The South Africans' tour of England got off to a mixed start here yesterday. A crowd of more than 5,000 had watched Jacques Kallis give a depleted Somerset attack the elbow, as he dismissed them to all parts.
He was then hit just above his right elbow by a ball from the oldest man on the pitch, 39-year-old Andy Caddick, the former England paceman. On-the-spot treatment by physio Shane Jabaar seemed to have done the trick, because Kallis then flayed Caddick's next two balls for his 22nd and 23rd boundaries. But he suddenly surprised everyone by tucking his bat under his arm, presumably having excused himself to the umpires, and heading for the dressing room.
He had retired hurt on 160, made in a shade over two and a half entertaining hours. But any thoughts of Kallis being forced to miss the first Test against England at Lord's on 10 July were immediately dismissed by the tourists. Further examination in the pavilion revealed no serious damage, just some bruising and Kallis spent what was left of the afternoon with an ice pack on the injury.
An ice pack would have done little to assuage Somerset's collective bruised pride. Though Caddick had claimed a wicket with the first ball of the match, trapping Neil McKenzie lbw.
Thereafter, though, it was slaughter in the sun. Shorn of half a dozen first-choice players, four of them front-line bowlers, the weakened Somerset attack was hammered to all parts, initially by Jean-Paul Duminy, latterly by Kallis and Hashim Amla.
Caddick, acting as captain in place of the Australian Justin Langer, called upon seven bowlers including himself to try to stem the tide of runs, which at one point became a deluge as Amla really let rip. He reached his hundred by knocking leg-spinner Michael Munday into the middle of next week in one savage over in which he clobbered a six followed by three fours.
Amla went on to reach 172, the highest individual score by a South African tourist against Somerset. On the way the 25-year-old from Durban shared in a 146-run stand with Duminy, who fell in Caddick's first over after lunch having made an extremely attractive 64.
He is not expected to feature in the first two Tests of the four-Test rubber, but the South African management will review selection thereafter, and all Duminy, who has yet to make his Test debut, has to do is carry on scoring runs. He looked commanding off his legs and through the off-side, and is in possession of a glorious cover drive.
Amla is no slouch either. He took a while to settle in at the top level but after 25 Tests has finally established himself as a classy No 3 batsman with an array of shots that yesterday brought him a total of 22 boundaries and the six off Munday in his five-hours at the crease.
The talk in the run-up to the start of this tour has focused on the South African new-ball attack, in particular Dale Steyn, the best fast bowler in the world, but weak attack or not, on this evidence the tourists' batsmen will be as formidable in their field.