All pals together, England began their journey to redemption yesterday. It went far better than most of those outside the dressing room feared, or than those inside it probably dared hope.
There is a long way to go in this third and final Test match, which will decide the series, but their beginning was tickety-boo. South Africa finished the opening day on 262-7. This was a recovery from 54-4. However, England needed a stroke of good fortune.
In the opening session, the umpires, whether on or off the field, could not have been more accommodating in their interpretation of the decision review system. A lack of incisiveness from Stuart Broad at the start was followed by a lack of control from Steve Finn, at the Pavilion End, which perversely worked in England's favour. James Anderson, below, was again the most impressive of the seam trio.
Anderson provided England with an enormous surge of confidence by removing Graeme Smith. He reached for a ball outside off and despite a clear sound as it passed the bat, the umpire denied the appeal. England asked for a review which clearly indicated that the ball had grazed an edge at the precise moment the bat thudded into the ground, making it difficult for the umpire to make a call.
Alviro Petersen followed 10 overs later when he gloved a short ball from Finn. Replays showed that his hand might – or might not – have been off the bat at the moment of impact, which would have rendered a verdict null and void. There was no doubt whatever about the peach of a ball from Finn which removed Hashim Amla, beaten all ends up.
The Petersen dismissal was a mere warm-up for that of Jacques Kallis. England went up for a huge appeal for a catch behind. Kallis shook his head but on a nod from Matt Prior, England asked for another review. It took an age of replays and there was no concrete visual evidence that the ball had taken Kallis's glove. There was, however, a noise at the key point and this swayed the third umpire Rod Tucker. Yet from certain views, Kallis' hand looked to be off the bat.
England appeared to get lucky when Jacques Kallis was given out when it seemed as though his glove was not holding the bat. So what is the law?
MCC Law 32
1. Out caught
The striker is out caught if a ball delivered by the bowler, touches his bat without having previously been in contact with any fielder, and is subsequently held by a fielder as a fair catch before it touches the ground.
The following are to be considered as part of the bat – the whole of the bat itself; the whole of a glove (or gloves) worn on the hand (or hands) holding the bat; the hand (or hands) holding the bat, if the batsman is not wearing a glove on that hand or on those hands.