Memories of four years earlier were flashing back on the forth morning when Ben Stokes was crashing the ball to all parts in a similar manner to his spectacular double hundred in 2016. South Africa curiously delayed taking the second new ball which was presumably to try and frustrate England’s scoring. It didn’t work however as at one point Stokes looked like he might reach his century before Sibley would.
Eventually the talismanic all-rounder was caught on the boundary for 71 and the hosts breathed a sigh of relief. The newbie opening batsmen Dom Sibley however was still their despite edging past the slips on 95. The big Warwickshire batsmen the following over swept the spinner to bring up his maiden international hundred that he richly deserved. Whisper it quietly but maybe just maybe when Rory Burns returns from his injury in the summer England may have an opening partnership.
England throughout the morning kicked on at a quite a rate with Buttler going from one to seven with an exquisite lofted cover drive for six. In the end England declared setting South Africa over 400 to win on what would hopefully be a wearing pitch.
The two openers however got off to a solid start and the pitch seemed as flat as it was when England was batting. The pitch only really looked like it might assist the visitors when the leg-spin of Joe Denly came on as he was able to aim for some rough outside the left handed batsmen’s off stump.
Out of the rough one didn’t spin as much as Elgar had thought it would and England thought he had feathered one behind. Elgar disagreed and sent it upstairs for UltraEdge to show the tiniest of mummers when the ball passed the bat. A disgusted Elgar left the field but the third umpire had little option.
South Africa’s debutant Peter Malan was starting to settle into life as an international player as he consistently presented a straight bat to anything the English seamers could throw at him. With England starting to realise that tomorrow could be a frustrating day the old boy James Anderson utilised some reverse swing he got and dismissed Hamza by having him caught behind.
The fifth and final day promises to be very special as all three results are still possible. South Africa will want to eradicate the possibility of defeat before they think about victory but imagine if someone in the top order can play a substantial innings in the first two sessions leaving de Kock coming in to try and chase 150 in the final one? For England it’s simple, stay patient and take wickets. Whatever happens it’s going to be great.