Gooch: We must believe in draw
England batting coach Graham Gooch remains hopeful that defeat can be avoided on the final day against South Africa.
A third successive day of South African dominance saw the Proteas rack up 637-2 declared in their first-innings - thanks mainly to Hashim Amla's 13-hour marathon 311 not out, which spanned record stands first with his captain Graeme Smith and then Jacques Kallis (182no).
There was then a wicket each for South Africa's frontline bowlers as England closed on 102-4, still 150 runs behind with a day remaining.
It is a perilous, but not entirely unfeasible, position therefore for Andrew Strauss' team - an assessment with which batting coach Gooch agrees.
"We're not winning the Test match, are we? So it's not going our way," said the former England captain, himself like Amla one of the six batsmen to have made a Test triple-century in this country.
"When you've played quite a bit of Test cricket you accept not every game is going to happen for you - and at the moment South Africa are in a dominant position.
"That's stating the obvious. But the game's not over yet - you have to believe you can still get out of this game with a draw.
"If England achieve that it will be a great performance."
Gooch takes encouragement from England's pedigree as the pre-eminent team in Test cricket and the durability they have shown in the recent past.
They have, for example, twice held on for 'stalemates' against South Africa - in the drawn 2009/10 series - and also rescued famous draws at the start of their last two victorious Ashes campaigns.
"England's performances recently have been excellent, up there with the best in the world," added Gooch. "They wouldn't be ranked where they are without that. We're not giving up, that is for sure.
"If we can have a good partnership and take it up to lunch, there's a chance."
Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara kept the tourists at bay for 47 minutes to close out day four, giving England hope those two at least can be difficult to dislodge again on the final day.
"England have put on big partnerships before to save games down the years," said Gooch. "A couple of years ago in Brisbane, at the start of our second innings, you wouldn't have thought we'd save that game.
"It is possible but it's going to take a big effort."
He accepts nonetheless England have perhaps contributed to their own problems here, if not with the ball on a slow but flat pitch against Amla and Co then with the bat when they fell short of their own expectations after closing the first day in fine shape.
"In this game South Africa have dominated with the bat," Gooch said.
"Our 385 was not a bad score, but from 270-3 you'd be looking to double the score. If we'd done that it might be a slightly different game.
"They made the best of the conditions, and our bowlers couldn't get much of a response out of the pitch. That sometimes happens."
England must therefore dig deep to try to stay level in a three-match series which will decide who tops those world rankings at the end of this summer.
"There's no point crying about it - you just need to try to improve every time you go to the wicket, whether you have a bat or have a ball in your hand," said Gooch.
"Many times recently we have got more out of the wicket than the opposition.
"In this game, that has not happened.
"We have to examine what we can do to improve."
Amla need not do that.
The South Africa number three is neither one to crow about his achievements nor stay satisfied with them for long. Even so, he allowed himself a moment to reflect on his success.
"I'm happy, surprised - obviously really excited that I managed to do something that's never been done before as a South African," Amla said.
"I'm a bit overwhelmed really - it's a lovely feeling.
"I think the biggest pleasure, the biggest joy is that the team is in a really dominant position to win this Test match.
"From a personal perspective I'm really happy and just grateful that this opportunity has fallen on me."
Amla's innings fell on one of the greatest days in South Africa's sporting history, thanks to his compatriot Ernie Els' dramatic win in golf's Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
He and his team-mates were busy tonight celebrating both events.
"We just walked into the changing room and we heard the news that Ernie has won," said Amla.
"Some of the guys know him personally and are extremely happy, and we all as South Africans are extremely chuffed that somebody who has been an ambassador for the country has again made the country proud.
"He's a fantastic sportsman."