England v South Africa: We will continue to fight, says Gooch
England coach Graham Gooch insists the hosts will keep fighting despite a poor fourth day in the first Test against South Africa
England batting coach Graham Gooch insists his side will continue to fight to avoid a heavy defeat in the first Test against South Africa.
Hashim Amla (311 not out) and Jacques Kallis (182 not out) piled on the runs for the tourists on Sunday, with captain Graeme Smith eventually declaring on 637-2, to leave their opponents with a mammoth task on day five.
Any hopes of an unlikely draw were all but extinguished as England were left on 102-4 at the close of play, trailing the Proteas by 150 runs.
Despite a disappointing day, Gooch insisted that the home side still have a chance of picking up a positive result from the game.
“Today was hard as we where were on the wrong end of things and it is difficult because we’ve had a lot of success in recent times, in both Test and one-day matches,” he said.
“We are still fighting to get something but of course, it will be a tough task on the final day to save something from this game.
“It’s no good looking too far ahead, you’ve got to take each ball as it comes and each of those is the only one that matters.
After resuming on 403-2, Amla and Kallis showcased an assured nature with the bat as England’s bowlers were once again left frustrated.
Inside the first hour of play, Amla brought up his second double century in Test cricket with an excellent cover drive.
His colleague Kallis soon followed suit by bringing up his 43th ton in this form of the game, and paid a fitting tribute to Mark Boucher, who was forced to retire from the international game with an eye injury earlier this month.
All of the home side’s strike bowlers looked bereft of ideas on how to shift the frustrating partnership, as their best efforts looked ineffective.
Amla brought up another milestone as he passed the record for his country’s highest Test score, beating AB de Villiers’ previous mark of 278.
The 29-year-old had more to celebrate shortly after as he became the first triple-centurion from his country, as the pair at the crease brought up an incredible 377-run partnership.
Despite the desperate urgings of the 20,000 English supporters inside the Oval, no more wickets would fall as the visitors declared with a lead of 252.
The reply got off to the worse possible start as Vernon Philander enticed Alastair Cook to edge one through to De Villiers and the Essex batsman went for a duck.
Jonathan Trott failed to learn from Cook’s shortcomings as he nibbled a Dale Steyn delivery to the grateful gloves of South Africa’s wicketkeeper to leave Andy Flower’s men on 32-2.
Kevin Pietersen looked to try and steady the sinking ship but he became the third victim of the innings after missing a straight ball from Morne Morkel.
Skipper Strauss was next to fall, shortly after a drinks break, as he top-edged Imran Tahir to Philander at backward square leg.
Ian Bell (14) and Ravi Bopara (15) managed to survive the final exchanges of the day’s play, and Flower’s team now face an incredible task to gain anything from this testing encounter.