England moved to 100 without loss at tea on day one of the fourth and final Test against the Proteas at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Friday.
England captain Joe Root won the toss and opted to bat first under cloudy skies, after rain had delayed the start by over three hours.
Openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley ensured the hosts went without an early breakthrough. Crawley welcomed a maiden Test half-century before weathering an alarming blow to the helmet from fast bowler Anrich Nortje’s short delivery, while Sibley survived two opportunities for the Proteas.
The first saw a review overturn umpire Joel Wilson’s decision to give Sibley out caught down the leg-side. A maiden Test wicket for debutant Beuran Hendricks, indeed, was denied. Seamer Vernon Philander then had Sibley caught at gully, only for television replays to reveal a no-ball.
Former England captains Michael Atheron and Nasser Hussain labelled the home side’s performance ‘really bad bowling’ and ‘a captains’s nightmare’, respectively, during particularly scathing stints of television commentary.
The hosts named Hendricks, batsman Temba Bavuma and all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius in the XI. Batsman Zubayr Hamza and spinner Keshav Maharaj were omitted.
South Africa are also without fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for this fixture. He was banned by the International Cricket Council after an overzealous celebration of Root’s dismissal during last week’s third Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
This Test is Philander’s last. He will retire from international cricket next week in favour of a Kolpak contract with Somerset in English county cricket later this year.
England lead the series two-one. They lost in Centurion before winning in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Pieter Malan, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Temba Bavuma, Dwaine Pretorius, Vernon Philander, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson, Beuran Hendricks.
England: Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad.
Photo: Gallo Images