England. We just don't do ball tampering very well, Broadly speaking. And prepare for the decider at the Wanderers
SO NOW we know. England are very, very bad at ball-tampering. And South Africa are a very, very fussy bunch.
Tonight’s discussion after day three of the vital third Test at a blistering Newlands did not centre on the incredible heat, the record second wicket partnership between centurion Graeme Smith and the unlucky Hashim Amla. Nor even the way South Africa took a vice-like grip on the match.
No, it all came down Stuart Broad using his studded boot to stop a cricket ball. They showed it again and again on video, then the Seffeffrikens released a statement saying: "There have been several queries from the media about various video footage shown today, and certain allegations being made about the ball.
Great. They have a thing about Broad here. Too cocky. Too argumentative. Almost like a South African when he perceives a sporting injustice.
But hold on a moment. South Africa scored a mammoth 312 for the loss of just two wickets today... they’re 330 ahead with Smith unbeaten on 162 with the man mountain Jacques Kallis not out at the other end. Just how much ball tampering can a bloke get up to and still bowl all day in 40-degree heat without success? And is stopping a ball with your foot really worth bothering the match referee with?
England team director Andy Flower was left to defend the daft allegations: “I don't think it is a big issue. It was a long, hot day and he put his foot out and stopped the ball. All he did was stop the ball."
But not much of a chance. This one is going South Africa’s way with more record-breaking temperatures threatening in the morning, though a draw by an obdurate England is by no means out of the question.
Still, if we get to the Wanderers on January 14 with the series at 1-1, we’d have taken that before this series started against a side who needed to win 2-0 to go back above India as the world’s best Test side.