Alastair Cook savours Stokes-Bairstow partnership after drawn second Test

Published: Wednesday 6th January 2016 by The News Editor

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England captain Alastair Cook says the 399-run partnership from Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow in the second Test against South Africa will be savoured for years to come.

At the time it looked like their electric total from 57.4 overs would be enough to clinch victory over South Africa, but the hosts fought back valiantly to eventually leave England relieved to draw at Newlands.

“The partnership between Bluey and Stokesy, the 400 off about 300 balls (351), accelerated the game really quickly and it was an outstanding partnership,” Cook told Sky Sports 2.

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to watch. I think it was an ‘I was there’ moment and that put us in the box seat.”

With Stokes – whose knock was the fastest double century ever for his country – and Bairstow firing England to a declaration on 629 for six, Cook’s charges looked destined to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

But Cook’s South African counterpart Hashim Amla, who stepped down as skipper after the match, spearheaded the hosts’ fightback with a superb 201 of his own and they declared on 627 for seven.

After four days of serene batting from both sides England toiled on the final day, slipping to 116 for six before bad light ended play with Bairstow and Moeen Ali having overseen a recovery to 159 for six, but it was missed opportunities with the ball that gave Cook food for thought afterwards.

“To get 600 when you’ve conceded 600 was a brilliant effort from them, but we did a lot of really good things with the ball and it would have been very different if we had taken all of our chances,” he added.

Amla gave no indication in the post-match presentation that he was moments away from stepping down as South Africa captain as he looked ahead to the rest of the series.

“Sometimes in a four-Test series it’s nice to peak at the right time,” he said. “I think we’ll take a lot of confidence from what happened today. We played exceptionally well.”

It was shortly after the presentation that Amla announced his decision, with Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat revealing his successor for the remainder of the series would be fellow top-order batsman AB de Villiers.

Published: Wednesday 6th January 2016 by The News Editor

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