The Third Test – Day 1

Before play started it was widely circulated that the injured Wood and Ballance would be replaced by Roland-Jones and Westley. Less certain was the fate of Liam Dawson, who had failed to impress with bat or ball in the previous two games despite being notionally considered England’s “number one spin bowler”. On one hand, the Oval has generally been considered helpful to spinners this season. On the other hand, Lord’s was very helpful to spinners and Dawson didn’t really justify his place in the team there.

That mystery was quickly resolved as Dawid Malan was handed his Test cap by Phil Tufnell in the pre-match huddle. England won the toss and chose to bat first, bringing Cook and Jennings to the crease. Cook started well against Morne Morkel but Keaton Jennings seemed hopelessly out of his depth whilst facing Vernon Philander at the other end. After managing to survive the previous 8 balls, Jennings inevitably edged his ninth ball to Elgar at third slip for a duck.

This brought out the first of England’s three debutants, Tom Westley. He appeared to be more confident and composed than Jennings, perhaps helped by Philander having to leave the field soon after with a “stomach bug”. Content to punish deliveries straying onto his legs, Westley and Cook built a partnership of 52 before a rain shower brought a premature end to the morning session.

Unfortunately after his promising start, Westley fell 4 balls into the session after edging a swinging ball by Chris Morris to du Plessis at second slip. This wicket brought together England’s two most experienced batsmen, Cook and Root. Together they fought against a very strong South African bowling spell, riding their luck at times until Root edged another swinging ball (this was very much the theme of the day) from Philander to de Kock.

England’s second debutant, Dawid Malan, did not seem as confident as Westley did earlier in the day. Malan batted out 14 dot balls before managing a single. Two balls later, he was bowled by a vicious inswinging yorker from Rabada which left Malan sprawled on the floor. Ben Stokes came in at 6, ahead of Jonny Bairstow, and together with Cook managed to last until tea. The tea break was extended due to another rain shower, and after that Cook and Stokes batted out 7 overs before dark clouds and rain brought an end to the day.

So the day ended with England at 171/4 and Alastair Cook unbeaten on 82*, in a prime position to score a vital century for England. Elsewhere in the team, things are looking less rosy. Jennings, Westley and Malan all failed to make decent scores, and will have to bat well in their next three innings to be confident of selection against the West Indies in August. Tomorrow England will hope that Cook, Stokes, Bairstow and Ali can wrest control of the match and take the total over 300, but this was very much South Africa’s day.

As always, please comment below.


51 thoughts on “The Third Test – Day 1

  1. metatone Jul 27, 2017 / 7:09 pm

    As seems to happen a lot at the moment, last time I looked, England were cruising, yet by the end of the day a couple more wickets have gone.

    Didn’t see any play, anyone have views on how difficult conditions were?

    I think key to this match will be England batting deep tomorrow in terms of time. It’ll be dry tomorrow, if SA get in early, they’ll have a chance to settle in for a big score. Saturday looks like another day of showers, where one would hope Anderson/Broad might be able to cause some real trouble – but much easier if SA have not had a chance to bed in.


  2. metatone Jul 27, 2017 / 7:47 pm

    I’d be curious what people think of Malan’s call up? A mate of mine is unimpressed on age/average grounds…


    • dannycricket Jul 27, 2017 / 8:03 pm

      I’m mostly unimpressed by the odd spelling of David. Definitely comes from the wrong sort of family, in my opinion…


    • oreston Jul 27, 2017 / 8:11 pm

      I don’t think age is an issue as he’s still (just) under 30. His FC average is OK but certainly far from remarkable. Problem is, you could say the same about Westley or Stoneman, so what do you do? KP, Trott and Bell are all gone and Hildreth (for whatever reason)never got the nod.


    • Sean B Jul 27, 2017 / 9:24 pm

      I’m a massive Malan fan (with the caveat that I’ve seen none of the action today and I’m a dead eye Middx fan).

