Amla, Cook bat South Africa to strong start in 4th Test
Hashim Amla stroked his 25th Test century as he and new cap Stephen Cook batted South Africa into a strong position on the first day of the fourth and final Test against England at SuperSport Park on Friday.
Amla made 102 not out and Cook was unbeaten on 91 as South Africa reached 224 for one at tea. The pair’s second wicket partnership was worth 189 at the interval.
Amla, four months younger than Cook but 91 matches richer in Test experience, was back to his fluent best as he reached his century off 131 deliveries with 18 fours. Cook, 33, displayed the old-fashioned virtues of a specialist opening batsman. He left alone balls that threatened danger outside the off stump and was strong off his legs, punctuated by the occasional firm drive through the off side.
In contrast to his father, Jimmy, who was dismissed first ball on his Test debut against India in 1992/93, Stephen Cook scored four off the first ball he faced, a leg side half volley from James Anderson. Jimmy Cook did, however, make a century on his debut against an English team in a ‘rebel’ international 11 seasons earlier.
A freak catch by James Taylor at short leg was England’s only success after South Africa won the toss and decided to bat. Dean Elgar and Cook put on 35 for the first wicket before Elgar was caught by Taylor off Moeen Ali for 20 when the off- spinner was brought into the attack in the 11th over.
Elgar went for a pull shot and Taylor took avoiding action but the ball lodged between his legs and he was able to grab it before it touched the ground.