'No moral compass': England ace sparks 'sportsmanship' furore

England’s Jofra Archer has been accused of poor sportsmanship after a controversial display of bowling late on day two of the first Test match against South Africa.

Archer escaped a bowling ban after delivering two successive full-toss balls late in the final session of a frustrating day for the visitors at Centurion.

TOO FUNNY: Tim Paine's classic sledge amid DRS drama

MASSIVE: Steve Smith 'weakness' exposed during 'incredible' moment

The England quick bowled two beamers at South Africa nightwatchman Anrich Nortje in the penultimate over of the day which were both no-balled by umpire Paul Reiffel, only for his decision on the second no-ball to be rescinded.

Two successive no-balls for beamers would have meant Archer, key to England's ambitions in the four-Test series, would not be allowed to bowl for the remainder of South Africa's second innings.

England's Jofra Archer came under fire after two late beamers against South Africa. Pic: Getty/Fox Sports

Regardless of whether they were accidental or not, Archer came under fire from fans for the dangerous and erratic display of bowling.

Many viewers were particularly incensed that Archer failed to apologise to the Proteas, in scenes reminiscent of this year's Ashes series when he struck Steve Smith on the helmet.

The drama unfolded as England were left frustrated in their bid to remove Nortje, who had been sent out to bat when South Africa's fourth wicket of the second innings fell with some 20 minutes left of the day's play.

Archer attempted a slower ball but it came out of his hand as a full toss and was no-balled by Reiffel.

He then followed it with a similar waist-high delivery, which Reiffel again called a no-ball before quickly withdrawing his decision after England protests.

The umpire seemed to accept it was a botched attempt at a slower ball rather than a malicious delivery.

‘You've got to stand your ground’

England argued that Nortje made it look worse by falling to the ground as the ball flew past him, with batsman Joe Denly saying he was surprised Archer would try two slower balls in a row, but felt the second delivery dipped markedly and just missed the stumps.

But it caused consternation on the South African dressing room balcony, with captain Faf du Plessis and coach Mark Boucher going off to see match referee Andy Pycroft.

South African bowler Vernon Philander said it was up to the umpires to make the right call.

"I suppose if you're at square leg and you call no-ball you've got to stand your ground. At no time did they actually cancel it," he said.

"I don't know what happened but there was a little bit of a conversation going on after the game. For me it's plain and simple, we're playing a game and we're setting an example for the rest of the people coming into this game."

South Africa led England by 175 runs at the end of the second day after scoring 284 in their first innings and are on 4-72 in their second.

They bowled England out for 181 in their first innings on Friday.

With AAP