JOHANNESBURG // The England stalwart Paul Collingwood refused to blame his captain, Andrew Strauss, for the surprising decision to bat first after South Africa dominated the opening day of the fourth and final Test. The hosts bowled England out for just 180 after Strauss decided to have first use of a seaming Wanderers wicket - and was dismissed by the first ball of the match.
"Graeme Smith said he would bat first as well at the toss," said Collingwood, who top-scored for the visitors with 47. "Reading the conditions, both captains had the right ideas." But the Durham all-rounder was critical of his team's failure to get to grips with the pitch with South Africa finishing the day on 29 without losing a wicket. "I think if we're honest we're disappointed with 180," said Collingwood, the only England batsman to make more than 40.
"There were some good balls, good catches but also some guys who will be disappointed with their shots. "The wicket hasn't surprised us in any way and probably has more bounce than we expected. But all of us need to understand what our strengths are. And we weren't quite good enough." Andy Flower, the England coach, spoke to match referee Roshan Mahanama after Alastair Cook was adjudged lbw off a referred TV appeal with the suggestion that Morne Morkel had no-balled. But England, although angry at the time, will not take the issue further.
"Our reaction at the time said it all but having looked at further footage we're not going to make an issue of it," said Flower. Dale Steyn, who picked up five for 51, reckons the pitch is not as easy to bat on as Graeme Smith and Ashwell Prince made it look in South Africa's reply. "It's still nipping around and did a lot when we were batting," said the world's No 1 Test bowler as South Africa took a big step towards what would be a series-levelling victory.
"I'm just happy we got 10 wickets and did the job." @Email:email@example.com England v South Africa, Day 2, Showsports 2