England slips to 192-4, Stokes appears to swear at fan
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — England lost four wickets for 50 runs to throw away a strong position and end the first day of the series-deciding final test against South Africa on 192-4 on Friday with star allrounder Ben Stokes clashing with a fan.
Stokes, who was the last wicket to go in that mini-collapse, could be in trouble after appearing to swear at a fan at the Wanderers in Johannesburg as he left the field. Stokes appeared to be angered by something the person said to him and was heard on television coverage shouting “come and say it to me outside the ground” before using two expletives to describe the person.
It wasn't immediately clear who Stokes directed the expletives at as he turned to his right and pointed with his right hand before walking up the tunnel. Stokes, recently crowned world player of the year after a stellar 2019, has continued his brilliant form in South Africa to help England to a 2-1 series lead with just the fourth test remaining.
But he's previously made the headlines away from cricket and faced a criminal trial over a street brawl outside a nightclub in 2017. He was acquitted but was banned and fined by the England and Wales Cricket Board for bringing the game into disrepute.
On Friday, Stokes was caught at slip by Rassie van der Dussen off Anrich Nortje for 2 to see England slide from 100-0 after the first session to 157-4. Captain Joe Root (25 not out) and Ollie Pope (22 not out) steadied England until stumps on a day when play was delayed by more than three hours by rain and only two sessions were possible.
England needs just a draw in the final test to secure a second straight series win in South Africa and a landmark achievement for Root's young team. Two of those youngsters gave England a strong start to the decider. Openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley took England charging to 100-0 in the first session and put on a 107-run opening stand.
Crawley hit 66 for his first test half-century. Sibley's dismissal for 44 at the start of the second session provoked the collapse. Crawley went three overs later to the first of three catches by van der Dussen. Seamer Vernon Philander, playing his last test for South Africa before retiring from international cricket, had that wicket.
Joe Denly (27) and Stokes also went in the space of three overs and England had to rebuild. Play only started after lunch because of the weather and England scored at more than three runs an over in an extended first session to be in a strong position at tea. That appeared to forecast another dominant day from the England batsmen, who set up an innings win in the third test in Port Elizabeth to help turn the series around after losing the first game.
South Africa's inexperienced bowling attack was lackluster in the first session in Johannesburg but came back strongly in the second. Beuran Hendricks was making his test debut for South Africa, Dane Paterson was playing in his second test, Dwaine Pretorius his third test and Nortje his sixth.
The wickets were shared around with Philander, Hendricks, Paterson and Nortje all taking one each. Philander is the only experienced campaigner in the South African attack, which is missing its top fast bowler Kagiso Rabada for the final test. Rabada was banned for a provocative celebration after dismissing England skipper Root in the last match.
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