Head Coach Trevor Bayliss is confident England’s catching will return to its high standards in Johannesburg after several costly chances went begging during the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
The Australian has worked hard on improving England’s fielding and fitness since his appointment last May, aspects of the game that were at the forefront of a four-day pre-Ashes training camp in Spain.
Improvements were certainly evident during the 3-2 series win over Australia, with Ben Stokes’ sensational one-handed take at Trent Bridge producing the iconic moment of the summer when Stuart Broad wheeled away with his hands over his mouth in shock during his remarkable spell of 8-15.
But England struggled with their catching at Newlands, a picturesque ground overshadowed by Table Mountain, as seven opportunities that went to hand went to ground to let South Africa, 1-0 down in the series, off the hook.
Hashim Amla was shelled three times en route to a fourth Test double-ton, Temba Bavuma profitted from a drop to compile his maiden century while half-centurions AB de Villiers and Chris Morris were also given lives.
That allowed the Proteas to claw their way back into the match, having declared two runs behind on 627 for seven, and set up a nervy final day that saw England eventually hold firm to secure a draw.
But while Bayliss was disgruntled that his side could not hold on to the chances, it is not something he is too concerned with yet.
“I’m disappointed about our catching. If we’d taken four or five of the catches that I think should have been taken we could well have been bowling on the last day,” Bayliss said.
“We’ll certainly be working on it but no more, no less than what we’ve done in the past. We do spend a lot of time on the catching especially.
“That’s why it’s disappointing when you put in the hard work every now and again it doesn’t work.
“If it continues then that would be more of a concern but we’ve caught pretty well in the last six months. Hopefully it’s something that’s a one-off.”
Despite hitting 201, Amla made the shock decision to resign as South Africa Test skipper after the match yesterday, citing his need to work more on his own game as his reason behind the decision.
One-day international captain De Villiers has been confirmed as the man to lead the Proteas in the next two Tests against England.
Bayliss does not believe the change in leadership will have a negative impact on the hosts, adding: “I don’t think it’ll have too much of a difference with the South African team. They’ve got an able replacement.
“Obviously Amla will still be in the team and he’s in form scoring 200 runs so that may even free his mind up even more.
“There won’t be any problems at all I’d have thought, De Villiers is a guy with a lot of experience, has done the job before and I can’t see too much of a problem at all.”