Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

England v South Africa: The three Lions who look like liabilities

Ben Stokes admitted having to work hard for his century but was pleased with his knock Ben Stokes admitted having to work hard for his century but was pleased with his knock
Spencer Simpson | 06 August, 2017, 01:12

James Anderson took four wickets to give England a firm grip on the final Test against South Africa on day two at Old Trafford.

The James Anderson End was formally christened before play but any prospect of the home favourite immediately bowling from it disappeared when Root opted to bat first.

Jennings made a century in his debut Test innings in India last winter but is averaging only 15.33 after three matches against South Africa, with his technique criticised by some.

"I don't mind where I bat, that's something I have said many times, and I am just pleased to be scoring runs and hopefully putting us in a position where we can win the series".

But as they try to hit back and earn a 2-2 series draw in the final match of four in Manchester, they may again have to take a last-minute gamble on the well-being of Philander - who has this time succumbed to an untimely back spasm.

Root made a fearless decision at the start of the day, choosing to bat after winning the toss with the knowledge that there's been rain in Manchester this week and the pitch was likely to give early help to the bowlers. South Africa had recovered with Hashim Amla sublime off both front and back foot on his way to 30 from 35 balls, and Heino Kuhn digging in for more than two hours for his 24.

Once again charging in from his own end, Anderson nipped the ball off the seam to rip through the Proteas' middle order.

Jennings reached 17 occasionally looking the part, but a ball from Duanne Olivier which seamed away, brought no more than a tentative prod forward and the resulting edge was easily taken by Quinton de Kock. Dawid Malan even entered the fray for an exploratory over of all-sorts, before Broad set the seal on a day of largely unchecked dominance, Stokes swooping brilliantly in the gully to break a determined ninth-wicket stand of 31. The England captain still knows he should be doing better.

Earlier, Jonny Bairstow made a dashing 99 after resuming on 33 not out in England's overnight total of 260 for six.

In the next over from Moeen, England would have got De Kock for just a single if Ben Stokes had clung on to another sharp one from an edged cut to slip.

Having gone on to fifty in 100 balls, Bairstow scored 49 from his next 45 deliveries before he was cruelly robbed of a deserved hundred, given out LBW to Keshav Maharaj.

Bairstow then on 53, with just last man Anderson for company, cashed in.

South Africa's desire to pick someone as important as Philander was understandable, but it does not matter how good a player is if he is unable to play his best due to illness (or other reasons like injury or mental state).

The highlight of the counterattacking masterclass came at the expense of Olivier, who was impudently scooped to fine leg for four and then smacked down the ground and into the pavilion for six off the next ball.

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