Sam Curran believes England let Quinton de Kock get into his stride too easily, but says it was a positive day for the tourists at Centurion.

Curran was the outstanding performer for England as his four wickets helped keep South Africa in check on day one of the first Test.

His haul included the dismissal of De Kock, whose 95 was instrumental in guiding the Proteas – who lost Dean Elgar to James Anderson on the first ball of the day and had been 97-4 – to 277-9 by stumps.

De Kock was fortunate early in his innings as he hit a quickfire 50, but picked his shots with more caution after surpassing a half-century, before eventually edging a Curran delivery through to Jos Buttler.

Though Curran conceded England could have done better to restrict De Kock, he feels he and his team-mates are in a strong position heading into day two.

"Obviously we'd have liked to have bowled them out by the end of the day but to have them nine down and under 300, it's pretty even," Curran told Sky Sports.

"Anytime you choose to bowl first there's going to be a lot of pressure on the bowlers to take a load of the wickets but what a better way to start, with Jimmy [James Anderson] on his 150th Test. A great start and we all enjoyed that.

"De Kock probably got away from us a bit too quickly as the day went on but to get him so he can't bat with the tail was pretty good. 

"I think you watch him in one-day cricket and he just plays his shots, he's a great player, so we expected him to play his natural game, even in Tests.

"He probably got away a bit too quickly when he came in, got a foothold. He probably rode his luck a bit as well but fair play to him, he got a good score."

England elected to play five seamers, though all-rounder Ben Stokes was unable to bowl as he struggled with illness and dehydration in the heat.

"I think Stoksey's suffering with dehydration, I started suffering with cramp towards the end, nothing serious, but I managed to carry on," Curran said.

"There was not much breeze and it was pretty hot, so it was tough work but I think we coped well."

Sam Curran led the way for England as his four-wicket haul helped the visitors restrict South Africa to 277-9 on day one of the first Test at Centurion.

With Ben Stokes unable to bowl due to struggling with illness and dehydration, Curran seized the initiative to reward Joe Root's decision to put the Proteas in after winning the toss.

His dismissal of Quinton de Kock for 95 was crucial, with South Africa's wicketkeeper-batsman having frustrated England after coming in with the hosts wobbling at 97-4.

De Kock had got lucky on his way to a 45-ball fifty; James Anderson, who dismissed Dean Elgar with the first delivery of his 150th Test appearance, missed a difficult chance as Joe Root, England’s spin option in a seam-heavy attack, twice went close.

It was Curran's day, though, as the 21-year-old rounded off a fine performance with the vital breakthrough when a century for the left-hander looked a certainty, giving England the edge at stumps.

Back in action at Test level for the first time since the start of the Ashes in August, Anderson made an instant impact, Elgar caught down leg as he feathered an edge through to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

Determined not to be outdone, Curran wasted little time in making his mark, taking just four deliveries to draw Aiden Markram into a tame flick that was well caught by Jonny Bairstow.

Faf du Plessis and Zubayr Hamza managed to steady the ship for the home team, though the latter eventually went on 39 to Stuart Broad as South Africa reached lunch on 79-3.

With Jofra Archer and Anderson toiling in the afternoon, Curran was reintroduced – and immediately sent back Rassie van der Dussen, who saw a defensive prod only provide Root with a simple catch at first slip.

South Africa skipper Du Plessis provided his counterpart with a simple catch from Broad's bowling soon after too, leading to De Kock taking an aggressive approach in tricky circumstances.

Riding his luck at times, the 27-year-old cruised to a quick fifty, with Dwaine Pretorius (33) providing some welcome support.

Though Curran ended a sixth-wicket stand worth 87 after the restart, De Kock began to show greater discipline as he continued to drag South Africa up towards 300.

Yet Curran finally had his man when a full delivery nipped away slightly, with a thin edge going through to Buttler. He thought he had a five-for soon after, only for Keshav Maharaj to successfully review an lbw decision thanks to an inside edge.

Archer instead ended Maharaj's short stay at the crease and Kagiso Rabada succumbed to Broad in the closing stages, the fall of the ninth wicket ending proceedings on the opening day.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes' father's condition has improved to stable after he was hospitalised with a serious illness.

Ged Stokes was taken to hospital in Johannesburg on Monday and was in a critical condition, but received good news two days later.

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Ged "has shown signs of improvement following his admittance to hospital in Johannesburg on Monday.

"He remains in intensive care, but has responded positively to treatment and is now in a stable condition."

Ben Stokes is expected to play a full part in practice on Christmas Day ahead of the first Test against South Africa starting on Thursday.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is drawing inspiration from a chance meeting with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ahead of the Test series with England.

Du Plessis was out to dinner with South Africa's Rugby World Cup-winning skipper Siya Kolisi - a Reds fan - when they met Klopp.

