SA aim to focus attention on the field on day 2 at Old Trafford

05 August 2017 - 10:00 By Telford Vice
Graeme Smith. File photo.
Graeme Smith. File photo.

Significantly more happened off the field than on it at Old Trafford on Friday‚ when England and South Africa played the first day of the fourth test.

England were 260/6 at stumps‚ but that mattered less than Graeme Smith’s views on Vernon Philander’s commitment to the cause and reports that Ottis Gibson was after Russell Domingo’s job.

“He can’t seem to make it through a series; his body is maybe not fit enough‚” Graeme Smith said on Test Match Special after Philander withdrew with a lower back strain.

“It’s been an issue but it’s becoming serious. You’re trying to build a team and if your senior players can’t get through tours then you’ve got a problem.

“He took a blow (on the hand while batting) at Lord’s and it took a crane to get him back onto the field.

“There’s been too many times where you’re fighting to get him onto the field.”

The Daily Mail reported online that it “understands (Gibson) has been keen on the South African job for some time …”.

England’s assistant coach‚ Paul Farbrace‚ hauled out his best backward defensive for that: “Russell Domingo is head coach of South Africa and doing a brilliant job‚ and it would be disrespectful of us to talk about his position all the time he’s in it.

“We’ve obviously heard the news‚ but I promise you we’ve had nothing official.

“It’s all being left now until the end of the series … I hope.”

That’s on Tuesday‚ if the match goes the distance.

And‚ judging by the lack of energy emanating from the field on Friday‚ that seems likely.

Joe Root scored 52 and Ben Stokes made 58‚ and there were two wickets each for Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier.

But‚ with no rain forecast for Saturday‚ Jonny Bairstow well set on 33 and the ball only 10 overs old‚ perhaps urgency levels will go up.

Or might interest snag on yet more compelling tales from beyond the boundary?