Cook stands firm, England 149-4 in 3rd test vs South Africa

Saturday, 29 Jul, 2017

Runs were flowing, with Stokes pulling fast bowler Kagiso Rabada over mid-on to complete a 72-ball half-century with his seventh four, but the new ball did the trick for the Proteas when Bairstow, on 36, edged a lifting Rabada delivery to second slip, where South Africa captain Faf du Plessis held a sharp catch.

Despite England handing debuts to Tom Westley and Dawid Malan at The Oval, it was an old batting master in Alastair Cook who ensured they are still in the hunt at the end of the opening day of this third Test against South Africa. He was trapped lbw in the 65th over off Morne Morkel. But his health had worsened and it was clear he would play no further part in England's innings.

James Anderson, doubtless earlier unimpressed to be taken off in favour of Roland-Jones with conditions seemingly flawless for England's record wicket taker, got into the act later with two wickets and Stokes, inevitably, chipped in with another.

"It was just all about adapting, and on day four we didn't manage to do it".

"No-one's ever going to get questioned in that changing room about their fight and desire for wanting to perform for England".

However many debutants are needed at the Oval, Root insists they will enter a cohesive environment.

"It's 1-1, both games have been pretty one-sided and the team who won swapped around", he said.

What has he achieved with England so far?

Westley fared pretty well on debut, though, before getting a good nut from Chris Morris and showed a solid temperament having been called into action so early following Jennings' duck - the jury is still out but there are definitely some positive signs.

The 34-year-old Amla, asked if he was as good a batsman now as he had been five years ago, told reporters on Tuesday: "I've got the same name, I've trained as tough as I can train so for me it's about continuing that".

"I've had reasonable success playing for Essex over the past two years and scored against some good attacks".

Farbrace is unsurprisingly in agreement, although he has revealed some home truths were uttered and accepted in the dressing-room.

"That's something you have to take on the chin".

After his 8 and 33 at Lord's, followed by 0 and 3 at Trent Bridge, he needed a score here.

"You have to learn lessons".

Rabada was on his best behaviour on his comeback, and confirmed he has learned his lesson.

"This is an opportunity for us to do so".

The seamer found regular movement off the pitch to beat Root before Philander removed the skipper - back in the attack after a stomach upset - produced a superb delivery that nipped away off the pitch to take the edge.

The hosts had come in for some criticism time and time again for their recklessly aggressive batting approach and the poor showing at Nottingham has only served to enforce it. England's batting card after Thursday's play will only go on to strengthen the criticism against them.

"There is a fine line between being positive and aggressive, and being reckless".

"KG is a wonderful bowler", he said. Vernon Philander gets us under way bowling to Stokes who flicks the ball off his legs for a single.