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What happened on day one of the third Test between South Africa and England?

UK Sport | Published:

England win a good toss but need to consolidate after four wickets fall.

Ben Stokes was cast in a familiar role on day one of the third Test against South Africa, charged with bailing England out of a tricky situation alongside Ollie Pope in Port Elizabeth.

Stokes, the freshly minted world player of the year following his exploits in 2019, was left to carry the can when Joe Root lost his off stump to leave England 148 for four. However, he and Pope steered the tourists to 224 without further loss.

England had threatened to fritter an opening stand of 70 between Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley, but what initially looked like a bowler’s graveyard at St George’s Park was slowly revealed as a trickier proposition as the Proteas gnawed away.

Stokes battled through some tough moments, and no less than three reviews, to finish 38 not out at stumps, with Pope timing his shots better than anyone in a lively unbeaten 39.

Sibley (36) and Crawley (44) had earlier become the first English openers to bat out the opening session of a Test since Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook in 2011, setting up false expectations of a one-sided contest between bat and ball

Crawley creeping up

South Africa England Cricket
Zak Crawley is improving with England (Michael Sheehan/PA)

Faf’s flipping nightmare

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South Africa Nets Session and Press Conference – The Oval
Far du Plessis has been second best with the coin (Nigel French/PA)

Friends reunited

Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior had a high-profile falling out after some incendiary comments in the former’s autobiography. The pair were both rostered on as part of talkSPORT’s commentary team for this match and rather than keep away from each other, they met in the middle ahead of play for a long chat and a handshake. Tweets from both proved that ill feelings have finally been left in the past.

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Data point

Joe Denly has now faced at least 100 balls in nine of his past 13 innings. The ‘Dentury’ is fast becoming a virtual guarantee but the Kent man is still struggling to match the runs output required of a number three. Here he made 25, lowering his career average to 31.04.

What’s next?

South Africa England Cricket
Keshav Maharaj will be hoping for success on day two (AP)

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