It was bad enough that England's bowlers had to toil for scant reward as South Africa ground their way back into the first test at Lord's yesterday, but then it was revealed that a member of the attack is crocked.
Ottis Gibson admitted that Ryan Sidebottom has a back problem, although the England bowling coach insisted it wasn't serious. "He is nursing a bit of a stiff back, and it is something we will have to keep on top of and monitor. It is not serious."
Sidebottom missed three of England's limited overs games against New Zealand because of the injury, but Gibson did not appear too worried. And he even raised a laugh by suggesting that all the travelling, and "bed-hopping" which that entails, might have contributed to it.
"Every week or week and a half we sleep in a different bed, and unfortunately Sis is the one person that suffers most from sleeping in all these different beds around the country. Quite often he wakes up and finds he has a stiff back. But he still went out today and did great for the team."
Not as great as the South Africa openers Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie, though. South Africa captain Smith confessed: "Everyone's hurting over the way we played in the first three days. We had a really tough chat last night [Saturday] as a team, and we have been honest, we have been out-performed in the first three days, and we really needed to fight and show some character, to get ourselves back into this game. We have obviously done that. And we are now looking to bounce back tomorrow.
"This is a good hard test, the kind that often defines the character of the people involved.
"As a captain, if you say one or two things it is then quite important to lead the way. Personally this has to be one of my best innings, in terms of the amount of preparation I had leading up to this Test and given the pressure we were under when we came out to bat this morning."
But South Africa are still 104 runs behind England, there is a lot of work still to do and he is clearly looking to wipe out that deficit before lunch. "The morning session tomorrow is going to be crucial to us. The ball is going to be fairly new, but a good positive session for us where we can close that gap down, will enable us to do what we want to do in the afternoon sessions."Reuse content