Flower sticks with policy to hold balance of power

Tactic of playing extra batsman may have been made up on hoof but it saved tourists in Cape Town and will be crucial at Wanderers

England's high-risk strategy has worked. It has not been faultless, and in two of the three matches so far in this splendid series it might have been derailed. But it has survived, like England, by the skin of its teeth.

To field six batsmen and four bowlers was never at the forefront of the selectors' minds when these tourists came to South Africa. That much was evident from the composition of the squad, which was light on batsmen with no reserve specialist openers. It was pretty obvious that a policy had been conjured up for a bits-and-pieces, belt-and-braces side.

In the days leading up to the First Test, barely before, there was a change of heart. It occurred more forcefully then than before that, on the sort of pitches they were likely to encounter, England might well need six batsmen and that four bowlers might just do the job of taking 20 wickets.

There will be no going back now. If four bowlers can work anywhere it is at the Wanderers, where the Fourth Test begins on Thursday. The nine previous matches have all produced victory for one side or the other, only four times for South Africa. Rain – and there is some about, there always is in Johannesburg – is all that can induce the third draw of the series.

England cannot now lose the rubber and they may once have settled for a tied state of affairs. Having hung on courageously twice, they would be deeply disappointed to be denied now. Six batsmen will be required at the Wanderers, as they were at Newlands last week.

Had there not been a sextet, the match would have been done by tea. It might have been over in any case, it is worth remembering, were it not for the Decision Review System, which has come into its own in the past few weeks. To the first ball of his innings, before an hour of the fifth day had elapsed, Paul Collingwood was given out caught at slip.

Without recourse to a review he would have had no choice but to walk and England, make no mistake, would have had it. But Collingwood immediately made the now-familiar sign to the umpire of a horizontal arm across the bat. The replay was conclusive. The ball had missed Collingwood's bat and brushed his thigh pad. He was spared, England were spared.

In the old days of just before the end of last year, everybody would have grinned and borne it after South Africa's victory in those circumstances. It was the way the cookie crumbled, it would have been said. But England would still have lost a match they went on to save. Cookies do not have to crumble that way any more.

Both teams have benefited. Before Graeme Smith's magnificent second innings had taken real shape he was given out lbw. He referred it to higher authority and went on to make 132 more runs.

"We all know it would be nice to have a fifth bowler but at the moment this is the balance that we think is best for the team," said England's coach, Andy Flower. "That might change in six months' time or even in the next Test. But we will try to make honest decisions with good intent, and that intent is to win the Test match."

England will almost certainly pick an unchanged team for the fourth successive match. It could be the time when Jimmy Anderson swings himself into the series, though he must have horrid memories of the Wanderers. While Matthew Hoggard was taking 12 wickets in a memorable last-day England win five years ago, Anderson, in his only match of the series, was all over the shop in taking 2 for 117 and 0 for 32.

South Africa will have to make changes, but not as many as they might have wished. They suffered the embarrassment yesterday of having to withdraw the 30-year-old Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir from their squad because it turned out that he is not eligible. Although no full explanation was given, it seems that Tahir has not served enough qualifying time in South Africa under international regulations.

The 20-year-old left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell, who is out of form, may play as part of a pace blitz led by the hugely impressive Dale Steyn, which England can resist one last time.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?