The South African-born Jonathan Trott led from the front with his 37th first-class century, as the England Lions eased their way to a first-innings lead – on the third day of the first unofficial Test match against South Africa A at Boland Park on Tuesday.
England finished the day on 507 for six in reply to the South African total of 504 for eight declared for a lead of three runs, with only 13 wickets having fallen over the three days.
Trott’s innings (176 not out, 350 balls, 14 fours) was one of monumental patience and endurance, not to mention conditioning in extreme heat, as he managed a run four in the final over of the day after 553 minutes at the crease.
Although the pitch has had an encouraging cover of grass it has simply got better and better for batting as the match has progressed, with little or no sign of wear or deterioration.
In the circumstances the performance of the home captain, Rory Kleinveldt, in taking four wickets was a praiseworthy achievement. He, Beuran Hendricks and Dane Piedt have all been coming back from injuries and depite the hard toil they had to put in without much reward, they have certainly got some useful mileage under the belt.
James Vince (78 off 171 balls, 12 fours), who shared the key partnership of 165 for the fourth wicket in 53 overs with Trott after the first three wickets had fallen for only 67 runs, felt that Hendricks had given him the most problems in the middle.
The England middle-order all enhanced their reputations but probably none more so than Vince, who after a slow start, matched much of the strokeplay that Theunis de Bruyn had produced for the South Africans on day one and two. His driving was the hallmark stroke of his innings.
In such benign conditions chances were always going to be few and far between – and the South Africans will rue the lives given to Trott and Jonny Bairstow on seven and 22 respectively. As seasoned international players, they were always going to cash in – and this they did with a fifth wicket partnership of 103 in 28 overs.
Trott, who batted in his normal workmanlike style, found further support in Adil Rashid, during which another century partnership was put together (111 in 27.3 overs) with Rashid contributing 78 off 105 balls (12 fours).