Mark Boucher warned South Africa must "man up" after they were "outskilled" by England on day four of the third Test at St George's Park.

England captain Joe Root took 4-31 in Port Elizabeth after Mark Wood struck twice to ensure England require just four wickets on the final day to take a 2-1 lead with one match to play.

The Proteas were all out for only 209 after losing their last four first-innings wickets for only one run early on the penultimate day and they were in deep trouble on 102-6 - trailing by 188 runs - following on at stumps.

South Africa head coach Boucher offered a frank assessment of his side's shortcomings following a painful rain-affected day, which left them surely relying on the weather to save them on Monday.

"I think we were outskilled, to be honest," he told Sky Sports. "You can blame different things for the situation but I've got to look at myself and find a way to get the players up mentally and upskill them in a short space of time.

"I do think Joe Root was difficult to play at the end there. It's difficult to get down to the pitch of the ball - one slides on, one turns and it's like quicksand, the harder you try the deeper you sink.

"But we've created this situation for ourselves. No excuses - we've got to man up now and take this forward and learn from these lessons.

"When you're under the pump for a long time, every side has its breaking point and today we broke quite early, which is disappointing."

Faf du Plessis went 54 balls without scoring at one point before he was sent packing by part-time spinner Root for 36, but Boucher insisted it is not time to discuss his future as captain.

"That's not a call to make a this moment in time," Boucher said. "He's trying really hard and working really hard away from the game. 

"If he's not scoring runs there's that extra pressure. The best way to answer that is putting runs on the board.

"There's no hiding place in Test cricket. He's disappointed from a team perspective. He spent a bit of time in the middle, which is good for his confidence."

Sunshine Girl vice-captain Nicole Dixon showered praise on head coach Connie Francis following Sunday’s 59-54 win over South Africa in their opening match of the 2020 Vitality Nations Cup.

Joe Root produced the finest bowling performance of his England career on day four of the third Test to put the tourists within sight of victory over South Africa at St George's Park.

Surely only rain can save the hosts now, with a mixed forecast for the final day in Port Elizabeth, where England need only four wickets to take a 2-1 lead with one match to play.

Root had never taken more than two wickets in a Test, but the captain snagged 4-31 in 19 overs on Sunday after Mark Wood struck twice to leave South Africa 102-6 in their second innings, still trailing by 188 runs.

Part-time off-spinner Root only had one previous four-wicket haul, the 4-5 he took to steer Yorkshire to a County Championship victory against Lancashire at Old Trafford in July 2018.

England were already in command and they pressed home their advantage on day four, with 10 South Africa wickets falling for just 103 runs.

South Africa had a wretched morning, losing four wickets for just one run to slump from 208-6 to 209 all out. England had no hesitation in enforcing the follow-on.

Vernon Philander and Quinton de Kock were 54 runs into a seventh-wicket stand at stumps on the previous evening, but that partnership was swiftly broken.

Both men went the same way, bowled through the gate, with Stuart Broad (3-30) cleaning up Philander and Sam Curran delighting at removing De Kock (63).

Keshav Maharaj chopped on to give Broad his second wicket of the morning, before a third followed for the paceman when Kagiso Rabada chipped straight to Wood at mid-off.

South Africa were 15-0 in their second innings when rain arrived to provide respite, with three hours lost.

Eight balls into the resumption came another blow to the Proteas, Wood piercing Dean Elgar's defences and tearing his off stump out of the ground.

Wood (2-23) struck again when a leg-side snick from the struggling Zubayr Hamza was gratefully received by Jos Buttler.

Sliced and diced by England's quicks, South Africa found the tourists' spinners almost unplayable too, with Dom Bess keeping a tight line, but Root rampant.

Root pinned Pieter Malan lbw for 12 - the opener having faced 79 balls for those runs - and then prised out Rasse van der Dussen when Ollie Pope took off from short leg to grab a spectacular leaping catch.

