South Africa v England: Tourists' collapse was awfully predictable - Jonathan Agnew

Joe Root
Joe Root was struck on the wrist and head by South Africa pace bowler Kagiso Rabada

You always felt England were liable to be bowled out cheaply on the second day against South Africa - but losing seven wickets for 39 runs?

There was something awfully predictable about England's collapse from 142-3 to 181 all out, and they ended the day trailing South Africa by 175 runs.

This pitch is not easy and there is variable bounce, but that does not always account for the actual falling of the wicket.

Ultimately, this was not a 7-39 pitch.

There are some batsmen who are completely excused. Dominic Sibley got a ball that was an absolute brute of a thing that took the top of his bat. Jos Buttler, also caught behind, got a very good delivery, while Sam Curran fell to a very good catch at short leg.

You could almost excuse Jonny Bairstow in a way - he had just come in, and was facing a player who bowls at 90mph. He was inevitably hanging back a bit - you would not want to be on the front foot straight away to that sort of pace - and he got trapped by a ball that kept low.

But you've got to look at some of the others, and look at the shots that were played.

It was obvious that Joe Root knew his dismissal was a poor shot; he banged his hand against his bat in frustration as he walked off. It was a rather insipid little nibble outside off stump that he didn't have to do.

It was a clever change of angle round the wicket from Anrich Nortje to dismiss Ben Stokes, but Stokes will look at the shot he played and where his right foot was in particular, and driving so far away.

The reaction of the player says it all. It does not take anyone else to say it was a poor shot.

Joe Root
Joe Root was furious after edging Vernon Philander behind

I don't think England batted recklessly. They looked to play positively and busily but they were not playing big shots.

People will see on the scorecard that Bairstow was bowled for one, and in their minds they will see him bowled playing a big, booming, expansive drive. But it was not really like that.

None of them really got out playing rash shots. They might have played poor shots and been lured into playing at balls that were wide outside the off stump, but no-one was guilty of playing an irresponsible shot.

It just shows that once a collapse starts, a little bit of panic can spread.

There was a delivery that Nortje bowled to Denly - it was a good, fullish length, around about off stump, that Denly played no stroke to and it took off and went straight over the wicketkeeper's head.

I can tell you, if you're sitting in the dressing room watching on - as England are here, with their dressing room at backward point so they can see square of the wicket - you do not want to see that.

It sends an absolute shiver through the dressing room. It doesn't matter how good you are, you're thinking, 'crikey, what is going to happen out there?'

Denly, who made 50, showed what you could do if you battle away and get your head down. He played some good pull shots - he was on 0 for 28 balls - and a couple of nice drives.

Joe Denly
Joe Denly has made six Test half-centuries but has yet to go on to three figures

It was very much a Denly innings. He began having to work really hard and he could have got out at any moment early on. He was dropped on nought by Rassie van der Dussen at slip, but he fought through it.

That's what you have to do at this level if you're going to succeed and score runs. You have got to take some blows.

Ultimately, there was some very skilful bowling. Vernon Philander bowled magnificently for his 4-16 - a beautiful line, length, and a wonderful control.

Kagiso Rabada was very aggressive to start with and Nortje showed he has some pace and he will be a bit of a handful.

All the South Africa bowlers played well - and they made the ball do rather more than England on the first day.