James Taylor and Ben Stokes scored contrasting centuries on day one of England’s warm up game against a South African Invitational XI, as the tourists began the tour in fine form with the bat.

Taylor joined the action at the fall of Joe Root with the score on 58-3 and battled hard against the moving ball before freeing his arms when set, going to a 137-ball century.

Stokes, on his return to the side after a shoulder injury, blasted his way to a 97-ball hundred, including 19 fours and a six, as England posted 470-7 by the end of the day.

Alex Hales, tipped to make his debut in the first Test on Boxing Day, joined Alastair Cook in getting an early look at the track after the England captain won the toss.

However, both openers struggled against the early movement from Thandolwethu Mnyaka and Junior Dala, the hosts’ bowlers removing the England pair with just 10 on the board.

First, Cook (2) was trapped in front from a Mnyaka delivery that straightened before Hales offered no shot to a ball that nipped back off the seam from Dala, bowled for eight.

Nick Compton, back on an England tour after two years, was joined by Joe Root and added 46 for the third wicket to recover from the early losses.

Root in particular looked in imperious touch, all of his 28 runs coming in boundaries before he was caught behind, bringing Taylor to the crease.

The Nottinghamshire batsman and Compton countered the tough conditions either side of lunch, both going to fifty before the latter was Mnyaka’s second victim, LBW for 58.

Stokes joined Taylor, who was on 52*, and looked in fine form from the off, despite it being his first game since injuring his shoulder on the UAE tour.

The left-hander provided the perfect partner to Taylor who continued his fine form on the international scene, going to his hundred in a fitting style by scampering a single off his 137th delivery.

Stokes was starting to free up his arms, his second fifty coming off just 38 balls, as he followed Taylor to the century mark and helped England dominate the afternoon session.

Both batsmen then retired to give the lower order some time in the middle, Taylor finishing on 113 and Stokes smashing his way to 158 off 131 balls.

Jonny Bairstow (35), Moeen Ali (33*) and Chris Woakes (10*) ensured the tourists ended the day in a dominant position ahead of the bowlers getting their first match practice ahead of the first Test on Boxing Day. 


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