Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Test. Tea, day one. Kallis and Smith, No1 and 2 in the little-known Most Boring Test Batsmen rankings, sponsored by Slumberland

THE beer queues now stretch all the way across the back of the South Stand at Kingsmead. And most of the way around the ground. It's Boxing Day and amid the festive hats, there are fat men dressed as fairies, fatter men with women's panties on.
Personally I'd like to see England captain Andrew Strauss out there in the pinkest of pink briefs... and coach Andy Flower in the finest fairy wings. Their reward for refusing to pick Ryan Sidebottom in place of batsman Ian Bell, thus adding a fifth bowler to their sweltering attack on day one of the second Test.
It might have felt great when England had South Africa 10-2 this morning. First Jimmy Anderson got opener Ashwell Prince for two, caught at second slip by Graeme Swann. Then Stuart Broad rapped Hashim Amla on the pads dead in front for the same score.
But once the stubborn Jacques Kallis came out to join captain Graeme Smith, who won the toss and opted to bat, the fun stopped. Abruptly. These are, respectively, the world's 10th and 11th best Test batsmen. They are also No1 and 2 in the rankings of the little appreciated Most Boring Men In Test Cricket category, sponsored by Slumberland.
Chances have been few and far between as the world's two least exciting, but technically proficient, batsmen grind out a stand now worth 140 for the third wicket. At tea, South Africa are gradually going away from us, as I predicted this morning, with the score moving on from 67-2 at lunch to 151-2 after 56 excruciating overs.
Michael Owen-Smith, the fabulously deadpan Cricket South Africa spokesman, has just told a hushed press box Smith is bravely batting on despite "a contusion on his index finger".
And, distressingly, England resorted to giving Jonathan Trott a bowl before lunch. A part-time bowler who once took seven wickets in an innings against Kent, Trott is by no means a rip-em-up paceman. A dibbly-dobbler at best, though Matt Prior, by no means a wicket-keeper-batsman, chose to stand back to his plodding pace, allowing Smith and Kallis the space to make hay while the sun shines, though the clouds are closing in.
Then, before tea, we had Kevin Pietersen on. He was a bit of a bowler here in his early days as a Pietermaritzburg-born local lad. Took four big wickets for the Dolphins against Nasser Hussain's England in 1999. He obviously believes he's still a bowler. He opened with himself when he captaineed an IPL franchise last year, with some success. Sadly, even the magical talents of KP failed to eke a wicket out of the increasingly lifeless Kingsmead track, though his arrival did awaken the crowd from their drunken, sun-induced slumber for a second.
Apparently, when he came on to bowl, Matt Prior, another South African-born Englishman, shouted: "Come on People's Champion!"
Swann finally ended the partnership on 160, getting Kallis, on 75, to edge one to Collingwood. In came AB De Villiers and immediately dispatched Swann to the boundary, skipping up the pitch on his first ball. Now that's entertainment - if you're a South African!
Still, there are reasons to be cheerful, apart from the bikini-clad beauties, mostly female, striding around the ground as their sunburnt men get too drunk to stand.
Up in the second tier of the South Stand, the Dashing Dozen from Living With The Lions are standing firm (see picture above). I'll try to get these names right... Mark and Mary, the big Somerset fans, Colin from York who spent Christmas Eve and most of Christmas Day in an airport after a cancelled flight, Fred the umpire and Sylvia, also from the west, Mark and Claire, who wears a hotel shower cap in the pool (which is not good when the South African team are looking down from their hotel rooms). Then there's the Burnley-shirt wearing family and Brett Lingley, our faithful tour leader.
They seem to be having a good time despite England's demise. And they haven't got air-conditioning... or those ubiquitous jugs of beer.
Good solid Barmy Army fans. Hoping for a wicket. Hoping England aren't too hot and bothered with just four real bowlers to rotate. We live in hope... official attendance today? 17,364.

1 comment:

  1. It's look like england have made a good come back.