England dream debut

LONDON – Ben Stokes hammered another dazzling century and four-wicket Toby Roland-Jones enjoyed a dream debut as England took complete command, leaving South Africa on the brink of following on after a remarkable second day of the third test at The Oval yesterday.

Stokes underlined his prowess as the rarest of all-round talents with his fifth test hundred, reached with two successive sixes, propelling England to a challenging total of 353.

It set the stage for 29-year-old newcomer Roland-Jones, who had earlier smashed a robust run-a-ball 25, to rip through South Africa’s top order with four wickets in his first six overs as the visitors capitulated to 126-8 by the close.

Not for the first time, Stokes proved the Proteas’ scourge, lashing four sixes and nine fours. He hit a third successive six after reaching his tonne before eventually being the last man out for an outstanding 112 from 153 balls.

Yet his performance was, if anything, eclipsed by the tour de force on debut of Middlesex’s late bloomer Roland-Jones. Only playing because of injury to Mark Wood, he found zip, bounce and movement that made him a menace with every ball.

Amid his disposal of the visitors’ top four, the snorter that dismissed Hashim Amla — rising, moving and flicking the gloves of a maestro who scored a triple century on his last test at The Oval — told of a solid county denizen transformed into irresistible Test spearhead.

More Stories