Proteas bowlers prosper
Philander roots out Joe in spite of a stop-start first day, Cook’s resilience
his leg. Cook was characteristically resolute, defending stoutly and leaving well outside his off-stump. That forced the South Africans to straighten their lines, which played right into Cook’s hands.
South Africa improved after lunch, with Westley removed by a gem by the otherwise erratic Chris Morris. It was a short spell from Morkel to Root which set the tone after the interval. Root had been playing fluently against Morris, but suddenly couldn’t lay his bat on the ball as Morkel tore into him from the Pavilion End. Morkel deserved the wicket. Philander, sufficiently recovered from whatever ailed him, produced a jaffer to snare the England captain, with Quinton de Kock’s stunning onehanded diving catch rounding off a picturesque dismissal.
In that same category was Rabada’s destruction of another of England’s debutants’, Dawid Malan, stumps. While an embarrassment for the batsmen, it’s a glorious sight for any fast bowler when, besides the stumps, the opposing batsmen is also floored as Malan was.
South Africa won’t be displeased with their performance. They bowled enough wicket-taking balls that they probably feel their efforts weren’t sufficiently rewarded.
The mini-session after tea in which Cook, who finished the day unbeaten on 82, and Ben Stokes played out seven overs may yet be a key period in the context of the match. That Stokes was able to survive a testing burst from Philander may yet prove beneficial for the home team.
Cook, rather like Hashim Amla at Trent Bridge, seems to have found his rhythm for batting in this format and all those powers of concentration will be required today to keep South Africa at bay.
The tourists, meanwhile, will want to be on point like they were in the last two sessions and hope the ball will find the edge more often than was case yesterday evening.