      If the competition for the spot was Malan v Dawson, I’d hedge my bets on Malan every time, as he’s a better batsman and can bowl a few overs of handy leg spin.

      That being said, if have picked Stoneman at 3 & Westley at 5 for this Test. The SA bowling attack is potent against left handers and whilst Stoneman is also a leftie, I feel his time in Durham has given him the best technique of all the cusp county players to succeed at Test Level.

      Off to the Oval tomorrow to see if England can post something competitive…


      • Mark Jul 27, 2017 / 10:04 pm

        I have nothing against him personally, but I think there are issues about his selection. (That’s not his fault) The fact that he was backed by 39 raises a red flag for me, and there is a suspicion he was picked on 20/20 form which is madness. There is also his Selvey connection with that Pakistan trip which Giles Clark was involved with and that raises another red flag for me. When the Middx chuckle brothers are on the case my suspicion detector goes off.

        He got a very good ball that would have got a lot of good players out so you can’t be too harsh on him, although he was playing across the line in a twenty twenty like fashion.

        But we are still looking shaky in our batting. Cook played very well, and showed old fashioned test match technique. It’s worrying that his opening partner, and new number 3and 5 couldn’t match him. Root got a ball and it was a great catch behind.

        Difficult to judge what a good score on this wicket is. 300-350 may be a very good score if the ball is moving around. Have to see if England can get up to there tomorrow.


      • Grenville Jul 28, 2017 / 6:13 am

        I will be at the Oval too. I am disabled, in a wheelchair and, generally persuade the stewards to open the enclosure behind the bowler’s arm opposite the pavilion. if I fail, I will be in the annoyingly positioned enclosure towards the pavilion. At least I don’t have to worry about legroom. He he. Come say, hi.


      • SimonH Jul 28, 2017 / 8:39 am

        ” The SA bowling attack is potent against left handers”.

        This is a myth that can only be believed because the media keep repeating it. Lawrence Booth’s pre-match article had a good table showing the SA bowlers’ records. Only Markel has a better average (by 2 runs) against LHBs, Philander has a slighly better record against RHBs and Rabada has a much betterrecord against RHBs (someting like 18 versus 37).


  3. oreston Jul 27, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    I’m not unhappy that Dawid Malan has been given his opportunity, but it was bloody minded of the selectors not to recall Rashid to replace Dawson. I suppose that would’ve been interpreted as an admission of error – and we can’t have that now, can we? So instead they’ve used the fig leaf of simply including an extra batsman instead, and in consequence the bowling attack looks a little underpowered to me (OK, not much more underpowered than if Dawson had played…)It’s not as though Rashid can’t bat (10 FC centuries, for crying out loud, and an average not hugely worse than Malan’s). He would certainly add variety to the attack and might even bag a few wickets. His face doesn’t fit though. Apparently that’s the important thing – even though the England captain is a Yorkshire team mate now, who presumably knows very well what he’s capable of. I do find that aspect a little curious. After all, Root was reportedly happy to use his influence to campaign for Gary Ballance. Does he not rate Rashid? Or is the captain’s influence already a little less than one might suppose it to be?


  4. Rooto Jul 27, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    I heart this SA bowling attack. After lunch they appeared very disciplined and determined, to the extent that any post-2013 England team would struggle to have done better than today’s performance. Before play, I was ready to ridicule Stokes’ press conference comments and demote him to number 8. His performance this evening has partly won me over. A good day of hard cricket all round.
    Ever glass half empty, I just wish Steyn were fit.


    • Sophie Jul 27, 2017 / 10:15 pm

      He’s not going to be, is he?


  5. man in a barrel Jul 27, 2017 / 11:09 pm

    The worry is still over Philander. If the best bowler on either side can only do 4 overs in a spell, it nullifies the threat. Cook managed to spend a lot of time at the other end from Big Vern. That is one of the arts of an opening batsman


  6. thelegglance Jul 27, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    The bit that’s clearly infuriating about this anti-Cook blog is the way everyone queues up to say how well he’s batted today.

