Ben Stokes’ fifth Test century and Toby Roland-Jones’ four-wicket debut burst put England well on top of the third Investec Test after day two against South Africa at The Oval.
Stokes (112) soon lost Alastair Cook (88) after England resumed on 171 for four but shared stands of 75 for the sixth wicket and 37 for the ninth, with Jonny Bairstow and Roland-Jones, to ease them to an above-par 353 all out in awkward conditions.
Then Roland-Jones (four wickets for 39 runs) knocked over South Africa’s top four under persistent heavy cloud cover and floodlights as the tourists collapsed to 61 for seven before Kagiso Rabada and Temba Bavuma brought a minor revival to 126 for eight at stumps.
Philander off colour
Vernon Philander’s absence gave England breathing space. Even troubled by a stomach bug which eventually forced him out of the action and off to hospital, Philander was in his element under cloudy skies on day one as the hosts could barely lay a bat on him and lost two wickets as they tried. He managed only five overs on the second morning, and Stokes and Jonny Bairstow correctly sensed their opportunity to take advantage.
Tweet of the day
Hero to zero…well, nearly
Hashim Amla was immovable for more than 13 hours in his national-record 311 not out for South Africa on their last Test visit to The Oval. On his return, he so nearly fell first ball – and put debutant Roland-Jones on a hat-trick. Instead, England’s DRS gambit resulted only in umpire’s call as technology projected the ball clipping the top of leg-stump – not enough to overturn Aleem Dar’s initial judgment. Roland-Jones was not held up long even so, Amla having to settle for a mere six runs before he gloved him behind.
Stat of the day
10 – Morne Morkel has dismissed Alastair Cook 10 times in Test cricket, his most regular victim and the bowler to get Cook out most often.
England ought to resume their victory push, on the back of Stokes’ fine innings and Roland-Jones’ expert use of favourable conditions.