England assistant coach Paul Collingwood addressed the poor batting form from Jos Buttler that has brought Ben Foakes’ name back into the equation, while Sam Curran beamed with praise over Mark Wood’s five-for on another England day of dominance.
South Africa entered day three of the fourth Test in Johannesburg with their backs firmly against the wall.
Quinton de Kock once again showcased his mercurial talents with a flowing knock of 76, but barring the handy contribution from Dwaine Pretorius (37) little help from his team-mates was forthcoming.
It was England’s man of the moment Mark Wood who eventually removed the prize wicket of de Kock, shattering one of the bails as the South African wicketkeeper succumbed to another Wood delivery north of 90mph.
DE KOCK FALLS!
Mark Wood bowls De Kock for 76 with a blistering delivery that breaks the bail! South Africa nine down…
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 26, 2020
Speaking to the BBC’s Test Match Special podcast following the close of play, England bowler Sam Curran said of their position and Wood: “It’s a great position to be in at the close, maybe we would have liked to have been batting tomorrow, but the lead is nice.
“It was nice to have a bit of fun out there with Rooty. Woody with five wickets, what a man, the team is so happy, he’s one of the great guys in cricket.
“For him to come back from injury and get five is amazing.”
The batting form of Buttler remains a concern, however, with the possibility of Ben Foakes being recalled for the tour to Sri Lanka appearing ever more likely.
Regarding the wicketkeeper’s lack of red-ball form, assistant coach Collingwood said: “Jos Buttler is an X-factor player. If our batting line-up does the job, then he can go out there and be positive.
“Sometimes that’s not going to come off. We know how much of a world-class player he is. We know he can adapt to Test cricket and he will win games for us.
“He has done in the past and players like that you have to back them to the hilt.”
England legend Sir Alastair Cook was full of praise for the sort of clinical performance that has been all too rarely seen in recent years.
“England are going to win this game. I think you’d always like a batsman to get a big score anyway, but they came out and attacked,” said in the Sky Sports studio.
“Ben Stokes took the attack to South Africa, Sam Curran backed it up. You’ve got two days to bowl them out and you’ve given the bowlers enough overs to do it.
“So it’s a really clinical performance and this is a wicket that’s starting to go up and down. They’ve set up the game beautifully.”
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