MARK SALTER reflects on the players and moments that shaped day two of the second Test at Newlands.
BATSMAN OF THE DAY: There is no debate over this one. Stokes reached his highest score in an incredible display of power hitting. He had set his platform on Saturday, when he was on 74 at the close, with 11 fours and a six. He went on to add another 184 off 105 balls. He became the fastest Englishman to a double ton, off 163 balls, and the second fastest in the world after Kiwi Nathan Astle (v England 153 balls, 2002). Stokes smacked 124 before lunch on day two; the highest number in Test history.
BOWLER OF THE DAY: Ben Stokes. Only on the grounds he took the only wicket on day two. It was a good one anyway. Outside off, lifting a fraction and holding its line to Dean Elgar from round the wicket, Compton at backward point made good ground to snap up the leading edge.
SHOT OF THE DAY: The sweet drive from Ben Stokes to bring up his hundred, off a good-length ball from Chris Morris. It was cut off a metre from the boundary, but Stokes ran his three. That stroke was as good as any before which brought Stokes five fours from the first 12 deliveries he received from Morkel (2×4), and Morris (3×4) on Sunday morning; but those from Morris, particularly, were gift-wrapped. It sort of set the tone for any of his 10 sixes and 19 fours he scored on day two.
DELIVERY OF THE DAY: Kagiso Rabada’s ridiculous short ball to Stokes. So short it soared over the 6ft-plus batsman and ‘keeper Quinton de Kock, who did not even try to reach it. Four wides. As if England needed that sort of generosity. But it summed up the Proteas’ bowling performance.
DROP OF THE DAY: There were two in the England innings, but neither could be considered game-changing. But Joe Root putting down AB de Villiers, at second slip when he was on five, and the score on 96-2, could have serious consequences. It was a wild drive from De Villiers off James Anderson, without much footwork, and it was waist-height to Root. Went quickly, but should have been taken.
PLAY OF THE DAY: It could have been Drop of the Day, but the events changed it: AB de Villiers dropped a soaring sun-kissing top edge from Stokes off Rabada, going for his third six in a row: straight though his hands. But then it was up and at the stumps as Stokes was contemplating his long walk back and forgot to make his ground. Run out for 258. Rabada missed out on a fourth wicket. To think that 462 runs earlier, he had been on a hat-trick.
HEARTBREAK MOMENT: Setting off in chase of England’s 629, South Africa had seven runs on the board when Stiaan van Zyl pushed the ball into the off side and set off for the run. But Elgar wasn’t interested and sent him back, far too late to beat Compton’s throw. He had scored four.
STAT OF THE DAY: The 11 sixes hammered by Stokes is the most by an Englishman in a Test innings, beating Wally Hammond’s 10 sixes (1933).