Cape Town - South Africa 16, England 0.
That may sound like a pretty one-sided outcome to a rugby match, perhaps, but it has to do with Test cricket ... and it doesn’t reflect well on the Proteas at all.
It was the tally of series no-balls registered by each country at the time of writing during the first session on day five of the second Test at Newlands on Wednesday.
During the session, and in what has become a far too habitual phenomenon for both individual and country, Morne Morkel thought he had secured the prize scalp of Joe Root - No 3 on the global batting rankings - caught in the slips cordon for 17.
But then replays revealed that the lanky speedster had overstepped the line in reasonably clear-cut fashion and Root was recalled to the crease.
Fortunately for the host nation the right-hander was dismissed by Chris Morris not too long afterwards for 29, but that is not the point: this match has already shown in multiple instances that you can’t let class batting acts off the hook, whether through no-balls or dropped catches, the latter an area where England have been the main culprits.
Commentator Sir Ian Botham said he had seen Morkel alone denied of scalps “many times” in bilateral Tests either here or in England over the years through TV-umpire inspection of his errant front foot landing area immediately afterwards.
In his defence, inexperienced team-mate and fellow strike bowler Kagiso Rabada has sent down considerably more no-balls at Newlands - nine, to Morkel’s four - whilst the Proteas also bowled three without reply in the Durban defeat.
Rabada earned one scalp in the England first knock when he only got the benefit of the doubt by a whisker after close re-examination of his landing point, and was reportedly seen before play on Wednesday working on the problem with bowling coach Charl Langeveldt.
The tourists certainly warrant praise for keeping a clean sheet in that regard during the entire course of South Africa’s marathon first innings, which lasted 211 overs.
It is one area where their discipline has been way superior, and it is time the Proteas, frankly, caught a wake-up to ensure it does not become any sort of series-tilting difference ...
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