Ian Botham reckons England will have days like Saturday, given the way that they play. Er, I don’t recall Steve Waugh’s Australians having too many of them, which is to say that they were aggressive but not reckless. And they were really, really bloody good.
It’s Monday morning, so let’s be real. Sometime soon, probably sometime today, South Africa are going to win by miles and England are going to lose by miles. We know this.
Exce-ept, England have Alastair Cook and Joe Root, both of whom are capable of batting all day today. And Cook looked doughtily focused in seeing away some brilliant bowling last night, while Keaton Jennings, Barry Gallance, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and the rest are also capable of obstreperous obstruction.
Moreover, without Kagiso Rabada, South Africa’s attack looks a little light, even if it didn’t in England’s first innings. If the new ball can be seen away, and with it Vernon Philander, there will be enormous pressure on Morne Morkel to deliver more wickets that he usually does; a decent start and the visitors will start to wonder. The first seven hours are crucial.