Bag-Packing is the most turgid task among multiple tour delights. It usually heralds a short hop to the next match. Three South Africans in the first month of this seven-week trip have now stowed their kit for real - homeward bound, laced with tears of lost opportunities.
Two of them, opening bowler Brett Schultz and batsman Jacques Kallis, took the long, hard road yesterday from Nottingham to Heathrow, accompanied by their consoling tour manager Goolam Raja.
X-rays have confirmed that Schultz has a chipped right ankle and Kallis a stress fracture of the lower back, condemning him to bed rest in Cape Town. Contemplating the ceiling is a sad substitute for the pinnacle four- day game against the TCCB XI at Chester-le-Street on 15 August. Roger Telemachus, a right-arm seamer, is already home after suffering a side strain and has been replaced by Gary Gilder, but the playing party is now just a skeletal 13.
Meyrick Pringle, a temporary deputy called from the northern leagues, should become a fully-fledged tour member this weekend along with the ubiquitous
A N Other, awaiting a telephone call in South Africa. Judging by his venomous new-ball lifters, Pringle will be an asset as the flu-ridden tour bandwagon heads on to The Oval, Chelmsford and Worcester before the grand finale in Durham.
The South Africans entered the sniffle and snuffle zone during the first week here. Few would still sneeze at their seven-match unbeaten achievement or their advantage in this match, albeit against a team with only four capped players. Tour matches still seem to make incumbents of home dressing rooms head for the physio's couch, suddenly discover sick aunts or have urgent business elsewhere. Chris Cairns, Kevin Evans, Andy Pick, Ashley Metcalfe, Tim Robinson and Mark Bowen were all absent.
It was business as usual for Andy Afford with four for 66; Bob Chapman, 24 today, son of 'Sammy', the former Nottingham Forest footballer, returned a career-best four for 109. Yet half-centuries from Hershelle Gibbs, Deon Ackerman, Lance Klusener, Derek Crookes and Nic Poth-as illuminated the South African innings. Graeme Archer added another for Nottinghamshire.
The next visiting South African team here should be greeted by a towering pounds 5.9m development at the Radcliffe Road end for a Test against England in 1998. Schultz and Kallis would give their eye teeth for a return.