Zak Crawley scored a maiden Test half century before South Africa fought back to restrict England to 192 for four when bad light stopped play early in the opening day of the fourth Test yesterday.
Crawley suffered a nasty blow to the head but still made 66 as he and Dom Sibley put on 107 for the opening wicket but the home side hit back with four wickets in an extended evening session, including the prize scalp of Ben Stokes.
Rain delayed the start of the final Test in the series, which England lead 2-1.
England captain Joe Root, who won the toss and elected to bat, and Ollie Pope will be seeking to extend their 35-run partnership when play resumes today. Root is 25 not out while Pope is unbeaten on 22.
Crawley reached his 50 in just 80 balls as he dominated a mediocre-looking home attack in the opening 30 overs but was struck on the helmet by a 149 kph bouncer from Anrich Nortje and needed a lengthy break before being able to continue.
Sibley was the first wicket to fall, in the third over after tea as he steered a rising delivery from debutant Beuran Hendricks down leg side and was caught by diving wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Sibley was given out when on 10 but the decision was overturned on review and he was then caught in the gully when on 12 but Vernon Philander overstepped the mark and was no-balled. Sibley was eventually out for 44.
Crawley was undone by his own indecision as he played at a Philander delivery and top edged it to Rassie van der Dussen, who ended up claiming three catches at slip.
“It was a great feeling to put on 50 but shame not to get a bigger score,” said Crawley.
Joe Denly was dropped twice — albeit difficult chances — before being caught off the bowling of Dane Paterson and Stokes followed cheaply for just two after edging Nortje’s effort, sparking joyous celebrations on the field.
Stokes had hammered the South African bowling in both of England’s Test wins in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Anticipating a seamer-friendly conditions, both teams dispensed with their frontline spinner when they made their team selection before the belated start.
Stokes faces action
England all-rounder Ben Stokes could face disciplinary action after a foul-mouthed row with a spectator after his dismissal in yesterday’s Test against South Africa at The Wanderers.
Stokes was shown on television exchanging insults with a middle aged man as he walked off the field after being caught cheaply for two runs in England’s first innings on the opening day of the fourth Test at the Johannesburg venue, known as ‘the bullring’ for its often hostile atmosphere.
The 28-year-old Stokes now faces being charged by the International Cricket Council with a level one offence of “use of an audible obscenity” and a possible fine and demerit point if the match referee decides to charge him.
There was no immediate confirmation of any charge after England reached 192 for four when bad light stopped play.
Stokes is the latest in a long list of players to have spats with spectators at The Wanderers, where there is a long walk from the dressing rooms to the pitch, alongside a grassy bank often filled with boozy spectators.
A plastic casing was built for the walkway after Australia tailender Merv Hughes swung his bat in anger at a spectator who insulted him in 1994.
Previously it was fenced off, allowing spectators to abutt the walkway and insult players close-up as they walked past.
Television pictures did not show Stokes being insulted but did show him swearing in response to obvious provocation.
Stokes, who has tormented the South Africans with bat and ball on this tour and proved pivotal in England taking a 2-1 series lead, missed the Ashes in 2017 after sustaining a hand injury in a brawl outside a Bristol nightclub which led to him being charged with affray.
He was acquitted after a high profile trial but charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and fined 30,000 pounds ($39,432.00) and banned for eight matches.
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