De Kock leads SA fightback after Bess bags five wickets

Updated January 19, 2020

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PORT ELIZABETH: South Africa’s Quinton de Kock plays and misses as England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler prepares to collect the ball during the third Test at the St George’s Park on Saturday.—AFP
PORT ELIZABETH: South Africa’s Quinton de Kock plays and misses as England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler prepares to collect the ball during the third Test at the St George’s Park on Saturday.—AFP

PORT ELIZABETH: Quinton de Kock led a fight-back after rain halted England’s destruction of South Africa’s top order on the third day of the third Test at St George’s Park, but the tourists remain in command after Dom Bess’s maiden Test five-wicket haul.

De Kock, who was dropped three times, scored an unbeaten 63 to see South Africa to 208-6 at stumps after rain reduced the day’s play to 64 overs. Vernon Philander was not out on 27.

The home side are still 291 runs behind after off spinner Bess claimed the first five South African wickets to fall.

He bagged two on Friday to leave SA teetering at 60-2 overnight, in replay to Englands mammoth 499 for nine declared, and picked up where he left off on Saturday with three more.

Bess removed Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen before rain stopped proceedings at 11.45am, some 15 minutes before the scheduled lunch break.

Play did not resume until 3.30pm, frustrating England’s march through the batting order.

De Kock was dropped twice by Ben Stokes off the bowling of captain Joe Root, first on 30 and then 56, and then again in the penultimate over, by Stokes off Joe Denly.

But he played some characteristically entertaining strokes to provide some respite for the home fans after a relentless pounding from England over the first two days.

Bess had not been selected for the tour at first, flown out to South Africa just before Christmas as cover when a virus struck the England camp. But he has made a strong bid for a place on their next tour to Sri Lanka with figures of 5-51 in 31 overs.

On Saturday he first dismissed Elgar, who edged the ball off his pad to Ollie Pope at silly point for 35, and then he removed captain Faf du Plessis in exactly the same way.

Du Plessis’s future as skipper of the South African side is now seriously in question as he continued his poor form by making only eight runs.

Bess then saw captain Joe Root drop nightwatchman Anrich Nortje at first slip and Pope fail to snag a half-chance off van der Dussen.

But his fifth wicket came two balls later, to joyous celebration, as Van der Dussen played on and was bowled for 24.

Nortje proved stubborn, soaking up 136 balls before Stokes had him caught by Root for 18.

South Africa still face the risk a follow-on, with England chasing 14 wickets to win the Test and go 2-1 ahead in the series before the last Test in Johannesburg next week.

Scoreboard

ENGLAND (1st Innings) 499-9 declared (O.J. Pope 135 not out, B.A. Stokes 120, Z. Crawley 44, S.M. Curran 44, M.A. Wood 42; K.A. Maharaj 5-180).

SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings, overnight 60-2):

D. Elgar c Pope b Bess 35

P.J. Malan c and b Bess 18

Zubayr Hamza c Pope b Bess 10

A. Nortje c Root b Stokes 18

F. du Plessis c Pope b Bess 8

H.E. van der Dussen b Bess 24

Q. de Kock not out 63

V.D. Philander not out 27

EXTRAS (B-4, W-1) 5

TOTAL (for six wkts, 82 overs) 208

FALL OF WKTS: 1-50, 2-60, 3-63, 4-71, 5-109, 6-154.

TO BAT: K.A. Maharaj, D. Paterson, K. Rabada.

BOWLING (to-date): Broad 11-4-30-0; Curran 9-1-31-0; Bess 31-12-51-5; Wood 11-4-31-0 (1w); Denly 4-1-10-0; Root 11-4-25-0; Stokes 5-1-26-1.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020