December 26, 1999

Ford prays for early breakthrough

Durban - South Africa's bowlers need to dominate the first session as the third Test enters what could be the most crucial day of the five-match series against England.

Graham Ford, the South Africa coach, agreed it was necessary for the South Africa bowlers to break England's batting stranglehold after the tourists gave the impression of playing for a draw on the opening day of the Kingsmead Test yesterday.

"We need an early wicket or two if we want to put pressure on the their batsman," Ford said after England had crawled to 135 for two the lowest score in a day's play in a Test in South Africa.

While there are arguments that England's decision to bat first may not have been the right one, there is also a strong feeling they have batted themselves into a position which could backfire on them on Monday.

The two key factors are Alec Stewart's approach to the game, and how their skipper, Nasser Hussain, views the situation. England may have already wasted a day in trying to dominate the South African attack and Ford's thoughts were that Stewart may attempt to lift the scoring rate and at least wrestle some form of control.

"He is the sort of batsman who can lift the scoring tempo when it is needed and we will have to see how he handle's the situation when he bats," Ford said. Ford also agreed the three "sharp chances" missed during the day was a set back for South Africa.

"It is a pity they happened on the same day, but those sort of things happen," he added.