Van der Dussen had survived a string of scares against Root, most notably when he successfully reviewed an lbw decision, and his time had been coming.

De Kock's bad day got even worse, a horribly sliced hoik at Root looping up for Wood to clutch a tremendous catch above his head at point.

And Root had a fourth victim when Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis (36) got a big inside edge into his pads and the ball looped up for Pope to collect.

South Africa need to find something big on day five to save face, and avoid going to Johannesburg needing a victory to draw the series. The skies offer their best hope.

Mark McCall has made it clear he intends to remain with Saracens following their relegation, but the director of rugby acknowledges the future of his club's biggest stars may be influenced by England head coach Eddie Jones.

A Premiership Rugby statement on Saturday confirmed Sarries will be demoted from the top flight at the end of the 2019-20 season, following multiple breaches of the competition's salary cap.

Six members of the England team that started last year's World Cup final play for European champions, including captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako and Billy Vunipola, with significant uncertainty now surrounding their futures.

The London club will not be eligible to play in next term's Champions Cup once they are in the second tier of English rugby, meaning the likes of Farrell and Itoje face a year away from elite club competitions should they stay put.

In an interview with BT Sport ahead of his team's crunch clash with Racing 92 on Sunday, McCall said: "Obviously the news has just come in the last 48 hours, so there's a lot of thinking for us to do and a lot of decisions to make.

"And every player's situation is slightly different - what happens to our established internationals? What does Eddie Jones want to happen to our established internationals, et cetera. et cetera.

"But those decisions and those conversations I think are for another day. Today we just try and get on with the rugby."

Asked about his own future, McCall added: "The one thing now, it feels like there's a line drawn in the sand. We have some real clarity around the future and we can plan for that future and I really want to be part of that.

"I don't think this is the best time to be pointing fingers or trying to apportion blame. This is a time for unity and togetherness. We've got this remarkable playing group who over the last 10 weeks have shown, I think, an incredible amount of resilience given all of the stuff that's been going on off the field."

England enjoyed a dream start to day four of the third Test against South Africa as they took four wickets for just one run before enforcing the follow-on with a 290-run lead.

South Africa ended day three on 208-6 in Port Elizabeth, with Quinton de Kock (63) and Vernon Philander (27) having held firm in the evening session.

However, the tourists took the new ball halfway through the final over on Saturday, and the fresh cherry did plenty of damage the following morning as South Africa collapsed alarmingly to 209 all out.

Amid overcast conditions at St George's Park, Stuart Broad led the way, sending Philander's stumps cartwheeling with his sixth delivery of the day before Sam Curran dismissed the Proteas' star performer De Kock.

Both Philander and De Kock were bowled through the gate, having left huge gaps between bat and pad with careless drives.

Keshav Maharaj also fell to a poor shot, playing on to Broad for a duck as he attempted to pull a ball that was not short enough for the shot.

Kagiso Rabada scored South Africa's only run with a clip down the leg side off Curran, but he soon departed as well, tamely chipping a Broad delivery straight to mid-off.

Joe Root, who instructed Dom Bess (5-31) to lead England off the pitch, unsurprisingly invited South Africa to bat again as the visitors looked to press home their advantage and secure a 2-1 series lead ahead of the final Test in Johannesburg.

The prospect of further rain provided some comfort to South Africa, who were facing a huge battle to avoid defeat without interruptions in play.

England skipper Joe Root prompted confusion and hilarity on day two of the third Test with South Africa as he withdrew a declaration after a wicket was ruled out due to a no-ball.

When Mark Wood was caught at mid-on off Kagiso Rabada to seemingly leave England 467-9, Root called a halt to his side's first innings at Port Elizabeth.

However, replays then showed Rabada had over-stepped, prompting Root to reverse his decision and instead advise his side to carry on batting.

Wood and Ollie Pope, who had earlier completed his maiden Test century, made the most of the bizarre situation by plundering a further 31 runs - in addition to the run England received for Rabada's no-ball - in quick time.

After racing to 42 from 23 balls, Wood eventually holed out to deep midwicket off Keshav Maharaj (5-180) and England declared on 499-9, with Pope 135 not out.

Ben Stokes (120) had also reached three figures for the tourists prior to lunch as they kicked on superbly from an overnight score of 224-4.

Ben Stokes surpassed 4,000 Test runs on Friday with his century in the third Test against South Africa, becoming just the second England player to reach that landmark and take 100 wickets in the longest format.

The all-rounder joined compatriot Ian Botham on the list of players to achieve both feats, which now features seven men after Stokes' exploits in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Of those to have gone beyond 4,000 runs, India great Kapil Dev has the most wickets to his name with 434. Botham, who scored 5,200 runs in his career, is second with 383 wickets.

Stokes will look to add to his tally when South Africa begin their first innings at St George's Park. England reached lunch on day two on 335-4 with Stokes and Ollie Pope unbeaten on 108 and 75 respectively.

Daniel Vettori, Jacques Kallis, Garfield Sobers and Carl Hooper round off the list.

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff fell short of 4,000 runs in his career. He took 226 wickets but managed 3,845 runs before retiring from Test cricket.

Harry Maguire has been named as Manchester United's new club captain.

England centre-back Maguire joined United in an £80million deal last August and succeeds Ashley Young, who is on the verge of a move to Inter.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed the news ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to Liverpool.

"Harry has been wearing the captain's armband and he will keep wearing it," Solskjaer told a news conference.

"He's been a leader in the group and I've been impressed by his leadership skills.

"He's come in and everything about him tells me he's a leader. He's been leading this young group.

"Harry will keep on wearing the armband now."

Kagiso Rabada will miss the fourth Test between South Africa and England after receiving a demerit point for his celebration of Joe Root's wicket on day one of the third Test.

Rabada was also fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of a Level 1 breach of the ICC's code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel.

The seamer beat the England captain for pace to dismiss Root for 27 in Port Elizabeth, reducing England to 148-4.

Rabada roared in celebration while just a matter of inches away from Root and was ruled to have violated Article 2.5 of the Code of Conduct, relating to "using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal during an international match".

Andy Pycroft of the ICC Elite Panel of Match referees proposed the sanction, which was accepted by Rabada, meaning a formal hearing was not needed.

Rabada now has four demerit points in a 24-month period and as a result will be unavailable for the final match of the series at the Wanderers, which starts on January 24.

The series is level at 1-1, with England claiming victory in Cape Town having lost the opener in Centurion.

Moeen Ali believes he had cruelly become a scapegoat for England's shortcomings before he stepped away from Test cricket last summer.

The 60-Test veteran is looking for a return to the five-day game in the near future, saying he hoped it would come "very soon".

Yet Moeen has revealed his frustration at being singled out for criticism at times when his overall contribution has not justified the scrutiny.

His most recent Test was the Ashes opener against Australia at Edgbaston in August, when the tourists scored a 251-run victory.

Spinning all-rounder Moeen took three wickets in the match but scored just a duck and four with the bat.

He asked for a hiatus from Tests later in the English summer, which meant he missed the tour of New Zealand and the current trip to South Africa.

Describing himself as feeling "burnt out" at the time, Moeen said: "There have been days I've had not so good games but I feel like sometimes it's easy to point the finger at me.

"It did get to me and that was probably one of the reasons why I felt like I needed to step back from Test cricket in particular."

Speaking to the BBC Asian Network, Moeen said: "It's not something people would normally do, especially when you've just won the World Cup, you're playing in the Ashes - I was doing quite well before that.

"Obviously I had a very bad game against Australia in the Ashes and then rightfully I got dropped, but it was almost like it was all my fault and like I've not been good enough for a while and not done anything for two years - but I have.

"I bat number eight and if I don't score runs it's all my fault? It's difficult sometimes."

Moeen, who has made five Test hundreds and boasts 181 five-day wickets, may come back into contention for England's home series against West Indies and Pakistan, describing the England and Wales Cricket board as "amazing in terms of support".