While Klopp readily recognised Kolisi, Du Plessis admitted he was less familiar to the German, although the Champions League-winning boss certainly made an impression.

"He said he watches cricket," said Du Plessis, whose side begin the first of four Tests on December 26.

"The Liverpool guys watched the Cricket World Cup and he knew about how well England did, so that's great.

"For someone to be that famous, he is a great guy, and that's what I believe real leadership is about.

"It's about connecting with people, having great relationships with people, so I became a massive fan.

"I am not a huge football fan, I don't support a lot but I do support him now."

Du Plessis pines for the kind of stability that Klopp enjoys at Anfield but is at least enjoying the benefits of a hastily assembled interim structure following an administrative crisis.

The likes of Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis have been enlisted to steady the ship and Du Plessis is delighted to have them on board.

"Why have these guys not been here for the last 10 years?" he said. 

"If you look around international cricket, other teams have got that. Think of Australia - Justin Langer, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting. We need that. We want that.

"There is a vision. The test team is still in an infant stage. The plan is to get back [to number one]. As a Test team we do need to mature."

Joe Root says the whole England squad are throwing their full support behind Ben Stokes after the "horrible" news his father has been hospitalised in a critical condition.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed Stokes' father Ged has been admitted to hospital with a serious illness in Johannesburg and the all-rounder will be at his bedside while his team-mates train at SuperSport Park on Tuesday.

England are preparing for a four-match Test series against the Proteas and captain Root was saddened by the news affecting his deputy.

"It is horrible to hear," Root said to BBC Sport.

"The ECB have put a statement out so as far as we are concerned we can't give any more information.

"We just want to throw all our support behind him and his family and just stress the importance of trying to respect their privacy at this time.

"But it is really sad news and we are all there for him."

Root confirmed he did not know if Stokes would be able to play the first Test, which starts on Thursday.

"No [idea] and it would be wrong to go into that now," the batsman added.

"The support, that he is there with his family, that comes first. We will have to wait and see but most importantly we are all there for Ben and the rest of his family."

Chris Woakes has been the latest England player to be struck down with illness and will, along with Stokes, miss training on Tuesday.

"He wasn't very well at all on Monday," explained Root. "These things happen unfortunately and we will try to manage as best we can."

Stuart Broad, Jack Leach and Jofra Archer missed England's warm-up games with illness and the team had already called up Craig Overton and Dom Bess as additional cover before the developments on Stokes and Woakes.

As things stand, James Anderson, Overton and Sam Curran are the only pace bowlers who are definitely available for the opener.

Chris Silverwood revealed England are mulling over sticking with an all-seam attack for the first Test against South Africa at Centurion.

England selected four seamers and all-rounder Ben Stokes for the second and final match of their series against New Zealand last time out.

The tourists have been affected by illness ahead of the opener against the Proteas, with Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Jack Leach among those struck down.

Head coach Silverwood says spinner Leach may not be selected regardless of his health, due to previous fixtures at SuperSport Park.

Asked if it is possible England could line up on Boxing Day without a frontline slow bowler, he replied: "Yeah, I think it is.

"Obviously in Hamilton we looked at all the stats, who took wickets at the ground, and it showed that spin didn't really play much part in the games, or certainly have much effect on the games.

"We look at the stats for this ground, it's the same thing, you're looking at wickets taken by seam, wickets taken by spin and the averages that go along with them, it suggests that seam is the way forward, and the thing that has most effect on the game here, so we're certainly looking at that."

Uncapped leg-spinner Matt Parkinson is another option for England, while Dom Bess was called up as cover for Leach.

Silverwood added: "We've got some good resources in the spin department, Leachy is coming back to fitness now, we've got Dominic Bess here as well, Parky who bowled nicely in Benoni [where England drew with South Africa A in a tour match].

"So we've got the resources but we're looking at it for what it is, what has most effect in this game. We're not definitely going down the road of all seam, but it's something we've got to discuss over the next few days.

"I''s not rocket science, every team has these stats. You look at what's effective on that ground and then you look at what you've got in your arsenal and try to put out the best side you can."

South Africa seamer Vernon Philander has announced he will retire from international cricket next month following his country's home Test series against England.

One of the leading bowlers in Test cricket since his debut in 2011, Philander has taken 216 wickets from 60 appearances in the five-day game, at a superb average of 22.16.

The 34-year-old, part of a Proteas team that reached number one in the Test rankings, has also claimed a further 45 scalps in the limited-overs formats, along with a total of 1,784 international runs.

"I will be retiring from international cricket at the conclusion of the Test series against England. I feel that it is the appropriate time to conclude what has been an amazing journey," said Philander in a statement released by Cricket South Africa (CSA).

"It has been a honour and privilege to have played alongside the very best in the game as well as being part of the best Test team for a number of years."

