It took a simple message from captain, Faf du Plessis, to spur Chris Morris on for a lethal spell to wrap up England’s tail and to give the Standard Bank Proteas the advantage on day two of the second Test match at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
Morris had an expensive opening account with his three overs going for 20 runs, but pulled it back with a fiery second burst (3/18 in 5.5 overs) to finish with overall figures of 3/38.
“ For me personally, you fall into the trap as a bowler where the swing and everything happening with the pitch makes you focus on putting a ball there instead of bowling it,” he said of the mistakes in his opening spell.“ The message was clear from Faf, be aggressive and bowl fast. For me that cleared any doubt of what I needed to do and I think it worked today. I ran in and tried to bowl as fast as I could.”
“ Faf keeps it very simple,” he said of the captaincy. “ He speaks a good language with everyone in the team but specifically with his bowlers and the bowling unit, I think it shows (in the results).”
The fast bowlers will take most of the credit given the lively conditions, but Morris had a special mention for left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, who gave the Proteas an unlikely breakthrough with the key wicket of Ben Stokes for a duck. His return of 3/21 was an outstanding contribution and sets up an interesting contest in the fourth innings as the conditions continue to deteriorate.
“ Keshav took some exceptional wickets for us today,” he said. “ The one of Johnny Bairstow was one of the better balls I’ve seen, apart from Liam Dawson’s delivery to dismiss Hashim last week. Keshav does an unbelievably good job for us, we know what we are going to get from him, and on a turning wicket he is genius with the changing of his flight and trajectory. He is a good man to have in our team and attack.”
There is still a lot of time left in the match, which gives the batsmen some leeway to patiently build up a defendable winning target. Morris admits that he is unsure of what a winning target will be, with lively and deteriorating conditions playing an impact on the mindset.
“ I have absolutely no idea,” he said of a winning score. “ The wicket is playing a little bit; it has some juice in it, there is a bit of seam movement and with overhead conditions 200 could be enough on the right day. We will try and bat as well as we can and whatever decision Faf makes that he thinks will be enough for us to defend and for England to get.”
Dean Elgar (38 not out) and Hashim Amla (23 not out) will continue to build on the current lead of 205 runs with nine wickets remaining when play resumes at 11h00 (local time) on Sunday.