Seamer Steven Finn hit back at critics of England’s fielding after dropped catches aided South Africa’s rescue mission on day three of the second Test in Cape Town yesterday.
England snared just one wicket on a frustrating day during which skipper Hashim Amla led South Africa’s revival with a stubborn and unbeaten 157 as the Proteas closed on 353-3, although remain 276 runs in arrears.
The outlook could have been much rosier for England had James Anderson and Nick Compton not dropped Amla while on 76 and 120 respectively, while AB de Villiers, who was put down by Joe Root on Monday having made five, amassed 88.
Former England captain Sir Ian Botham bemoaned England’s lack of potency in the field, insisting that the tourists ought to be “disappointed” with their catching, although Middlesex paceman Finn defended his team-mates.
“It’s very difficult to see, even the one that dropped short of me at mid-off, I didn’t pick it up until it was halfway towards me,” said Finn, who claimed the only wicket to fall yesterday, that of De Villiers.
“It’s tricky to see here and sometimes people drop catches. That just happens in cricket. We’ve been excellent at taking catches so far this series and through the summer. Hopefully tomorrow we can take those catches.”
Despite the lack of inroads into South Africa’s recently shaky batting line-up, Finn, like Botham, complimented the tireless endeavours of England’s bowling unit amid Amla’s dogged vigil.
“I thought we never let them really get away from us, we created pressure, we created those little chances. Unfortunately, we didn’t take them,” added Finn.
“It’s been a bit of a long hard slog but I think everyone’s put a lot of effort in and I don’t think you can fault the way we bowled.”
Amla’s knock was in complete contrast to the swashbuckling hitting of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow on day two, although his first Test century since December 2014 – the 24th of his career – was just as vital for South Africa.
De Villiers passed 8,000 Test runs as he and Amla recorded South Africa’s first hundred stand in nine Tests before the 31-year-old picked out Anderson at mid-wicket off a Finn short ball.
Ex-Lancashire batsman Faf du Plessis took up the baton from De Villiers to finish the day on 51 not out, his first half-century in 10 innings, as South Africa crept towards 429 and the score needed to avoid the follow-on.