TELFORD VICE in London
USEFUL time at the crease for four of the likely top six and a decent run for all but one of the probable attack was South Africa’s takeaway from their tour match against the England Lions in Worcester, which was drawn on Saturday.
Heino Kuhn and Hashim Amla retired for 80 and 91, Temba Bavuma made an unbeaten 85 and Quinton de Kock rapped a bullish 51 off 58 balls in South Africa’s declaration of 382/4.
The home side replied with 266/4 in 80.1 overs, of which Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj bowled between 15 and 18.1.
The best of them, economically speaking, was Chris Morris, who kept the damage down to 2.33 runs an over.
South Africa’s already scant preparation for the test series — which starts at Lord’s on Thursday — was diminished further by rain that allowed only 20 overs to be bowled on Friday.
Faf du Plessis*, Aiden Markram, Duanne Olivier, Andile Phehlukwayo and Vernon Philander* did not play in the match.
Markram, Olivier and Phehlukwayo would struggle to make South Africa’s first-choice XI, but they may yet be in the mix.
Markram is in the squad as cover for Du Plessis — who is at home with his wife, Imari, and their first child, who was born on Thursday.
Whether South Africa’s captain will return in time to play in the first test remains unconfirmed, as does Philander’s fitness in the wake of an ankle injury. Morris or Phehlukwayo could replace Philander.
The first test squad with Joe Root as England’s captain was announced on Saturday, and features seamer Toby Roland-Jones as the only uncapped player.
Roland-Jones has taken 22 wickets in four championship matches for Middlesex this season.
Durham fast bowler Mark Wood, who played the last of his eight tests in October 2015, earned a recall.
Batsman Keaton Jennings, the son of rebel-era South African wicketkeeper Ray Jennings, kept his place.
Fast bowlers Jake Ball and Chris Woakes were not considered because of knee and side injuries.
England test squad: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Liam Dawson, Keaton Jennings, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood.
* Faf du Plessis has since ruled himself out of the first test, and Vernon Philander has been passed fit.