PLAYS OF THE DAY - Day 1
STRIKE THE POSE - Zubayr Hamza is obviously a very elegant player. He looks to have the right kind of temperament for this stage. He also knows how to give photographers every chance to get a shot of him, especially when he drives. It won’t go unnoticed by the opposition who are sure to remind him of that as the series continues.
NO JOY FOR JOFRA - He looked miserable for much of the day. Conditions weren’t oppressive but they were difficult especially for someone who has had proper training given his illness. Still his pace was up, even in his final spell later in the day when he had Philander hopping about. If he recovers properly he’ll make an impact on this series.
DEBUTANTS - Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius became the sixth and seventh players to make Test debuts for South Africa in the last four matches. It’s a reflection of the rafte of retirements the team has suffered this year and the disorganisation of Cricket SA, in not preparing properly for the future.
NASTY BUG - England have been laid low since they touched down in the country two weeks ago. Initially everyone blamed Benoni, but it seems this bug has stuck around. Broad and Archer recovered enough to play ehere, but on the first day, three players; Ollie Pope, Jack Leach - who has spent most of the tour in bed - and Chris Woakes all stayed behind in the hotel. Stokes left the field in the second session because of dehydration, spent a lot of time between balls on his haunches and then didn’t return to the field immediately after tea. The heat didn’t help.
QUOTE - “To be honest, he was the one calming me down, he came out there very calm. 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.” Quinton de Kock, about debutant Dwaine Pretorius, who showed great maturity as they put on a crucial stand of 87 for the sixth wicket.
CONDITIONS - Uncomfortably hot in the middle not helping the recovery for many of the English players. The pitch itself, played better than it looked. The bounce was true although come kicked off a length at the West Lane End, and as Faf du Plessis said at the toss (which he lost - again) the pace off the surface was a bit slower on the first day. If it quickens up it will help strokeplay, but the South African bowlers will also be aware there is ‘something,’ there to provide assistance.