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Ben Stokes stands firm for England after Alastair Cook exit

31 Julio 2017, 02:21 | Cornelio Vivanco

Ben Stokes stands firm for England after Alastair Cook exit

Ben Stokes stands firm for England after Alastair Cook exit

England received little charity from the South African attack as they moved gradually to a tea-time declaration on a slow surface. Root and Westley surged the lead past 300.

Dean Elgar (eight) was out to what became the last ball before tea, caught behind off Toby Roland-Jones for the debutant paceman's first Test wicket.

That seemed to galvanise England. His dismissal left the visitors shaking, and Stokes took full advantage of their lack of composure to take De Kock's wicket with a wondrous yorker before trapping Faf Du Plessis lbw immediately after. A lovely yorker was too good for de Kock, who was bowled.

Following a superb century with the bat on day two which established such a dominant bridgehead for England, the all-rounder returned yesterday with two wickets in two balls to blast a huge hole in South Africa's rearguard. His innings was the cornerstone of the Proteas' first innings total of 175.

When rain led to an early lunch on the third day, England were 20 without loss in their second innings - a lead of 198 runs. By the time that hundred came up Keaton Jennings and Tom Westley had already come and gone, flickering in and out of sight like minor party guests who appear briefly in your line of vision then melt away. South Africa are experts at it, especially against someone who they regard as one of their own. Jennings added a few more edges to his innings and got runs behind the wicket.

Only 37 overs were bowled on Saturday, the evening session totally washed out as clouds gathered over south London.

The great art of batting is to forget the ball before, don't look behind if you play and miss, and ignore the close fielders and with him, all those qualities were there. Three balls later, he was out, caught at deep square leg sweeping Maharaj.

Westley, one of three debutants in Englands XI, demonstrated numerous grafting qualities critics of the teams top-order had said they lacked during a massive 340-run defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge. Stokes planted Morris in to the stands for six and Bairstow ramped a short delivery from Rabada over the keeper before Morris had his revenge, bowling Stokes with a cutter which perhaps stayed slightly low.

Looking nerveless and with a big smile both while he was batting and when in the field, Roland-Jones looked determined to enjoy his big day from the start when he scored a blistering run-a-ball 25. Whatever happens at Old Trafford, South Africa will have to decide how they going to tackle the home summer, which is scheduled to include 10 Tests.

That left then 178 runs behind England's first innings score of 353.

Root pitched in with a swifter half century and Stokes and Jonny Bairstow weighed in with 49 from 46 balls, the former falling to Chris Morris on the slog for 31.



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