Toby Roland-Jones said he was living a boyhood dream after his four wickets on debut demolished the South African top order and left England in the driving seat of the third Test.
His burst of four for 15 in 23 balls either side of tea on the second day at The Oval has put Joe Root’s side on course to reclaim the series lead, with the tourists stumbling to 126 for eight by the close in reply to England’s 353 in seaming conditions.
The home side’s total owed much to Ben Stokes striking 112 from No6 in what was arguably the most mature of the all-rounder’s five Test centuries. But even he was upstaged by the performance of Roland-Jones who claimed the first four South African batsmen, with a superb lifter capturing the key wicket of Hashim Amla caught behind.
“This is the moment every young kid dreams of,” said the 29-year-old Middlesex right-armer. “In the context of the game, we stand here on day two in a pretty strong position. The Amla wicket was probably the best of the bunch with all that he’s done in the game.
“The way this afternoon unfolded was something I hadn’t pictured [before the match]. You try to stick to the basics and have a simple plan in your head. I felt in nice rhythm and things just seemed to catch fire from there.”
The maiden Test wicket for Roland-Jones, who struck a run-a-ball 25 before finishing the day with figures of four for 39 from 11 overs, was one he did not even appeal for. He snared Dean Elgar caught behind for eight but had not realised there was an edge. He said: “It wasn’t the most convincing of reactions – I hadn’t heard anything but the guys behind the stumps were adamant he had nicked it. It didn’t take anything away from the moment though, it was a special feeling.”
In comparison to England, South Africa struggled with the ball and were without their key bowler, Vernon Philander, after an opening five-over spell. The seamer, who has struggled throughout the match with a stomach virus, was…