Table Mountain imposes a backdrop to envy. Cricket in South Africa might pass as an afterthought in such a serene atmosphere but the moment Curran ran into bowl, let alone the mountain, its foothill was not even in the sights. The only thing that was visible was Temba Bavuma shuffling across the stumps to kick-start a glorious summer of cricket.
It was short of a good length ball. Curran had given no room to take it on. Bavuma realised it late and carefully defended towards the leg-side. And just like that, Cricket in South Africa woke up from its own slumber after fighting a rigorous battle of its own – all off the field.
A couple of weeks ago, this was not even a certainty. Embroiled by their battle in the administrative chamber, the CSA’s members council rejected the interim board appointed by the government that pushed them towards state control. Had it not been for a sensible move at the end, the board would’ve lost the privilege of calling its teams national representatives, thus jeopardizing their ICC status. But Bavuma’s defense ensured all that was now a thing of the past and Cricket was ready to take over.
In isolation, South Africa is a fun team to watch. They might create drama out of nowhere, their transformation target might have been a difficult chapter in the Civics book of the eastern countries but their cricketers are fun. They bring life to a cricket match through their sheer audacity, their unorthodoxy, and the sheer pomposity. When everything comes together, you get the finest cocktail in town. You got that last night.
It was de Kock who started the business, Faf du Plessis carried on his own, Rassie Van der Dussen added fire to the brimstone before George Linde and Lungi Ngidi added their own jazz. It fell short thanks to a Jonny Bairstow masterclass but would you have it in any other way?
The moment Linde extracted an edge off Jason Roy for a two-ball duck, it seemed increasingly familiar that something great was in store. Jos Buttler followed suit but it was one of those days when England found Jonny Bairstow going in a game of T20 from which there was no recovery. He was the sesame sauce to your Dan Dan Noodles and adding Sichuan peppercorn means the dish turning its beautiful avatar. England Cricket was the winner but South Africa celebrated the same by forgetting the dramas of the past.
Everyone forgot there were bigger problems in place. A second wave of the pandemic is on, a non-conformity regarding the racial segregations has put the country in a bad light and despite being the most affected country in terms of race, they failed to make any significant gesture. Nothing was in sight when cricket took over and it will continue to do so over the next few months with South Africa having a bumper schedule in place. One can only hope the side forgets the blemishes of the last few years and ensure a dramatic turnaround of events. It will be a sight to behold.