JOE ROOT praised England’s character after his side produced a remarkable turnaround to beat South Africa by 239 runs in the third Test at the Oval.
A damaging defeat at Trent Bridge raised questions over England’s approach to Test cricket, but Moeen Ali’s hat-trick completed a stunning victory in the 100th Test at the Oval.
Moeen took the final three wickets in successive deliveries to wrap up victory and a near-perfect performance from Root’s side, and the captain was impressed with the comeback.
“What a way to celebrate the 100th Test at this ground,” said Root. “It has been a great week for us - the way we batted in the first innings was so important, we found a really good tempo and it’s a good benchmark for us going forward.
“We got stuck in and posted a very good score on a challenging wicket. The way we then bowled first up was exceptional and from there, we always felt we were ahead of the game.”
On Moeen’s hat-trick, which had to be referred to the third umpire after an lbw appeal was initially turned down, Ben Stokes added: “I can’t believe it didn’t get given out!
“It was a dramatic ending to a pretty dramatic day.
“Credit to Dean Elgar with the innings he played. It was a really gutsy hundred, we were glad to see the back of him.
“But it was great way to end the Test match with the hat-trick. Congrats to Mo.”
Stokes was named man-of-the-match for his first-innings 112, and he admitted he had to rein in his natural attacking instincts on the first day.
“I had to work pretty hard, especially early on,” he said. “There were some difficult periods, with the wicket offering a bit, particularly for Vernon Philander - I lost count of how many times he beat the bat.
“It’s pleasing to get through those hard times and then be able to express yourself towards the end.”
Losing captain Faf du Plessis added: “It’s obvious to say that Vernon Philander missing out for us in that first innings was a huge moment in the game. The conditions at that time needed someone like him, an expert in challenging the batsmen.
“To allow England 350 in that first innings was probably about 100 too many, but you have to also give credit to the way England played.”