Alastair Cook marked The Oval’s 100th test match with a familiarly stubborn unbeaten half-century, standing firm as the home side battled to 149 for four against South Africa at tea on an absorbing first day of the third test on Thursday.
Former captain Cook battled patiently on to 72 after Vernon Philander, who had spent 50 minutes off the field with stomach trouble, had taken his second wicket of a rain-interrupted day, the prized one of Cook’s successor as skipper, Joe Root.
The Oval joined another London venue Lord’s and Australia’s Melbourne and Sydney Cricket Grounds in hosting a century of tests.
Westley had impressed after Keaton Jennings was again found wanting, prodding tentatively at Philander to be caught at third slip for a duck in the fourth over.
Cook, on 28, survived an lbw review, the faintest of inside edges off Morris sparing him, but otherwise looked his usual model of serenity as he made it to an early lunch, after two rain stoppages, on 34 with England at 62 for one.
Kagiso Rabada, back in the team after suspension, sent debutant Malan packing for one with a lovely inswinging yorker.
Still, though, Cook ploughed on after another rain break, maintaining his focus to bring up his half-century off 128 balls with a handsome cut for four off Philander.