MANCHESTER: Ben Stokes completed his first century since being appointed England’s permanent captain as he made 103 before wicket-keeper Ben Foakes reached three figures as well to strengthen the hosts’ grip on the second Test against South Africa at Old Trafford.
Foakes was a Test-best 113 not out when Stokes declared with England on 415-9, 264 runs ahead of South Africa’s meagre first-innings 151.
That left the Proteas facing a tricky nine-over session before the close of Friday’s second day.
All-rounder Stokes, 98 not out at tea on Friday’s second day, went to three figures in unusual fashion when a straight drive off Kagiso Rabada deflected off the fast bowler’s shin to take him to a 158-ball hundred, including six fours and three sixes.
But the left-handed batsman, dropped on 92, fell soon afterwards when a leading edge off Rabada flew high to mid-off where he was superbly caught by back-pedalling opposing captain Dean Elgar.
England, however, were still well-placed at 320-6, a lead of 169 runs, following a stand of 173 between Stokes and Foakes, who was 68 not out at the time of his skipper’s dismissal.
The pair had come together with England on 147-5 after South African quick bowler Anrich Nortje struck twice to remove both England’s overnight batsmen during an outstanding opening spell in the morning session.
Jonny Bairstow fell one run short of his half century, with Nortje adding reverse swing to his top pace and the Yorkshireman edging to Sarel Erwee at first slip.
Another fine delivery ended the solid contribution of 38 from under-scrutiny England opening batsman Zak Crawley, with Nortje’s perfect line inducing an edge to keeper Kyle Verreynne.
But Stokes and Foakes then batted positively before lunch to begin building the lead.
Their partnership was just what England, 1-0 down in this three-match series, required after an innings and 12-run defeat in the first Test at Lord’s — their first defeat after a run of four successive wins under the leadership duo of Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
And for all the talk of a new ‘Bazball’ aggressive style, the 31-year-old Stokes’s well-paced innings on Friday — his 12th hundred in 85 Tests and fourth against South Africa — was also a triumph of largely orthodox batting.
Foakes then added to the Proteas’ woes by going to his second hundred in 16 Tests — and first at home — when the 29-year-old Surrey gloveman late cut fast bowler Anrich Nortje for a ninth four in 206 balls faced.
Tailenders Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson and Jack Leach all chipped in before Stokes called a halt to the innings.
SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings) 151
ENGLAND (1st Innings, overnight) 111-3
A. Lees c Verreynne b Ngidi 4
Z. Crawley c Verreynne b Nortje 38
O. Pope b Nortje 23
J. Root c Erwee b Rabada 9
J. Bairstow c Erwee b Nortje 49
B. Stokes c Elgar b Rabada 103
B. Foakes not out 113
S. Broad st Verreynne b Harmer 21
O. Robinson c Markram b Maharaj 17
J. Leach b Maharaj 11
EXTRAS (B-6, LB-5, NB-6, W-10) 27
TOTAL (for nine wkts decl., 106.4 overs) 415
DID NOT BAT: J Anderson
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-5 (Lees), 2-34 (Pope), 3-43 (Root), 4-134 (Bairstow), 5-147 (Crawley), 6-320 (Stokes), 7-361 (Broad), 8-395 (Robinson), 9-415 (Leach)
BOWLING: Rabada 23-2-110-2 (5nb), Ngidi 18-3-61-1, Nortje 20-1-82-3 (2w), Maharaj 22.4-4-78-2, Harmer 23-4-73-1 (1nb).
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2022