England's James Taylor, pictured, enjoyed facing Dale Steyn.

James Taylor relishes getting stuck in for England on day one in Durban

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Facing a snarling Dale Steyn under gloomy skies would not be every batsman's idea of a happy Boxing Day, but England's James Taylor enjoyed his time in the spotlight on day one against South Africa.

Taylor arrived at the crease with the tourists creaking slightly at 49 for three, Steyn having taken out both openers under heavy cloud cover.

But the Nottinghamshire man thrived under the pressure at Kingsmead, scoring 70 in a crucial stand of 125 with Nick Compton, who reached stumps unbeaten on 63.

Steyn eventually dismissed Taylor shortly before bad light stopped play, but by then England's were back on course with the scoreboard reading 179 for four.

"I loved batting out there today," he said.

"It was good fun in the middle, it was just enjoyable. Myself and Nick helped each other and we bounced off each other really nicely.

"With the overhead conditions and us losing the toss it couldn't have been more perfect for the South Africa bowling unit.

"We lost a few early wickets so to get into the position we're in now it's been a pretty successful day for the England camp."

Taylor and Compton went about their task in differing styles - the former's fifty coming from 87 balls, while his more studious partner took 145, but they share similar motivations.

Both were handed Test debuts in 2012 before being dropped and - at times - seemingly forgotten about as Test cricketers.

They each have a chance to cement their futures in a transitioning side now though, and the early signs are encouraging.

"It's been a few years out for Nick and myself so we really enjoyed batting and most importantly scoring runs for the team," said Taylor.

"Every time you go to the middle, regardless of the situation you're playing, you're almost trying to prove a point and show people what you can do.

"It was really enjoyable to bat with him. He's had a few years out too and the way he applied himself was brilliant.

"He did exactly what we needed him to do. Nick left extremely well, which is important over here, and I just tried to stick to my game plan, which is obviously very different to his, but I thought we complemented each other nicely."

Steyn finished with three for 29, answering emphatically any lingering concerns over his fitness following a groin injury.

Without his contribution at both ends of the day the tourists might have taken a decisive advantage, but instead the game appears finely poised.

"It's even-stevens at the moment I think and the breakthrough at the end certainly helped us," said Steyn.

"They didn't quite get away from us. Hopefully tomorrow the sun will come out and we can get the ball to swing a little bit.

"With warmer conditions and the drier outfield we should be able to work some magic."

Steyn admitted frustration at his recent spell on the treatment table, but would be happy if England's own spearhead, James Anderson, continues to miss out with a calf problem.

"It's been really frustrating sitting on the sidelines for the last six weeks and it was nice to get on the field and be able to contribute," he said.

"But if Anderson doesn't play I'd be very happy. If he's sitting on the sidelines I'm stoked. He's a pretty good bowler and I really don't want to face him."

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