Cook rescues England on rain hit day one at The Oval

Jonathan Hernandez
July 29, 2017

Middlesex paceman Toby Roland-Jones will make his England Test debut after Mark Wood was ruled out with injury.

Stokes (64no) cashed in on his previous hard work to speed past his half-century, from 72 balls in all, as he and Jonny Bairstow (36) shared a stand of 75 on the way to a lunchtime 269 for six at The Oval.

A stunning debut was complete when De Kock (17) edged to Stokes at gully, and Anderson got in on the act by trapping Du Plessis (1) lbw before having Morris (2) caught and bowled.

He may have given up the captaincy earlier this year but with England's batting line-up in ever greater flux, Cook's influence appears to be growing just four months out from the next Ashes series.

But the 26-year-old went to three figures via two sixes off consecutive balls from left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.

Stokes then showed his danger with the ball as Cook grabbed Maharaj (5) at first slip before Stuart Broad brilliantly ripped up Rabada's off stump to end a 53-run stand with Temba Bavuma (34 not out) to leave the Proteas 227 runs in arrears. And no-one said Matt Prior was too good to bat at seven for England.

Roland-Jones will hope England have a decent total under their belts before he comes on to bowl his first spell in Test cricket. Then came Hashim Amla, who made 311 not out in his last Test on this ground.

This was also a good day for Root who demonstrated a firm but instinctive touch in taking Jimmy Anderson off after just three overs of the new ball at the start of the Proteas reply and replacing him with Roland-Jones to such effect.

It was a courageous decision of Joe Root to bat first in the conditions but, as in Nottingham where South Africa vindicated Faf du Plessis's move to bat first, England did not let their captain down.

Vaughan said after England lost by 340 runs that their side is following a "gung-ho approach".

But Jennings' wicket was the only one of the morning session as Alastair Cook and debutant Tom Westley showed stubborn resistance in a 50-run partnership.

While England dished out the caps in a bid to bounce back from the chastening and series-levelling defeat at Trent Bridge last week, South Africa made a single change as they welcomed back Kagiso Rabada following a one-match ban that was triggered by a sweary send-off towards Ben Stokes at Lord's. Morne Morkel led South Africa's attack in Philander's absence with 3 for 70 in 28.2 overs.

After former England captain Michael Vaughan criticised the performance of England against South Africa in the second Test, skipper Joe Root called his comments unfair and personal. 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. It will take a heroic effort from South Africa to salvage something from this game.

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