England moved to 192 for four toward the close of play on day one of the fourth and final Test against the Proteas at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Friday.
Rain and later bad light allowed for a mere 54 overs and two deliveries, as England slipped from 107 without loss after captain Joe Root won the toss and opted to bat first.
Friday’s final session afforded seamers Vernon Philander, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson and Anrich Nortje a wicket each.
Opener Dom Sibley was the first to fall, giving debutant Hendricks a maiden Test wicket. Wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock held a good catch down the leg-side. Fellow opener Zak Crawley departed soon thereafter, undone by a characteristically probing line and some extra bounce from Philander.
Slip fielder Rassie van der Dussen was again the catcher when Paterson forced the steely Joe Denly into a false drive. All-rounder Ben Stokes then fell in similar fashion, but this time the bowler was Nortje.
Root and the third Test centurion Ollie Pope will resume on Saturday.
Prior to the tea interval, Sibley and 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 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 off the bowling of Hendricks. 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 at the time.
The hosts named Hendricks, batsman Temba Bavuma and 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