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Summary

  1. Taylor 70, Compton 63*; Steyn 3-29
  2. England recover from 12-2 and 49-3
  3. Rain delays start; bad light ends play early
  4. SA won toss; four-Test series

Live Reporting

By Marc Higginson and Justin Goulding

All times stated are UK

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Farewell

Right then. I'm not going to say that the first session in the morning is crucial, but...

We're signing off now, but keep an eye out for our report on the day's play and a Jonathan Agnew column.

We're back tomorrow for an earlier than anticipated start as we look to make up for time lost to the rain. So, play starts at 7:30 GMT and we'll be kicking off at 7:15 GMT. See you then!

Player's view

South Africa bowler Dale Steyn, who has 3-29, on Sky Sports: "I've been wanting to get back for a while now after being injured in India. To bowl 16 overs, I'm pretty happy with how things went today.

"You always want to get the first wicket, especially if that's the captain. It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I was very excited - just to get going and spark the team a little bit. That's my role.

"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. If we can hit our straps tomorrow morning hopefully things will happen for us."

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Will Lindley-Nash: People were not complaining when Trott spent hours at the crease at number 3. Compton is doing a great job.

Player's view

England batsman James Taylor, who made 70, on Sky Sports: "It's never ideal getting out, but so late in the day and with it getting dark, it was frustrating to say the least.

"On a whole we're pretty happy with where we're at. The way Compo applied himself was excellent. The conditions couldn't have been more perfect for the South Africa bowlers.

"I was trying to be as busy as possible and as positive as possible. I couldn't let Steyn settle."

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Kieran Gilbert: Selectors should take some credit for today's performance. Compton's inclusion has added steel to the middle order.

From the press box

Not sure it was a ripping day for the expectant Boxing Day crowd (rain, slow progress) but England have done themselves a few favours: 179-4

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Simon Dobson: @englandcricket going well in this first Test, getting through a testing first day. Compton and Taylor excellent, Steyn superb!

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"South Africa might have been thinking it would be a great day after they had got three wickets, but it's been England's day, even though they lost Taylor at the end. England will be pretty happy with that tonight. I don't think they are in a winning position, but they're in a nice position. At 49-3 they might just have gone under. But they didn't."

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"When Taylor gets over his disappointment, he will be pleased with that innings. He looked comfortable; he's not overawed. He feels much more at home."

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Garth Dowson, in reply to Roland Denham's question about where the ball is kept overnight, writes...

"As an umpire who prides himself on being immaculate on the field of play, the last place a wet ball would go is in my pocket! Generally will live in the umpires room, locked up."

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"Compton is under a lot of pressure. He plays cautiously. But if someone gets us through a difficult period, I'm all for it. He solidified the possible hiccup England could have had and sealed one end. I don't care about strike-rates in Test cricket."

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Rachel T: Well played England - intense contests need intense participants. Steyn v Compton!

Puv Samra: I bet South Africa would have loved to have had someone like Compton for the India series.

Dale Steyn was the pick of the Proteas bowling attack. He bowled with pace and hostility to finish with figures of 15.1-3-29-3 for the day.

One of the best of a very rare breed.

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David Jones: In the era of batting collapses Nick Compton is exactly what we need - steady, focused and immovable rock at number three.

Nick Compton ended the day 63 not out off 179 balls, but James Taylor was dmissied around 15 minutes before the close when he feathered the irrepressible Dale Steyn behind.

'Hales must tighten up'

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"Hales played a poor shot on his debut - he aimed an extravagant shot at a wide ball. It was a sucker ball. That's the way he plays. But it's that sort of ill discipline that will find out at this level. He has to take a little more care and attention with his defence. We won't judge him after one innings, but if he keeps getting out like that he'll have a very short Test career."

When Joe Root was out lbw to rookie off-spinner Dane Piedt, England were 49-3.

However, County Championship stalwarts Nick Compton and James Taylor stepped up to the plate.

They gradually blunted the South Africa attack to record patient half-centuries.

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"It was all about the pitch in the morning because it looked an uninviting time to be batting. When England were finally put in to bat, the pitch didn't play that badly."

