Bad light brought an early end to the penultimate day of the third Test to a smattering of crowd boos and a few disgruntled looks in the home dressing room, with England on 97 for none in pursuit of 130.
Zak Crawley’s classy 57 not out from 44 deliveries, his first half-century in 17 Test innings, looks to have safely negotiated what might have been a tricky target in a low-scoring game while Alex Lees contributed an unbeaten 32 to the unbroken union, drilling the last ball of the day for a boundary.
While Anderson had some sympathy for the officials, who have the ultimate say over the light and set a precedent 24 hours earlier, Anderson told Sky Sports: “In certain situations you do think maybe common sense could come into play.”
Long-time team-mate Stuart Broad was similarly irked by the decision to come off in the evening gloom, denying England the chance to claim a 2-1 series win after two days of play in this decider, with Thursday washed out and Friday called off as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen.
Broad said: “We’re naturally disappointed and frustrated. Leesy hit the last ball of the day through the covers for four and was seeing it fine.
“I do understand the other side of it, that it would be unfair on South Africa if it rained all day (on Monday) and we’d carried on just to finish the game. But as a changing room we’re frustrated.”
England’s seamers put them in the box seat on Sunday by exploiting some lavish movement as South Africa collapsed from 83 for one to 169 all out, which started after a helping hand from Dean Elgar.
The touring captain elected against reviewing an lbw verdict against him but Broad’s delivery would have whistled past leg stump. Instead, he became the 564th Test wicket of Broad, who has overtaken Australia great Glenn McGrath.
Broad is now into the top five in the all-time list of Test wicket-takers and only team-mate and great friend Anderson is ahead of him among fast bowlers with 667 dismissals.
Broad said: “I saw Jimmy got his 564th on September 11 four years ago so that was quite funny.
“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.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 11, 2022
“It’s 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.”
While England’s seamers shared the wickets – with three each for Broad and Ben Stokes and two apiece for Anderson and Ollie Robinson – it was their veteran pair who got the ball rolling for the hosts.
They show no sign of heading off into the sunset, with Broad admitting the 2023 Ashes is in his sights after being rejuvenated by the leadership of Test captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.
Broad added: “I think so. It’s been an incredible summer to be a part of. I feel great. I’m 36. I feel like I’ve bowled really well. Probably got a little more luck in this series.
“But the mindset those two guys (Stokes and McCullum) have brought to our changing room and to Test cricket as a whole has been so refreshing and invigorating to play in actually.
“That sort of no consequences, trying to play on the front foot the whole time, I feel it suits my mindset and how I like to play my cricket personally.”