    Clearly a tactic. Can’t be that he, well you know, has batted really well….


    • "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 27, 2017 / 11:32 pm

      It’s a matter of divorcing Cook the batsman against Cook the man…..two different persona!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 7:35 am

      We have been far more generous to Cook than they ever have been to KP. We respect his batting talents, and have always said he should have just been an opening batsman.

      Perhaps they are obsessed, or whisper it quietly…..maybe they were the ones who had an agenda!


        • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 8:34 am

          See that right there was always the problem. The morons who wrote about Cook were 100 times worse than Cook himself.

          He was badly let down by these clowns. In their cringing desperation to elevate him to a God they only made many of us see him like Icarus.


          • SimonH Jul 28, 2017 / 10:43 am

            Cook’s innings seems to me pretty comparable to Elgar’s in the last Test: 80-odd by a good (not great) player against a good (not great) attack in tricky (not impossible*) conditions.

            Good Test cricket – nothing more, nothing less. Certainly not something that needs exortations for more love or that needs to have profound meanings about Englishness read into it.

            * If SA get shot out for 150, revise that upwards.


          • nonoxcol Jul 28, 2017 / 11:35 am

            Someone on Ronay’s article thinks Cook averaged 40 in the 2006/07 Ashes.

            Reader, I harried him.


  7. "IronBalls" McGinty Jul 27, 2017 / 11:37 pm

    Anyway…however the test lies at the moment…I have oft wondered why..the ball seams and swings for the opposition, yet, as soon as it gets in England’s hands, all of a sudden, climate change, wrath of the Gods, rain, wind, sunshine, all combine to make our bowlers innocuous??


    • dannycricket Jul 28, 2017 / 5:37 am

      Maybe England can bulk order jelly babies for when they’re fielding? A few people on Twitter suggested South Africa were using sweets to help polish the ball again.


    • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 7:46 am

      Usually it’s because we decide to bowl too short. Brainlessly banging it in half way down.


      • BobW Jul 28, 2017 / 9:34 am

        Well said Mark. Exactly.


  8. Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 9:21 am

    27000 at Lords last night to watch Middx vs Essex. Over 330 runs scored in 40 overs. Wasn’t even a close match. Cricket as basketball. It just seems very thin Gruel to me.

    The public seem to like it. One wonders why they need to get rid of the Blast?


  9. d'Arthez Jul 28, 2017 / 10:27 am

    And I am sure Cook will cop oodles of criticism for falling short again of three figures (not).

    Mind you, it was an excellent knock.


    • thelegglance Jul 28, 2017 / 10:31 am

      That was the kind of decision that annoys me a bit, because of the way DRS backs it up. But there’s no way that’s a good decision, and as usual it’s described as “trimming the bails” which isn’t how ball tracking works. What that was actually saying was that there was a low probability of it hitting the stumps. Not a great call.


    • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 10:34 am

      Not from me he won’t. I thought he was a little unlucky there. When the ball is just clipping the bails you feel a little hard done by.

      Be interested to see if the umpire is consisent now on LBWs on height,for the rest of this match.


  10. LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2017 / 10:45 am

    5 in 95.

    I’ll bet he won’t reach 5 in 100 without at least one more. West Indies are coming to town.

    And no. This is not slagging off this innings. But Root’s conversion “problem” is context free, so tough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 10:54 am

      This is the problem. He plays well yesterday, and they have to immediately drag Bradman into it.

      The media have done more harm than good to him.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2017 / 10:56 am

        Liebke was taking the piss. The accompanying article is having a laugh and yet it’s giving a message.

