Assistant Coach Paul Farbrace admitted missed chances in the field took the shine off a determined England bowling performance in the second Test against South Africa that appears to be heading for a draw.
The tourists were made to toil in the field for more than 200 overs, for just the second time this century, as South Africa declared two runs behind their first-innings total on 627 for seven on day four in Cape Town.
England’s bowlers produced a disciplined display with the ball, though, and created several chances that were not taken.
Hashim Amla was the main beneficiary, dropped three times during his fourth double-hundred, while AB de Villiers, Chris Morris and Temba Bavuma also cashed in after they were given lives.
De Villiers, shelled on five on the second day, went on to contribute 88 to an 183-run stand with Amla yesterday, debutant Morris was dropped twice during his half-century and Bavuma profited to advance to a maiden Test ton.
While Farbrace commended England, who closed on 16 without loss, for their 211-over marathon stint in the field, he believes they will look back and regret the dropped catches.
He told Sky Sports: “It was not what we probably expected. We have talked about discipline with our line and our lengths, we have created chances.
“That is the real bonus of the day, we have created chances, which is fantastic, and the bowlers have worked incredibly hard.
“To be in the field for over 200 overs, I don’t care how fit and strong you are, that takes a lot of effort, a lot of energy and a lot out of the body.
“I think we have done pretty well, but obviously we are disappointed we have missed chances. We are going to look back on this game and we are going to rue the chances we have missed. That is the disappointment.
“On the plus side we created good opportunities on a pretty flat wicket and it was hard work.”
The Cape Town Test appeared to be drifting towards a certain draw when Amla and Faf du Plessis, who made 86, comfortably took the score to 439 for three.
But England, aided by the third new ball, breathed new life into the contest by removing Amla, Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock in the space of four overs after lunch.
However, Bavuma and Morris halted their victory charge with a record eighth-wicket stand of 167 that left a draw the most likely outcome.
Farbrace was full of praise for 25-year-old Bavuma, saying: “I thought Bavuma played fantastic. His first scoring shot was four through extra cover off Jimmy and he played magnificently, he really did play brilliantly.
“Having watched him play in the last Test match, he got out a couple of times, dragged one on and was stumped on the last morning, but he played magnificently well today. Very impressive.”