Stuart Broad described the England dressing room as “disappointed and frustrated” after bad light halted the final Test against South Africa with the home side 33 runs from victory. England had all 10 second-innings wickets in hand and the batters were seeing the ball well enough to have hit five boundaries in the final three overs played, including one off the last ball of the day.
Set a target of 130 runs to win the Test and the series, Alex Lees and Zak Crawley took the home side to 97 before the umpires took the players off for bad light amid a chorus of boos from the crowd.
“We’re naturally disappointed and frustrated the game came to a close with 33 needed, particularly as the guys were going so well,” said Broad, who was padded up and ready if necessary to play the role of free-hitting “nighthawk” when play ended.
“The reason was it would be unfair on the South Africa team if we finished it tonight in the dark and it poured down all day tomorrow. I can see that side of it but as a changing room we’re frustrated we didn’t get to finish it in front of the crowd that had been with us all day.”
The umpires were left with no choice but to end play, irrespective of the match situation, having set a precedent at a similar time on Saturday. “I think communication was really clear from the umpires,” Broad said. “Of course we’re frustrated and the crowd would be frustrated, but I think if you’re a neutral in the middle making the decisions it was probably a fair call to come off.”
Earlier Broad had taken three wickets as South Africa were dismissed for 169 in their second innings, in the process passing Glenn McGrath’s mark of 564 – on the fourth anniversary of Jimmy Anderson doing the same – to move second behind his longtime teammate on the all-time list of wicket-taking seamers in Tests.
The dismissal that took him to that landmark was that of Dean Elgar, who walked after being rapped on the pads by a delivery that HawkEye proved to be missing leg stump – though the South Africa captain was not alone in being certain it was on target.
“When Harry Brook ran out at the drinks break and said it was missing I couldn’t believe it,” Broad said. “Glenn McGrath’s a hero of mine and the reason I wanted to become a bowler – I used to imitate him in the garden.
“Obviously he’s a much finer bowler than I’ve ever been but it’s incredible to be up there in that sort of company and really special to have joined Jimmy as a one-two, with him being a great mate and someone who I’ve shared a fantastic partnership with for a long time.”
Crawley’s fluent innings of 57, featuring 10 boundaries, is already his third-highest since his 267 against Pakistan in Southampton two years ago, and has guaranteed a sweet conclusion a summer that has seen him face rising pressure amid a succession of poor scores.
“The quality of shots you saw is everything we see,” Broad said. “We all know within the changing room he’s got the ability to play knocks that a lot of players can’t. I think today will have given him a huge amount of confidence. He crunched the ball this evening and it’ll be just rewards for him to finish not out tomorrow in a winning game.
“He’s had a tough summer, there’s no hiding from that, but his demeanour has never changed. He’s got the character that you think will be a success at this level, and he’s got the game.”
Earlier Marco Jansen, South Africa’s 22-year-old seamer, had completed a first five-wicket Test haul as England added only four runs to their overnight first-innings score of 154 for seven, and he insisted the tourists were still hoping for quick wickets and a miracle.
“Obviously we’re in a difficult situation but hopefully we can make something out of it,” he said. “We’re a bit on the back foot but the plan is to take wickets – we have to. We have to go out with an aggressive mindset but still with our gameplans, and go and take wickets.”
Surrey have announced that tickets for the final day, which had previously been on sale with all proceeds going to charity, will be free for all fans, and available online and at the gate.