De Kock hoping SA can reach 300
Quinton de Kock had got himself into a frenzy by the time Dwaine Pretorius, on debut, arrived at the crease on Thursday.
The situation of the innings wasn't particularly great either. South Africa were 111/5, and had lost the other debutant Rassie van der Dussen and then skipper Faf du Plessis within 18 balls. De Kock had paid that mini-crisis no heed and smashed three fours off his first 10 balls.
“I wasn’t trying to go at whatever strike rate I was going at, I was just trying to get myself into good positions, just show some intent, keep my head in the game and compete out there,” he said.
He hit a fourth boundary off the 12th delivery he faced and continued in that fashion; offering a chance to Jimmy Anderson on 26 and then seemingly another to Ben Stokes at slip on 35 both off Joe Root’s part-time off-spin. Replays showed that in the latter case the ball had bounced, but it was around that stage, that Pretorius, although making his debut, felt some sage advice was needed for his batting partner.
“I was in a certain mindset and needed to reign it in and he said to pull it together, he was here with me and what what. He was actually the guy who calmed me down. Just by nature, he’s a very calm guy.”
Pretorius thumped a couple of meaty blows to ease the pressure, while De Kock, after reaching 50 - which came off 45 balls and included nine fours - settled down.
The pair 87 runs for the sixth wicket partnership, a crucial contribution that settle the hosts after a difficult start - that included the loss of Dean Elgar’s wicket to the first ball - play having been delayed after a photographer slipped on the folded pitch cover behind the boundary rope, damaging his knee ligaments in the process.
Aiden Markram flattered only to deceive and Zubayr Hamza battered beautifully but got out when set. England despite not bowling all that well, and with players still struggling with illness kept taking wickets.
“We just tried to make sure we kept the score ticking over. When England’s bowlers are on top, they are a really tough team to score runs against.”
The pitch was acting up said De Kock; balls bowled from the West Lane End, kept low, those bowled from the Hennops River End, jumped off a length. “The wicket will get more difficult as the game goes on. I think it’s about 50/50 at the moment,” said De Kock, who was being very optimistic that the last wicket pair of Verno Philander, who looked solid on 28 at stumps and last man Anrich Nortje could scratch together 23 more runs at get South Africa to 300.
England were pleased with their performance on day one given all the health issues. "Overall it was a pretty even day, we would have liked to have bowled them out but to have them nine down is a pretty good effort,” said Sam Curran, their best bowler who finished with 4/57..
"Hopefully we can get that last wicket quickly in the morning. If we can get them under 300 -- we've been batting nicely and got some big scores in the warmup game -- so we are pretty confident that we can bat big and hopefully get a first-innings lead."