Stokes ton helps England finish on 353

Duminy has been allowed to return home before the end of South Africa’s tour to England

Duminy has been allowed to return home before the end of South Africa’s tour to EnglandACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

He had Westley chasing a delivery outside off-stump to gift a simple catch to the South Africa skipper at second slip.

It was a day which had hung in the balance for most parts, with neither side seemingly willing or able to take advantage.

England had been criticised by several former captains for some slap-dash batting in a huge 340-run second Test defeat at Trent Bridge that saw the Proteas level this four- match series at 1-1.

Even though the rain stopped, the damage had been done as the umpires made a decision to bring play to an end for the day.

It rather summed up their effort.

Lengthy touring is usually the first thing that stymies top players but he still seems hungry and while he is, I see no reason why he would quit, even if England were to win the Ashes yet again this winter.

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Quinton De Kock was punished for lazy running, taking two when he should have managed three, when Roland-Jones induced a leading edge to gully from the next ball. At that point, England's debutant had 4 for 20 and South Africa were 47 for 4.

The first of his sixes off Maharaj was carried over at deep midwicket when Du Plessis took the catch but brushed his shoulder on the boundary marker as he fell backwards - and soon afterwards Stokes was last out, caught at long-off when he tried to take on the returning Morkel too.

Philander struggled with a stomach bug throughout the day, but showed signs of improving health towards the close of play.

After Alastair Cook batted brilliantly and held one end up, all eyes were on Ben Stokes because of his ability to change the situation of the Test in a matter of hours. South Africa had lost 7 for 43.

Cook started the morning by hitting the fourth ball he faced from Morne Morkel for four and leapfrogging Australian great Allan Border into ninth position on the list of all-time Test runscorers.

The rain subsided after a short while, but England were unable to carry on from where they left off as Cook and Westley only added two more runs to their partnership before Westley was removed by Chris Morris for 25. After Cook's dismissal, the all-rounder added 75 for the sixth wicket in 17 overs with Jonny Bairstow, a healthy strike rate given the difficulty with which runs had come the previous day.

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Rabada was in awe of Vernon Philander's masterful bowling spell, which went for an impressive 2/17 in 12 overs, including five testing maidens.

Now, I do not know if the habit he has of planting the front foot and pushing at the ball is the way he plays all the time, or just something he is doing because he is out of form.

Ben Stokes smashed three successive sixes to bring up his fifth test century.

Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, had promised Westley a step up in intensity from the century he made against the tourists for the England Lions last month.

Hosts England took on South Africa in the third Test of the four match series at the Oval on Thursday.

The conditions only emphasised the excellence of Cook and Stokes.

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