Cricket: Mr Klusener, sign on the swatted line

LANCE KLUSENER'S century in South Africa's first innings was the highest ever played at Port Elizabeth in a Test match. It was also one of the top three innings I have ever seen. Ratings like these are always arguable and subjective but of Klusener's there could surely be no doubt.

I can remember playing for Derbyshire against Lancashire once when Ian Bishop was storming in against Neil Fairbrother. For an over or two it was obvious that the man they call Harvey was extremely disconcerted. Bishop was at his most hostile and if Fairbrother was not backing away to square-leg he was looking understandably worried.

Bishop then hit him in the grille of the helmet. It acted like a wake- up call. Fairbrother flayed our distinctly rapid West Indian to all parts. It seemed that he played all the shots in the book and then played them again.

Robin Smith played an innings in a one-day international which sticks with me as well. That too was a batsman at the top of his game. There have been other splendid innings in that time, of course, but not ones I have necessarily seen. Klusener's was right up there with the very best of them all.

Judged purely by the array of his strokes, he is actually a limited player. He has a mere three upon which he relies, a cut, a drilled drive and a shovel to leg. He plays them fiercely with deadly menace. Believe me, during the course of his innings England came up with several ploys to counter his style and contain him. None of them worked. His devastating hitting clearly makes him a one-day player to be reckoned with, but he has worked hard and this was top Test stuff.

As it happened, I helped to end his stay at the crease. He hit Darren Gough's slower ball to leg without quite middling it and I leapt to my left to hold the catch. It was my first legitimate catch in Test cricket, though I had two taken two as substitute against India at Old Trafford in 1990 - Navjot Sidhu and Sanjay Manjrekar - which went down in the scorebook as ct sub.

Having caught Klusener my celebrations were as much relief at knowing we were to leave the park as at holding on to the ball. I went up to him, said "well played", told him I was having the ball to mark the occasion and asked if he would sign it. The word ball may be pushing it to describe what I had in my hand. It looked like something I put on my toast in the mornings. It will stay that way as a keepsake.

The build-up to the Second Test and the time we spent in the field reminded me once more of what a singular game Test cricket is. Here we are eight weeks away from home and we are not yet quite half way through. No other game demands quite such time away from home or for its players to spend so much time on the field of play.

This is not a moan by the way. We are well rewarded for what we do and we are playing for our country, something we all dream of, but the mental pressures of playing this game are enormous.

Moods, attitudes change in Test match week. Players who might have been jokey and happy the week before are jokey and happy no longer. They are trying to concentrate on what lies ahead and during the match remain absolutely concentrated. A serious business is Test cricket.

Not that there can be many finer places to play it than the St George's ground, Port Elizabeth. This a lovely town, second maybe only to Cape Town of the places cricketers here visit and the ground is wonderful to play on.

It is pleasant enough structurally but the atmoshere inside is remarkable. A brass band plays intermittently in one of the stands. They are mostly raunchy, upbeat numbers. A group of kids danced to them throughout. It exuded conviviality and happiness.

The Barmy Army have, by and large, been tremendous for the England party. Here are a group of lads expressing fervent support for the team and having a holiday. But they are not always harmonious. The idea of having brass bands rather than the monotonous soccer style chants we have on English grounds appeals to me. It's something I would not mind trying to introduce at least in one-day floodlit matches at Hove next season.

The intensity of this Test match cricket stuff still astonishes me, but equally the game was made for the unforgettable atmosphere created here in Port Elizabeth.

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower