Not sure you’re aware of this, but spectacular, freewheeling batting performances don’t win Test matches. They provide a team with runs to work with without too much time being lost, but it’s only once the opposition are padded up that the real work starts. You don’t win a Test by scoring the most runs. You win it by taking 20 wickets while conceding fewer runs than the opposition.
The problem for England is that South Africa have a lot of strong batsmen who have no need or desire to take risks. None of them will be rushed. It’s like coming up against a whole family of Jonathan Trotts.
“Could you pass the jam, please?”
“How about you? Will you pass me the jam?”
“In a minute!”
“Er, those two don’t seem to want to help me out. Please will you pass me the jam?”
“STOP RUSHING US!”
Maybe England’s best hope is that South Africa’s batsmen will leave so many deliveries that eventually they’ll forget they’re allowed to hit the ball.
Even that’s not ideal though. England need to take wickets fairly quickly because their two most reliable batsmen, Cook and Trott, are rarely in a hurry themselves and a draw’s no good to them. The whole ‘bowling dry‘ philosophy relies on being more patient than the opposition. Considering the state of the series and the mentality of the opposition, that is a battle England are going to lose.
England need an impatient bowling philosophy.