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April 2 – Fourth Test Day 4 – Where is the line?

The Head of High Performance finished showing the tape of Dean Elgar’s press conference with his taunting epithet “Nice guys finish last” and then showed us a couple of clips from the NZ v England test match and how gentlemanly Edwardian it had become. We then had to sit around in tables led by an official and verbalise or draw our perception of what it meant to cross the line and how to head butt it.

This was no small task. Eventually the leaders of each group stood up to summarise the thoughts of the XI or XII if you include The Big Show. I have listed a selection of the contributions below. The Prof also solicited the contributions of the ‘Newland’s Four’ as they are now collectively known. I was good enough to capture the thoughts of Sarah, Head of Marketing, Darren, the team psychologist, and Pat someone, the Head of High Performance. I had to corner him in the bathroom before he would give me his specimen. Understandably he is keeping a real low profile.

The Evangelist had a simple statement to start: “You know where the the line is once you cross it. Until you cross the line everyone thinks it’s ok including Magellan and LG.”

Third Degree Burns continued this line of thinking: “The line is the dateline when you pass the banned player you are replacing mid-air.”

Handsome, a callow youth, could barely contain himself: “The line is around off stump. I need to keep my bat out of the way or maybe stand somewhere else”

The bowlers were no more enlightening. Mr Darcy who had an ‘ankle’ and was incognito in a bowler hat whispered to Sarah “What line? The popping crease? The only line I know of on the ball is the line of the seam. Sometimes I see marks from the angle grinder but they are circular lines not straight ones.” Mantis, who has been very quiet the whole series, said he knew where the line was. It was a black line in the pool at the Commonwealth Games. This killed everyone.

The Big Show knows one line. It is called a boundary rope and he hasn’t crossed it. No response from the XI.

The Prof stood up and read out the line markers from the Newlands Four. The 45th Captain (who the pundits now say was elevated to the Captaincy too early) says he knew where the line was. “The line is very, very wide. The searchlights rotate every 15 seconds. They capture stuff like signalling to the Coach for advice. Machine guns patrol the other side of the line unless the pitch mics are muted. The cameras follow the ball back to the bowler. The minefield starts when you cross the rope but The Reverend (née The Bull) said he had a pathway through it.”

The Prof knows the old Bull well. “The line is a squiggly salt line in 3D. If you can step through it, under or over it, or dissolve the line with a tear and rejoin it behind you as in “I’m so sorry I broke the line” then you never cross the line. The devil taught me about salt rings” Some of the Coaching staff clapped and shed a tear.

Camera-on Ban-Croft thinks the line is his bikini line.

Coach2.0 just knew when everyone else crossed the line. [Ed. Maybe there are two lines; one for us, and one for everyone else.]

I had been chatting with Quinny de Kock yesterday. He is a man with a fine sense of humour. He said the line is the Candice line. No one laughed, although quite a few had spreading smiles [Ed. That is sexist].

Sarah is quite emotionless. Marketers are like that. She suggested the the line is the line between overs. If there are six dots between lines officials call it a Maiden. Reverse swing creates dots.

Darren thought the line was a line in the sand. The waves go over it and erase it. Either way the line is about conforming.

Pat somebody told me the line is the line of scrimmage, or the plane of high performance. High performance often requires a player to break the plane. He calls it breaking through to the other side. “High Performance is about winning.” He hastened to add there was no real evidence for this but hey what the hell. It’s ok to step over the line and to step back across it when someone says you have crossed it. This is called “head butting the line.” No harm done.

I guess not.

On the field Faf blew us away today with a rapid 120. His bloodied finger doesn’t count. Faf’s men bored us into the shadowless Jo’burg dust. Nothing more to say really. It was merciless and grinding in the same way a woebegone grinds its prey. When Faf called his blokes in with that big finger of his untethered from its tape cocoon, the score was 344/6. We had no hope of taking all 10 wickets. Instead, he gave us 616 to win, 50 exactly from the devil’s number.  They know where to draw the line.  For our part, we are at the end of the line on the fish hook.  88/3 in reply at stumps.  In good shape, real good shape for an early flight home tomorrow. The only line I want to cross is the passport line.

Nice guys finish second, now that all the bad guys have crossed the line and gone home.

South Africa 488 & 344/6 dec. Australia 221 & 88/3

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