JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) – The illness that swept through the England camp has eased with bowlers Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach returning to training as Ollie Pope struck a century in the three-day warm-up fixture against South Africa A in Benoni yesterday.The home side closed the second day on 154 for two in reply to England’s first-innings total of 456 for seven declared, where Pope top-scored with 132 to go with Joe Denly’s 103 on the opening day.Pope’s ton will not go into the record books though, as the match was stripped of first-class status and reduced from four to three days at the request of England when illness put a sizeable dent in their bowling attack. He was still pleased with his effort, a first century in an England shirt as he looks to secure a place in the team for the first Test of the four-match series against South Africa that will start in Centurion near Pretoria on Boxing Day. “It felt good, I have got close a few times, but it is a good feeling to get it out the way,” Pope told reporters. “If it was the first Test it would be even nicer, but it is all about the getting ready for that game.” Pope, who can also keep wicket and has four Test caps, added he was happy to take up the number six position in the batting line-up if that is what is required of him.“As long as I am getting a game, I’m happy. It was nice to get that first score under my belt in New Zealand (75) and I’m hoping to kick-on from there.”Archer, Broad and Leach all had a net session for the first time yesterday after being laid low with flu, but are unlikely to feature on the final day of the match against South Africa A.The status of the fixture means they could either bat or bowl if it is deemed necessary, with none having so far featured at all in the middle on the tour ahead of the first Test.
Pope hits ton for England as trio overcome illness to train