PAUL COLLINGWOOD insists England’s dramatic first innings collapse was not as bad as it seemed as South Africa took charge of the fourth and final Test in Johannesburg.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn made full use of the seamer-friendly conditions to bag figures of 5-51 as England surrendered for a paltry 180 on a dismal opening day.
It all culminated in a horror show for captain Andrew Strauss, whose questionable decision to bat first on a fast bowler’s paradise backfired when he was dismissed with the very first ball of the day by a fired-up Steyn.
Seamer Ryan Sidebottom, preferred to Graham Onions, continued to generate swing as the England bowlers fought back in the final session, but Proteas openers Graeme Smith and Ashwell Prince survived amid showers and bad light to finish the day on 29-0.
Collingwood did manage to show some resistance with the bat, top-scoring with 47, but with the wicket continuing to play havoc for the batsmen, the Durham all-rounder insists the tourists are not yet out of the contest.
“I can’t see the wicket getting a lot better – I think it will continue to do something however long this match lasts for. We’ve seen in the last session, the ball has continued to move around a bit and there are indentations on the pitch, which is a little bit worrying for day one.
“We are disappointed with a total like that but, with the bowling armoury we’ve got in our dressing room, we can cause problems for them as well. With a little bit of extra luck we could have taken a couple of wickets tonight. We have to be right on the ball tomorrow morning and hopefully take some early wickets – it’s certainly doing plenty for us.”
Steyn’s dismissal of Strauss meant the England captain became the first Englishman to lose his wicket to the first ball of a Test since Stan Worthington in 1936.
Morne Morkel then struck with a blistering spell at the other end to reduce England to 39-4 before Collingwood and Ian Bell (35) put on 76. But once debutant Ryan McLaren removed Collingwood, Steyn took over to rip through the tail and leave England on the back foot.