“We’re massive favourites at the moment, we’re so many runs ahead”, said Stokes. That may have been doubted by those who witnessed his adjective-busting assault on the South African bowlers, in which he smashed a series of major records in scoring 258 in just 198 deliveries.
England declared on 629 for six wickets. South Africa bowled well in patches but could not really gain the upper hand.
The only way to explain the magnitude of Stokes’s innings is with numbers. It took him just 12 balls of the morning session to complete his third Test hundred, three figures reached in 105 deliveries and faster than Andrew Flintoff’s 112-ball effort against the Proteas at Lord’s in 2003.
A fair assumption is that they would have ruthlessly taken advantage of South Africa’s vulnerability, just as they did the last time England toured there when they never let up until the final victory in Sydney had been sealed. By the drinks break, England had scored 103 runs in 13 overs.
Among a series of significant statistics, Stokes’ brilliant double hundred was the second fastest behind Nathan Astle’s 153-ball double ton against England in 2001-02.
Stokes produced the highest score by a No 6 batsman in Test cricket, surpassing Australian Doug Walters’s 250, and it was the second biggest Test score at Newlands, with former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming’s 262 topping the charts. The visitors go into lunch on day two at 513/5, having added 196 runs in the first session of the second day.
The maddening inconsistency that has dogged England ever since they started climbing back from the rock bottom of a 5-0 defeat in Australia had initially returned when everything seemed set in their favour.
399 – The partnership between Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow which is the highest sixth-wicket partnership in Test cricket. On any other day, it would have made headlines, but not today. At that stage, England were 602 for 5.
When Dane Piedt’s off-spin arrived Stokes appeared nearly offended, warming up with a reverse-swept four then unloading five mighty sixes in four overs.
6 – Before Ben Stokes reached 150, only six English batsman had made a score of 150+ while batting at No. 6 or lower in away Tests. “He just goes out there – “see ball, hit ball”. That brought the declaration from Alastair Cook, who could have been forgiven for wondering when the right time to declare might have been.
South Africa, with their reputation as the top-ranked team in the world slipping dramatically, lost their first wicket in the third over of their first-innings reply when Stiaan van Zyl was run out for 4.
South Africa (1st innings): D.
Stokes’ golden day continued when he drew a thick edge from Dean Elgar midway through the evening session but key men De Villiers and Amla dug in for the close. It had been a comedy of errors in the build-up to the wicket with Morne Morkel dropping Bairstow at long-off while De Villiers had dropped a sitter skied by Stokes before picking up the ball and running the all-rounder out.
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