Philander, Morris out as England opt to bat

Hope Soto
August 6, 2017

The simple fact is that this England team is far from formidable at present since three of their top five are searching - with varying degrees of success - for ways to leap over the initial barriers that Test cricket presents.

It had been a testing decision for Root to bat first after winning the toss.

Rain has fallen in Manchester for several days and the forecast for Thursday is a lot more of the same. In the second Test at Trent Bridge he bowled 23 of the 96.1 overs England faced - or 23.9%.

South Africa seamer Duanne Olivier on his side's day: "We really bowled well today, it's not like they ran away with the game at any stage". The opposite end of the stadium is named after another Lancashire and England bowler, Brian Statham.

Root made a fearless decision at the start of the day, choosing to bat after winning the toss with the knowledge that there's been rain in Manchester this week and the pitch was likely to give early help to the bowlers. Not for the first time it was a meek dismissal for Jennings, a half-hearted push nestling safely in Quinton De Kock's gloves.

But the danger is that softer runs against a weaker West Indies side in the three Tests which follow (and act as the final auditions) will be of limited value as an examination of character and temperament.

Olivier and Rabada picked up two wickets apiece, while Morkel and Maharaj claimed one wicket each. Warming to a spell that would span the entire session, his relentless accuracy on and around the blockhole, allied to a hint of spin and natural variation, lured Cook into the indiscretion that the seamers had been unable to tempt.

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Cook, England´s all-time leading Test run-scorer, looked in good touch. Distinctly average by his standards, therefore, but a cut above what most other players would have produced in such conditions.

Yet South Africa were able to leave the field with a smile.

Root was the next to go after being caught lbw by Olivier.

Fortunately for the hosts, that came from a 52-run partnership between Root and Dawid Malan, but shortly before tea Malan (18) chased a wide delivery from Morne Morkel, flashing an edge to Faf du Plessis at second slip. "Coming back, that first over didn't go according to plan".

Stokes and Jonny Bairstow (33 not out) kept the South African attack at bay with their 65 run stand for the sixth wicket with the Durham all-rounder completing another fine half century.

Moeen finally ended Elgar's dogged resistance for a 228-ball 136 and the spinner snapped up Rabada with the last ball of his over, both batsmen caught at slip by man-of-the-match Ben Stokes. He is however yet to face a ball. Instead Rabada bounded forward and dived but the ball bobbled out of his hands. One day the cameraman who pokes his implement at the departing batsman's nose while invading his personal space will get an almighty thump - and not much sympathy.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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