A friend of ours once played the finest bum note we’ve ever heard while performing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight at a wedding. It was the very last note and it only sounded so marvellously hideous because he’d played everything flawlessly up until that point. That’s how to get something wrong. Really build up to it. Lay the groundwork first.
South Africa have been in India, England have been in the UAE. Both sides will now do a light spot of shape-shifting ahead of what will almost certainly be a more seam-dominated series in Southafricaland.
If cricket is music – which it isn’t – this will be rather more than a key change. It’ll be more like the end of one track and the start of the next. The majority of the instruments will remain the same, but the tempo will change; there’ll be a bit more lead guitar and a little less emphasis on rhythm.
Dale Steyn has emerged from extensive groin-testing. Rumour has it he did upwards of nine star jumps. He will almost certainly be brilliant should he play and Steven Finn could also return for England. Finn being Finn that poses the perennial question as to whether he’ll do the thing that makes everyone fawn over him or simply lollop in and flop down 83mph disappointment.
The rumour is that England want to rescind first-class status for this week’s second warm-up match and make it another 13-a-side sham. What’s the first rule of training? Specificity. Try and ensure your preparation is as similar as possible to your target event. As close as you can get to a Test would be first-class cricket. The rules are one thing, but the threat to players’ batting and bowling averages also brings just the faintest whiff of the pressures they will subjected to during the grown-up stuff.
It’s easy to shrug off the odd bum note in rehearsals, but the stakes are higher when things are being recorded. It’s worth noting that we only know about the Not Quite So Wonderful Tonight aberration because it was caught on film.