SOUTH AFRICA'S Dale Steyn sat in the bowels of the Kingsmead Stadium tonight looking slightly shell-shocked and said: "Yes, that has to be the worst day of my cricketing career."
A few minutes later Ian Bell, with 141 to his name plus a sharp catch at short leg, said: "That's got to be one of my best days in an England shirt."
And that sums it up nicely after a sensational day four of the second Test in Durban when England ran up a score of 575-9 declared and then sent South Africa plunging to 76-6, still 156 runs short of making England bat again if they are to save this pulsating second Test.
Steyn did his best to put a positive spin on his nation's terrible demise. He recalled last year's Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, where South Africa were in a similar state, he and JP Duminy produced a great late rally and turned the game around.
Steyn, who got his Test-best 76 that day and a second-best 47 in the first innings here, grinned: "I'll be watching videos of Melbourne tonight. We just have to go out and try to stay there tomorrow. Morne Morkel can bat a bit and Mark Boucher is one of the best wicket-keeper-batsmen in the world.
"But to be honest, the weather is our best chance."
Fair play to the South African, it was a thankless task talking to the media today.
Bell, whose century today was described as "career-saving" by his former Warwickshire county team-mate, said: "Of course Dale's right. I knew I was under the pump. It was very satisfying. Nobody expected things to go as perfectly today as they have."
After Bell's efforts were added to Alastair Cook's century, plus fifties from Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood - who picked up a dislocated left index finger in the warm-up and didn't field - and Matt Prior, the bowlers had the perfect platform.
At 27-0, South African captain Graeme Smith and fellow opener Ashwell Prince looked comfortable enough. Then former Ashes-winner Matthew Hoggard (in his pink shirt, pictured above under Jimmy Saville's flag) joined the Barmy Army. And when England called for Swann's turn in the 10th over, Hoggy joined the Army with a rendition of their old classic: "Never trust a spinner."
Swannie's second ball resulted in a sharp bat-pad catch for Bell and the collapse began.
Half-a-dozen wickets for 23 runs in 12 overs with county team-mates Broad (3-18) and Swann (3-22) tying 'em up in Notts.
Bell said: "Swannie always seems to make things happen. He's proved that again and again on this tour. And when Broadie's bowling like that, with his height, he's very hard to play. They're brilliant together."
Usually reliable Proteas like Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB De Villiers folded under the pressure, barely offering shots. JP Duminy went first ball, getting an inside edge to Broad as the South Africans quacked up. And then captain Smith fell lbw to Swann, made a desperate request for a review, and departed, head bowed.
Only the resistance of Mark Boucher (20 not out) and Morkel (7) prevented a quick finish... and then the umpires called play off for bad light at 4.22pm local time with 16 overs left in the day. The floodlights had been on since 3.15pm. That's what it's like here, what England have to watch for tomorrow.
The forecast? Partly cloudy, showers in the evening. Bell said: "We'll be fired up for the first ball," but Steyn painted the nightmare scenario for England: "Who knows in cricket? We could get a few runs and it could be England hanging on at 50-5, 50-6 at the end of the day."
Surely not. Four wickets. That's all they need to head off to Cape Town for the New Year Test with a 1-0 lead in the four-matchseries. Pray for sunshine.Or as David "Bumble" Lloyd has just twittered: "Call to prayer in Mosque opposite hotel."