South Africa won the toss - I don't think One Direction had been formed when Alastair Cook last won one of those - and asked England to bat first.

Cook fenced at one from Dale Steyn and was out for a duck, while Alex Hales was caught behind.

And what a day it's been. Proper cricket, if you like.

It's been more hard-fought than a night out in Wigan, but England just about have their noses in front.

Bad light stops play

That's your lot, everyone. England march off for the day having scored 179-4 in the 65.1 overs possible because of rain delays.

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Tattz: Only the English would criticise a cricketer for being 'too intense'. LOOK AT STEYN!

Eng 179-4 (run-rate: 2.75)

Dane Piedt - Piedty to his mates - is brought on to unsettle Ben Stokes with some off-spin. The all-rounder is served up a full toss, however, and it's smashed to the cow corner boundary. Superb.

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Roland Benham: Can anyone enlighten me on where the current wet playing ball is kept overnight. Is it put on top of a radiator? Or just left in the umpire's coat pocket?

An excellent question, Roland. Does anyone know the answer?

Eng 175-4

Ben Stokes is off the mark with a single into the off side. The Durham man has been clubbing runs for fun in the warm-up games and seems to relish the quicker wickets of the southern hemisphere. He just has to stick around tonight, though.

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"It's one of those where if you bowl that ball often enough in the corridor, you create enough pressure for people to make a mistake. Taylor played a nice innings - it's a slow pitch, you don't get full value for your shots, so I thought he worked very well."

Jonathan Agnew

BBC Test Match Special

"Taylor can barely drag himself away. He walks off, head down. He has played really well but there's no maiden Test century. It was an innocuous ball."

WICKET

Taylor c De Villiers b Steyn 70 (Eng 174-4)

Dale Steyn of South Africa celebrates taking the wicket of James Taylor
Getty Images

A superb knock is ended by a champion fast bowler. While the rest of his team-mates seemed to have their mind on dinner reservations, Dale Steyn had other ideas and delivers a little tempter which James Taylor nibbles into the hands of the keeper. Ben Stokes is the new man to the crease.

Neil Manthorp

BBC Test Match Special

"What a piece of timing. For all the money in Durban you just thought he was trying to flat-bat that along the ground. But it sailed away..."

Eng 174-3 (Taylor 70 off 134)

Dean Elgar is bowling some rubbish. He drops short to James Taylor, and the man with the bulging biceps muscles a maximum over mid-wicket.

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"If I'd put England in to bat, I would have wanted five or six wickets by the end of the day."

Eng 164-3 (Steyn 14-3-28-2)

I've just clocked the best flag EVER draped over the stands. It's a collection of beer towels sewn together into one big banner. Some of the best breweries - some old, some new - make the cut.

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Jonathan Bayes: Slow and steady from@thecompdogand@jamestaylor20but good stuff for England. Proper Test match cricket.

Scott Lennon: Would you rather have 100 runs off 300 balls, or 50 off 40?? People need to learn the difference between Test and one-day.

Eng 163-3 (Taylor 63, Compton 59)

The Kingsmead pitch is a dirty dark brown in colour and looks to be holding enough moisture to keep the bowlers interested. England are taking few chances so close to the cut-off time of 16:00 GMT. Just some good running between the wickets.

Geoffrey Boycott

Ex-England batsman on BBC Test Match Special

"England have to make do with what they've got. They've not got the great payers of the past, but they have to get players who make a team."

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Mark Pettman: Never quite understood why @thecompdog was dropped in the first place. Delighted to see him back and scoring.

Eng 161-3

Nick Compton of England
Getty Images

I bet Nick Compton's one of those blokes who gives nothing away at work, but lets his hair down in style on the Christmas Do. Every office has one of those people. Two singles as England continue to advance nicely.

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Jason Truman: Re 14:39 and Danny's pork pie - can we check if he's eaten the other half now?

Eng 159-3 (59 overs)

Nick Compton hits only his fourth four in 160 or so balls of batting. He punches Dean Elgar through mid-wicket but still there's no smile. You can sense there's one being suppressed below the surface, mind.