Batting woes haunt South Africa head of final Test

The forecast in Port Elizabeth

"We made huge strides in that first Test match, mostly from a confidence point of view", said Du Plessis.

You can only beat what is in front of you and that is what England have done. While England's solitary innings was underpinned by centuries for Ollie Pope (his first) and Ben Stokes (who passed 4000 runs in the process).

"I'm very keen to have that chat with him, yes".

Mark Wood's first ball after replacing Broad saw him force Kagiso Rabada into a leading edge which flew up to mid-on where Broad took an easy catch. It sounds really simple but there's a lot of hard work gone into that.

Still positive about being able to square the series, Rabada acknowledged the tough times that he has been facing with his team and maintained how the best approach to take was a positive one. For an off-spinner to have that sort of success against a team filled with right-handers is an excellent achievement.

Bess is a confident character whose bowling has improved since his last stab at Test cricket, two matches against Pakistan in 2018.

He has more variations and has improved his accuracy. That 50 per cent win-rate places him a close second behind Michael Vaughan (50.9 per cent), the leader for England captains with more than 30 Tests to their command over the past 30 years, a list that contains Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton. South Africa's draw-less streak began during their tour of England in 2017.

We still don't know if Moeen Ali will make that trip, but if Leach is fit, he could link up with Bess, perhaps with Joe Root and Joe Denly offering some back-up. It's a better picture than it was a couple of weeks ago. However, it would seem that England have finally overcome the pre-test sickness bug and opening test defeat.

Another five-for followed in the next Test at Johannesburg and the Philander express continued to gather pace with 10-wicket match hauls against Sri Lanka and New Zealand later that winter. In St George's, the South African bowlers failed to take the England batsmen's test, while the hosts' batting order was greatly disturbed by the bowlers of the opposing team. However, England are a completely different proposition to that test that they faced past year, and that is highlighted by the fact that the hosts are rank +260 outsiders to win the series.

De Kock will lead the Proteas in the three-match ODIs against England next month and, in another surprise move, Du Plessis was not included in the squad while he will remain captain of the other two formats. He was run out by a direct hit from Sam Curran.

These are the things that England must ponder and they will only get a clearer indication of the answers when they see the pitch.

Sliced and diced by England's tricks, South Africa also found the tourist's spinners nearly unplayable, with Dom Bess keeping a tight line, but Root was rampant. At the moment, they are a ship steaming off in the wrong direction.

Meanwhile, Sout Africa captain Faf du Plessis denied rumors of retirement, saying he would continue to lead the struggling team.

SOUTH AFRICA paceman Kagiso Rabada has apologised after being banned for the final Test.



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