Proteas, England’s plays of the day

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Cook_Philander Getty Images Vernon Philander had a strangely subdued day, while Alastair Cook showed his class.

SHOT: An exquisite (very) straight drive by Alastair Cook off the backfoot against Dale Steyn in the fifth over after lunch missed the stumps at the bowler’s end by mere inches, and was so well-timed that it kept the fielder interested, but was always running away from him.

BALL: Morné Morkel from around the wicket to Andrew Strauss, fourth ball of the game, got it to straighten. Umpire Steve Davis didn’t think it would hit the stumps but, never mind, UDRS was there. Were you watching, India?

FIELDING: Sloppy all day from South Africa. Maybe they were a bit under-cooked, but there were too many slip-ups from a side that pride themselves on their athleticism in the field.

QUOTE: “What do you mean you don’t know CSI? It’s a crime show, with lots of bodies, dead bodies. It’s wonderful.” – former England opener Geoffrey Boycott who is commentating for the renowned Test Match Special on the BBC, about his favourite TV programme.

CONDITIONS: Some sunshine after rain delayed the start. The pitch was surprisingly dry, which influenced Strauss’ decision at the toss. In contrast to this venue’s reputation, this was a slow surface, probably due to all the rain that’s been around recently.

Batting looked comfortable but for a few overs from Steyn the ball never really swung. Due to it being dry it was already starting to scuff up.

HERO: Cook joined an elite group of England Test batsmen, becoming just the seventh to score 20 centuries in the game’s premier format.

All the talk in the build-up may have been about the respective bowling units, but it’s the batsmen who need to put up the runs and in Cook, England have a player willing to do so and at his own pace.

South Africa beat his outside edge four or five times, but one of Cook’s many attributes is his ability to remain unflustered.

VILLAIN: A strangely subdued Vernon Philander. Given the start he has had to Test cricket, perhaps a flat day was to be expected, but 16-2-48-0 are not figures he would have expected to return. He’ll hope to do better today.

A mention too for Kevin Pietersen, given the publicity he’s had in recent days about demands for a new contract the shot he played would not have gone down well with teammates, no doubt he’ll simply shrug it off. – The Star


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