England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow believes that England are well-positioned ahead of the third Test at the Wanderers.
The Proteas gained invaluable momentum at Newlands. After seeing England post 629-6, the hosts put themselves in a position to pull off a victory, as they all but matched their opponents’ first innings total before taking six wickets on a nervy final day. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that England are 1-0 up.
Despite the expectation of patches of rain throughout, groundsman Bethuel Buthelezi has promised a result at the Wanderers, which potentially makes it a do or die situation for the Proteas. Bairstow, who struck 150 not out and 30 not out in Cape Town, believes the Proteas sent out a strong message in the final few days of the second Test, but it’s England’s to lose from here.
‘They have the momentum but at the end of the day we’re 1-0 up in the series, so we’re still in the box seat,’ said Bairstow.
‘It’s not going to be easy at all, we know that. They’re the No 1 side in the world for a reason, so we’ll go into it knowing how difficult it will be, but we’ve got to focus on ourselves,’ he continued. ‘It’s a fantastic position to be in, but we saw the way South Africa came back and scored a similar amount to us and obviously the way they came back to us on day five. We know the attributes they’ve got, and if we’re slightly off then we know we can get punished.’
Had England taken their catches throughout the match, things could have been different, as AB de Villiers (88) was dropped on 5, Hashim Amla (201) was dropped three times, Temba Bavuma (102*) was dropped on 77 and Chris Morris (69) was dropped on 57. According to Bairstow, it was just a ‘minor blip’.
‘It’s been a priority ever since Trev (coach Bayliss) has taken over. You’ve seen the amount of catches we held in the summer and the way we went about our business. So obviously last week was a slight blip and no one took it lightly, so we will continue to concentrate on our fielding. We take pride in what we do; we’re a young side and that’s what we’re about.’
Nick Compton, meanwhile, is the only concern going into the Highveld rubber, after he was the latest to suffer from a stomach virus that hit the camp. He didn’t train on Monday, but England remain confident of his recovery in time for Thursday.