England ‘in a great position’ heading into third Test with South Africa, insists Chris Woakes

England’s Chris Woakes said all the pressure is on South Africa heading to the third Test at Johannesburg that starts Thursday.
Chris Woakes and England head into the third Test against South Africa with a 1-0 lead in the series. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo
Chris Woakes and England head into the third Test against South Africa with a 1-0 lead in the series. Themba Hadebe / AP Photo

England’s Chris Woakes said all the pressure is on South Africa heading to the third Test at Johannesburg that starts Thursday.

At the halfway stage of the four-match series the tourists hold a 1-0 lead courtesy of a victory at Durban and an entertaining draw at Cape Town.

South Africa appeared to be growing in confidence at the end of their five days at Newlands, producing their best team batting performance in over a year and pressing for an unlikely victory on Day 5 that had seemed near-impossible after two days.

Since then they have changed captain with the reticent Hashim Amla handing the baton to AB de Villiers, but that is an alteration that arguably makes better use of their resources.

Nevertheless Woakes thinks the deck is stacked in England’s favour as the sides prepare to meet again.

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“Joburg is set up nicely but I still think we’re in a great position being 1-0 up,” Woakes said.

“They have to win both to win this series. As long as we play the kind of cricket we have been so far, then fingers crossed we can’t lose the series

“Obviously that’s possible but the way we’ve been playing I can’t see it happening.

“Winning the toss would be nice because if we start well in Joburg it’s a long way back for the South Africans.”

Woakes, who played at Durban before making way in the line-up for James Anderson at Cape Town, said that England were unsurprised to see Amla hand the reigns to De Villiers, suggesting the process had already begun — subconsciously, perhaps — much earlier on.

“It’s not a surprise that he’s stepped down, that’s the best way to put it,” said Woakes of Amla.

“When I was on the field in Durban you could feel Amla probably wasn’t leading the side as much as a normal captain does, as much as Cooky [Alastair Cook] for instance.

“It felt like AB was having an input anyway.

“So with Amla stepping down I’m not sure how much of a huge difference that will make to them.”

Despite being dropped for the second Test, and being unlikely to be selected for the match in Johannesburg, Woakes who took only one wicket at Durban, said he was not too downbeat.

“Although I didn’t have the wickets in the column or a huge amount of runs I felt like I did my role pretty well for the team,” he said. “It was great to be involved and to be part of winning the Test match was brilliant.”

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Published: January 9, 2016 04:00 AM

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