Mild weather greeted the team as we headed off to the ground this morning. The sense of anticipation was so keen you could touch it. One test each, one to play, and the bragging rights, if not the official No 1 Test Team ranking, are up for grabs.
There were a couple of team changes, with Junior making way for the returning Hollywood, and The Freak earning a well-earned rest to be replaced by none other than RocketMan. He’s been sitting on the sidelines for months waiting for a chance to have another go, and he is fit and bowling as fast as ever – I have the bruises to prove it from various net sessions.
When you want to win, you want the toss, and The Captain bagged it. He hesitated slightly, teasing Smiff into thinking he might do something silly, but then said, “Mate, we’ll have a bat.” He did the customary signal back to the dressing room and a loud cheer went up as the openers reached for their pads. The only person who was disappointed was The Freak, who really just wanted the Eleven out of the dressing room so he could eat bananas and mourn his “resting” from the team in peace.
The entertainment on the field made up for it. Puff went crazy, ably supported by solid if not spectacularly fruitful knocks from UnLucky and then Apples. He made his ton in 104 balls when the total had only just edged over 150, such was his dominance.
Steyn went off injured, and left it to Tuna Mornay to work The Captain over with a brutal barrage of short stuff from around the wicket that reminded us a lot of what Tatts has been dishing out for the last 7 tests. OUCH! The only difference was The Captain is made of tough stuff, and having been hit all over his body, he didn’t give up his wicket. When Tuna Mornay ran out of steam, and with no Steyn there to force the issue, The Captain and then the ever entertaining Trapper made a meal of the leftovers of the SA attack with 136 runs on the final session. That’s not to say that we weren’t impressed when we saw the bruises inflicted on our leader’s body – after having a rare stint in the icebath, be was destined for an evening of intimacy with a number of ice packs.
It seems like the day, and therefore the Test and the Series, rode on the toss of the coin this morning. As we left the ground, we saw our opposing captain Smiff out in the car park, practicing calling for endless coin tosses. A SA team analyst had a laptop there and was recording the results. Good grief, what were they going to learn from that?How the toss goes depends on whether or not someone slipped the Umpy a rigged coin, surely? [Ed. What?] Anyway, the middle order only wanted to know what to do in the morning, after respectfully helping The Captain to his ton. “Get to 400 then go mental,” is what he said, I think. Trapper, Hollywood [Ed in what might be his only innings this series], Wicky and Tatts look happy to oblige.
We heard later that Faf got in trouble for a second breach of team dress code within 12 months. That’s an expensive pair of green showlaces!
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