must hurt like hell when he’s unwell.
But he is determined not to have his contribution banned.
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There’s no doubt that his work from the Pavilion End – much of it a diet of debilitating junk food – was a tremendous physical exertion.
Let’s hope that the consequences for his body are not too harmful.
Broad said: “I haven’t seen much of Ian Botham but Ben is like Andrew Flintoff. He brings theater and puts bums on seats.
“His knee cracks every now and then, but he manages it and is pretty tough. He wears an inspiring style, he is pure action. The bouncer to the opener was unplayable and really got us going.
“There’s a real feeling that we’re still in this game. We need a great few days, but we showed this summer that anything can happen.”
Earlier in the day, England were bowled in their first innings for just 165 in 45 overs.
Ollie Pope continued at 61 Not Out and was soon dropped on the first slip, an exceptional juggling attempt by Erwee, who grabbed the ball four times before eventually falling to the ground.
But Pope was unable to capitalize on his fortune and hacked at his stumps for 73.
Wickets continued to fall, Broad slammed a catch-to-point, Jack Leach continued to drag and James Anderson lost lbw.
Dean Elgar is badass, conservative and disciplined – the polar opposite of the risk-taking Stokes.
Elgar helped lay the foundation for South Africa’s total, but he didn’t rely solely on patience and accumulation. He hit eight fours and had a decent batting average.
The left-handed opener was dropped by Zak Crawley on the second slip to seven, an edge from Matthew Potts that flew too fast for Crawley to properly react.
Then Elgar lbw was given to Broad but a check showed the ball brushed his pad rather than his racquet.
Eventually, however, his luck ran out when a ball from Anderson hit Elgar on the pad, bounced off his elbow and rebounded onto the stumps with just enough force to remove the stirrups.
Anderson had one wicket as a 40-year-old, although perhaps not in the way he expected.
Keegan Petersen looked stylish before giving Jonny Bairstow a hard shove on the third slip.
Aiden Markram, without much conviction, jabbed at a Leach escape and the ball took the outside edge.
Erwee, who played for Weybridge CC in Surrey this summer, was calm and composed. He reached a half-century of 89 balls with a square drive for four from Broad.
But he couldn’t get his gloves out of the way of a wild Stokes bouncer and the ball was praised to Ben Foakes from behind the stumps. Then Stokes van der Russen nailed the lead forward.
Broad and Anderson have not competed since July 4th and they looked a little rusty and tired at times.
But Broad achieved his century of wickets on a single ground by retrieving wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne before Jansen and Maharaj dramatically upped the goal tally.
It was Red for Ruth day when people were encouraged to wear red clothing to support the Ruth Strauss Foundation, named after the late wife of former England captain Sir Andrew Strauss.
It raises money to help families grieving the loss of a loved one.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6030055/ben-stokes-england-south-africa-first-test-lords/ Captain Ben Stokes’ wild bowling gives England hope against South Africa after the batters flopped in the first Test at Lord’s