James Anderson believes England are in “a very strong position” after having the better of the third day’s play at Lord’s. They lead South Africa by 216 runs with nine wickets in hand on a surface which is turning and showing signs of uneven bounce.
“I thought we bowled pretty well on a pitch which isn’t doing a huge amount, a bit of spin there but it’s a good pitch still,” said Anderson. “It puts us in a strong position going in to tomorrow. Hopefully, we can build on this partnership [between Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance] and we can make a decision what to do tomorrow afternoon.”
Alastair Cook, who ended the day on 54 not out, and Keaton Jennings put on 80 for the first wicket before the latter was caught behind off Kasigo Rabada but it was tough going for England who finished the day on 119 for 1. On a tricky pitch and faced with some excellent South African bowling, it had taken them 51 overs to get there.
Nevertheless, by the close, Cook had seen England to a strong position. “I thought they [South Africa] bowled really well tonight,” Anderson said. “There weren’t many freebies. It was spinning out of the rough for the left-handers. You wouldn’t want anyone else in that position [aside from Cook] to graft through an evening session to put us in a good position for tomorrow. I thought he did it brilliantly.”
England will look to push on in the morning before declaring sometime in the afternoon. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Root is with his first declaration as England captain but that may depend on how the pitch behaves. “Hopefully it will deteriorate even more and see a few more signs of going up and down,” said Anderson.