South Africa have made full use of the favourable batting conditions and England’s poor bowling as they reached 224-1 at tea.
A statistic on Twitter by Daily Telegraph cricket writer Jonathan Liew said England haven’t won a ‘dead rubber’ Test since their series against India in 2011. They have lost the last three they’ve played and you could see it during the first two session on day one at Centurion.
Hashim Amla (102) and debutant Stephen Cook (91) were the main beneficiaries of the lacklustre bowling. Amla reached his 25th Test century with a punch down the ground and is slowly getting back to his best after a dry spell in 2015.
Cook was equally impressive. He was comfortable from the start and just looked like a proper opening batsman. In fact, he looked like he had been playing Test cricket for years.
While both batsmen played exceptionally well for their 189-run partnership, they were no doubt helped by inconsistent bowling from England who lacked intensity and looked they were just going through the motions.
They didn’t help themselves by dropping two catches – Amla on five and Cook on 47 – the latter just after lunch before he went on to score his fifty.
England’s catching in general has been poor all series, except for James Taylor at short leg, who’s taken some blinders in the last two South African innings.
Cook has now all but cemented his place at the top of the order for the foreseeable future and one could only wonder what might have been had he played from the start of the series.
For ball-by-ball commentary, click below: