Cook steers England's slow progress towards big lead


Alastair Cook made an unbeaten half century as England made steady, if rather turgid, progress towards a winning position over South Africa at Lord's.

The hosts, having bowled the Proteas out for 361 to gain a first-innings lead of 97, reached 119-1 to close day three of the first Test in a commanding position, 216 in front.

Cook reached 59 not out at stumps as England somewhat ambled their way through 51 overs, even with the tourists' bowling attack missing Vernon Philander, who was struck on the hand by James Anderson and suffered heavy bruising.

That blow did not prevent Philander from making fifty, however, as he joined Temba Bavuma (59) and Quinton de Kock (51) in adding to captain Dean Elgar's half century on day two.

Their efforts ensured South Africa kept the deficit in double figures, but second time round England made effective use of a pitch offering increasing amounts of turn to put themselves into a strong position as they seek a win to begin Joe Root's reign as captain.

Liam Dawson's selection had been questioned in some quarters but he had an impact within two deliveries of his introduction on Saturday, inducing a nick behind as Kagiso Rabada went for 27.

Bavuma perished in the next over as Moeen Ali (4-59) found the edge and Ben Stokes took a catch at slip, via the thigh of Jonny Bairstow.

De Kock launched a sparkling counter-attack, twice striking Stuart Broad for three fours in an over on his way to an entertaining 36-ball 51.

Anderson (2-44) ended his fun as Stokes took a fine catch at cover and Dawson (2-67) picked up his second after lunch by winning an lbw decision against Keshav Maharaj (9), which was overturned on review following an initial not out verdict.

With only Morne Morkel for company, Philander decided to go down swinging and his approach took him to 52 before he was cleaned up by Moeen.

Already shorn of Philander, who is expected to be able to bowl on Sunday, South Africa's day got worse as they used up both reviews inside the opening 10 overs, when Cook survived a pair of lbw shouts.

He and Keaton Jennings scored steadily, before the latter played a loose waft at Morkel and edged through to keeper De Kock to depart for 33.

That brought Gary Ballance to the crease and he made 22, partnering Cook through to the close as England enjoyed a fruitful day in the London sunshine.