ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss has warned his side not to rely on another heroic batting display this weekend as they go in search of a famous series victory over South Africa in Johannesburg.
The tourists lead the Proteas 1-0 going into today’s fourth and final Test, but only thanks to the heroics of last man Graham Onions, who bravely batted out to secure draws in both the first and third Tests.
In a desperate attempt for parity, South African skipper Graeme Smith has instructed the Wanderers groundsman Chris Scott to prepare a livelier wicket this week to benefit his seam attack and produce a positive result.
And Strauss knows his side will need to raise their game in order to put themselves in a position to force the victory.
“In all likelihood it isn’t going to be a draw here,” Strauss admitted. “We need to get ahead of them, put them under pressure and make sure we go on and win the Test.
“But I think it’s dangerous to have too many preconceptions about what the wicket is going to do.
“My previous experience here was that it offered a little bit for the bowlers. But like a lot of the wickets here, it’s going to be quite new-ball orientated.”
That said, England are expected to resist the temptation to field an extra seamer at the expense of a sixth batsman, instead resting all hopes on the ability of Onions and James Anderson to generate enough swing to trouble the South African top order.
Not only that, but South Africa’s hopes of preparing the perfect seaming wicket have been hampered somewhat by heavy thunderstorms in Johannesburg, with the city having already encountered its entire monthly quota of rain in January.
Strauss added: “If you can get over the new ball, I fully expect there to be some runs to be scored. But we need to be prepared. If the ball nibbles around a lot and offers the bowlers a lot, we’ve got to back our bowlers to be better than theirs.”
Wayne Parnell is expected to come into the South African side in place of the injured Friedel de Wet, while a fourth seam option, Ryan McLaren, is also being considered for a maiden Test cap.