|Second Test, Newlands, Cape Town (day one of five):|
|England 262-9: Pope 56*; Pretorius 2-26, Philander 2-46|
|South Africa: Yet to bat|
England limped to 262-9 after another dismal batting display against South Africa on day one of the second Test in Cape Town.
The top order failed to build on decent starts on a good pitch, but England recovered to 185-4 only to lose their next five wickets for 49 runs.
Ollie Pope made a defiant unbeaten 56 to ensure his side were at least not bowled out within the day at Newlands.
But England will likely again rely on their bowlers to stay in the match.
The Proteas are 1-0 up in the four-Test series.
England throw away solid starts
Yet again, England have squandered the chance of building a formidable total on the best day for batting in a Test.
Joe Root looked in fine touch but was unsettled by the impressive Anrich Nortje and gloved a short ball behind for 35, while Joe Denly (38) showed patience – facing 49 consecutive dot balls at one stage – before missing a straight ball from spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Even then Ben Stokes, at the ground where he made a breathtaking 258 four years ago, started to put the hosts on the back foot, before tamely chipping a Nortje half-volley straight to extra cover on 47.
Having not been busy enough in the first two sessions, England lurched to reckless attack after tea, Jos Buttler (29) attempting an unconvincing counter-attack before shuffling across to edge a wide delivery from Dwaine Pretorius behind.
More muddled thinking followed – Sam Curran shouldered arms to a Pretorius delivery that knocked over off stump, Dom Bess edged Philander’s wide first delivery with the new ball behind for a first-ball duck and Stuart Broad got his bat stuck in his pads to play no shot to a Rabada yorker.
Pope, who replaced Jonny Bairstow after missing the first Test through illness, was also guilty of flaying loosely but attacked more shrewdly when joined by last man James Anderson, twice ramping Rabada over the keeper and crunching him over mid-off and mid-on for welcome boundaries.
He was caught hooking but was reprieved as Rabada had overstepped, and will try to add to his 28-run partnership with Anderson for the last wicket on day two in order to give England a bigger total to bowl at.
Skilled South Africa take advantage
For all the England batting errors, South Africa’s bowlers showed impressive skill to chip away at the tourists.
Vernon Philander set the tone with a controlled opening spell, probing away just outside off stump and tormenting Zak Crawley, playing in place of the injured Rory Burns, with the England opener caught behind for four.
Dom Sibley played sensibly and left well but was undone by fending at a Rabada delivery that lifted and caught the outside edge through to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Nortje found he could extract more bounce from the surface with cross-seam balls, even when pitching it up, and had Root dropped at first slip off one before bouncing the England captain out with a fierce 90mph delivery two balls later.
Slow left-armer Maharaj tied down one end superbly, aside from big hits from Stokes, while all-rounder Pretorius was the most economical bowler and found enough movement to dupe Buttler and Curran.
While South Africa’s bowling is their strength, if the Proteas batsmen can show a similarly disciplined approach in their reply – against an England attack without injured fast bowler Jofra Archer – they could grab a potentially decisive first-innings lead.
‘Impossible to explain’ England’s batting – what they said
Cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “There’s no hiding from the fact that this was a very disappointing day for England. For too long, England’s batting hasn’t produced what it should do.
“Unlike the first Test, there are no excuses for England for this underwhelming performance. It’s impossible to find anything to explain it.
“It will now be for the bowlers to keep them in the game. South Africa’s batting line-up is as unpredictable as England, but without Archer they are missing pace.”
England batsman Ollie Pope told BBC Test Match Special: “You don’t really know how the wicket is until both teams bowl on it.
“Who knows? We’ll find out a lot more tomorrow. We’ve got runs on the board and if we can expose what there is in the wicket then I’m sure we’ll be in a good position.”
Former England bowler Graham Onions on The Cricket Social: “England needed someone to go big – and they didn’t. That’s the most disappointing thing for me. Why do they keep getting in and keep getting out?
“That new ball is going to be really important for England tomorrow.”