TOM SIZELAND reflects on the big moments that shaped day one of the second Test at Newlands.
BATSMAN OF THE DAY
Ben Stokes turned an ominous position into a commanding one in half a session. With England on 223-5, the Proteas had their tails up, but Stokes smashed the second new ball to all parts, hitting 16 off Chris Morris’s first over with it. Alex Hales deserves a mention for his 60, as he became Alastair Cook’s first partner in ten Tests to score a half-century. It’s interesting to note that he’s lasted longer than Cook on all three occasions in this series so far.
BOWLER OF THE DAY
Kagiso Rabada was expensive at first, but once he settled in and found his length he gave the English plenty of problems, and took key wickets. Cook was his first victim, before getting Compton just on the stroke of tea, which proved a pivotal moment in the day’s play. He found the edge of James Taylor with his first ball after tea. He momentarily became the leading wicket-taker in international cricket for 2016. Viral Kohli was his first Test victim, Cook was his first at home. Not too shabby.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Of all the batsmen to execute a scoop shot for four and a six down the ground in the same over, you wouldn’t have put your money on Nick Compton. But that’s exactly what he did off Dane Piedt, to alleviate the pressure off himself as he was beginning to get bogged down.
DELIVERY OF THE DAY
Morne Morkel pitched one just outside the off stump to tempt Hales into playing a shot, and it shaped ever so slightly off the track to find the edge. It was a big wicket, ending the 74-run stand between Hales and Compton.
MIXED DAY FOR MORRIS
Morris was the most impressive of the bowlers early on, bowling reasonably good lines and at a good pace. It was his one-handed diving catch in the slips to remove Cook that will go down as the moment of the day, however. The shine was taken off that catch as he dropped Root on 13, albeit another tough chance. He would redeem himself with the key wicket of Joe Root, but was completely ineffective with the second new ball.
HOW SHOULD PIEDT BE USED?
An attacking field was initially set for Piedt, but as soon as Compton smacked him down the ground for six, Amla decided to take out the short leg and a long-on was operated. From there he went for just two an over, but when Ben Stokes came in, an attacking field was employed again, and he was subsequently punished. He certainly looked more useful as a defensive bowler.
NORMALITY RESTORED BEHIND THE STUMPS
The decision to hand Quinton de Kock the gloves would have made AB de Villiers a happier camper, and a happier De Villiers means a happier Proteas unit. There was a lot more energy, and their ground fielding throughout the day was superb bar a couple of mistakes late on. De Kock took all of his catches behind the stumps, and De Villiers took a fine diving catch to remove Hales, even though Elgar was better positioned. Time will tell if the move helps his batting.