Noose tightens for England as the tail wags

There is nothing more infuriating for a captain than the opposition scoring lower-order runs, and the way the South African tail wagged yesterday amplified the feeling that the tourists have simply been better than England in every department this summer.

Vernon Philander has had an astonishing start to his Test career as a bowler but his maiden Test half-century, rescuing South Africa from 163 for 6, could go a long way to winning this match and series. The other pacemen in the Proteas' ranks, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, have worked hard on their batting, and chipped in with vital twenties.

In their rise to No 1, one of England's great strengths was receiving valuable contributions from the likes of Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann – even Jimmy Anderson – down the order. But this South African batting line-up has such depth – especially now A B de Villiers has the gloves after Mark Boucher's horror injury – that it allows them to play an extra batsman, in this case J P Duminy who made a priceless 61. It is another example of how England have been largely outplayed this series.