South Africa v England: Nick Compton & Taylor lead recovery

Nick Compton
Nick Compton is playing in his first Test since the second game of the home series with New Zealand in May 2013
First Test, Durban, day one
England 179-4: Taylor 70, Compton 63*; Steyn 3-29
South Africa: Yet to bat
Scorecard

Nick Compton and James Taylor half-centuries led England's fightback after an early collapse against South Africa on a rain-affected opening day in the first Test in Durban.

The pair came together at 49-3 after Alastair Cook (0) and Alex Hales (10) failed and Joe Root fell for 24.

They added a patient 125 for the fourth wicket before Taylor (70) became Dale Steyn's third victim late on.

Compton was unbeaten on 63 as England closed a truncated day on 179-4.

Rain and then bad light meant only 65.1 overs were possible, meaning play will start half an hour earlier than scheduled at 07:30 GMT on Sunday.

All five days are likely to be needed if there is to be a result on a slow, flat wicket that offers some sideways movement for the seamers but also rewards diligent batting.

England Tests in South Africa
26-30 December 1st Test, Durban
2-6 January 2nd Test, Cape Town (08:30 GMT)
14-18 January 3rd Test, Wanderers, Johannesburg (08:30 GMT)
22-26 January 4th Test, Centurion (08:30 GMT)

Compton and Taylor prove a point

Compton's last Test appearance came in May 2013 against New Zealand, after which he was dropped following a fourth straight failure with the bat.

However, successive Test hundreds in New Zealand two months earlier had demonstrated his ability, something he underlined by scoring 1,123 County Championship runs for Middlesex this season.

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England's James Taylor says he 'enjoys' Nick Compton partnership

Taylor had endured a similarly lengthy exile from the Test side from August 2012 before a combination of domestic form and impressive displays in the England one-day side prompted a Test recall against Pakistan in November.

Initially, they had to repel the South Africa attack before steadily building a partnership and, while they never truly took the game to the home side, their comfort grew as the ball aged.

Taylor was the more aggressive, scoring 70 off 137 balls, in contrast to Compton's 63 from 42 balls more.

Taylor, though, was unable to survive the day and give himself a chance of a maiden Test century as Steyn struck shortly before the close.

Nick Compton

Steyn hits the ground running

Steyn missed the final three Tests of South Africa's recent series defeat in India with a groin problem, but was declared fully fit for this series, much to the concern of England, who are without their own attack leader - James Anderson - in Durban through injury.

With fellow seamer Vernon Philander ruled out of the first and second Tests with an ankle problem, the presence of Steyn is vital for the Proteas, and his two early wickets put England on the back foot.

Only 6.1 overs were possible in the morning session after South Africa won the toss, but in that time England lost captain Cook as Steyn found an edge that carried to Dean Elgar at second slip.

When Steyn resumed his over after the rain break, during which lunch was taken, Hales fuelled the detractors who feel he is ill-suited to opening in Test cricket by edging a loose drive behind.

Even late in a day of toil, 32-year-old Steyn - the world's top-ranked bowler - demonstrated his energy when he found Taylor's outside edge.

Dale Steyn

Different personnel, same problem

Hales' wicket left England 12-2, but Compton was joined at the crease by Root, who has so often been England's saviour from perilous situations early in their innings, notably during this summer's Ashes series win over Australia.

He and Compton briefly steadied the ship by adding 37 for the third wicket, before Root was trapped lbw playing back to off-spinner Dane Piedt's first ball.

It was another example of the top-order problems England have suffered of late, which led to Adam Lyth and Ian Bell being dropped and Moeen Ali temporarily employed as an opener.

The tourists were therefore thankful that Compton and Taylor showed the discipline required to frustrate South Africa for 45 overs.

Compton will resume on Sunday alongside Ben Stokes, who is five not out.

Alastair Cook walks off after being dismissed by Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn returned to the South Africa side after seven weeks out injured

What they said

England batsman James Taylor, who made 70: "I loved batting out there today.

"It was good fun in the middle, it was just enjoyable. Myself and Nick helped each other and we bounced off each other really nicely.

"With the overhead conditions and us losing the toss it couldn't have been more perfect for the South Africa bowling unit.

"We lost a few early wickets so to get into the position we're in now it's been a pretty successful day for the England camp."

South Africa bowler Dale Steyn: "The match is kind of even. We would have loved to take a wicket or two more.

"That big partnership put a dampener on our side but they didn't get away from us. Hopefully we can put them under pressure tomorrow."

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