By Mark Gleeson
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – England expect results in both the remaining cricket tests against South Africa, with captain Alastair Cook saying he was excited at the prospect of wrapping up the series when the third test starts at the Wanderers on Thursday.
England won the first test in Durban by 241 runs but played out a draw at Newlands in Cape Town last week – despite scoring 629 runs in their first innings, giving them a 1-0 lead in the four-test series.
“It’s an exciting time to play and we are in a really good position. The next two games are probably both on result wickets which means we need to win one of them to win the series, and that’s a great situation to be in,” he told a press conference on Wednesday.
“We’ve played some good cricket so far on tour but obviously there is a danger in saying ‘Ah, we just need to win one game’ and looking too far ahead. There is a lot of hard work still, and you need to do a lot of good things to put South Africa under pressure and win the game.
“As players, leading into the game, that’s what we have started to concentrate on and the results will look after themselves if we play well,” Cook added.
Asked about South Africa’s mid-series change of captaincy and any destabilising impact that might have on their opponents, the England captain said there was little focus on the opposition from his side.
“We focus on what we can control and how we intend to play our cricket. How are we going to get our 20 wickets here? How are we going to score the runs? South Africa are a strong side and showed a lot of resilience in Cape Town, and they’ll be trying to get back into the series.”
Opener Alex Hales batted in the nets on Wednesday despite a stomach virus. Cook said that if Hales could not play then Nick Compton, who has recovered from a similar bug, would open with Gary Ballance brought into the test line-up.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)