England assistant coach Paul Collingwood is confident that his team can recover from a difficult first day against South Africa and fight back to set up an exciting Test match on a spicy Lord’s pitch.
Just 32 overs were possible before the rain arrived in London and England, having been asked to bowl first by South Africa, managed just 116 for six, with Ollie Pope the bright note on 61 not out.
While England played with attacking intent and still scored at 3.6 an over, only Alex Lees could truly be accused of giving his wicket away, with South Africa’s classy pace attack causing trouble.
Collingwood believes that England are far from out of the first Test, but he would not put a target figure on what the hosts believe would be a good score on this surface (they were bowled out for 141 in the first Test against New Zealand on the same ground, and won).
“There were a few good balls in there,” he said. "When you’ve got skilful bowlers with high pace, they’re going to bowl wicket-taking balls. Not going to worry too much about what’s gone on today. If we get as many runs tomorrow, see what our world-class bowlers can do on that pitch. It should be a good Test match.
“It’s fairly obvious it’s not just the swing, but quite a bit of seam movement and it’s quite a humid day. Both teams wanted to bowl this morning.
“Everyone’s clear about how we’re going to go about our batting. That’s not going to change. Not always going to get it 100 per cent right. At times today we soaked up pressure, and at times put it back on the bowlers.
“When you’re playing shots and trying to put the opposition under pressure, you will lose wickets at times. Certainly a lot in that wicket, and if it plays the same way tomorrow, looking forward to our bowlers making inroads.
“We’ve been in this position before. We have bowlers who can exploit favourable positions. Exciting part is how we can get inroads.”
Collingwood defended England’s struggling opener Zak Crawley, whose run without a half-century extended to 13 innings when he was dismissed for nine by a lovely piece of bowling from Kagiso Rabada.
“The messaging is very clear with Zak,” he said. “We don’t necessarily look for consistency with Zak. It’s about match-winning performances and being able to do special things.
“One innings ago he had a hundred partnership against India [Crawley made 46 in a stand of 107 with Lees]. We don’t forget about those contributions in our dressing room. He’s got a lot of talent. I’m sure he’s frustrated he’s not getting more runs. But we’re confident he can turn things around and have those match-winning contributions.”