Returning to the national side after sustaining an injury, Ben Stokes smashed a century in England’s warm-up match against South Africa Invitation XI, in Potchefstroom to make it evident that he is fully fit to be selected for the series against South Africa.
Nick Compton and James Taylor also scored a half-century and a century respectively to aid South Africa’s total which at a point of time looked like – 56/3.
England Captain Alastair Cook (2) and fellow opener Alex Hales (8) couldn’t trouble the Invitation XI much as they were dismissed pretty early. Thandolwethu Mnyaka (3-66) struck in just the third over of the play to remove Cook, 2015’s highest Test run-scorer till now. Partner Alex Hales was also shown the way to the pavilion by Junior Dala (1-47) leaving England faltering at 10 or 2.
Two new batsmen Nick Compton and Joe Root walked into the crease, earlier than they expected and tried to stabilize England’s sinking ship. Joe Root (28) and Nick Compton (58) added some crucial 46 runs for the third wicket before Root falling prey to an Andile Phehlukwayo (1-62) delivery and getting caught behind.
Then came James Taylor (114 retired n.o.) who along with the solid Nick Compton steered England out of harm’s way by building a 99-run stand to secure a score of 89 for 3 at lunch.
In the second session, Compton proved his worth to the selectors by scoring a fifty off 107 balls. Taylor took the aggressive route and came up with his fifty in just 66 balls, hitting 8 boundaries on the way.
In the 38th over, Mnyaka got his second wicket by trapping Compton lbw. Stokes (158 retired not out) and Taylor took England into tea with the score at 235 for four. While Stokes was the headline act, Taylor and Compton’s careful but solid innings were encouraging which avoided England faltering to a low total.
“The way he played today was really good to watch as a middle-order batsman,” said Stokes on Nick Compton. “He got through the hard bit, getting the shine off the ball. So if he can continue that form he’s putting his hand up for selection in the first Test.” He added.
The final session of the day saw Stokes pacing the innings as he smashed bowlers all around the park for scoring his fifty in just 59 balls. He then got to his three-figure mark in just 97 deliveries. Taylor on the other end took his time and got to his ton steadily by facing 137 balls.
James Taylor then retired and Johnny Bairstow carried forward from there (35) to help England reach 400 runs in just 76.2 overs. His fellow partner Stokes also called his day after reaching the 150-mark while Bairstow was the last England wicket to fall on the first day.
Moeen Ali (33 n.o.) and Chris Woakes (10 n.o.) left the crease at stumps by seeing England gathering 470 runs for 5 wickets in 88 overs one Day one.