Quality bowling got its rewards – Sam Curran

Sam Curran believes England’s plan to choke South Africa’s run-rate was the key as a flurry of late wickets handed the tourists the initiative in the second Test.

The English attack had precious little to play with in Cape Town, mustering a thin-looking 269 all out after winning the toss at Newlands, but exerted collective control throughout day two to restrict the reply to 215 for eight.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson did the early damage, leaving the Proteas 40 for three, and a surge of activity in the evening session yielded five for 58.

South Africa England Cricket
England kept the South Africans, including Keshav Maharaj, on their toes (AP)

In between times South Africa enjoyed a stand on 117 between Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen, but England’s ability to dry up scoring options meant the partnership occupied almost 300 balls and never threatened to build a head of steam

England have made it known they were annoyed at the way they allowed the game to accelerate while they were in the field in last week’s defeat at Centurion and have quickly addressed any shortcomings. South Africa this time scored at a gentle 2.53 per over and saw out 19 maidens.

“I think we bowled really well as group today, we kept the rate down all day,” said Curran, who bagged the dangerous Quinton de Kock and the resilient Rassive van der Dussen after tea.

How good has @benstokes38 catching been today!? 🔥#SAvENG


— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 4, 2020

“I thought we reaped the rewards towards the end. We may have got no wickets through the middle session but we knew they would come if we stuck at it.”

A key part of England’s tactics was the off-spin of Dom Bess, who was not selected for the original touring squad and only arrived as cover for the unwell Jack Leach.

Having impressed the coaching staff in practice he was handed his third Test cap and performed a solid holding role which allowed him to pin down an end for 27 overs and even tempt tops-scorer Dean Elgar (88) into a rush of blood.

“I thought Bessy did an amazing job for us the whole day,” said Curran.

South Africa England Cricket
Dom Bess (left) and Jos Buttler celebrate the wicket of Quinton De Kock (AP)

“He was the outstanding. He held it together and helped us big lads come in from the top end where there’s probably a bit more movement. It’s pretty obvious the seamers maybe haven’t got as much from that end, so I thought he bowled really well.”

Elgar offered a colourful account of his dismissal, but acknowledged it as a likely turning point.

“I felt I played him very well until the brain fart – a big one – then I was sat in the changing room. That all it is,” he said.

“It wasn’t anything to do with patience. I might have just chosen the wrong ball. I hit him for four a few overs before – great shot wasn’t it? – but I picked the wrong one.

South Africa England Cricket
South African batsman Dean Elgar scored 88 and was critical of his own dismissal (AP)

“It’s not right of me playing shots like that, especially being a senior batter, I shouldn’t be putting the guys under pressure like that. But I’m a human being as well…two arms, two legs and the other thing as well.

“I could have blocked it out, blocked out the over and been not out over night, we’d have been totally in control, but I’ve yet to see someone master this game.”

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