Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock walk of during the third Test. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

LONDON - South Africa started the 10th week of their England tour on Tuesday and in times past, given results and the state of the Test series, there would be concerns about the "one foot on the plane" syndrome.

Perhaps for the likes of Morne Morkel and Chris Morris who have been involved in all three formats on this tour that may be the case, but this has been a strange tour too, with players coming and going at various intervals. In truth, there shouldn’t be any desperation to get home.

Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla actually were back in South Africa during the extended period between the second and third Tests.

Captain Faf du Plessis also spent time in Cape Town after the birth of his first child, while many players took time away to play or watch golf last week. If anything they should be missing cricket.

However, the psychological weight of this trip will be wearying on many of them, particularly those who were involved in the ICC Champions Trophy. That was a desperately poor campaign, which ended in the group stages. The subsequent T20 series was messy, with players pulled in from the South Africa A team that was also in England at the time.

The Test series started with a thumping loss from which Du Plessis was absent and now following another big loss at The Oval, this tour is on the brink of being a horrible one for South African cricket.

As far as Du Plessis is concerned, the problems are fixable. A bit like after Lord’s, Du Plessis said it was basic mistakes that cost the Proteas at The Oval. However, unlike in the aftermath of Lord’s, where a number of changes were made, Du Plessis doesn’t feel the starting team needs changing for the fourth and final Test. Hopefully Vernon Philander will be healthier, Kagiso Rabada can maintain the rhythm he seemed to find in England’s second innings and Heino Kuhn can repay the faith that seems will be shown in him.

The Proteas have lost just one Test series away from home in the last decade, against India in 2015 - a period covering 17 series which has included two tours to England and three to Australia. So there is plenty at stake at Old Trafford, and the desperation to maintain that fine away record, should suppress any feelings about wanting to get home.

The Star

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