Barmy Army turn up the volume
NEWLANDS ATMOSPHERE: One thing that doesn’t get old is a New Year’s Test under the mountain.
The demand for tickets was such that temporary stands were erected for 2 000 more bums on seats.
By the time the anthems were sung, and the strong overseas contingent belted out Jerusalem to mark the first Test delivery of 2016, it felt – and sounded – like a proper international sporting occasion. The rest of the country ought to take note.
CHRIS MORRIS’ STUNNER: Though he struggled with the ball on his first day in Test cricket, the Titans’ all-rounder took an absolute screamer – at gully of all places – to take the English skipper’s scalp to lunch with the Proteas.
That he was at gully was one thing. That he took it one-handed was another. But the fact that it was his weaker hand, inches off the ground, and from a full-blooded Cook cut, made the sequence all the more remarkable.
It set such a high mark that there was disappointment when he dropped another screamer off Joe Root, when the Englishman was on 13.
ROOTY, YOU BEAUTY: The little Yorkshireman that certainly can.
Joe Root was touted as England’s dangerman before the series started, and his second half-century in three knocks was full of all the strokes in the manual – and a few that aren’t in there yet.
His driving, off front-foot and back, is a notch above, and there was a straight drive, off Morris, which was made of such brilliance that the entire stadium clapped. There was a collective groan when he fell at 50. When brilliance is at the crease, the nationality doesn’t matter.
A hundred is surely around the corner for England’s number four.
RABADA DOES THE DOUBLE: South Africa’s next leader of the pack hadn’t played a competitive match in over a month, and even he called himself ‘erratic’.
But, for two balls either side of tea, the magic returned. His first wicket needed a big helping hand from Temba Bavuma, as the middle-order man hung on to a Nick Compton pull at mid-wicket.
Rabada thanked his Lions’ team-mate by chucking him over his shoulder – as you do! The away-swinger that tempted James Taylor was all ‘KG’, though.
Newlands didn’t quite see a Rabada hat-trick, but the double was timely.
BEN, MASTER OF ALL STROKES: Stokes’ afternoon assault on a tiring home attack confirmed that England had the upper hand on day one.
That England scored 150 runs after tea was mostly down to the powerful leftie. He rode his luck a bit, with the odd slice through or over the cordon, but fortune does tend to favour the brave. The arrival of the new ball usually slows the scoring rate down, but someone forgot to mention that to ‘Big Ben’ as he bludgeoned 17 off the second new cherry’s first six offerings!
Eina… and he’s not done yet!
– SUNDAY TRIBUNE