When Mike Atherton referred to the mayhem that swirled around South Africa "for an hour either side of tea" on the fourth afternoon in Durban, it sounded like someone had forgotten to butter the tea cakes or mislaid the napkins. Whereas what we witnessed in the Second Test (Sky Sports 1) was virtually the destruction of a nation's sporting psyche. Here was arguably the best Test side of 2009 falling apart at the seam, the middle-order suddenly unable even to offer a shot as if they had forgotten how to play the game.
When the imperturbable Jacques Kallis stood by and watched as his off stump was flattened by Stuart Broad, the look of shock on his face was surely a late entry for sporting moment of the decade, let alone 2009. And it had come hot on the rapidly turning heels of Graeme Smith, another contender for the Face of 2009 as he ran himself out in the first innings.
David Lloyd was beside himself. "Off stump! Full pint! Kallis! Jacques Kallis! Been in! And gone! Stuart Broad! Line and length! As we speak! Kallis has gone! Three! Forty for three!" (Incidentally, "full pint" refers to the stump going through the full 45-degree arc like a barman pulling on a pump. A real ale man, Bumble is. None of your weak Castle lager for the Accrington lad.)
Even Bob Willis was upbeat after the fourth day's play. Big Bad Bob is beginning to resemble Malcolm Tucker in 'The Thick of It' with his incessantly flabbergasted outlook, and he even looks like Peter Capaldi. Willis began the Second Test in classic form, obviously on the back of some nightmarish Christmas – while his fellow studio guest Rob Key looked as if he had enjoyed every last crumb of seasonal comfort. Jonathan Trott's time-wasting was "absolutely absurd", he said; five minutes later, a dangerous pitch thousands of miles away in Delhi was deemed "an absolute disgrace, Charles".
South Africa had patently become disorientated, not by festive befuddlement but by the seasonal generosity of Kevin Pietersen, who had run himself out like a pantomime villain in Pretoria, then simply walked off in Durban when he was given out lbw rather than automatically referring the decision. Now Trott is the new "public enemy No 1". The look on the South Africans' faces as he shuffled and scratched around at the crease was another fine sight to behold.
Trott won't be slapping too many backs in the home dressing-room this year; he's one of ours now. Perhaps he should start wearing a David Steele-style pair of spectacles in Cape Town today, to be cleaned at every opportunity. And he could waste a bit more time by taking a diversion into the basement toilets on his way to the wicket like Steele did on his debut at Lord's in 1975 before he went out to face the rampant Aussies. That would really drive Smith, Kallis and Co round the U-bend.Reuse content