South Africa v England: Proteas now 'a handful' for tourists - Agnew

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Jonny Bairstow survives a stumping
Jonny Bairstow scored an unbeaten 30 in the second innings to help England to a draw in Cape Town

England had to dig very deep to draw the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

You have to admire the way South Africa fought back to a position where if one hairline decision - the potential stumping of Jonny Bairstow, when England were 147-6 - had been given out they would have been favourites to win the game.

South Africa captain Hashim Amla did exactly the right thing - he thought about what England's openers would least like to do, which was bat for half-an-hour at the end of day four, and he stuck them in.

They survived those six overs but to lose Alastair Cook in the second over of the day, followed by a brilliant catch by Chris Morris to end Alex Hales' innings, meant suddenly South Africa were away.

No team has ever lost a Test match having scored 600 in the first innings, as England did. It would have been an outstanding performance from South Africa to win the game, although it has still been a very good one to draw it.

'Test cricket is more than a 22-yard pitch'

Morne Morkel (centre) celebrates taking Alex Hales' wicket
Morne Morkel (centre) bowled well on Wednesday morning, taking the wicket of Alex Hales

It has been an unusual match but one of the great positives about Test cricket is that it doesn't follow a set pattern, and any five-day game where the fate is still undecided by tea on the last day can't be a bad one.

There was a huge number of runs scored to start with - 1,415 in total, with both teams passing 600 in their first innings.

But you cannot dismiss a Test match after three days just because there are a lot of runs scored in it. There are reasons for that - brilliant batting, poor bowling, poor fielding lapses.

It is about so much more than a 22-yard pitch. It is about human frailty and confidence and pressure.

This wasn't an impossible track to get wickets on. Just ask James Taylor, who nearly had his head taken off from a length.

There was enough there to keep the bowlers interested, which is just what you want from a Test match.

It went through on the first day - Morne Morkel with the new ball was a handful - then it flattened out and South Africa played very patiently. Finally, it all comes down to the pressure of the situation at the end. That is classic Test cricket.

'South Africa now a handful'

Ben Stokes

South Africa were very poor in Durban. But now Amla, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers have all scored runs and they look like they will be a bit of a handful.

I like the look of Morris. He has something about him as a bowler, he is a brilliant fielder and he can bat. Dane Piedt keeps taking wickets and Kagiso Rabada looks a good prospect.

They will fancy themselves to have a chance in Pretoria on the harder, bouncier pitches at 5,000ft altitude. It is a different game up there and it will be a challenge for England.

But there is a break now and a chance for England to get over this game, get up to Johannesburg and acclimatise. They will put this game away and work on things.

They are still 1-0 up with two to play and will start in a confident frame of mind.

'Liberated Amla poses a danger to England'

Hashim Amla (centre)
Hashim Amla won four of his 14 Tests as South Africa captain

Those who aren't around the South African team may be surprised by Amla's resignation as captain, especially as he scored a double hundred and has his form back. On the face of that, it seems a surprising decision.

But he isn't a man who necessarily enjoys being captain and has resigned before from the role in first-class cricket.

I suspect he had had enough and his decision was made before he scored his double hundred.

The question is whether the South Africa players will lose any momentum as a result of this. I don't think it will have a negative impact.

De Villiers will be a very capable captain. He is a strong leader and tactically he is probably more astute than Amla, who was always undemonstrative as captain.

They now have a liberated Amla in form, which might be rather dangerous for England.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Phil Dawkes

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