England’s tour of South Africa started on Boxing Day at Centurion a ground where the hosts have a fantastic record and England don’t. Joe Root won the toss and elected to bowl having not picked a spinner as Leach had not recovered from the illness that was rampaging through the England camp. South Africa however wouldn’t have been that upset due to the nature of the pith and its reputation for cracking up in the second half of test matches.
Root’s choice however did give us a first look at James Anderson after his recovery from his calf injury that ruled him out of The Ashes and the subsequent tour of New Zealand. England’s leading wicket taker had an instant impact as Dean Elgar feathered the first ball down the leg side to Buttler and England were off and running.
Despite the early scalp it felt like England were a little below par with the new ball even though fairly regular wickets came throughout the afternoon. With top order batsmen making starts and then getting out South Africa found themselves in a bit of trouble at 111-5 until de Kock came out and raced to 45 almost entirely of boundaries.
The flashing left hander anchored the host’s innings and appeared to guide them to an overnight par score of 277-9. Despite de Kock edging behind on 95 his positive attitude and solid technique may well have put his team in the driving seat going forward as he capitalised on at times some loose bowling.
Sam Curran for the visitors was by far the pick of the bowlers as he picked up four wickets holding a line outside the off-stump. The rest of the bowlers just looked short of some match practise as Anderson was returning from injury, Broad had spent six days in bed and Archer’s struggles with the Kookaburra ball continued.
Tomorrow is looking like it could be pivotal day in the match as England’s under fire batting line up will try and back up Root’s decision at the toss. They will surely need a lead at the halfway stage due to the reputation of the pitch of breaking up at the backend of the match.
|D Elgar||c Buttler b Anderson||0||1||0||0|
|A K Markram||c Bairstow b Curran||20||23||4||0|
|Z Hamza||c Stokes b Broad||39||72||6||0|
|F du Plessis||c Root b Broad||29||80||5||0|
|H E van der Dussen||c Root b Curran||6||34||1||0|
|Q de Kock||c Buttler b Curran||95||128||14||0|
|D Pretorius||c Root b Curran||33||45||4||1|
|V D Philander||c Buttler b Broad||35||81||6||0|
|K A Maharaj||c Stokes b Archer||6||15||1||0|
|K Rabada||b Broad||12||24||3||0|
|Extras||4lb 0 3w 2nb||9|
|Total||for 10||284||84.3 overs|
|J M Anderson||20||4||69||1|
|S C J Broad||18||4||58||4|
|S M Curran||20||5||58||4|
|J C Archer||19||4||65||1|
|J E Root||4||0||26||0|
|J L Denly||3||0||4||0|