South Africa 475, England 138-2
We’ve had two days of sturdy, solid Test cricket so far, and I’m no closer to being able to say who I think is ahead. South Africa definitely won the first two sessions yesterday, with the third being roughly honours even; today has been more nuanced, but I think England won’t be too disappointed with their closing score. Nick Compton will be kicking himself for his dismissal, but it was close to an unplayable ball and suggests that this pitch is going to deteriorate – batting fourth won’t be fun, so England will want to get a decent first inning lead, and that will take them at least all of tomorrow, unless Stokes goes mental again. Cook and Root’s partnership at the end of the day was a pleasure to watch as an England fan, and is something that would strike fear into the hearts of pretty much any opposition. Although generally understated, these are two of the best batsmen in the world: Root is currently vying for the top spot in the ICC rankings with Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, while Cook needs just 50 more runs in this Test match to become the quickest player to 10,000 Test runs, and the first to achieve that milestone within a decade of his a Test debut.
In the South African innings, which added another 139 for the last three wickets, with Quinton de Kock shepherding the tail, three players made ducks (de Viliers, Rabada and Morkel) but three made centuries (Cook, Amla and de Kock) – I don’t know what that implies about England’s bowling attack or the pitch. The wicketkeeper de Kock was impressive, but I’ve not been able to take him seriously since I started following @notdekock on twitter. The only other reference I have for him is that gif of him being menaced by Dale Steyn.
Tomorrow will hopefully be a day of England batting, and I’m also hoping that it will be a bit cooler than today: after tea I couldn’t take the sun any more and hid at the back of the bank by the boxes, with a worse view but a more bearable temperature. I’ve now made my way through three bottles of Factor 50 this trip,and will be buying a fourth in the morning. I suspect I am single-handedly supporting the entire sunscreen industry in South Africa.