Lunch South Africa 421 for 8 (De Kock 85*, Piedt 11*) v England
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Haysman: England have been poor
The enterprise of Quinton de Kock was the force behind a satisfying second morning for South Africa at Centurion as they took a firm grip on the final Test.
De Kock’s return to the wicketkeeping role after a freakish accident that ruled him out of the third Test – he slipped while walking the dogs – had not been universally supported after a strong showing behind the stumps by Dane Vilas as his emergency replacement.
But de Kock, 25 not out overnight, struck 60 in the session, playing with freedom on a morning where there were just enough hints of encouragement for the bowlers to persuade South Africa that they had established a very useful advantage.
Just to add to England’s disenchantment, there was a mix-up between Jonny Bairstow, a wicketkeeper under scrutiny, and his captain Alastair Cook, stood alongside him at first slip when an edge from de Kock, on 80, flew between them. Both could have gone for it; neither did.
The poor alignment of keeper and slip should definitely be questioned before any other factor because Cook had virtually moved alongside Bairstow so confusing their areas of responsibility. On this occasion, it was a tactical error primarily, but it was not the first chance to go astray and the dissatisfied expressions on both faces told of a distrust and disappointment that is unlikely to aid Bairstow’s cause.
England needed quick wickets with South Africa already 329 runs to the good and they had a promising start. Stuart Broad and James Anderson struck in the first four overs, Temba Bavuma edging to the wicketkeeper and Kagiso Rabada falling lbw first ball.
Finally, nearing the end of an unrewarding tour, Anderson had made the ball swing and must even have found joy in Rabada’s decision to review the decision as it meant he could wallow in innumerable replays proving as much on the big screen.
De Kock’s response was emphatic. A modicum of width was enough for him to flay his next two balls, from Broad, for successive off-side boundaries. A wristy late cut against Moeen signalled his half-century. When Kyle Abbott deposited his first ball from Moeen for a long-on six, and de Kock also cleared the ropes later in the over, South Africa reached drinks in exuberant mood.
Stokes silenced Abbott with a blockhole leg-before – the batsman’s review entirely pointless – but in keeping with the story of the first day England again failed to stem the flow of runs as de Kock took the total past 400.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo