Cape Town - Steve Finn made a compelling case for Test match selection
with an impressive afternoon spell on the first day of the three-day match
between England and South Africa A at the Maritzburg Oval on Sunday.
For a player who was originally ruled out of the start of
the England tour with an injury picked up in England’s preceding tour against
Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates he has indeed made a startling recovery.
His afternoon spell of 8-1-24-3 ripped the heart out of the
South African middle order with the three wickets falling in the space of 9
balls which included a hat trick chance when he dismissed Omphile Ramela and
Khaya Zondo with successive deliveries.
On a pitch that was slow but well grassed and gave the
seamers assistance throughout the day Finn and Stuart Broad bowled with
excellent discipline and control.
With Finn also getting rid of Quinton de Kock in his opening
spell he finished with figures of 4/34 in 12 overs to send the local side
crashing to 136 all out in 56 overs two overs after the tea interval.
With England fielding their Test side with the exception of
Jimmy Anderson, Finn may have done enough to get the third seamer spot in the
chosen XI ahead of Mark Footitt who is also playing in this game and Chris
Woakes who isn’t.
Ben Stokes confirmed once again that he is ready for Test
selection and he cleaned up the tail taking 3/25 in 11. Six of the South
African batsmen fell to catches behind the stumps.
On a pitch that required patience and a willingness to work
really hard for his runs, Stephen Cook stood out head and shoulders above his
South African compatriots, carrying his bat for 53 off170 balls with four
These have always been the hallmarks of Cook’s game and he
knows where his off-stump is better than most. The only partnership of any note
was the 51 for the fourth wicket in 26 overs between Cook and Ramela.
In the process Cook recorded his 11 000th
When England batted, they also had one or two uneasy moments
but the South African attack did not have the accuracy of their counterparts
and too many deliveries did not require a response.
They must have been delighted for Alastair Cook and Alex
Hales to finish the day unbeaten on 64/0.