Keaton Jennings rode his luck and Tom Westley played another encouraging innings to leave England well-placed at tea on a rain-marred third day of the third Test against South Africa at The Oval on Saturday.
England were 74 for one in their second in-nings, a lead of 252 runs, after yet more bad weather in the 100th Test at The Oval meant only 16.2 overs were possible between lunch and tea.
South Africa-born opener Jennings was 34 not out and Westley, one of three debutants in England’s XI, unbeaten on 28.
But the under-pressure Jennings, out for nought in the first innings, nearly fell cheaply again to another slip catch by Dean Elgar off Vernon Philander when he edged the paceman on six only for the sharp chance to be dropped on this occasion.
Earlier, the morning belonged to Toby Ro-land-Jones, who completed a five-wicket haul on Test debut as South Africa were dismissed for 175 – a deficit of 178 . Eight down for spit overnight, with Philander carded at No. 11, South Africa might have folded in no time. Instead they added another 52 in 15.4 overs. Roland-Jones led England from the field, raising his cap slightly bashfully, after returning 5 for 57- the first English quick to take a five-for on debut since Graham Onions in 2009.
His last wicket was a good one: Temba Bavuma pushing forward to a ball that left him to fall to a keeper’s catch after making 52 from 120 balls. Bavuma had been a serene figure even on the previ-ous evening, as South Africa collapsed to 61 for 7 with the floodlights cutting through a grouchy south London evening, and he looked at ease again in more inviting batting conditions.
The stumps were blue to mark Cricket United day, as were much of the crowd, an annual fund-raiser at The Oval for three charities. It is a pragmatic choice. If you are going to get a fair proportion of blokes to dress up in a colour for charity, it’s best to choose blue. It’s all some have in their wardrobe. After his dream sequence on the second day, Ro-land-Jones found life had returned to normal as he began at the Vauxhall End.
The comparison be-tween him and the quick he replaced – Mark Wood – is instructional. Roland-Jones is a classic English seamer, hitting the seam at an average of 83mph.—APP