England captain Andrew Strauss said his side would pay dearly if they tried to play for a draw in the fourth and final Test against South Africa starting at the Wanderers on Thursday.
England go into the match with a 1-0 advantage but Strauss on Wednesday cautioned against trying to protect that lead.
“We’ll be going in trying to win, it's as simple as that. We’ll be using the same style that was successful before,” Strauss said in a news conference.
“If you go into a Test thinking you only need a draw that can be very dangerous because then your mindset can be negative and hesitant and you end up handing the momentum to the opposition.
“In all likelihood, this Test is not going to be a draw, so we need to make sure we get ahead and put South Africa under pressure.”
England are likely to field the same team that salvaged a last-ditch draw in the third Test in Cape Town last week, but Strauss said he was looking for a performance closer to that of Durban where England won by an innings.
“You’d have to go quite a long way to improve on the performance in Durban but we had our opportunities in Cape Town, we just didn’t take them,” said Strauss.
I'm confident we can take 20 wickets, we showed that in Durban, and the pitch will offer more for the bowlers here. "But that means there will be more pressure for our batsmen to fight hard. I felt we didn't do ourselves justice with the bat in the first innings in Cape Town, but showed a lot of fight and hunger in the second innings," Strauss said.
South Africa have to win the Test to level the series and retain the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy and left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell is likely to get the call for his test debut.
“Wayne has a very good chance of playing, he adds a touch of variety being left-arm and he has pace,” said South Africa captain Graeme Smith.
“But he’s inexperienced at first-class level, although he has had success at international level in the shorter forms of the game.
“He’s the type of bowler who picks up wickets, but on this type of pitch you need to be precise where you bowl and it will be a big challenge for him.”
Smith said his team were still reaching for the heights of 2008 when they won series in England and Australia.
“We won those then, but in this series we haven’t. But we’ve played some good cricket — in two of the three Tests we’ve come close, we’ve just lacked the final blow,” Smith added.
The Wanderers has become a result venue — the last draw was 10 Tests ago in 2000 — and the Johannesburg region has had the heaviest rainfall in the country over the last couple of months.
“The Wanderers has always been a sporty pitch and, with its pace, bounce and cracks, it’s one of the sportiest stadiums around the world.
“It’s always been a great challenge between both bat and ball,” Smith said.
“It’s not any more sporty than what I’ve seen in the past and it’s going to be hard work at times for both batsmen and bowlers.
“I disagree with people saying we have to gamble. Precision will be the key, we have to get our basics right.
“A key performance from an individual, partnerships with bat and ball and the team that holds their catches will win the Test,” Smith said.