‘Crazy’ day of test cricket, admits ‘shell-shocked’ Elgar

Times Media


TELFORD VICE, Newlands

“D’YA mind getting us some more records, please china,” an England supporter said to another as they made their way together out of block Q of the Presidential Suite stands to find some lunch on day two of the second test at Newlands on Sunday.

His china seemed confused: “You wot?”

“More records, mate – we’ve broken all the ones they have.”

Just about.

Ben Stokes scored the most runs in the first session in test history on his way to a pile taller than Table Mountain itself – 258, the highest score by an England No. 6. The 163 balls he took to reach 200 is the second-fewest in test cricket.

The stand of 399 that Stokes shared with Jonny Bairstow – who made a mere 150 not out – is a world record for the sixth wicket, the highest for any wicket in SA, and the highest for any of England’s last five wickets.

Stokes and Bairstow have scored more runs at Newlands in the past two days than SA have totalled in any of their last 10 completed test innings.

Not since the Wanderers test against Australia in February 2002 have four SA bowlers each gone for 100 runs or more in a test innings. Step up Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Dane Piedt. Morris’ return of 1/150 are the second most expensive figures by a South African on debut.

England’s declaration at 629/6 represents the highest total scored by a visiting team at Newlands.

SA’s reply, which had reached 141/2 at stumps, represents little more than a drop in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

But at least Hashim Amla will continue on Monday on 64 not out – his first half-century in 11 completed test innings, a lean run stretching back to the New Year test against West Indies at Newlands last January. 

“It was amazing to watch, a crazy day of cricket,” Dean Elgar said. “We had various gameplans to try and get them out, but it was one of those days where you just have to take your cap off and say to them, ‘Well done – you won the battle.

“I can’t fault our bowlers at all. It was just one of those days of cricket that I hope doesn’t get repeated against us too often.”

When England resumed on 317/5, no-one would have seen the oncoming train their innings became.

“We were a little bit shell-shocked with the way things were going,” admitted Elgar, who bowled just four overs in an innings of 125.5 despite his reasonable left-arm spin.

“You try and hide yourself on the boundary and hope the captain doesn’t see you,” he joked. “It’s lovely bowling when there’s a desert in front of the batsman and the ball spits out there. There’s none of that at Newlands.”

Stokes drilled Morkel for two fours in the morning’s first over, and then took three more off Morris.

Bairstow reeled in two more boundaries in Morkel’s next over.

Not until the seventh did an over pass without a four cracking off the bat.

Of the 25 overs bowled before lunch, only eight did not feature a four or a six.

Stokes hit the ball with the fury of Jack Nicholson putting an axe through a door in The Shining. He went from 150 to 200 in 28 smoking hot deliveries. Forty of those runs were smote in fours and sixes, among them the boundary he bashed through mid-on off Morkel to go to his double hundred.   

When Bairstow reached his century, with a cut four through backward point off Stiaan van Zyl, he took a long moment in the outfield; looking helmetless into the heavens and offering his bat as proof of what he had achieved. He seemed alone despite the loud and lengthy appreciation of a crowd of 20 600.

“That was for granddad and dad,” Bairstow’s mother, Janet, told the BBC.

Bairstow’s father, David, who played four tests for England, committed suicide in 1998. His grandfather died in June.

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