Rid­ing his luck Keaton Jen­nings scraps to un­beaten 34 as Eng­land take com­mand – but rain slows progress

Opener sur­vives bar­rage from Morkel and Phi­lan­der Hosts stretch lead to 252 runs af­ter rain-af­fected day

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - By Nick Hoult at the Kia Oval

They have been cel­e­brat­ing the past through­out the Oval’s 100th Test but, for Keaton Jen­nings, it has been more im­por­tant to con­cen­trate on the here and now as he scraps for his place.

A soggy Satur­day af­ter­noon in south Lon­don made it pos­si­ble for only 34 overs to be bowled all day but, with Eng­land 252 runs ahead, and brighter weather fore­cast for the fi­nal two days, they are in a com­fort­able po­si­tion to go 2-1 up in the four-match se­ries.

Jen­nings re­sumes to­day on 34 and must make the most of this op­por­tu­nity to pro­duce his first score of the sum­mer, oth­er­wise he too could join the Sur­rey leg­ends pa­raded at the Oval yes­ter­day in the his­tory books.

Jen­nings will feel more con­fi­dent about mak­ing the trip to Old Traf­ford next week for the fourth Test hav­ing some­how sur­vived with his wicket in­tact af­ter Morne Morkel tested him to the lim­its. Two Chi­nese cuts, a dropped catch on six and a re­view to save his skin on 33 made for a charmed life and it was not pretty view­ing as he scram­bled for safety. But cru­cially he will be back for more to­day with Eng­land hunt­ing runs for a third in­nings dec­la­ra­tion by tea, giv­ing them four ses­sions to bowl South Africa out.

Most of the Eng­land play­ers trav­elled to the Oval by tube be­cause of road clo­sures due to the Ride Lon­don cy­cle event, a chance for in­ter­na­tional sports­men to taste the real-life com­mute to the ground for sup­port­ers.

Tom West­ley is used to rub­bing shoul­ders with the man in the street hav­ing waited un­til the age of 28 to join the gilded group of Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­als. He was much more im­pres­sive than Jen­nings, stroking 28 and un­furl­ing some crisp shots through the off side to prove he has two sides to his game. It has been a good de­but so far for West­ley. He has looked to be posi­bowler tive and pro­vided the mo­men­tum Trevor Bayliss wants from his No3. He has coped with the oc­ca­sion and looked com­posed in tough bat­ting con­di­tions.

Eng­land have been helped by the sick­ness of Ver­non Phi­lan­der. He spent Fri­day night in hos­pi­tal on a drip due to a stom­ach virus. He was dis­charged to bat yes­ter­day morn­ing as South Africa avoided the fol­low on be­fore be­ing dis­missed for 175, but was be­low par when Eng­land started their se­cond in­nings, leav­ing Morkel to carry the at­tack.

Phi­lan­der still had enough strength to trou­ble Jen­nings. He bat­ted fur­ther out of his crease to try to dis­rupt Phi­lan­der’s length and help him get for­ward, but it was still an up­hill strug­gle. He in­side-edged a four past his stumps in Phi­lan­der’s se­cond over and then next ball was re­prieved when Dean El­gar dropped an edge at slip.

It was a tough game at the other end, too. Morkel was hunt­ing down Alas­tair Cook, bowl­ing round the wicket, land­ing the ball on a per­fect length and hit­ting the seam to pro­duce that frac­tion of de­vi­a­tion that can be fa­tal. He dis­missed Cook for the 11th time in Tests, the most by any bowler, with a pearler that moved late and clipped the top of off stump. There was noth­ing Cook could have done. The won the bat­tle hands down. Jen­nings tucked into Kag­iso Rabada’s first over as the pres­sure lifted and moved to 32 when he put Morkel away for a four through mid­wicket, but he needed a re­view to keep his fight go­ing. Rabada sneaked one through the de­fences and the um­pire gave Jen­nings out caught be­hind, be­liev­ing he had feath­ered an in­side edge to the keeper. The ul­tra-edge gizmo flat­lined and saved Jen­nings.

At the other end, West­ley was hav­ing fun. In the first in­nings his tech­nique was picked apart for the first time on tele­vi­sion and his pref­er­ence for the on side was pored over. He struck six bound­aries, four of which were ei­ther through the cov­ers or straight down the ground as South Africa con­cen­trated on the chan­nel out­side off stump. Morkel apart, they did not have the con­sis­tency of line and length to chal­lenge West­ley.

Con­di­tions were tough for bat­ting and the odd vari­able bounce was ev­i­dent. The weather will im­prove but bat­ting is un­likely to get any eas­ier be­cause it has been seam move­ment, not swing, that has caused the prob­lems with the pitch, pro­vid­ing Toby Roland-Jones with the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for mak­ing his de­but.

He led the team off the field, shyly doff­ing his cap to the crowd, af­ter tak­ing the fi­nal South Africa first-in­nings wicket and his fifth. James An­der­son also started his long Test ca­reer with five wick­ets and he be­lieves Roland-Jones has the tools to be suc­cess­ful in Aus­tralia this win­ter. “He gets bounce, he can swing the ball and he can seam the ball,” he said.

“It is not of­ten you see a debu­tant set­tle as quickly as he did. He looked very com­fort­able and con­fi­dent. It helps he has had a good ca­reer with Mid­dle­sex. He knows his ac­tion and his game very well. He is a very in­tel­li­gent crick­eter and good to talk to about bowl­ing and he thor­oughly de­served his wick­ets.”

He started the morn­ing bowl­ing from the Vaux­hall End, but could not re­peat his Fri­day night hero­ics as Morkel and Temba Bavuma took South Africa past the fol­low-on mark.

Bavuma had fought hard on the se­cond day, sur­viv­ing while oth­ers fell around him. He brought up his fifty driv­ing Stu­art Broad for four and farmed the strike clev­erly as Morkel hung in at the other end.

An­der­son win­kled out Morkel when he nicked to slip be­fore Joe Root sum­moned back Roland-Jones, who took his chance to grab a five-for when he found Bavuma’s edge.

Tough test: Keaton Jen­nings sur­vives a close call against Morne Morkel; Toby Roland-Jones (be­low) cel­e­brates

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