Moeen Ali spins England to victory over South Africa
Joe Root's reign begins with 211-run win as tourists crumble on an 'astonishing' day at Lord's
Moeen Ali claimed his first ten-wicket haul in Tests as England skittled South Africa to win the first Test at Lord's.
On a day when 19 wickets fell on a deteriorating pitch, South Africa's second innings batting was "inept", says Mike Atherton of The Times.
It began with England struggling to extend their lead. Indeed, the tourists may have sniffed blood as wickets tumbled.
In the end, they bundled Joe Root's side out for the addition of just 94 runs, but a half century from Jonny Bairstow tipped the balance in England's favour as they were all out for 233. That left South Africa needing an improbable, but not impossible, 331 to win.
Their hopes were short-lived, however, as their chase lasted just 37 overs and they were dismissed for a 119, handing England a 211-run win.
Moeen was the architect of the triumph, taking 6-53 as the tourists crumbled.
"Joe Root's first victory as captain owed as much to his batting as his leadership. His first-innings hundred remained the difference between the teams, the one innings of real substance on an increasingly capricious pitch," says Atherton.
"If Root's first-innings hundred set up this emphatic victory, then Moeen Ali’s all-round performance, which earned him the man-of-the-match award, was its highlight."
At Lord's, Moeen "looked a completely different prospect from the bowler who struggled during the winter in India", says Lawrence Booth of the Daily Mail.
"England are trying to repackage him as their second spinner behind Liam Dawson, and on Sunday night named an unchanged side for Friday's second Test in Nottingham.
"And for Root, who spent the game fighting off a stinking cold, Moeen's response to his new role was the perfect start to his Test captaincy. He was not the only one to react positively to his new leader."
Root "could not have hoped for a better start to his reign", says Vic Marks of The Guardian. It was an "astonishing day for all concerned and it ended with England one up in the series and the tourists in some disarray".
Captain Joe Root rides his luck to lead from the front
Not only did Joe Root rescue England on his debut as Test captain, he also tore up the record books at Lord's before he was eventually dismissed for 190 early on the second day.
It was the highest score by an England captain on debut and the fourth highest ever. It also took Root past 1,000 Test runs at the ground in record time and made him the fourth consecutive skipper to reach three figures in his first match in charge, after Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook.
Root is now only the third man to reach 150 three times at Lord's, following in the footsteps of Pietersen and Graham Gooch.
Such milestones seemed a long way off when the captain came to the wicket in the sixth over of the day. He had won the toss, elected to bat and then watched as England subsided to 17-2 with openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings both out cheaply.
The Yorkshireman rode his luck early on in his innings and was lucky to avoid being caught in the deep on five and was then dropped by JP Duminy in the gully for just 16.
Others around him were not so fortunate and Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow were out to leave England at 76-4 before lunch.
However, Root turned things round, first with a 114-run stand with Ben Stokes and later alongside Moeen Ali.
There was another let off in the final hour of the day when he was stumped off a no-ball from Keshav Maharaj, but "every successful leader requires a little luck", says Tom Collomosse of the London Evening Standard.
"With his grandfather, his parents, his partner, Carrie, and baby son Alfred in a capacity crowd, Root produced an innings to transcend generations, and left to a standing ovation."
Barney Ronay of The Guardian calls it a " a genuinely startling innings" which "decorated the opening day of the Test summer with an effortless, assertive grace and provided the opening act of his captaincy with a suitably storybook centrepiece".
There was a sense of "serendipity" about it, agrees Jonathan Liew of the Daily Telegraph.
A "sense of cards falling into place, of fate subdued".
But that's not all. "You could point out that Root was simply very fortunate: a shaky start, two dropped catches, a stumping off a no-ball on 149. Equally, you could claim that a batsman makes his own luck. Some of the shots he played in the evening session were the stuff of dreams."
It also turned England's fortunes, says Mike Atherton of The Times.
"Root's determination to get his captaincy off to the brightest of starts, and to lead by the oldest method of all - by example - transformed the day," he says.
"In the morning, South Africa took four cheap wickets and had designs on bowling England out for a low score. By the close, they were on their knees."