Matthew Fisher believes patience with both bat and ball will provide England with a route back into their ongoing Test series against South Africa.
The Yorkshire fast bowler was a keen observer of the first Test defeat at Centurion amidst the Christmas festivities at home.
He was encouraged by the work of the top order batsmen and has called for more of the same in order to build a platform for the more aggressive players down the order.
But he feels there is room for improvement in the bowling, something a spinner in the attack for the New Year’s Test at Cape Town would go a long way to solving.
It seems likely that selection will come down to either Lancashire leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson or Somerset’s former Yorkshire loanee, the off-spinner, Dom Bess.
While Jack Leach is the senior spinner on tour, he has been struggling with illness and is unlikely to be fit enough to regain his place in Joe Root’s eleven.
Looking ahead to Friday at Newlands, the second of four Tests, Fisher said: “I really like a spinner in a side.
“With an all seam attack, you are really aiming to get 20 wickets really quickly, and it looked like they tried to do that rather than be patient and wear the opposition down.
“In the second innings, you usually know that the pace goes out of the pitch and if your spinner can bag three or four wickets at that time of the game, you’re winning.
“The seamers then don’t have to try too hard to get wickets. They just have to concentrate on being patient and building pressure. If they do, you’re right in the game.
“I don’t actually think the seamers bowled too badly. There were some really great spells in there, but they need to back them up with good ones to maintain that pressure.
“New Zealand in the series over there a month or so ago showed the way. Their bowling attack was so patient. They maybe weren’t looking for wickets all of time, but they built pressure and got their rewards.
“South Africa look like a side who you can get at if you invest time.”
Fisher continued: “Parky has been picked first for the tour, so I think he deserves a chance.
“Parky will give you a wicket-taking option who will potentially go for more runs, whereas Bessy will give you more control and also some help with the batting down the order.
“They would both do a good job.”
England slipped with the bat following encouraging starts to both innings, falling from 142-3 to 181 all out and 158-2 to 268 all out. They lost by 107 runs, with only Joe Denly and Rory Burns passing 50.
Fisher said: “I thought they played brilliantly up top in the second innings. Dom Sibley left it really well. It shows there is still a place for that type of player in the game. It allows the lower order more freedom.
“I know the pitch was worn, but the lower order will still be disappointed with how they went after the top three or four took up a lot of balls and got the ball soft, which is what you look for from your top order.
“I think they can turn it around. They have the players to do it.”
Fisher admits he has never come across anything like the level of illness which has swept through England’s camp in the early stages of their tour, with both players and backroom staff affected.
“I’ve been in India with the (England) under 19s when someone has had a dodgy belly here and there, but nothing like this,” he said.
“It must have affected them in that Test because even Rooty and Buttler weren’t feeling 100 percent. When you are like that, your skills do drop off to an extent because you don’t get the sleep you need and preparation is key.”
Another thing Fisher believes may be affecting England is the hectic schedule of the last seven months, including a home World Cup success and then the Ashes.
He explained: “The things that happened last summer were absolutely massive, and I remember saying then that it could be an issue that the players hadn’t had any rest.
“I believe if there wasn’t the World Cup, we’d have won the Ashes very comfortably.
“But the lads would all have dreamt of that moment from being kids even, winning the World Cup, and they put so much into achieving it.
“Then they didn’t get the time to process it and enjoy it, which would have been so tough.
“To go into an Ashes, which is so high-pressured, it would have taken its toll.
“Even this winter, they haven’t had a massive amount of time off to get that hunger to play again. They went to New Zealand and almost straight to South Africa.
“I think they are paying for a tough summer. But they won’t use that as an excuse.
“Silvers (Chris Silverwood) will be a great coach for England, but even he’s not had a great deal of time to work with the players given the schedule. It seems like everything has been quite rushed since the World Cup – through no one’s fault really.”
The New Year’s Test at Newlands is definitely one of the iconic winter Test Matches on the international calendar, with a huge following of England supporters expected in front of Table Mountain.
It is definitely on 22-year-old Fisher’s bucket list.
He added: “It looks brilliant.
“You always think of Australia and South Africa at Christmas because they’re the Tests you’ve grown up watching. It looks a great spectacle and something I’d love to play in. Fingers crossed, one day!”