South Africa dominated day one of the second Test as a succession of England batsmen gifted their wickets after getting themselves in on a flat surface in Cape Town.
Joe Root was thrilled to win the toss on a pitch that appeared perfect for batting but his side failed to make the most of the conditions as they slumped to 262-9 at stumps.
After five of the top seven made starts but failed to kick on, it could have been worse for England but a half-century from Ollie Pope (56no), supported by Jimmy Anderson (3no), helped them add 28 for the final wicket with the potential of a few more to come on day two.
Despite winning the toss, it was not all good news for England at the start of the day as Jofra Archer was ruled out with an elbow injury meaning three changes to the tourists’ XI from the defeat at Centurion with Jonny Bairstow joining the injured Rory Burns and Archer in missing out and Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope and Dom Bess replacing them.
After making his debut in the middle-order in New Zealand, Crawley (4) was given his first opportunity as an opener but there was no bedding in period as Vernon Philander probed around his off stump from ball one and got his man with the last ball of the third over.
Crawley prodded forward, the ball nipped away and the edge was gobbled up by Quinton de Kock.
Dom Sibley, the senior opening batsman in just his fourth Test, was joined by Joe Denly and after seeing off the new ball, the pair were going along nicely until just before lunch.
The partnership was 55 when Kagiso Rabada returned to the attack and prised out a wicket for South Africa. Bounce and just a hint of movement was enough to find the edge, De Kock dived to his right to take the catch and Sibley was gone for 34.
While Denly struggled to get going after the break, Root was quickly about his business in the afternoon session and was into the 30s in the blink of an eye.
However, the introduction of Anrich Nortje and his express pace soon changed things. Root got lucky when a mix-up between De Kock and first slip Rassie van der Dussen ended with the ball bursting through the latter’s hands after a thick outside edge.
There was no escape a couple of balls later though. Nortje’s fierce bouncer was superbly directed and ballooned off Root’s glove and De Kock claimed a simple catch.
Denly (38) battled on for a few more overs before a rather tame dismissal as left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj slid a straight between bat and pad and pegged back off stump.
Stokes appeared to be batting England out of trouble though. The left-hander was solid in defence and finding the boundaries with increasing regularity as his innings progressed, as well as clearing the ropes with a mighty blow over long-on off Maharaj.
With a half-century – and plenty more – there for the taking though, he departed, chipping a leading edge to extra-cover trying to turn a Nortje delivery in the legside. That ended a stand of 58 with Pope for the fifth wicket.
Jos Buttler came in and was positive from the off, launching Maharaj for another maximum, and had reached 29 in just 27 balls before he was undone by a beauty from Dwaine Pretorius. The England wicketkeeper shuffled across his stumps, as he had done to great affect until that point, but this time there was late movement for Pretorius and a feather of an edge through to De Kock.
Pretorius had another before long as Sam Curran (9) left one and lost his off stump.
The second new ball arrived two overs later and Philander needed just one delivery with it to find Bess’ edge as he pushed outside off to depart for a golden duck.
Pope tried to farm the strike, leaving Stuart Broad just one delivery to face of the next over from Rabada. But that was enough for the fast bowler to make a mess of the England man’s stumps as his bat got caught behind his pad.
With just Anderson left for company, Pope went on the attack. Rabada saw a bouncer ramped over De Kock’s head for four while Philander was hit back over his head twice as the England youngster went to 49.
Anderson got through an over from Rabada enabling Pope to reach his second Test fifty in the next over. He ramped Rabada for four more but the fun seemed to be over when he holed out a couple of balls later, only for replays to show the bowler had overstepped for a no-ball.
Despite a frustrating end to the day, South Africa head into the second day in control while England will be hoping Pope can take them up towards 300 before letting the Proteas’ openers get to work.
News Source: Sky Sports