There has not been so much fuss about a rib since Adam was a lad. Jacques Kallis, to whom the broken bone of that variety belongs, yesterday demonstrated why it was all worth it.
For four weeks the state of his upper body has dominated both the likely composition of South Africa's team given his absence in the Test series against England and their potentially cataclysmic fate in it. Eventually, after enough angst to make Kierkegaard proud, the selectors decided that one of the world's greatest all rounders with a Test batting average of 54.66 could be accommodated as a batsman only in the first Test.
He improved that figure slightly and enhanced South Africa's position in the match considerably with a century yesterday, the 32nd of his Test career and his sixth against England.
Over the course of four-and-a-half hours, Kallis did not look the least discomfited. There were moments of aggression bordering on genius but mostly he adopted the "thou-shalt-not-pass" approach to bowlers that has epitomised his career. It was precisely what his side required, an innings befitting the Day of Reconciliation public holiday in South Africa.
By the close South Africa were 262 for 4, the fifth-wicket partnership between Kallis and JP Duminy was worth 103, and Andrew Strauss might have been rueing his decision to field first. He might have been rueing several other issues too as England made a mess of the review system, their two permissible appeals against umpiring decisions both rightly being denied.
England had also plumped for the defensive gambit of picking four bowlers, which was probably against their natural instincts. With South Africa deprived of the services of their strike bowler, Dale Steyn, who re-tweaked a hamstring in the warm up which meant that Friedel de Wet was given his debut, it might have been an occasion for boldness.
It was the type of toss captains prefer to lose. Although there might be a bit in the pitch for the bowlers early on it could easily flatten out later. There was and it did. Strauss might have been persuaded by the fact that the side batting second has won eight times out of 14 on the ground.
Although South Africa did not exactly gallop away, the board ticking round at under three an over, England did not make the most proficient use of the new ball and their bowling, like winter days, was too short.
But a significant, improbable early breakthrough gave them the beginning of which they must have dreamed. Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, attempted to guide a leg-side ball from Stuart Broad round the corner but his touch was too fine and Matt Prior, leaping to his right, pouched the catch.
Another wicket before lunch gave England much to be grateful for. It fell to the deserving Graham Onions, who was by some way the most incisive of the three fast bowlers, immediately finding the appropriate full length. He might have had more wickets than that of Hamish Amla, who was well caught at second slip driving at one that moved away late, but several close calls for leg before went against him.
In the afternoon, Onions spent an hour off the field receiving what was described as extensive treatment on a calf strain. It reduced England's resources when they least needed it and although he returned later and was able to bowl, Kallis – who reached his century with one of his few false shots, a high miscued hook for four – and South Africa had booked in for bed and breakfast by then.
England's other two wickets went to Graeme Swann who can expect to be a tired chap by the end of this series if they persist with a four-man attack. He bowled 24 overs of the 90 in the day and took a wicket with his second ball, removing Ashwell Prince just as he looked likely to stay rooted at the crease for a couple of days.
Swann also had AB de Villiers caught at short leg by Alastair Cook, but by then England had already inflicted an element of self-harm. Strauss had wisely resisted the temptation to ask for reviews of three lbw appeals. Prince had successfully opted for a review of a decision when he was given out on 19. The batsman's appeal was just on the right side of being correct.
But Strauss was then persuaded by Jimmy Anderson, desperate perhaps to remove Kallis, to seek another review of a refused lbw appeal. It proved to be the least convincing of the shouts and it meant England had to be exceedingly cautious thereafter. But when Swann and wicketkeeper jumped for joy as De Villiers appeared to get an under edge to an intended slog sweep they immediately made the sign for the review when their appeal was rejected.
It could well have an effect as the match wears on. By the end the pitch was blameless and Kallis was in full sail.
Turning points: How the Centurion Park action unfolded
10.37am: Captain Smith ducks out
England strike in the second over.
Graeme Smith tries to guide a leg side ball to fine leg, gets too fine a touch and Matt Prior takes a diving catch. Smith is out for a duck as he was in the first innings of his side's last home series against England – which the tourists went on to win.
11.50am: Prince review pays off
Graham Onions, in a highly impressive spell of wicket-to-wicket bowling, wins an lbw verdict against the opener Ashwell Prince. But after consultation the batsman asks TV umpire Amish Saheba for a review which is upheld because the ball was clearly going over the top.
Lunch: 70 for 2. Session: England
1.47pm: Collingwood collects
Prince edges Graeme Swann's second ball of the series to second slip and is snaffled by Paul Collingwood.
2.10pm: First review fails
England, having declined to review three leg-before decisions decide to go to Saheba after Jimmy Anderson persuades Andrew Strauss. But Jacques Kallis is given not out when replays show impact outside line.
3.05pm: Last review fails
England foolishly use their second and final review, certain that De Villiers edged an attempted sweep behind. But replays are inconclusive.
Tea: 159 for 4. Session: Shared
3.45pm: Glitch hits
A 10-minute delay after the electronic sightscreen breaks down and a Health Robinson affair has to replace it.
5.18pm: Another Kallis ton
Kallis hooks Broad but only gets a top edge which falls short of Onions. Kallis's 32nd Test century.
Close: 262 for 4. Session: South Africa
Centuries scored by Jacques Kallis at Centurion Park, v West Indies (2004), England (2005, 09) and New Zealand (2007).
Centurion Park: Scoreboard
First Test (First day of five) South Africa have scored 262 runs with six first-innings wickets remaining.
England won toss
South Africa: First Innings
*G Smith c Prior b Broad 0 7 balls
A Prince c Collingwood b Swann 45 94 balls 6 fours
H Amla c Collingwood b Onions 19 67 balls 2 fours
J Kallis not out 112 203 balls 14 fours 1 six
A de Villiers c Cook b Swann 32 66 balls 5 fours
J Duminy not out 38 103 balls 4 fours 1 six
Extras (b 1, lb 10, w 5) 16
Total (4 wkts, 90 overs) 262
Fall: 1-1 (Smith), 2-51 (Amla), 3-93 (Prince), 4-159 (de Villiers).
To bat: †M V Boucher, M Morkel, P L Harris, M Ntini, F L de Wet.
Bowling: J Anderson 23-6-68-0 (w1) (5-3-10-0, 5-2-8-0, 5-1-21-0, 4-0-18-0, 4-0-11-0), S Broad 20-6-42-1 (w2) (8-3-15-1, 5-2-11-0, 4-1-10-0, 3-0-6-0), G Onions 14-2-53-1 (w2) (12-2-43-1, 2-0-10-0), G Swann 24-5-61-2 (one spell), P Collingwood 7-1-18-0 (4-1-7-0, 3-0-11-0), J Trott 2-0-9-0 (one spell).
Progress First day: 50: 20.4 overs; Lunch: 70-2 (Prince 33, Kallis 7) 26 overs; 100: 35.3 overs; 150: 47.1 overs; Tea: 159-4 (Kallis 51, Duminy 0) 55 overs, 200: 70 overs; 250: in 87.4 overs; Close of play: 262-4, 90 overs. Kallis 50: 68 balls, 5 fours, 1 six. Kallis 100: 177 balls, 13 fours, 1 six.
England: *A J Strauss, A N Cook, I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, I R Bell, †M J Prior, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson, G Onions.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) & S J Davis (Aus).
TV umpire: A M Saheba (India).
Match referee: B G Jerling (SA).
Today will be warm and mostly sunny, with a maximum temperature of 3C. Weak north-westerly winds.
TV: Sky Sports 1, HD1, 8-10.30am, 11.30am-4pm.