South African fire v Pakistani ice

Posted by
< 1 minute read

That is a deeply unsatisfactory title and we’ll tell you why – fire and ice are not equal.

No matter how dangerous ice can be, fire is just fundamentally scarier. Talk about fire and it conjures images of blazing infernos. Talk about ice and you think of slipping over and bruising your coccyx.

For the purposes of this article, imagine fire and ice are equally intimidatory because what we’re trying to convey is that there’s more than one way to reprimand a cat (we’ve decided to update that idiom for a modern world which has greater respect for animals).

Test cricket is particularly absorbing when teams with contrasting approaches are pitted against each other. It’s partly a test of which team is the better, but it also allows us to scrutinise and evaluate different methodologies.

The South African approach is pretty obvious. Their fast bowlers exploit the new ball; their batsmen play sensibly. This is an incredibly effective gameplan in their home conditions, but in the second Test against Pakistan, we are seeing it pitted against something rather different.

The Pakistan approach is far less reliant on the new ball. Their most threatening bowlers are spinners, but on top of that their fast bowlers are generally more adept at reverse swing than the conventional kind.

This Pakistani approach to bowling alters the rhythm of the match and the South African innings will doubtless follow a different pattern to Pakistan’s. They may well end up 338 all out as well, but they’ll have arrived at that destination via different roads.

Or perhaps they’ll score far more than 338. Fire melts ice, after all.


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


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Even if in a direct contest between the two, fire always comes out on top, the laws of thermodynamics tell you that eventually ice will win. All water will eventually become ice, and there will be no more fire.

    What this means for cricket is that SA will win every test match they play against Pakistan, but within a few billion years they won’t exist and the entire cricket universe will be uniformly Shahid Afridi. At that point it is literally true that no more work can be done.

  2. If not for the DRS,SA could have been 300/2 with kallis and amla still in the crease:-)…Hail the DRS!!!!

    1. I had a copy of Bakshi’s LoTR. Without wanting to appear all hipster, I prefer it to Jackson’s.

  3. Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Another vote for South Africa, then.

    1. I had that game. Ice always lost when I was playing. Not my favorite Andrew Braybrook game, to be honest, was more of a Paradroid 90 fan.

    1. Probably wasn’t, but I’ve never seen or read any of it so it would have to be very unsubtle for me not to miss it.

    2. I have watched about two episodes and have never read it but I know that it is infamous for the favourite characters being killed and having their heads stuck on poles. There you go – a review of “Game of Thrones”!

  4. Pakistan are in a great position to grab South Africa by the throat and rip their entrails out. Which probably means that they will take them out to dinner, kiss them goodnight, and fall into a man-hole on their way back to the car. Or maybe not. Or maybe something like that. Lovely Pakistan cricket.

    You got it spot on with the approaches KC, and it isn’t just the different skills with the ball. But it’s actually Pakistan’s mercurial fire and South Africa’s clinical ice. As Bert suggests, ice tends to win since fire needs to burn something else to sustain itself. It’s always nice to gaze at a flame though…

Comments are closed.