Moeen hat-trick seals crushing England win The Report by David Hopps

The 100th Test match at The Oval concluded with a wonderful piece of theatre when Moeen Ali completed England’s victory in the third Test against South Africa with a hat-trick. It was the first hat-trick in a Test at The Oval and, even more remarkably, the first by an England spinner for 79 years. Quite a way to complete a 239-run win.

England might not have the most illustrious list of spin bowlers in the history of Test cricket, but they have had a number of highly regarded operators since Tom Goddard briefly brought a bore draw in Johannesburg to life on Boxing Day 1938, less than nine months before the outbreak of World War 2.

Moeen, whose talents are often underplayed, even by himself, achieved that accolade in the 12th over of the afternoon session, having Dean Elgar and Kagiso Rabada caught at slip and then, with the first ball of his next over, Morne Morkel lbw – this, to add to the drama, after an England review. There are a few nitpickers who claim, of course, that hat-tricks split over two overs are somehow not pure: they should be waved aside peremptorily.

Elgar was battered, bruised and not quite unbowed. Long before he departed, that England would take a 2-1 lead to Old Trafford for the final Test, which begins on Friday, looked inevitable.

He had put up the doughtiest of resistance, eighth out, for 136 from 228 balls, driving at a delivery from Moeen that turned out of the rough and giving Ben Stokes a simple catch at slip. This was single-handed defiance. Only Temba Bavuma, with 32, offered lasting support as South Africa succumbed for 252 as mid-afternoon approached.

Rabada obligingly fell at slip, first ball, catching practice for Stokes as Moeen tossed one up and invited him to do his worst. Remarkably, Moeen was the third England bowler on a hat-trick in the innings, following Toby Roland-Jones and Stokes, the latter then bowling an over in a failed attempt to take the final wicket.

Moeen’s next ball thudded into the shins of Morkel from around the wicket, umpire Joel Wilson stood impassively, not even the hint of an eyebrow flicker. Wilson does impassive as impressively as any umpire on the circuit. England reviewed and replays predicted that the ball would have smashed into leg stump to bring hugs of delight and cheers from a modest fifth-day crowd. Even Moeen, who favours a somewhat melancholy look, was animated.

 Summarized scores: England 353 (Stokes 112, Cook 88) and 313 for 8 dec (Bairstow 63, Westley 59, Root 50) beat South Africa 175 (Bavuma 52, Roland-Jones 5-57) and 205 for 7 (Elgar 136, Moeen 4-45) by 239 runs

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