Johannesburg - England captain Alastair Cook doesn’t seem too fazed by the fact that the Proteas now seem certain to go into Thursday’s Test at the Wanderers with four specialist seamers.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers hinted strongly on Wednesday that Hardus Viljoen would be given a Test debut in front of his home crowd, and he could feature alongside Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris as the hosts look to level the series after off-spinner Dane Piedt was released from the squad on Wednesday.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the wicket plays. There’s always a lot of talk,” Cook said from the stadium on Thursday.
“South Africa have got a good record here but we have beaten them here too. If the ball does fly through and seam about then we’ve got a pretty good seam attack as well.
“And if it does get warm and it spins a bit then we’ve got the option with the same balanced side … I’m very comfortable with this team playing in any conditions.”
Moeen Ali will retain his place in the English side as their specialist spinner.
Cook is also paying little attention to the fact that, in De Villiers, the Proteas have a new leader.
“We spend our time focusing on what we can control and how we want to play our cricket and how we can get our 20 wickets here,” he said.
“South Africa are a very strong side and they showed a lot of resilience in Cape Town … they’ll be trying to get back in the series.”
The England captain also denied any suggestions that his side would apply a more conservative approach in Johannesburg because they have the lead in the series.
“We start every game trying to win. If the situation arises maybe in 10 days’ time or on day four or five of a Test match and we’re 1-0 up in the series then you might bat for a draw, for example, at certain stages,” he said.
“But you can’t do that with 10 days of cricket still to be played … we’re trying to win this Test match.”
The only slight concern for England comes in the form of opener Alex Hales, who has been battling a stomach bug.
He is expected to have recovered by Thursday.