Philander received fulsome praise from CSA's director of cricket, Graeme Smith.

"Vernon has been an outstanding performer in the time that he has represented his country, especially in the Test format," said Smith, a former team-mate of the bowler.

"He has made a huge impact for the Proteas and has been at the frontline with the ball for most of his time in the set-up. He has given his best in every appearance and I think that how he has turned himself into an all-rounder has been particularly pleasing to watch.

"One of the many things that has stood out for me with Vern is his character. His determination and the way that he has always been up for a fight and a challenge has shown the heart of the man.

"He has really done himself and his family proud and I hope he can finish his final series for South Africa with the same character and flair that has become synonymous with him."

CSA's interim CEO, Jacques Faul, added: "Vernon has made a huge contribution to the success of the Proteas over the past years, particularly in Test cricket. The finest tribute one can pay is that he briefly overtook our acknowledged champion, Dale Steyn, as the number-one ranked bowler in Test cricket."

England will continue to monitor Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach as the trio aim to prove they are fit to feature in the first Test against South Africa.

The three players were not involved in the warm-up fixture against South Africa A this week due to illness, leaving the tourists with a depleted bowling attack in Benoni.

Pace-bowling duo Archer and Broad, along with spinner Leach, have taken part in net sessions, however, and batting coach Graham Thorpe was able to offer a positive update after the game finished on Sunday.

England - who called up Craig Overton and Dominic Bess amid the illness issues - begin their series against the Proteas on December 26, with SuperSport Park in Centurion staging the first Test.

"We are going in the right direction," Thorpe told Sky Sports about the three players. "We had a little bit of [illness] going around at the start of the trip.

"The downside is the lack of match time for those guys, but we will have to keep assessing them over the next three days leading into the first Test.

"We've just got to factor in how they feel physically, then how much you feel they are confident going into, and performing well, in a Test match for five days."

While Archer and Broad were absent, England received a boost with the sight of James Anderson in action for a second time on the trip.

Making his return from a calf injury in the first Ashes Test at the start of August, the 37-year-old seamer recorded figures of 3-41 from 19 overs against South Africa's second string.

Thorpe acknowledged Anderson's presence brings some much-needed stability to captain Joe Root's line-up.

"It's phenomenal," the former England international said. 

"I think in 2004, which was my last tour as a player, Jimmy was just coming into the squad. To think he's still out there now, 15 years later, performing. It's great to have him back out there.

"As we saw today, he's very skilful, keeps it very tight and creates opportunities. That's the type of bowler we want over here."

Ollie Pope is hoping lessons learned from watching New Zealand's BJ Watling and England captain Joe Root will provide him with a platform heading into the Test series against South Africa.

Pope scored 132 from 145 deliveries in England's first innings against South Africa A, in the visitors' final warm-up match ahead of the first Test, which starts on Boxing Day.

The 21-year-old, who hit 75 in England's second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton, says taking tips from Root – who scored 226 in that match – and Watling, who amassed 205 in the first game of the series, has helped him adapt his style.

"In New Zealand the wickets were good value, fairly slow. Watching the way BJ Watling went about his stuff and Rooty when he got his double hundred," Pope told Sky Sports.

"You can almost be really specific and wait for the ball to get right in your area. The way I got out in the first Test was with right shots, I got a bit greedy.

"You don’t need to take those risks. If I keep batting time, face as many balls as I can, hopefully the rewards will come.

"It's nice [to start the tour with 100]. It's nice to get some time in the middle. I felt good out there, going into the Tests knowing that I’ve got used to the wickets a little bit, adapted my game a little bit. Hopefully I can take that into the first Test."

England's squad has been struck by an illness, meaning Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach have so far been unable to feature in the warm-up games, while Joe Denly revealed he had been suffering from "flu-ey" symptoms.

Fortunately for England, Archer, Broad and Leach trained on Saturday, and Pope is hopeful the visitors will be able to call on a full complement of players for the first Test at Centurion.

"The boys have been training this afternoon and they're getting back to it now," Pope said.

"It's been a bit of a strange start to the tour with everyone being injured or ill.

"This was supposed to be a first-class game but it ended up not being because we didn't have the seamers to put out."

Craig Overton and Dominic Bess have been called up by England as cover ahead of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa due to illness in the camp.

A number of players in the England squad are suffering from sickness, so the Somerset duo have been drafted in and will arrive in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The widespread illness has resulted in the warm-up match against South Africa A being downgraded to a friendly, permitting the tourists greater flexibility with their line-up.

An England and Wales Cricket Board spokesperson said: "ECB would like to take this opportunity to thank CSA [Cricket South Africa] for their flexibility on this situation and to emphasise that under normal circumstances we would have wanted to play the match first-class, but illness in the camp has made this very problematic."

Overton and Bess have played four and two Tests respectively.

