Cape Town - A palpably out-of-form batsman, just starting to hit the ball more cleanly again and construct a meaningful innings.
So what does he go and do, after facing 49 deliveries for a nicely-poised 34?
If you are Quinton de Kock, effectively - and quite inexplicably - give yourself out.
That is what happened during the first one-day international between South Africa and India at Kingsmead on Thursday.
Still looking barely more comfortable in facial appearance than Mr Creosote just before his "better get a bucket" eruption in
The Meaning of Life,
De Kock had mistimed several strokes but also played some with
mounting, heartening crispness before he faced up to a delivery at the
end of the 15th
over from Indian wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
The left-handed opener mistimed a flick and was struck
on his right leg; immediately it looked a decent shout for leg before
wicket, it is true, but the batsman slightly pre-empted - or perhaps
even read: "triggered"? - umpire Bongani Jele's
decision to lift the finger by turning his back almost immediately and
heading toward the proverbial hut.
Shortly afterwards, however, the Decision Review
System revealed (too late, as South Africa had not officially exercised
their right to relook it) that the ball was missing leg-stump
All the more infuriating about De Kock's strange haste
to leave the crease was that captain and seasoned international figure
Faf du Plessis was at the other end, and would at very least have been a
good sounding board for advice on whether
The Proteas had been picking up a nice head of steam
at 83 for one, immediately ahead of De Kock's brain-burp, and his exit
would soon trigger a mini-collapse to 134 for five which meant, as Du
Plessis ruefully admitted in post-mortem from
the comprehensive defeat, that they were always likely to fall short of
a genuinely competitive total batting first.
The skipper felt South Africa had landed "50 to 70
shy" of an ideal score ... which left you wondering just how much rosier
things might have turned out on the scoreboard had the legendarily
pulsating, fast-scoring De Kock instead stayed a fair
bit longer to help the impressive, century-making Du Plessis lay better
Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, on SuperSport
commentary, politely tried to explain De Kock's folly by saying: "I
guess he was still in a negative frame of mind after his Test series
struggles (with the blade)."
Former SA captain Shaun Pollock, meanwhile, observed: "It is not often you get trapped in front and just turn around and get
A personal thought? The astonishingly gifted De Kock
should have been driven by sheer desperation to conquer his current,
unusual crease demons there and then, rather than really just raised a
white hanky in swift, self-judged defeatism.
Hopefully a quiet word in his ear, as they say, from a
key member of the coaching staff followed the perhaps highly expensive
incident for South Africa.
After all, De Kock is the kind of player, a bit like
Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers, who coaxes people through turnstiles, and
turns matches ...
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing