Head coach Chris Silverwood said on Monday that the England batsmen would need to post big first innings totals if they are to win the four-match World Test Championship series against South Africa which begins on Boxing Day.
England have struggled over the last couple of years making big totals, especially in the first innings of a Test with their 476 in the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton this month their first total over 400 since 2017.
Silverwood said the team’s priority now was “getting more first innings runs”.
“As soon as we do that we’ll be very hard to beat,” he said.
Silverwood described England’s two-Test series in New Zealand, where they were beaten 1-0 by the hosts, as “part and parcel” of “trying to put things in place” to build a strong Test team.
“We’ve said we really want to drive forward as a Test team,” he said.
Silverwood was encouraged by that batting performance in Hamilton and especially with captain Joe Root’s 226, his third Test double century.
“It was great for him and great for the team. It puts him on the front foot coming here.”
– Anderson ready –
The former England pace bowler said that although the England bowlers had struggled to take wickets on the slow pitches of New Zealand, he had been impressed with their attitude.
“The bowlers as a unit worked so hard finding ways of getting 20 wickets with the Kookaburra ball,” he said.
The same ball will be used in South Africa but Silverwood expected pitches to be more helpful to his fast bowlers.
“I should imagine we’ll get more bounce here and there will be a bit more pace in the wickets.”
Silverwood said James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, was “in a great spot at the moment” after recovering from an injury that effectively ruled him out of the entire Ashes series.
He confirmed that all-rounder Ben Stokes is fit to bowl after suffering “a little bit of a niggle” in New Zealand and insisted he is not concerned about the form of Jofra Archer.
The England coach said he expected “a really hard-fought contest” in the Tests, despite South Africa’s poor performances in the Cricket World Cup and in their most recent Test series in India and at home against Sri Lanka last season.
They have since engaged former captain Graeme Smith as director of cricket and former wicketkeeper Mark Boucher as head coach.
“I expect South Africa to come back hard in all departments,” said Silverwood.
Most of the England players are expected to get on to the field during their non-first-class two-day match against an Invitation team which opens the tour at Willowmoore Park on Tuesday.