South Africa named six uncapped players in their squad for the first two Tests and lost Temba Bavuma to a hip flexor muscle strain on Thursday.

Temba Bavuma will miss South Africa's first Test against England due to a hip flexor muscle strain, the Proteas have confirmed.

Bavuma, one of the more established figures in a much-changed South Africa squad for the four-match series with England, underwent scans on Thursday, which revealed a grade one strain.

He will remain in the national team's camp and is expected to be available again in seven to 10 days, but the Boxing Day Test will come too soon for the 29-year-old.

South Africa will make a decision on a possible replacement for Bavuma after the conclusion of this week's South Africa A and franchise four-day matches.

The Proteas' initial squad - for their first Test under new head coach Mark Boucher - already featured two batsmen uncapped at Test level, Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen.

Cricket South Africa continued to follow the advice of Kevin Pietersen as they confirmed Jacques Kallis as their new batting consultant on Wednesday.

Kallis is the latest high-profile former South Africa player to take up a fresh role with the Proteas, after his old team-mates Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher were respectively named as acting director of cricket and head coach.

And all three of those appointments, together with Jacques Faul's arrival as interim CEO, were suggested by Pietersen in a tweet on December 6.

Amid huge uncertainty at the time, Pietersen wrote, "I can solve Cricket SA problems", before going on to recommend Faul, Smith, Boucher and Kallis for the positions they have since taken on.

The ex-England batsman, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, also put forward Makhaya Ntini and Robin Peterson for the roles of bowling coach and spin bowling coach.

On the evidence of the last 12 days, Ntini and Peterson may soon be getting calls from CSA.

 

Jacques Kallis will again link up with Mark Boucher after being named as a batting consultant for South Africa ahead of their home series against England.

Cricket South Africa announced the appointment of the former all-rounder, one of the greatest players in Proteas history, on Wednesday, eight days before the first Test with England in Centurion.

Kallis is the latest ex-South Africa star to take up a non-playing role with his country in recent days. Graeme Smith took over as interim director of cricket last week and swiftly appointed Boucher as head coach.

Now 44, Kallis played 519 international matches in a glittering career.

He is the third-highest run-scorer in Test history behind Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, having amassed 13,289 runs at a spectacular average of 55.37.

Kallis also claimed 292 Test wickets, as well as contributing 12,245 limited-overs runs and 285 wickets for the Proteas.

 

Faf du Plessis says AB de Villiers has already held discussions over a potential South Africa comeback.

De Villiers retired from international cricket in May 2018, stating he had "run out of gas".

New Proteas head coach Mark Boucher said it would be remiss of him not to try to tempt one of South Africa's greatest batsman to have a change of heart, with the T20 World Cup on the horizon next year.

South Africa captain Du Plessis revealed talks with the 35-year-old started a few months ago.

"People want AB to play and I am no different," said Du Plessis, speaking to reporters after playing for Paarl Rocks against Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League final.

"Those conversations have been happening for two or three months already: What does it look like? How does it look over the next year? And that's where it starts.

"T20 cricket is a different beast, it's not a lot of time away from home. If you are a full campaigner, you have to really get stuck in and spend a lot of time on the road.

"Test cricket now is the most important thing but also the T20 World Cup is not too far away and there isn't a lot - I reckon 20 T20s over the season - which won't be that hard on one to do that.

"Those conversations have already taken place and will continue to before the next T20 series starts."

De Villiers is set to make his Big Bash League debut for Brisbane Heat next month.

Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit are among eight South Africa internationals to sign new contracts with Western Province Rugby and the Stormers.

Flanker Kolisi, who captained the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory in November, and World Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit have committed their futures to the Cape Town-based Super Rugby side until 2021.

Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Damian Willemse and Dillyn Leyds will also remain with the Stormers.

They finished bottom of the South African standings in 2019 and head coach John Dobson knows they must realise their potential after securing the services of such key men.

"Players like Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni, Dillyn Leyds, Damian Willemse and Frans Malherbe are part of the fabric of Stormers rugby, so it is fantastic to know that they will all be around to add value to our team environment in the next two years," said Dobson.

"We know what these players offer on and off the field, the challenge now is to get the most out of their considerable talents."

World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi is one of eight Springboks who have signed contract extensions with Western Province Rugby and will play for the DHL Stormers in 2020 and beyond - https://t.co/YGyXGZ5wCl #iamastormer

— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) December 17, 2019

Springboks skipper Kolisi said: "I have been playing with some of these guys my whole career and we are all looking forward to reaching new heights in a Stormers jersey.

"We have a strong group of senior players and talented youngsters coming through all the time, which is what we need to reach our goal of rewarding the faithful for their incredible support.

"I know it has been a tough few years for us and our faithful, we really appreciate them for sticking with us and hopefully we will have plenty to celebrate in the future."

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