South Africa Tour 2015/16

Will Blade's Plan Cut It?

When the third day of the Johannesburg Test started, I was watching a crown green bowling tournament.

Lofty was under the impression that he had left our match tickets in his hotel safe, and had gone scurrying back to the hotel to fetch them - while I looked after his rucksack, which in fact contained our tickets all the time.

Thus, we were late for the start of play, and Joe Root had been dismissed by the time we assumed our seats.

There has been much talk of empty terraces during this match, but not today.

The ground was heaving, and the benches where we were accustomed to sit were packed solid.

A very high proportion of the audience seemed to be in fancy dress with little interest in the cricket. Drinking lots of beer and taking selfies seemed to be the order of the day.

Although Bairstow held the tail together well, England were disappointingly bowled out half an hour before lunch for 323, a lead of just ten.

As we failed to take a wicket before the interval, a long afternoon seemed in prospect.

At lunch, I ventured out onto the pitch to look at the wicket and was delighted to see Lancashire legend Ashwell Prince giving a batting demonstration for South African TV.

In his final season for Lancashire before retirement, Ashwell scored well over 2000 runs in all formats, but at this stage little did I realise how much South Africa would miss a dogged Prince - style batsman later that afternoon.

Our friends the Blade family have now arrived in South Africa from their home in Adelaide, and Mr Blade had hatched a cunning scheme to enable him to see his first England away Test victory.

The Blades are currently holidaying in Sun City and later coming over to Centurion for the fourth Test, but as I understand it Mr Blade had intended to hotfoot it over to the Wanderers on day four if an England win looked likely.

Unfortunately for Blade, Stuart Broad was about to wreck his plans!

As the players came out after lunch the overhead conditions started to darken and the ball started zipping about.

Broad was just about unplayable, and helped by a stunning catch from Taylor, he terrorised the South African batsmen.

Broads final figures of 12.1 - 6 - 17 - 6 did not flatter him and South Africa were skittled for the paltry score of 83 at their Bullring in front of a massive, disbelieving Boer crowd.

Bowler Rabada was the top scorer with just 16.

Utter humiliation.

As we leapt up and down and clapped like loons as each wicket fell, my thoughts turned with some sympathy to Mr Blade.

"F*cking hell, he's just two hundred kilometers away!" exclaimed Smithy, who was himself just about to claim his first complete five - day Test away victory.

Freddie was in touch with Blade throughout on Facebook, but since Addis Army Cricket is a family website, Blades comments cannot unfortunately be repeated here.

As usual England made heavy weather of the modest 74 needed to win.

Hales looked all at sea again, and was unable to hit the ball off the square.

Fortunately, Cook was calm and steadily scoring runs and he took us close enough to the target.

When Hales was mercifully dismissed for just 18, Compton walked to the wicket and we all joked about the possibility of him winning the game with a six.

The silly lad tried to do just that, and spooned Elgar up into the air about half way to the boundary. Stupendous catch by Morkel, but stick to what you know, please, Compo.

Despite Cook getting out just before the end, Root and Taylor took us across the line for a memorable 7 wicket and series win.

Off to the Wanderers bowling club for celebratory wine and beer, and as the Barmy Army had taken over this bar for their own high jinks, we decided to visit a pub in Parkhurst that had been recommended to us by Tufty - the Jolly Roger.

There we saw Billy Cooper and his pals enjoying their own pub crawl.

Freddie kindly flagged a taxi for us to go home, but due to a misunderstanding about the numbers being ferried, was left behind at the Jolly Roger by myself, Lofty and Simon, so apologies are due.

I'm pleased to report that our editor eventually managed to get another cab, and has survived his night out in wild Johannesburg - most of the people staying at the Protea that I have spoken to are unwilling to leave the sanctuary of the hotel!

Our thoughts now turn to Centurion. The fourth Test, and the chance for Mr Blade to notch that all important first victory. Nothing can stop him this time I reckon.

Except maybe the weather, or England taking their foot off the gas with the series already put to bed.......



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