South Africa lie low to lick wounds in wake of Old Trafford defeat

Squad takes week off ahead of series decider at Oval after three-day loss

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Lungi Ngidi and Kyle Verreynne leave the field at the end of the second Test, England vs South Africa, 2nd Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day, August 27, 2022

Lungi Ngidi and Kyle Verreynne leave the field at the end of the second Test  •  AFP/Getty Images

Smarting from their defeat inside three days at Old Trafford, South Africa have taken the week off and will break away to the West Midlands before resuming training in London on Saturday.
No further details have been provided about their itinerary except that they will "stay together as a group" and engage in team activities including golf rather than have individual time away, as was initially discussed. Speaking after the second Test, Dean Elgar said they would use the time to reconnect, to "pull ourselves towards ourselves", and "don't forget why we are here".
The mood is somewhat different to the one the team had after beating England in three days at Lord's. Players were given the remaining two days off to do as they pleased with the only instruction to "be back at the hotel for an 11 o'clock leaving time otherwise it's an expensive Uber to Manchester," Elgar said.
The gap between the second and third Test was initially scheduled for nine days to accommodate the Hundred's final week. That became 11 days after England stormed to an innings-and-85-run win. South Africa remained in Manchester for what would have been the final two days of the Test and will leave for their getaway on Tuesday.
While Elgar emphasised they would like to get away from cricket to a degree, South Africa will not be able to avoid addressing questions over their game, especially as the decider looms. Chief among South Africa's considerations will be how to juggle the batting line-up after they were dismissed for under 200 in both innings.
Rassie van der Dussen has returned home with a finger injury and will be replaced by one of Ryan Rickelton or Khaya Zondo, but both reserve batters could come into contention given Aiden Markram's poor form.
Allrounder Wiaan Mulder, who has been playing at Leicester, has been added to the squad in van der Dussen's absence, and provides another option in the lower middle-order.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent