Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Keaton Jennings’s future as an England opener was under fresh scrutiny after he once more fell cheaply against his native South Africa on the first day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Friday.
Jennings exited for 17, the only wicket to fall in a session that saw England reach lunch on 67 for one against a Proteas attack missing Vernon Philander and Chris Morris after both pacemen were ruled out with lower back strains.
England captain Joe Root won the toss and batted in initially overcast conditions, just as he’d done in a 239-run win in the third Test at The Oval.
That result left Root needing to avoid defeat in Manchester to secure a win in his first series as England captain, the hosts now 2-1 up with one to play.
Jennings, under pressure for his place after just one fifty in nine Test innings since a century on debut against India in Mumbai in December, was almost out for four.
But fast bowler Kagiso Rabada could not quite hold on to a diving caught and bowled chance following the Durhan left-hander’s inside edge onto the pad.
Jennings was out though when, getting only half forward to Duanne Olivier, he was caught behind by wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock, a former team-mate in the XI at Johannesburg’s King Edward VII school.
Pace bowler Olivier and middle-order batsman Theunis de Bruyn were only playing as a result of Philander and Morris’s injuries.
Westley, in just his second Test, walked out to join Essex colleague Cook with England 35 for one in the 13th over.
Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, looked in good touch.
The former England captain drove fast bowler Morne Morkel straight for four and the left-handed opener struck another well-timed shot past Olivier.
Westley, fresh from his second-innings fifty at The Oval, almost played on to Rabada for one.
However, he subsequently hit four fours — the best a back-foot drive through the covers off medium-pacer de Bruyn.
South Africa have not lost a Test series in England since 1998 and in their past 19 away Test series they have suffered just one campaign reverse — against India in 2015/16.
Before play, a presentation was made to James Anderson after the Pavilion End at Old Trafford, his Lancashire home ground, was officially renamed the James Anderson End in honour of England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker.