Ben Stokes double strike key as England beat South Africa inside three days

Ben Stokes produced the crucial double strike to set England on course for a three-day thrashing of South Africa at Old Trafford.

England romped home in the second Test by an innings and 85 runs – an even bigger margin than the one they lost by in similarly crushing fashion last week at Lord’s – as they flattened the tourists for 179.

And it was captain Stokes who once again proved his inspirational all-round qualities, following up his fine century on day two with a long spell of bloody-minded brilliance with ball in hand.

Fourth-wicket pair Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen had successfully sucked the heat out of England after a strong start from the hosts, blocking their way in a determined stand of 87 in 261 balls.

With inspiration in short supply it fell to Stokes to break their will as he removed the pair in successive overs at the start of the evening session.

His decisive moment came in the middle of a draining 14-over stint either side of the tea break, as flogged himself for the cause and came up trumps.

Ben Stokes took the key wicket to break South Africa’s best partnership

(AFP via Getty Images)

With his work done he tossed the new ball to James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, who finished things off in a blaze of glory by taking the last five wickets for just seven runs in the space of just 30 deliveries.