Alex Hales’ delight as he sets the pace with maiden test half century for England in South Africa

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Notts batsmen Alex Hales couldn’t hide his delight after recording his maiden test match half-century for England.

The 27-year-old scored 60 at the top of the order on day one of the second South Africa test in Cape Town - his third test innings - having managed ten and 26 in Durban.

Hales, in the side with fellow Notts players James Taylor and Stuart Broad, showed the kind of form that will strengthen his credentials in this form of the game.

“It was nice to get that innings on the board,” he said. “It’s a new challenge for me in my career and something I’ve loved so far.

“A lot of the public will only have seen me play Twenty20 cricket so I guess I do have that label but opening in the longer formats is very different and something I’ve worked very hard on.”

It was on the same day all-rounder Ben Stokes began his journey towards hitting the fastest double century for England on the second day.

Stokes resumed on 74 and raced to 200 in just 163 balls before finishing on 258 as England posted a substantial first innings total, declaring on 629-6.

And Hales admitted the players are just like the fans when “maverick” Stokes gets going.

“It’s brilliant to see. Stokesy is maverick player, someone who you love to have in your team,” said Hales.

“When he gets going it is brilliant viewing for the whole ground. All our bowlers were snoozing on the physio beds but the batters are straight out there to watch him because it really is exhilarating viewing.”

Stokes had arrived at the crease after two wickets in two balls from Kagiso Rabada left England 167 for four, and was at the other end when Joe Root’s dismissal for 50 opened the door again.

But he found a solid ally in Jonny Bairstow, who struck his maiden test century, and finished on 150 not out in a sixth-wicket world record stand of 399.

His England team-mates weighed in with congratulations on social media.

Batsman Taylor wrote on Instagram, alongside a picture of the pair: “One of the best partnerships you could wish to see from these two ginger ninjas! They were on fire today!”

Bowler Broad added: “Remarkable day watching Stokesy and JB bat. Such clean striking!”