Late rally gives Onions heart
Graham Onions spoke to the media at the conclusion of the first day
England believe they got their just reward with a rush of three wickets for only 10 runs after much hard work on the opening day of the second Test in Durban.
Heat and humidity took their toll on a four-man attack at Kingsmead while Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, both of whom made 75, shared a third-wicket stand of 150.
But two new-ball wickets and three inside half an hour before bad light brought an early close, including the bonus of Smith being run out, gave England plenty to smile about.
Graham Onions, who had JP Duminy lbw just before the close – by which time South Africa were 175 for five – believes England have put themselves in an encouraging position.
"When they were 160 for two and then all of a sudden you take three big wickets, it puts it right back in our favour, and we feel as if we've finished the day quite strongly," he said.
"But the way we bowled and fielded I thought we deserved that little bit of luck that came our way."
Onions warns England must earn further success, however.
"We can't think too far ahead of ourselves," added the Durham seamer. "We think we've got a great opportunity, five wickets down. Two more and we're right in their tail."
Kallis suggested South Africa are hoping to reach 350 tomorrow on a pitch which gave the seamers new-ball help but not much afterwards, but Onions, unsurprisingly, is setting a smaller target.
"If we can bowl with the discipline we did today there is no reason why we can't bowl them out for less than that," he said.
Smith was run out by Alastair Cook, who carried the ball to the striker’s end and narrowly beat the South Africa captain back into his ground after he and AB de Villiers had set off for an unwise single to cover off Onions.
The bowler reported England had an anxious wait before the third-umpire ruling went their way.
"We weren't 100% sure. Then when it goes up to the changing rooms, you're looking up there hoping," said Onions.
"We were just thinking, 'This is a key part of the game'. If he was not out, how would it have finished? But it was very good thinking by Alastair Cook.
"It all happened very, very quickly. He was going to throw it at AB's end, but eventually he thought 'No, I'm going to try to get Smith out'.
"He could quite easily have thrown at the stumps, missed them and he could have been a foot out. As a cricketer, you've got to think very quickly on your feet.
"He's quite an intelligent lad, and a very fit lad. He was still fresh, and his clear thinking came through."
Kallis reflected with disappointment at the outcome of a day which had promised much more for South Africa after they won the toss.
"It was a little bit frustrating," he admitted. "We had done really well up until tea, and the day was clearly belonging to us.
"Then that half an hour losing those three wickets wasn't ideal, and it's put the day in the balance when we had it by the scruff of the neck."
As for the run-out, he added: "It's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last. We've moved on, and the rest of the guys have to do a job."
Kallis did, however, give due credit to England's hard work.
"I thought they bowled exceptionally well," he said. "It did go around a lot this morning, and we'd done so well to get to tea having lost just two wickets.
"The ball was going around this morning, and England got the ball in the right areas. It was tough to survive and score runs - and I thought we did well."