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England vs South Africa: 2nd Test Preview

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South Africa will have little time to lick their wounds following the 211-run loss to England in the first Test match at Lord’s, as the focus quickly shifts to Nottingham ahead of the second Test starting at Trent Bridge on Friday. Proteas paceman, Morne Morkel, says the preparation for the quick turnaround of matches will focus on perfecting their disciplines- which were the glaring disappointment in the first match- and channelling their energy towards a series-levelling performance.

“We had two days in London to get over it (the loss),” he said to the media at Trent Bridge on Wednesday. "Once we got on the bus to Nottingham yesterday it was important for us to leave that behind and look forward to Friday. It’s a quick turnaround, we have two training sessions, and it’s important for us as individuals to work out what we want to achieve in these two days. 

“There isn’t a lot of time, you don’t want to waste too much energy on working on too many things. The best thing for us is to polish and do the basic things that we can control. That is the way we started this morning and we will build up until we play on Friday.”

The attack will take a lot of confidence and heart from their comeback performance in the second innings, where they raised their intensity and skills to take the last nine England wickets for 114 runs. Morkel says the no-balls are ‘unacceptable’, and that the bowlers will continue to put emphasis on staying behind the line in their preparation like they have in the past.

“The more overs we bowled with the red ball the better we got, especially in that second innings,” he explained. “ It started off well on day one, we thought in the first innings if we could pick up one or two (wickets) after lunch we were right in the game. We had a period where we attacked and it was necessary to hold the game, we didn’t adapt quickly enough to hold the game, we leaked a few runs. The way we fought back into the Test match, when we walked off the field after our second innings chasing 300, we felt we had a chance, unfortunately we couldn’t deliver.

“It’s not acceptable, it is a controllable,”  he said of the no-balls. “ For me personally, I need a lot of rhythm, and timing is crucial for me. I feel that the more I bowl in a Test match the better my timing becomes at the crease. It was unfortunate that I did bowl that no-ball, that is the sort of thing you don’t want to give quality players like Joe Root and Ben Stokes. If you give them the extra life you are going to get punished for that. The only thing I can do is to keep on working on getting the foot behind the line.”

Morkel, who is the most experienced bowler in the attack with 260 Test wickets in 75 matches, says it will be vital for him to lead from the front in the second Test,  especially in the absence of Kagiso Rabada, who is serving a one-match suspension.

“I still have a role as a senior player in the team to lead from the front,” he said. “ We will miss KG (Rabada), he has the ability to bowl long spells with pace and a lot of energy, we will miss that. Once again it’s an opportunity for another player to step into his place and put his hand up. As a bowling unit we need to put what has happened in the last Test behind us and focus on Friday.”