        Liked by 1 person

    • SteveT Jul 28, 2017 / 1:16 pm

      Andrew Sampson on TMS has actually mentioned the conversion rate! I assume he’ll pick up his P45 on the way out.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2017 / 1:29 pm

        He made 82 yesterday. It was a proper decent innings. Nothing to complain about. Then the dramatists come out. Newman calls him a rock. Ok. But egoless? Really. He’s the most competitive and stubborn individual as his old team- mates said. Not a bad thing at all in a sportsman.

        Then Ronay writes his stuff and the sycophants purr. There is the likes of us slagged off. There is crawling over themselves to praise harder. It’s amazing.

        Then he got out.


  11. thelegglance Jul 28, 2017 / 11:01 am

    England have gone into attack mode. Now here’s the thing, given the two players at the crease and what they’re good at, this is exactly the right thing to do. Sitting in and batting a day and a half is Cook’s game, and the top order’s game. Not these two – they play shots. What will be interesting to see is whether they get praised (if it works) or criticised (if it doesn’t).


    • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 11:41 am

      They took the attack to SA as they were trying to fiddle 10 or so overs to the new ball. They have done well. Now the new ball is being taken…..

      And Bairstow is out……


  12. Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 11:36 am

    The size of those bloody Zebras is Ludicrous. They are not even the sponsors name. Just two Zebras wandering about for no reason on the outfield. Looks like the frigging Serengeti out there.


  13. nonoxcol Jul 28, 2017 / 11:57 am

    Do you think the high priests of pointless web design might take notice of well-known enthusiasts like this?


    • thelegglance Jul 28, 2017 / 12:14 pm

      Pretty rare business that says “You know what, this was a terrible idea. You’re all right, we’re going to change it back”.

      Reading the OBO coverage you get the impression the staff are not happy.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2017 / 12:20 pm

        You might have noticed Melinda Farrell’s exchange with me this morning on Twitter.


      • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 2:00 pm

        Problem is we are not the paying customer. The advertisers are. And they want mobile devices first and foremost. It’s all about getting down with the kids. Selvey style.


  14. thelegglance Jul 28, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    Atherton quite rightly questioning the third umpire’s decision over that Moeen dismissal. No way there was enough evidence to give that out, and overturn the not out.


    • d'Arthez Jul 28, 2017 / 2:41 pm

      Not sure what you’re on about – mind you I missed quite a bit of play due to random power outages over here. From what I gather, the umpire thought Moeen had not hit it, so he could not have given it caught behind. And he thought it was not lbw, so once the edge was detected by the third umpire, he had to give it out (that is why it is more sensible to review for the lbw once it is caught; otherwise an edge may mean that the lbw is not checked).

      Mind you they don’t even bother to follow dismissal protocols 90% of the time; that is why no-ball wickets are still a feature of the DRS-enhanced game. Miniscule spikes on Ultra Edge have been ignored / used to overturn out / not out decisions, so it seems that the decision makers simply do not know how to use the system.

      Philander’s efforts do not feature at all for the bowling analysis on NoInfo. Great new feature!


  15. Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 2:03 pm

    That was tremendous stuff from Stokes there. 3 sixes in a row, second one to his hundred.

    Great stuff! A fine innings as well. 350 up!


  16. Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    We are wasting the new ball here. It’s not so much that they are bolwing dross, (they are not)’ but too,many balls are not having to be played at. There is some movement there but they are not having to play enough.


    • Mark Jul 28, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      Toby Roland-Jones isn’t wasting it. 2 out now.


      • BoredInAustria Jul 28, 2017 / 3:31 pm

        He is bowling far too full – a crash course needed with Saker I say…

        They are persisting with QdK at 4… See how that works out. At least Vern is in the runs..


        • BoredInAustria Jul 28, 2017 / 3:40 pm



          • oreston Jul 28, 2017 / 4:19 pm

            Apparently he’s a good bloke…


  17. d'Arthez Jul 28, 2017 / 5:05 pm

    Crap performance from the tourists, to put it mildly.


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