Ben Stokes produced a magnificent batting performance that will go down in the annals of cricketing history as England took control of the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town. Having smashed an unbeaten 74 on day one, the feisty Durham all-rounder raced to the second fastest double century in Test history from just 163 deliveries in Sunday's (3 January) incredible morning session.
The tourists, who won the first meeting against the world's number-one ranked Test team by 241 runs in Durban last week, reached the close at Newlands yesterday on 317/5 but added to that total with sublime speed by notching a further 196 runs in 25 overs before lunch. Stokes accounted for a whopping 130 of those, reaching 204 with an unforgettable display of power and precision.
Jonny Bairstow also made a hugely significant contribution to the total, notching his maiden Test century and eventually going on to score 150 not out. His partnership of 399 with Stokes is the highest ever sixth-wicket stand in Test match cricket.
South Africa's sour mood was rather summed up when Morne Morkel spurned the chance to remove Bairstow for 138 by dropping what appeared to be a relatively straightforward catch and watching on in horror as the ball trickled away for four.
Stokes, who wowed onlookers with 30 fours and no fewer than 11 sixes, made 258 off 198 balls before he finally fell, lofting a Kagiso Rabada delivery high towards mid-on. AB de Villiers inexplicably allowed the ball to slip through his hands but reacted quickly to secure the run-out. England declared shortly afterwards at 629/6, bringing to a close one of their most memorable innings in recent memory.
Looking to muster an acceptable response, a clearly demoralised South Africa lost an early wicket when a dreadful mix-up between openers Stiaan van Zyl and Dean Elgar led to the former being comprehensively run-out for just four by a combination of Nick Compton and Bairstow. Elgar survived being given out lbw when an instant review proved that Moeen Ali's ball had taken a thick inside edge and the Proteas were 24/1 at tea.
Elgar was later removed six runs short of his 50, Stokes proving his ability with the ball as he coaxed a leading edge that was taken by Compton stationed at backward point. Skipper Hashim Amla proved a stabilising presence as he reached 64, while De Villiers added 25 before stumps after being dropped by Joe Root at slip. South Africa will resume day three on 141/2 and trailing by 488.