Gooch: England will fight on
Batting coach Graham Gooch insisted England would not be giving up after they ended day four of the first Investec Test facing an uphill task to save the game.
Andrew Strauss’ side were still 150 runs in arrears at stumps on 102 for four, having lost their top four batsmen cheaply in the second innings.
Their struggles with the bat came after South Africa had racked up a sensational total of 637 for two, thanks largely to Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 311 – the first triple century by a Proteas batsman in Tests.
Jacques Kallis contributed 182 not out as the tourists batted through to tea on the penultimate day without losing a wicket to put England under severe pressure.
However, a defiant Gooch said: “The game’s not over yet – you have to believe you can still get out of this game with a draw.
“We’re not winning the Test match; it’s not going our way – that’s stating the obvious, (but) we're not giving up, that is for sure.
“If we can have a good partnership and take it up to lunch, there's a chance.”
Gooch conceded England have not performed as well as they would have liked thus far, but feels that is simply the nature of the game at the highest level.
“When you've played quite a bit of Test cricket you accept not every game is going to happen for you - and at the moment South Africa are in a dominant position,” he reasoned.
“Our 385 was not a bad score, but from 270 for three you'd be looking to double the score. If we'd done that it might be a slightly different game.
“They made the best of the conditions, and our bowlers couldn't get much of a response out of the pitch. That sometimes happens.
“There's no point crying about it - you just need to try to improve every time you go to the wicket, whether you have a bat or have a ball in your hand.
“Many times recently we have got more out of the wicket than the opposition. In this game, that has not happened. We have to examine what we can do to improve.”
Gooch reflected on England’s previous success in saving matches, such as the Brisbane Ashes Test of 2010 when they memorably piled on 517 for one declared against Australia.
“England have put on big partnerships before to save games down the years,” he added.
“A couple of years ago in Brisbane, at the start of our second innings, you wouldn't have thought we'd save that game.
“It is possible but it's going to take a big effort. It's not a bad wicket - it's wearing, as you would expect.”
Amla’s magnificent innings also drew praise from Gooch, who is one of the other five men to have registered a Test triple century on these shores.
“I thought it was a wonderful effort,” said the former England captain. “To score runs you need a great attitude, a good technique, good knowledge and, above all, spot-on concentration. I think he showed all four things.
“He's developed his game over the years since he made his debut. He's got a good range of shots, and a great temperament.
"He needs to be congratulated – (it was) a fantastic effort from a very good player.”