"They've just said, 'Whenever you're ready, mate. We'll be here for you'," Moeen said. "Hopefully very soon I'll be back."

Mark Wood was named in England's side for the third Test against South Africa, with Jofra Archer once again unavailable.

Captain Joe Root opted to give the fit-again Wood the nod to replace James Anderson, who sustained a rib injury in the Ben Stokes-inspired victory in Cape Town that levelled the four-match series at 1-1.

Paceman Archer missed out in Port Elizabeth as he continues to battle a troublesome elbow problem, while Wood earned a place over Chris Woakes, who was also in contention.

"Jofra pulled up a little sore with his elbow, but credit to Woody, he's fit and firing and that's an exciting place to be, and two guys up around 90mph is an exciting place for England cricket," Root said. 

"We need to make sure we back up [Cape Town] well."

Wood last played a competitive fixture in England's thrilling Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand in July and underwent knee surgery after the tournament.

The paceman's last Test match was against the West Indies in St Lucia 11 months ago, but Wood insisted he is raring to go.

"I went to La Manga with James Anderson then the fast bowlers' camp. There've been question marks about my fitness, but that last game [in St Lucia] gives me confidence," he said. 

"Short, sharp burst, four-five overs, give it everything I've got. The outfield is quite green so [you have] got to be clever working on the ball and look after it well."

England captain Joe Root pledged not to take any risks over the fitness of pace bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood on the eve of the third Test against South Africa.

A Ben Stokes-inspired England squared the four-match series at one apiece thanks to a thrilling victory on the final session in Cape Town eight days ago.

Glory came at a price, however, with James Anderson ruled out of the remainder of the tour due to a rib problem.

It means a potential opening for Wood or Archer – both of whom are capable of frequently topping 90 mph - providing their own injury complaints are in order.

Archer sat out the previous Test due to an elbow issue, while Wood has not played competitively since England's Cricket World Cup final win over South Africa in June.

"That decision hasn't been made," Root told a news conference, with regards to Anderson's replacement.

"It's important to use [Wednesday's] session and make sure we've got a really clear understanding of where everybody is at.

"We need to find that out and make sure we're really clear going into a five-day game that they are able to stand up to the challenges that will bring, physically and mentally, having not played for a little while.

"It is the sensible thing to do to hold off, get more information on the pitch and more information on where they're at.

"If they've proven themselves to be fit, if they've jumped through every hoop and worked very hard to get back there, you have to give them that opportunity."

Chris Woakes represents an alternative if England opt not to chance Archer or Wood, but there is no doubt selecting either of the speed merchants carries added allure.

Wood's most recent Test outing saw him claim first-innings figures of 5-41 thanks to a searing spell before being named man of the match in a 232-run demolition of West Indies in St Lucia.

"With Mark, if you look at the last summer of cricket he played, he actually got through a lot of cricket injury-free which is testament to how hard he's worked on his rehab and making sure his body can cope with different things. He's been managed well by the medical staff," Root said.

"The reason we've been quite cautious in terms of rushing him back is that history. If he's 100 per cent, bowling at 90mph-plus, the skills he has at that pace are going to cause problems and will be a great asset in Test cricket."

Root confirmed a specialist spinner will feature in the England attack in Port Elizabeth, with Dom Bess expected to keep his place ahead of the uncapped Matt Parkinson after Jack Leach returned home due to illness.

England's difference-maker could once again be Stokes, who was honoured by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its Player of the Year after a phenomenal 2019 in red and white-ball formats.

"It is hard to say any more superlatives, it is the right decision and it could not really have been anyone else," his captain added.

"The way he has performed across all the formats has been fantastic. In my opinion he is definitely the leading player in the world at the moment."

The MCC has backed the continuation of five-day Test matches rather than the potential reduction to four.

With the ICC exploring possible changes to the international calendar from 2023, national cricket governing bodies and players have become involved in the debate about the future of the longest format.

