Ben Stokes defies knee discomfort to help England take lead against South Africa

Ben Stokes defied some discomfort in his left knee to help England into a lead against South Africa after Anrich Nortje’s double breakthrough at Emirates Old Trafford.

Nortje exploited hints of movement to go with his extreme pace to account for overnight batters Jonny Bairstow (49) and Zak Crawley (38) as England slipped to 147 for five, replying to South Africa’s 151.

Stokes and Ben Foakes helped the hosts to 212 without any further alarms at lunch on day two of the second LV= Insurance Test although there was brief concern when the England captain fell to the ground.

After dashing to complete a quick single, Stokes innocuously transferred his weight on to his left leg, appearing to jar his knee as he grimaced and went over before receiving treatment. It is an issue that has troubled Stokes in the past, most recently when he was bowling in last week’s first Test defeat.

Stokes had earlier uncorked a slog sweep for six in Simon Harmer’s first over and did not seem to be unduly troubled after being seen to by England’s medics and was unbeaten on 34, having shared an unbroken 65 alongside Foakes (33 not out) in a largely assured stand.

Foakes was given lbw on 28 just before lunch but a review proved successful as Keshav Maharaj’s flighted delivery pitched outside leg stump. Fellow spinner Harmer had moments earlier bamboozled Stokes with a ball that turned and bounced sharply.

Nortje started the morning bristling with intent and induced a leading edge from Crawley which ballooned just over point. It was one of several false shots from Crawley and Bairstow, who was dismissed one short of fifty after being undone by a hint of swing as he edged to first slip.

Anrich Nortje impressed on the second morning (David Davies/PA)
Anrich Nortje impressed on the second morning (David Davies/PA)

Nortje dropped to his knees in celebration and was cock-a-hoop in his next over as he prised out Crawley with another beauty. Crawley continued with a diligent approach but feathered his 101st delivery through to a grateful Kyle Verreynne.

Kagiso Rabada was expensive but searching and toiled without reward as England moved into the lead courtesy of an under-edge from Foakes, who dispatched Harmer’s first ball of the day for four.

Stokes received treatment as drinks were called but the England skipper moved well to drive Lungi Ngidi for a straight four. The morning drifted into a lull thereafter until Maharaj thought he had snared Foakes in the penultimate over before lunch. But Foakes reviewed and the decision went his way.