England on the brink

After all the ball tampering talk was over (for the time being anyway), the cricket played was exciting and as a result of the ‘ball tampering’ row, hostilities on the pitch seemed to be fiercer than usual in what is becoming an absorbing test match.

South Africa set England an unlikely target of 466 to win, and for a mad moment at 101/0 the impossible dream seemed in with a chance.

As is usually the case with England, disappointment is never far away as the usual English disease – of throwing away wickets – stepped in to put all those (mad) hopes to bed.

In reality it would never have happened anyway. If England had got to lunch tomorrow at, say 220/1, then South Africa would have shut up shop and bowled wide of the wicket with defensive fields ensuring England couldn’t score the runs required. A tactic that maybe England should have deployed on day 3.

Nevertheless, surely only South Africa can blow this now. If they put the ball in the right areas then most of England’s batsmen will oblige with the shots required to give SA the remaining seven wickets needed.

One thing the majority of England’s batsmen don’t have is the application to occupy the crease for lengths of time in order to save a game, except maybe Paul Collingwood. A level series of 1-1 seems enivitable by tomorrow evening.

With the ball tampering debate seemingley not going away, there is going to be a red hot atmosphere going into the 4th and deciding test, Graeme Smith’s men will have the momentum, but as we seen at the Oval in the summer, that dosen’t guarantee you anything.