LONDON - Independent Media cricket writer Stuart Hess has selected the best moments from day one of the first Test between South Africa and England at Lord's on Thursday.
SHOT: Joe Root was superb off both the back and front foot, but Ben Stokes’s straight hit for six off Keshav Maharaj, half an hour after lunch signalled a change in momentum in the day. He used his feet to get to the pitch of the ball, depositing it into the Pavilion, waking up a few MCC members in the process.
NO BALLS: What makes the two non-dismissals as a result of Thursday's no-balls even more infuriating is the fact that eliminating no-balls had specifically been discussed following South Africa’s warm-up match at Worcester last week. In all, nine no-balls were bowled. That is a terrible lack of discipline.
DROP: Aiden Markram’s misjudgment could be forgiven, for it appeared he’d been asked to position himself a few metres off the boundary, JP Duminy’s miss in the gully was poor. Sure the ball travelled quickly but it was straight at him and a fielder of his ability should have caught it. Root had five and 16 on those two occasions - he’s not out 184 overnight.
HERO: Vernon Philander. At lunch he had figures of 7-1-26-3. His ankle injury hampered him thereafter.
VILLAINS: Keshav Maharaj and Morne Morkel. Missing out on wickets because of no-balls is inexcusable.
CONDITIONS: The grass certainly helped Philander’s seamers in the morning, but with the sun baking the life out of the pitch through lunch, it gradually got easier to bat on. Maharaj’s no-ball spun passed the outside edge of Root’s bat and England have two spinners in the line-up and get to bowl last on this pitch.
QUOTE: “Get on with it!” came a roar from the crowd in the final session (by which point they were well oiled up with a variety ales, Pimms, wine and champagne as South Africa continued to dawdle through their overs. An inordinate amount of time was spent setting fields, but it’s doubtful Dean Elgar will receive any sympathy from match referee Jeff Crowe because this was his first day as a Test captain. Even with the extra half an hour at the end of the day, South Africa were three overs short of their 90-overs a day quota. - Stuart Hess