Jimmy Anderson had little time to savour a seventh five-wicket haul at his happy hunting ground of Trent Bridge, describing England’s chastening second day against South Africa as one they must learn from quickly if they are to become harder to beat.
Solidity was Joe Root’s stated aim on assuming the captaincy in February. But two Tests into his tenure England have demonstrated their inconsistency once more, going from a romping four-day victory at Lord’s to a desperate situation in Nottingham, where South Africa will resume their second inningson Sunday 205 runs ahead for the loss of one wicket.
Anderson, who completed figures of five for 72 on the second morning before seeing his rest time cut short as England were rolled for 205 in 51.5 overs, said: “I think we set ourselves such high standards with the ball and the bat and we didn’t do ourselves justice today.
“Shot selection is something the batsmen work on all the time – playing the situation – and I don’t think we did that well enough today. It’s frustrating to be bowled out for such a low score. We have a fairly young side and are making improvements. We’ll try and learn from days like this. Not every day is going to be perfect. We’ll try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
England’s record wicket-taker added the scalp of the opener Heino Kuhn to his haul in the evening and tried to remain upbeat despite his disappointment, adding: “We need a couple of people to stand up with the ball to make inroads and then we must bat out of our skin to chase whatever total we are set.
“There’s plenty of time left in the game and that’s a positive for us. There’s plenty of character in this team. I know we can [fight back]. It’s just a case of dusting ourselves down and doing it.”
It is no coincidence that South Africa’s resurgence this match has come following the return of their captain, Faf du Plessis. The 33-year-old missed the defeat at Lord’s for family reasons but marshalled his bowlers impeccably here, with Chris Morris, who helped snuff out the England tail with three wickets, explaining the impact.
The right-armer could easily have been ignored by Du Plessis after his first three overs leaked 20 runs. But the captain returned to him either side of tea, with instructions to forget the swing-friendly conditions and simply bowl as fast and aggressively as possible.
Morris said: “You can fall into a trap, when it is overcast and swings, of trying to put the ball there and so for me, those words from Faf really worked. It just cleared any doubt.
“It’s easy to say what makes him such a good captain: it’s just his character. He’s solid, clear on his plans and speaks a good language with the bowlers and any member of the team. He lives to play for the Proteas and leads by example.”