England skipper Alastair Cook admitted that run-shy batsmen Alex Hales, Nick Compton and James Taylor could face the axe after his side’s humiliating collapse on the final morning of the fourth Test.
South Africa needed just 66 minutes and 82 deliveries to claim England’s seven remaining wickets and rout their rivals for 101, chalking up a consolation 280-run victory in a Test series which the tourists won 2-1.
Struggling opener Hales finished with a series average of 17, while Compton and Taylor both faded after key contributions in the first Test at Durban, and Cook insists they face a fight to retain their places.
“It shows how much work we’ve still got to do as a side. At the end of the day results matter and your end column of runs is vital, so to say they’ve totally convinced me would be wrong, but there have been flashes,” said Cook, who averaged only 23.
“[Head coach] Trevor Bayliss, myself and the selectors will have to sit down and discuss that because the output we’ve had in this series hasn’t been good enough if we’re trying to get to No1 in the world, which is the ultimate aim.
“Those guys have to continue working hard and make sure when selection comes round for Sri Lanka [in May] they’ve got a bucketload of runs for their counties.”
Resuming on 52-3, England wilted as 20-year-old seamer Kagiso Rabada became the youngest South Africa bowler to take 10 wickets in a match. He finished with match figures of 13-144 – the finest return of a Proteas performer on home soil.
There was no repeat of England’s great escape at Centurion in 2009 as Taylor top-scored with a measly 24, while England’s total of 101 was their lowest in South Africa since 1899, when they mustered a paltry 92.