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Cook leads England defence on rain-affected opening day

29 July, 2017, 00:55 | Author: Christina Hansen
  • Duminy has produced a string of low scores in his past four Tests / Getty

Former England captain Michael Vaughan is enthused by England's approach in the opening exchanges, following his stinging criticism of their efforts in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

Stokes's performance, which had echoes of his incredible double hundred against the South Africans in Cape Town past year, saw him pass 2,000 runs in tests.

There was no doubt when the subsequent ball sailed into the stands as Stokes completed a 144-ball century and he hoisted Maharaj's next delivery over deep square for another six.

This was one of Stokes' best Test knocks.

Nonetheless, Cook was class personified as he resisted a good South African attack.

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The smart money will be on Mark Stoneman, who averages close to 60 for Surrey in first-class cricket this northern summer, coming in for the fourth Test of the series at Old Trafford next week and remaining in the side until at least the end of the Ashes.

However, hopes it was just passing through his system proved premature, with Philander again suffering on Friday, and eventually it was decided that he had to be taken to hospital for tests to ascertain what is hampering him. Significantly, he also made 106 not out against a strong South Africa attack for the second-string England Lions at Worcester last month.

Late-order allies slowly departed as he edged towards his century. Morkel had Moeen Ali (16) caught behind on review.

Debutant Tom Westley showed some grit along with Alastair Cook after the fall of Jennings but he was snared at third slip after swinging hard at a delivery he could very well have left alone.

The way Stokes adapted his game to the changing conditions over the first two days epitomised everything that was right about this batting display. No bowler has dismissed him on as many occasions.

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Stokes' response to Cook's dismissal encapsulated his determination to press ahead as he pulled him regally through mid-on.

Stokes' heroics took England to a competitive score and Roland-Jones began his inspired spell when the faintest of edges saw Elgar pouched by Bairstow. It will take a heroic effort from South Africa to salvage something from this game.

Their cause was aided by the absence of Philander who could only bowl five overs.

The other English batsmen will do well to take a leaf out of Cook's book on how to build an innings as the former skipper added some semblance to England's madness. Faf du Plessis appeared poised to catch his miscued effort at the long-on boundary, but as he stretched to snatch it out of the air, he tumbled backwards over the boundary markers as the ball sailed through his hands.

And England's total winning the toss may have been unconvincing, it could have been so much worse. Morris found so much swing from the Dukes ball that he was unable to control it: he was one player, on this evidence, who did not benefit from South Africa's decision to rest between Nottingham and The Oval rather than request a further three-day match against county opposition.

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