If you are going to get out of jail, then 14 July – Bastille Day – is probably the perfect time to choose to do so. South Africa certainly completed a great escape. "We have got away with it, but we are not satisfied with our performance," said opener Neil McKenzie, who had occupied the crease for more than nine hours in the second innings.
"When you go out to bat 500 behind, as we did in the first innings, you are a little bit more tentative. Also we hadn't really played for the last couple of months. England were a little more battle-hardened than we were. So it took us an innings when we bowled and an innings when we batted to get up to full competition.
"We have got away with having probably not been up for it. Mentally we were there, but I think we were just sitting back a little bit. I don't think we will be sitting back any more."
The England captain Michael Vaughan admitted: "It was frustrating in the end. I thought for the first three days we were outstanding. The last two days of the game we gave it everything and tried every trick in the book. Full credit to South Africa for the way they batted, but I can't fault my players." Vaughan brushed aside fears for Ryan Sidebottom's stiff back saying: "Sidebottom has an issue with his back but I am led to believe that he will be fine."
With the second Test just three days away there is a very real prospect of the England attack having to toil again if they have to field, but again Vaughan was bristling with positive thoughts. "If we have to bowl again on Friday, it will be a slight concern, but these guys are fit and they don't seem too bothered. I wouldn't say they would want to go out and bowl again tomorrow, but with three days' rest, ice baths and massages and so on I am sure they will be ready to go again on Friday morning."
It is the same for the fielders, but again, Vaughan was upbeat. "We won't have to do much fielding practice over the next three days. We haven't had to chase many fours, it's been pretty static. Obviously the bowlers will be a little weary, but hopefully our backroom team can work their magic over the next few days and we will be fine for Friday."
Then England will have to work some magic on the South African batsmen. But Headingley has been helpful to England sides in the past and Vaughan clearly wants to lock up the South Africans more securely on his home ground and then throw away the key. He said: "Headingley generally produces a result, so we have to look to reproduce this form there. If we do that, then we can go 1-0 up next week."
l The Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif has been named by the Indian Premier League as the player who tested positive for a banned substance while playing for the Delhi Daredevils. The player has protested his innocence.Reuse content