"This time the only blood has come from the burst blisters of England's bowlers, who laboured throughout 181 overs and who could only indulge in any celebrations when each of them reached their hundreds - of runs conceded. All five of their main men achieved that odious landmark, perversely shaking one another's hands when they did so."
- Vic Marks, The Observer, 12.7.09
It's one thing for us armchair nincompoops to take the piss whenever a bowler concedes his hundred runs for the innings. For the bowlers themselves to make light of the occasion with the full complicity of the captain, as we saw at the Gerddi Soffia on Saturday, was ridiculous.
Of course, England's whole performance during Australia's innings of 674 for 6 was ridiculous - up there, perhaps beyond, Trent Bridge 1989. They played like a team that had simply given up. However big the despair, the dumbfounding frivolity of Jimmy Anderson (32-6-110-2), Stuart Broad (32-6-129-1), Graeme Swann (38-8-131-0), Andrew Flintoff (35-3-128-1) and Monty Panesar (35-4-115-1) is unbelievable among professional sportspeople.
None of this should diminish the efforts of Marcus North and Brad Haddin. The hallmark of the best Australian teams of the last decade or so has been their extraordinary depth and reserves in batting, and here we have it again, even though Haddin is no Gilchrist with the gloves.
Only 49 overs bowled on Saturday, so I awarded partial votes for the Midwinter-Midwinter: 2 pts to Brad Haddin, 1 pt to Marcus North. Though I was tempted to give an honourable mention to Steve Harmison for his 5-60 for Durham against Yorkshire.
For my Sunday selection of five takes on the game, I really must begin at the
Scum of the Earth News of the World.
"This isn't the most important Test match of the summer", says Kev-as-told-to-Sam. (He doesn't specify what is. Maybe it was the Lord's Test against the West Indies.) "The Australians are here until September 20 and they are not going anywhere," adds St Kevin of Pietermaritzburg in tautological moment the late Alex Buzo would have been proud of.
And as for his dismissal in the first innings, "If it hadn't hit my head then it would have gone down to fine leg and I would have gone on to 70-odd. " So there you have it, don't sweep outside off when you have a head as big as Kevin Pietersen's.
Also at Rupert Murdoch's Sunday comic book extraordinaire is the deep insightful analysis of Richie Benaud, or, as they call him at the Notw, Richie Benaud the voice of cricket. Blogging at SBS is Greg Matthews. On Thursday he described Simon Katich as the "Uluru of Australian cricket". Does that mean self-indulgent tourists should stop climbing all over him?