'We'll fight. Seven wickets have fallen for 49 before'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England were left tantalisingly close to their eighth consecutive Test victory when the gloom and rain set in here in Port Elizabeth last night. The tourists had seven wickets in hand with only 49 runs wanted to win. It is an equation that makes them easy to fancy, although Shaun Pollock, South Africa's skilled veteran fast bowler, was in no mood to submit easily.

England were left tantalisingly close to their eighth consecutive Test victory when the gloom and rain set in here in Port Elizabeth last night. The tourists had seven wickets in hand with only 49 runs wanted to win. It is an equation that makes them easy to fancy, although Shaun Pollock, South Africa's skilled veteran fast bowler, was in no mood to submit easily.

"We'll fight all the way and while England are favourites seven wickets have been taken for 49 runs before," he said. "It's a difficult wicket to start batting on and wickets have fallen in twos and threes." Pollock was doubtless thinking particularly of Faisalabad in 1997 when Pakistan needed only 147 to beat Pakistan and were bowled out for 92. One Shaun Pollock took 5 for 34. But that was probably a different Pollock from the one operating at below 80mph today.

He made no bones about his disappointment with South Africa's performance so far - "We haven't played as we would have liked at the start of a series" - but he has been around long enough to understand the reasons for it.

"England are obviously confident, and are a settled side in which everyone knows what their job is and what is required." he said. "We're not settled, there are a couple of guys making their debut, a few more still trying to find their feet but we've got to make sure we get over that as soon as possible."

It is also true that things did not go South Africa's way. Pollock himself was unlucky to be given out caught behind first ball, as the ball probably hit his pad, not his bat, and after dismissing Marcus Trescothick with the first ball of England's second innings, he was desperately unfortunate not to have a leg-before appeal upheld against Mark Butcher on the second ball.

Pollock decided to save himself a fine by refusing to comment on the first and dispensed the wisdom of experience in talking of the second. "When you're defending a small target you need the 50-50 decisions to go your way. But really we needed to get to 270. We knew the ball was going up and down a bit."

He had a word for Andrew Strauss - born in South Africa, raised in England - who made his second half-century of the match. "He has done a good job so far." Pollock certainly knows that Strauss has performed considerably better than that but, in view of his own side's uneven batting, could hardly say that he wished the Strauss family had never left.

Comments