England’s captain Joe Root does not believe that Jofra Archer’s back-to-back beamers to Anrich Nortje in the closing stages of day two of the first Test will leave a mark on the rest of the series, writes DANIEL GALLAN at Centurion.
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Speaking after his side’s 107 run defeat at SuperSport Park, Root told downplayed the significance of his pace bowler’s misdemeanours.
‘I didn’t see them as dangerous,’ the England captain said of the full tosses that whizzed past Nortje’s head. ‘They were two knuckleballs at 110km/h. It was just a bowler error.’
The first beamer was called a no-ball by umpire Paul Reiffel but the second escaped sanction, though only after protestations from the English players who reacted to umpire’s initial hand movement.
Root explained that Archer apologised to both Nortje and Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and, as far as he was concerned, the matter was over.
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‘[Du Plessis] was aware that it was not intentional and was quick to accept Jofra’s apology,’ added Root.
More concerning for the English skipper is the manner of this latest setback in whites for England. The gulf between the sides on the scoresheet accurately reflects the state of play over four days but Root believes things could have panned out differently had his team taken their chances.
‘We had them at 111/5 on the first day and it was a real opportunity to get into them. We didn’t quite take it.
‘Credit to them. It was a brilliant game from South Africa and they played some really good cricket.’
Just after lunch on this final day, Root and vice-captain Ben Stokes were scoring freely and talk of an unlikely triumph began to swirl. While his side’s ability to fight back in matches is encouraging for Root, he would prefer to be ahead as the home stretch nears.
‘When we find ourselves behind the eight ball we show character and a lot of fight and determination,’ Root said. ‘We need do that at the start of the game. We need to get ahead of it. When we get the opportunity to turn the screw we need to do that with bat and ball. We need to learn that lesson very quickly.’
Root and his team have just five days to lick their wounds and plot a way forward. The second Test begins on 3 January in Cape Town.
Momentum is against his side but, as he pointed out, this is a unit that plays at its best when pressed against a wall.