Bess spins England closer to series lead in spite of de Kock resistance
Rookie off-spinner Dom Bess claimed his first Test five-wicket haul as England moved into a strong position on the third day of the third Test against South Africa at St George’s Park on Saturday.
Bess took the first five wickets as South Africa struggled to 208 for six in reply to England’s 499 for nine declared, still 291 runs in arrears – and 92 short of avoiding the follow-on.
Joe Root’s side would have been in an even stronger position had it not been for a lengthy rain interruption which wiped out the afternoon session and some defiant South African resistance, notably from Quentin de Kock, unbeaten on 63 and dropped three times by Ben Stokes, and nightwatchman Anrich Nortje.
The 22-year-old Bess, playing in his fourth Test after being called up as cover for his sick Somerset teammate Jack Leach who has since flown home, finished the day with five for 51.
He might have had more as Root dropped a regulation slip catch to reprieve the stubborn Nortje who bravely defied the hostility of Mark Wood and the guile of Bess.
He had batted for 193 minutes and faced 136 balls when he edged a ball from Stokes to Root at second slip. This time the England captain held on.
De Kock showed the familiar muscularity which brought him half-centuries in the first two Tests, clubbing nine fours in his 63.
He had added 54 for the seventh wicket with Vernon Philander, 27 not out, when stumps were drawn.
In spite of the poor weather forecast for the next two days, England remain well-placed to take a 2-1 lead in the fourmatch series.
The second new ball was taken for the last three balls of the day, bowled by Bess at a time when fading light allowed only spinners to be used.
It will be available for the fast bowlers at the start of play on Sunday and if the tourists are able to wrap up the innings quickly they will probably enforce the follow-on because of the possibility of more rain on the remaining two days.