Moeen Ali’s hat-trick saw England complete a 239-run win over South Africa in the third Test at The Oval on Monday.
Victory put England 2-1 up in this four-match series with just the fourth Test at Old Trafford starting Friday to come.
Off-spinner Ali ended the match when, after having Dean Elgar and Kagiso Rabada caught at first slip by Ben Stokes with the last two balls of his 16th over, had Morne Morkel lbw with the next.
As such, here’s our two good, two bad, four-man shortlist:
Simply, what a debut. The Middlesex paceman, at 29, has had to do the hard graft in county cricket over the years to finally get a go at international level and he certainly didn’t disappoint.
His superb 5-57 in the first innings, dismissing five out of the top six South African batsmen in the process, was the stuff of dreams.
He went on to claim 3-35 in the second to finish with eight altogether and let’s not forget he also scored 48 runs with the bat down the order.
That showing has virtually booked him his place on the Ashes tour later this year.
Roland-Jones may have missed out to Ben Stokes, perhaps unluckily in the man-of-the-match stakes, but he won’t worry about that one jot.
It didn't take long for Toby Roland-Jones' Wiki page to be edited... pic.twitter.com/BEumsWmV77— PA Sport (@pasport) July 28, 2017
The 30-year-old showed immense grit and determination to occupy 189 balls at the crease and score his eighth Test hundred – a well played 113 – as he stemmed England’s pursuit of the six remaining wickets needed on the final day.
The Proteas of course knew a world-record chase of 492 was way beyond them but Elgar at least gave them a fighting chance of pulling off a miracle and batting out the fifth day.
It wasn’t to be in the end but the opener has set more than an example for his team-mates during this series.
If South Africa are to salvage a draw with a win in the final Test, they’ll need more runs from Elgar – particularly given a lot of the other batsmen around him have been under-performing.
The Middlesex left-hander was the odd one out from the Oval – that’s if we’re just talking about England’s three new selections for this test.
While Roland-Jones, as discussed, and Tom Westley – who drew comparisons to Michael Vaughan – impressed on debut, Malan’s Test bow didn’t go to plan for him nor England.
The 29-year-old, whose only previous England appearance was in a T20 shirt against South Africa last month, made just 11 runs in two innings.
He may have got an absolute beauty in his first, Kagiso Rabada bowling a vicious yorker that not only smashed his stumps but left the batsman on his knees, but the previous 16 deliveries of his 17-ball stay at the crease left little to be desired.
Malan is undoubtedly talented but his unorthodox batting pose, covering all of his stumps and making him a prime lbw candidate, was his undoing – especially against decent pace. Indeed, Chris Morris trapped him for 10 when he had a golden chase to help build England’s second innings advantage.
He’s likely to get one more crack at Old Trafford but you can’t help but thinking Malan is not cut from the cloth needed in the Test arena.
Poor old Heino Kuhn.
The South African opener had to wait until the age of 33 to make his Test debut in this series for his country – but, without sounding too harsh, it couldn’t have gone any worse.
Despite coming into the contest off the back of a stunning double ton and another century for South Africa’s A side during their tour of England, he has looked completely out of his depth at full international level.
At the Oval, Kuhn made just 26 runs in two innings (78 in total in six innings this series) and is likely to be dropped for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
For a player who has enjoyed an impressive first-class record, it’s a sad end, but that’s the brutal nature of the five-day format.
Heino Kuhn baptism of fire— Tamsanqa Mkoko (@tmkoko001) July 31, 2017
1(14) 9(14) 34 (87) 8(22) 15(24) 11(17) #EngvSA
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