Morkel strikes twice to give South Africa a glimmer
07 August 2017, 01:11 | Percy Christensen
Ottis Gibson, with Stuart Broad is in his second stint as England's bowling coach
It was an end result many would have anticipated heading to Old Trafford on Sunday but, under mostly leaden Manchester skies, the Proteas made the most of the conditions to claw their way back into contention until Moeen's morale-sapping contribution. They were guilty of more dropped catches, with Dean Elgar putting down Keaton Jennings on nought and Moeen on 15.
A victory would bring England a second straight series win over South Africa after winning in South Africa 18 months ago, but its first at home over the Proteas since the Michael Atherton vs. Allan Donald series of 1998.
However, the England board confirmed that they have not been approached by South Africa until now and any decision will only be taken after the conclusion of the ongoing Test series between the two teams.
Jimmy Anderson put England in firm control on the second day of the fourth test at Old Trafford on Saturday, with his four wickets leaving South Africa trailing by 142 runs with just one first-innings wicket remaining.
The all-rounder - who starred with the ball to finish off the third Test with a hat-trick - smashed an unbeaten 67 from 59 balls including three sixes as England closed day three 360 ahead on 224-8.
England player Jonathan Bairstow raises the ball after taking a catch off a Moeen Ali six on the players' balcony.
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England made 362 and bowled South Africa out for 226, wrapping up the South African first innings early on Day 3.
In reply, England's openers, Cook and Jennings, started cautiously against the twin new-ball threat of Morkel and Kagiso Rabada - nearly too cautiously in Jennings' case, who, after failing to get off the mark from his first 13 deliveries, poked uncertainly down the line to Rabada, and squirted a fast but eminently catchable chance into the cordon.
Jimmy Anderson said he felt additional pressure when he took the new ball at the end that now carries his name but was delighted to end the day with four victims to leave him one away from a maiden Test five-wicket haul on his home ground.
England are in a strong position in the fourth and final Test against South Africa after reducing the visitors to 220 for 9. Cook once again looked solid and watchful in defence, but chose the wrong ball to attack as he lined up a drive against a full-length delivery from Morkel and skewed an outside edge to Theunis de Bruyn in the gully for 10.
Bairstow and Ben Stokes also failed this time, but at crucial points, in this series, the late-order trio of Bairstow, Stokes and now Ali has come to England's rescue to stave off South Africa.
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