Confident Prior puts faith in bowlers
Matt Prior has not ruled out the possibility of England winning the second Investec Test against South Africa despite the wet weather halting their progress on day four.
The Proteas’ rejuvenated bowling attack produced an improved performance to deny the hosts a sizable first-innings lead.
After Morne Morkel dismissed Kevin Pietersen for 149 with the second ball of the day, the tourists went on to dismiss their opponents for 425 thanks to three quick wickets from leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
Prior ensured his side were able to gain a lead of six by compiling a brilliant 66 and, despite the wet weather washing out the final session, he believes England still have a chance of levelling the three-match series tomorrow.
“It’s obviously frustrating. To get a small lead and put South Africa under a bit of pressure, it would have been nice to have the opportunity to bowl at them all day and pick up a few wickets going into the last day,” Prior said.
“There are probably only two possible results; a draw or an England win.
“For them to know they have to bat out a day can be sometimes quite tough from a mental point of view. We have got nothing to lose; we have to come hard at them tomorrow morning. Of course we need a bit of luck and a lot of skill, but who knows?
“The ball was still swinging. Here they always say look up rather than down. The minute the clouds come in it starts nipping around a bit, but when the sun comes up it doesn’t seem to do a lot.
“Hopefully it will be a lovely overcast day, it will hoop around a bit and we will take 10 wickets.”
Prior again stood up to the responsibility of batting alongside the tail with a number of classy strokes in his 89-ball innings.
He believes a familiarity with his role in the side helps him flourish in testing situations.
“Going in at number seven, the thing you have to do is manage the tail,” he said.
“One of my roles is to manage the lower order and score at a rate where I can put pressure on bowlers. Ultimately you just have to play your natural game and see where you get to.”
Morkel started South Africa’s riposte this morning, gaining revenge for yesterday’s onslaught with the wicket of Pietersen.
That gave his fellow bowlers momentum which he knew was vital if South Africa were to stay in the game.
“With KP and Matt at the wicket, they are two players that can take the game away from you,” he said.
“It was very important to get those early wickets up front and luckily we did that. The way KP was batting yesterday afternoon, it was vital we had to get him early as possible. It was key that the bowlers came out and started well.”
Although the weather is likely to play a major part tomorrow, Morkel knows a solid batting performance is still needed.
“It’s a pity about the weather; we have lost a lot of time and overs,” he added.
“The key thing for us tomorrow in the first session is to be solid in our game plan and bat well. I can’t control that; hopefully the weather will be good and we can focus on that first session.”
The South Africa doctor confirmed Alviro Petersen needs seven days to return to full fitness following his hamstring strain and skipper Graeme Smith will be assessed after the second Test on a knee problem.
The main concern at the moment is all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who is suffering from a recurrence of back spasms, but all three players are likely to bat in Leeds if required.