Cape Town – South Africa’s ability to scrap it out at the crease is helping to keep them ahead of the remaining Test pack.
That is the view of television pundit and former England captain Michael Vaughan, writing for the Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk) after the second day’s play in the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston on Thursday.
England seem poised to take a 2-1 lead in the series, a little against the odds, on day three with Australia, ranked second to the Proteas in the world, in awful trouble overnight – a mere 23 runs to the good with three second-innings wickets remaining.
The series has been seriously helter-skelter so far, with crushing wins for England in Cardiff and then the Baggy Greens at Lord’s.
A key feature has been some pathetic totals by both teams: England were routed for 103 in 37 overs in their second innings at Lord’s, whilst the visitors have posted 136 (36.4 overs) and 168/7 so far in Birmingham.
Vaughan said: “In this modern era of Test cricket there is only one batting unit capable of toughing out difficult bowling conditions.
“South Africa are willing to dig in and fight for hours, making sure they bat long periods to take bowlers into their third spell. Not many others are (currently) capable of doing that (as they) think the way to be tough is to over-attack.”
The Proteas have not yet fired on all cylinders in their rain-plagued mini-series in Bangladesh, and disappointed by posting an unusually low first-knock score of 248 in the drawn Chittagong encounter.
But they generally remain a consistent batting side, and will be stiffened for their next Test-series challenge – four in India – by the return of kingpin stroke-player AB de Villiers.
Vaughan said Australia’s batting techniques were “all at sea” against the seaming ball, but said there were lessons to be learnt by England in the present series as well: “You can’t score at four an over all the time ... there is no disgrace in scoring slowly.
“Sometimes batting at 2.4 to 2.8 an over can put you in a position to win.”
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