England risk fast bowler Jimmy Anderson as they seek to stretch lead

Alastair Cook looks for consistency against South Africa as team seeks to go 2-0 up

England captain Alastair Cook: was critical of having  two days of rest between Test matches  when ICC recommends a minimum of three. Photograph: Themba Hadebe/AP Photo

England captain Alastair Cook: was critical of having two days of rest between Test matches when ICC recommends a minimum of three. Photograph: Themba Hadebe/AP Photo

 
Alastair CookJimmy AndersonSouth Africa

backfire on the England captain.

The 33-year-old Anderson missed the 241-run win at Kingsmead due to a tight right calf muscle but he has pushed hard to get himself back in to the side, getting through a training session yesterday that saw him bowl, bat and work on his slip catching with head coach Trevor Bayliss.

England have the chance to go 2-0 up in the series with their first victory at the picturesque Newlands since 1957 and Cook would love to unleash his record wicket-taker against a side shorn of their own injured fast bowler Dale Steyn.

But he also remains mindful of his bowler having sent down just five competitive overs on tour and the damaging effect on the team should the problem flare up again mid-Test match.

“If Jimmy is fit and ready and confident, then he’ll be opening the bowling. But we have to make sure we’re right. We don’t want to hinder ourselves and have an injury caused that we could have prevented, if that makes sense. Obviously, there will be a bit of a risk about it,” said Cook.

Interesting call

Last year England followed victory with defeat four times and Cook said he was yet to get to the bottom of why his side had been so inconsistent.

When they did record back-to-back victories last summer – at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge – it saw the Ashes regained. The captain will be hoping the estimated 10,000- strong travelling support can produce a similar atmosphere to those victories.

“The word ‘consistency’ has already come up. Last year we were up and down a lot. It was great to finish with a performance like that at Durban – a really relentless performance from pretty much ball one – but can we do it again? Can we have an Edgbaston-Trent Bridge fortnight in Durban and Cape Town?

“With the number of English people here, it’s going to be a great Test to be part of. But we’ve got to be careful we don’t get carried away with the past. It took a lot out of us to win in Durban. We had to come through some tricky situations: we were 49 for three in the first innings and [there were] times when we didn’t get it right bowling.

“But we managed to drag it back through absolute determination and skill. It’s just a case of whether we have the same hunger in us to do that again. Have we as a side learned? Can we be more consistent and harder to beat? We will see. It will be really disappointing if we can’t back up our performances.

“If South Africa play out of their skin but we hit the same standards, then I’ll be happy. But we have to do that. In Durban, we set a benchmark. To be 1-0 up in a series is fantastic, to be 2-0 even better.”

Despite the positivity in the England camp, Cook was critical of having just two days of rest between Test matches – the first of which was spent travelling – when the International Cricket Council recommends a minimum of three.

Gruelling

“Hopefully, this is just a one-off and people see sense that you need a couple more days between Tests. But we certainly won’t be using that at the end of this week if we don’t play well.” Guardian Service

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