The MCC Cricket committee and MCC World Cricket committee have examined the issue and on Tuesday announced they were in favour of the status quo.

They recognised there were some benefits to four-day Test matches, which are already permitted in certain instances, but believe five should remain the standard.

"MCC has noted the recent discussion regarding the future of Test cricket and the ICC's desire to debate the introduction of four-day Test cricket to replace the current five-day format in the World Test Championship from 2023," read the statement.

"The MCC Cricket committee and MCC World Cricket committee have recently discussed the issue.

"Although they can see some benefits that four-day Test cricket could bring, both committees believe that Test cricket should continue to be played over five days."

The MCC World Cricket committee, which includes key figures from elite international cricket, meets twice a year and makes recommendations to the MCC, which remains the guardian of the laws and spirit of cricket.

India captain Virat Kohli and England skipper Joe Root have been among the high-profile players to state their preference for a continuation of five-day matches.

The ECB, though, have cautiously supported the concept of matches over four days to ease issues around fixture scheduling and player workloads.

England spinner Jack Leach will make a premature return home from the tour of South Africa after struggling to recover from illness.

Leach contracted sepsis during the tour of New Zealand in November and was also struck down with gastroenteritis and flu before the first Test against the Proteas last month.

The left-arm tweaker has not been able to regain full fitness and the tourists announced ahead of the third Test in Port Elizabeth that he will head back to England immediately.

"It has been an unfortunate time for Jack with illness and since the Test series in New Zealand six weeks ago, he hasn't been able to get 100 per cent fit," said England head coach Chris Silverwood.

"This has hampered his preparation in South Africa and despite his best endeavours he is not in a position to make himself available for selection for the final two Test matches.

"He is a great lad to have around the squad and his infectious personality and popularity will be missed.

"However, his focus has to be getting himself better and receiving the optimum levels of recovery and treatment, which is best served back in England without any distractions.

"I have no doubt that he will return to full fitness in the medium-term and hopefully he will recover in time for our tour of Sri Lanka in March."

Mark Wood is reportedly set to get the nod ahead of fellow paceman Jofra Archer to replace the injured James Anderson on Thursday when England go in search of a 2-1 lead at St George's Park.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tempered the excitement surrounding Manchester United talent Mason Greenwood, adamant it is too early to be thinking of potential England involvement at Euro 2020.

United academy product Greenwood has enjoyed a breakout season, making 17 Premier League appearances – all but two of them from the bench – after being introduced to the first-team fold by Solskjaer last term.

The 18-year-old has four goals in the league this season, plus another five across the EFL Cup and Europa League, in which only four players have scored more.

With Harry Kane a doubt for the Euros after suffering a torn hamstring that required surgery and Jamie Vardy unavailable for selection following his international retirement, Greenwood has emerged as an option for England manager Gareth Southgate.

Greenwood made four appearances for the England Under-21s last year and for the time being Solskjaer thinks he should be allowed to focus on United and Young Lions duty.

"I think Mason will have a top and long career," Solskjaer said ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup third-round replay with Wolves.

"Let the boy settle in now first, before we talk about England and the Euros.

"His focus has to be on playing more for us and improving, and when he plays more for us, that [and England call-up] will happen by itself.

"He's just been picked for the England Under-21s, so he's focusing on his football."

Greenwood is just one of three forward thriving at United this season, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also enjoying strong campaigns.

Rashford already has 19 goals from 30 matches across all competitions, while Martial has 11 in 22 outings – but Solskjaer does not think he deserves a pat on the back for their respective improvements.

"I don't want credit for getting more out of them," he said. "They're working hard to improve their game, I think they've all done well.

"Of course, Mason is in his first season, so to have nine goals is fantastic. Marcus is really growing and improving all the time, and Anthony has missed about six-to-eight weeks.

"I'm impressed by them. They're working well, working on their finishing patterns, we want consistency and I think we'll see more and more of them as they're still very young."

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