England's Tom Westley in action against the Proteas in the Third Test at the Oval. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

LONDON  England made steady progress on the fourth morning of the third Test here on Sunday against some mostly disciplined South African bowling.

By lunch England were on 153/2, their lead having grown to 331 runs, with skipper Joe Root on 38 and debutant Tom Westley on 50.

The latter had plenty of good fortune, playing and missing on a number of occasions, especially to balls pitched up to him outside off-stump.

And while he appeared irritated with himself throughout, he also deserves praise for putting those plays and misses out of his mind and fighting through against a determined South African attack.

There was just one reward for the tourists in the opening session, when Kagiso Rabada bounced out Keaton Jennings for 48, with Chris Morris taking an easy catch in the gully. 

To say Jennings rode his luck would be an understatement. He was dropped on Saturday by Dean Elgar at third slip on six, and twice inside-edged the ball inches past his stumps before he’d reached 14.

He rarely struck the ball with the middle of his bat, and for the most part, doesn’t look at ease against quality seam bowling.

Westley, despite some flaws outside off-stump, certainly did enough to deserve holding on to his spot at No 3 even with Root’s good mate, Gary Ballance, apparently available for the final Test in Manchester.

Westley, who hit nine fours in his maiden Test half-century, seems to have the mental fortitude to play Test cricket, and his technical shortcomings aren’t as severe as Ballance’s.

For the South African bowlers it was a tough morning’s work, but Vernon Philander, still suffering the effects of that viral infection, Morné Morkel and Rabada all stuck manfully to their tasks.

Morris again let his captain Faf du Plessis down, bowling both sides of the wicket in a four-over spell that cost 20 runs.


IOL Sport

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