Ball One – From behind – not an angle one sees often on television – Jacques Kallis looks a lot like Graham Gooch. Bulky, but balanced, as the bowler hits the crease, the bat is raised with, so it appears, half the shot already completed. The slightly baseball stance can look inelegant, but it worked for Gooch and it’s working for Kallis.
Ball Two – On 94, Kallis is called through for a sharp single by Amla and the umpire refers Ian Bell’s direct hit. Kallis, a man who never gives his wicket away, was motoring and was in easily. Often overlooked when people appraise him – positively or, unbelievably, negatively – is his remarkable durability. He misses few matches and is usually fit to bowl, if a bit reluctant. When younger, he was a genuinely fast bowler: now in his mid-30s, he is no longer a fast bowler, but he’s still an athlete.
Ball Three – Wonderful appreciation from the crowd, not just of the obvious milestones as they were knocked off, but of slightly more obscure ones. All around me, people were on their feet as Hashim Amla passed AB de Villers’ erstwhile record South African Test score. Smartphones mean that everyone knows everything these days.
Ball Four – Just one run short of the highest ever score for the loss of two wickets in Test cricket’s 135 year history, Graeme Smith declares 252 ahead with 43 overs left in the day. That surprise move has a number of consequences. It brings the England win back into the game – a long shot, but fifth day targets of 140 or so can be tricky. It also denies the crowd a chance to salute Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis and for them to accept the congratulations of their opponents on the field. In the long run, it may not amount to a hill of beans, but nobody expected Smith to be quite so attacking.
Ball Five – If I were the best bowler in the world and had sat for two days watching my batsmen score a monumental total, I think I would like a third slip in the quest to take ten wickets. I might also suggest that if a mid-on is required to block a scoring option, perhaps my batsmen should have been allowed to get a few more. Modern captaincy is something I’ll never understand. Sure enough, KP is dropped by Jacques Kallis trying to cover the vacant third slip position.
Ball Six – Imran Tahir, whose best weapon is his googly, comes on to bowl without a silly point. Do not ask me why. I cannot account for it.
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