NOTTINGHAM - Independent Media cricket writer Stuart Hess looks at the Plays of the Day from the third day of South Africa's second Test against England at Trent Bridge on Sunday.
Patience is a virtue
It was a day of hard graft for the South African batsmen, the goal being to obviously score runs and set a big enough fourth innings target but also to bat time and to hopefully use up the best of the batting conditions. They scored 161 runs in 54 overs across the first two sessions. Elgar batted for over three hours, Amla for just under five and Du Plessis spent over three hours at the crease. They got the target they wanted, the next goal is to get the wickets
Ben Stokes has all the tools to be a quality fast bowler, but too often his lines and lengths have been inconsistent. Not yesterday. He bowled a high quality aggressive spell either side of lunch, bouncing out Elgar and shaking up De Kock, which Anderson took advantage of. Amla was wonderfully calm amidst the storm. Long time watchers of Stokes reckon it was his best performance with the ball for England at Test level, not in terms of wickets, but the discipline he sustained for a lengthy spell. His final figures read: 20-4-34-2.
In a spin
There is plenty to worry England’s batsmen on Monday; the new ball, the inconsistent bounce off the pitch and also Keshav Maharaj. Already he’s claimed three wickets in this Test, one with the perfect left-arm spinner’s dismissal to Bairstow. He’d have sat up yesterday when Dawson ripped one from outside Morkel’s off stump across the left-hander with the ball exploding off the surface.
It was a tough day for the spectators, but spirits were raised after lunch when a member of the ground-staff had to dash onto the field to fix an area where the quick bowlers went into their ‘take-off’ at the Radcliffe Road End. Utilising a tool with a long handle and a flat piece of concrete on the end, he thumped the offending spot a dozen times, with the crowd providing a countdown. If anyone knows the name of the device be so kind as to send a tweet to @shockerhess
Cloudy for two thirds of the day, but unlike Saturday there was no swing. The clouds cleared away in the evening and sun baked even more moisture out of the surface. The surface had behaved most of the day until the ‘scuttler’ Stokes served up to trap Du Plessis lbw. A few have kept low at the Pavilion End, and the South African bowlers will be keen for more as the pitch deteriorates under forcasted warm sun on Monday.
“Faf has a lot of respect from the players, which he’s earned. If I’d been in the position more, then I’d earn that kind of respect, too, and the players would start trusting your knowledge of the game and your knowledge in terms of game plans. That’s just human nature, and that only comes with time.” Dean Elgar on why Du Plessis has made such a difference after the first-Test loss.