x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

England are on the brink

Dale Steyn, the No 1 Test bowler, admitted to the worst day of his career after a dramatic South Africa collapse gave the visitors a perfect chance to go 1-0 up in the series.

A delighted Graeme Swann of England takes the wicket of South Africa captain Graeme Smith at Kingsmead Stadium yesterday.
A delighted Graeme Swann of England takes the wicket of South Africa captain Graeme Smith at Kingsmead Stadium yesterday.

KINGSMEAD // Dale Steyn, the world's No 1 Test bowler, claimed yesterday was the worst day of his career after a dramatic South Africa collapse gave England the perfect chance to go 1-0 up in the four-match Test series. South Africa lost six wickets for 23 runs and, 156 runs behind, they face the unlikely prospect of batting all day today to save the Test, something that even Steyn admitted is impossible without the elements intervening.

"We've got a couple of guys who can try and hang around but, to be honest, we need there to be a little bit of weather around," he said. "It was probably the worst day of my cricket career. "That's the brutal honest truth. We aimed to save the game but lost six wickets. We find ourselves in a deep hole. But you never know what can happen in cricket." England are buoyant and sensing victory after Graeme Swann took three for 22 and Stuart Broad three for 18 in a sensational spell of bowling, after Ian Bell's careersaving 141 had given his side a 242 first-innings advantage.

"I knew I was under the pump, I knew I needed an innings to save my place," admitted Bell. "I haven't scored a hundred this year but I felt pretty fluid and it was nice to take the form in the nets to the field. "I couldn't believe how the day panned out. Swanny's been fantastic; he does not take a long time to settle and Broady really put the ball in the right area against world-class players like Jacques Kallis. He kept asking questions and when you have pressure like that it makes it a perfect bowling display."

A settled forecast is expected today but Bell knows England cannot take the weather for granted. "Obviously we have to be raring to go from ball one but the guys will be 100 per cent professional," he added. "We have to bowl accurately as it's still a very good wicket." @Email:sports@thenational.ae Report & scorecard, s3