Enduring South African flawlessness with the bat

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We’re not a fan of batting. Fours and sixes elicit an approving nod of the head, but they don’t move us in the same way as wickets. This has perhaps been compounded by a period of Test cricket that lasted until recently in which huge scores became the norm. That said, there was an enormous amount to admire about the batting of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and above all Hashim Amla this week. It was almost perfect.

There’s a paradox in that every big innings eats itself a little. The more runs a batsman scores, the easier the conditions are presumed to be. Certainly The Oval didn’t present the stiffest of tests for the South Africans and England didn’t provide the toughest of Tests for them, but to lose two wickets in 189 overs is an achievement in itself.

Every delivery can potentially result in a wicket, but it’s amazing how this fact can transmogrify into fantasy as an innings wears on. Bowlers’ spirits are eroded and batsmen’s confidence builds and often it only ends when the latter gets out of hand. The three South Africans exhibited an iron will in preventing that from happening.

During an innings like South Africa’s 637-2, there comes a point at which it’s no longer about any particular shot or passage of play. It’s most admirable in totality. The sheer scale of what’s happened is the most striking thing about it – all that time and so few mistakes. It’s an exercise in perseverance, endurance and faultlessness, like setting up a giant domino rally only without the toppling pay-off.

It’s also good because you can go outside and enjoy the sun and you won’t miss much.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. 1. Stick needles in the gap between finger and nail.
    2. Hear Justin Bieber on loop.
    3. Hang from a cliff one-handed while a wasp inspects my genital area.
    4. And in the words of Raj from The Big Bang Theory, “swim naked across the Ganges with a paper cut on my nipple and die a slow, agonizing death from a viral infection”.

    That’s a partial list of things I’d rather do than watch Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis bat.

    1. If you were handing one-handed from a cliff, couldn’t you use the free hand to swat the wasp?

    2. That could describe most of the top order from both teams, it just turned out that by losing only 2 wickets in 189 overs that theirs were more boering than yours.
      Still, I hope we get a wicket in the next game that makes both teams bat twice. I don’t necessarily want a result, I just want to see some of the contests this series had promised in the 2 remaining tests.

  2. Hashim Amla once again prove that he is the backbone and legend of South African cricket team. His the raising star of all the cricket world and he is great sports man as well.

    1. Can a legend also be a rising star, livescore?

      Removed your link again, by the way.

    2. He said “raising star” – as in a star that raises the stardom of the smaller stars around him. One of these days, you’ve got to start paying attention to what livescore says. And stop removing the link – I am curious now.

    3. The light from a star, by the time we see it, is already thousands of years old. Does that mean it is already legendary? Or the other way around?

    4. Hear Ye the words of Livescore! His favouritest team of ever is Lancashire, and people with such fine connoisseurshipliness are, like Hashim Amla, not to be easily dismissed.

      There was a minor typo in what he wrote though. I’m sure he meant that Amla is the raisin star of South Africa, as in small, sweet and chewy. And easy to choke on, don’t ever forget that. Fortunately, if you do happen to forget that, Jacque Kallis will be at the other end ready to bury you with his spade. That’s what makes SA the complete outfit – attention to detail.

  3. At least being in the US I was able to sleep through the first depressing session of each day.

  4. All the cool kids on Twitter are calling Amla Mighty #

    This is clearly the way to go.

    Which other cricketers can now be referred to with cool social media names? @lastair Cook? #ley Giles?

    The mind literally boggles.

  5. Its torture, is what it is. Worthy of admiration, but torture just the same. Not as much torture when Amla is batting, but Kallis…. At least Smith gives the impression that he is really a number 7, and will try and hit the next ball for six, or at least get out in a spastic way. But Kallis – he tells us, the viewers, in no uncertain way – “Look at me. I am immaculate at everything I do. You should use me as your batting manual. But, what I am going to instruct you on today is how to leave the ball, and if you are lucky, you will get to see how the forward defensive is played”.

    Kill the bugger.

    1. And yet, Kallis scored at a SR over 55, only slightly less than Amla and considerably better than all the English players except KP.
      Bugger what the reliance ratings say he is the best batsman going around right now. Since 2009 he has averaged over 70, the next nearest is daylight, then a few blokes sitting on 60. If he end up playing as many games as Sachin and keeps up his current form he will smash Sachin`s record for test centuries.

    2. We wouldn’t disagree with your disagreement with the rankings. He’s a (functional) machine.

  6. It was an absolute privilege watching Amla & quite remarkable that there wasn’t a bead of sweat on him. Seems such a nice chap, too.

    There were other moments when I could cheerfully have shot myself just to liven things up, though!

  7. Sarah, don’t shoot yourself. That would be overreacting. And without you, this website would be all words and no pictures.

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