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Anderson and Broad helping Roland-Jones shine on debut

 

By David Clough

Toby Roland-Jones thanked England's new-ball stalwarts for helping cool his nerves and turn in an unforgettable first spell in Test cricket.

The Middlesex seamer made a significant statement on day two of his debut appearance, dismantling South Africa's top order under overcast skies at The Oval to finish with four wickets for 39 runs.

He had already dipped his toes into the Test arena by making a run-a-ball 25, with four fours and a six, as England reached 353 all out.

With the tourists 126 for eight, and Vernon Philander having missed the day's play with a stomach bug, Roland-Jones' efforts, in conjunction with Ben Stokes' accomplished 112, placed the hosts firmly in charge of the match.

The 29-year-old admitted feeling butterflies before his first ball but had the well-travelled duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, collectively responsible for 853 Test wickets, on hand to assist.

"It's very helpful when you've got guys at the end of your mark with the experience of Jimmy and Stuart," he said. "They kept me pretty calm, guiding me through the first few overs, and it was adrenaline from there.

"It's a special day. I can't deny there were still some nerves at the top of my mark but I just tried to keep it simple."

Roland-Jones, who has instantly made himself a likely traveller for the winter's Ashes, had favourable overhead conditions to play with but also credited his cameo innings with making him feel at home.

"If you come to The Oval you'd bite the hand off every time with it being overcast more or less the full day," he said. "But I think (batting) played a little part because it does relax you a little bit... feeling you've been introduced."

Asked to select his most enjoyable scalp of the day, Roland-Jones picked out Hashim Amla, owner of 106 Test caps, 26 centuries and more than 8,000 runs.

"That felt like the best of the bunch, but you savour them all at the end of the day," he said.

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