A rain hit day of two halves began with Dom Bess appearing to pick up where he left off the previous evening. The second choice Somerset spinner picked up the first five wickets of the innings as the South African batsmen delivered a master class in how not to play spin.
First of all Elgar half came forward and was well caught by Ollie Pope to start the morning off for England. Du Plessis and der Dussen soon followed to give Dom Bess a morning he’ll never forget as he presented the ball to the crowd.
What’s really exciting for England is his ability to follow up the tight holding performance at Newlands with an attacking wicket taking spell. As has been well documented England’s greatest spinner Graeme Swann could marry up attack and defence superbly and Bess will still be looking to improve as he’s not up to Swann’s level yet.
With England on top heading towards lunch the heavens opened above St George’s Park and the players were of the field for around three hours. As it turned out this enforced break probably suited South Africa more as it gave them time to regroup after what had been a disappointing morning.
Nortje was putting on a similar defensive display to the one he showed at Centurion as he anchored the partnership and allowed de Kock to play with real freedom. The wicketkeeper-batsmen reached a highly entertaining fifty with some lovely stroke play all around the wicket.
He was however gifted a few lives by England and especially their star fielder Ben Stokes who put one down in the penultimate over. So far in the match this has been England’s only negative.
Late on Joe Root finally turned to Stokes who managed to get Nortje to fiddle at one outside his off-stump which leads to questions about why Stokes wasn’t used for over sixty overs. Apart from the lack of Stokes and some below par fielding England had now well and truly taken control of the test match.