It's three days after the 8 hours of agony before, and I've just about managed to sew my legs back together. Only functioning on one kidney, though. Which is better than many of our listeners who have variously complained that being forced to remain stock still from the moment South Africa took the new ball after lunch to Onions' final act of heroism (leaving a regulation delivery from Morkel drifting harmlessly 18 inches past his off stump) has resulted in melted adrenal glands, burst bladders, total physical organ failure (chap on an exercise bike non stop for 5 hours) and uncontrollable sobbing.
All of you have taken the credit for England's draw-that-is-really-a-win and frankly you all deserve it more than Bell, Colly and Onions who by comparison emerged pretty much unscathed. But who should take the credit for England's late evening mini collapse that ensured that Onions would get the credit? Credit for that must go to co-commentator Manny who had been unavoidably delayed until the beginning of the last hour. All credit to him, he saw the game was meandering to an easy draw and within 96 seconds Colly was on his way, deceived by Duminy (and credit to Manny again for spotting that Duminy deserved the credit for being the only South African who spins the ball). Huge credit, though, to the sofa's quick thinking commentary team that dislodged Manny from the ball by ball attack immediately, which at least had the credit of slowing England's collapse. But when Bell departed to the first ball of Morkel's last spell (and credit where it's due; an inspired change by Muppet Captain Smith), England were staring down the barrel with the very last of their credit almost spent. But, and it takes a big man to do this, real credit has to go to Manny for leaving the sitting room and pacing round the kitchen with his lucky portable radio listening to our over-excitable proteges on the BBC, only to emerge when he'd seen the job through and left that final Morkel delivery.
However, amid all the pandemonium that spewed forth in those last desperate moments, an injustice of immense proportions was narrowly avoided thanks to the intervention of that rarest of breeds; the competent on field umpire. To the penultimate ball of the final over, Onions backed away, tucked his bat just inside the line and the ball feathered his right sleeve at the elbow. South Africa appealed, but in a game of shocking howlers, for once the umpire got it right. What if he hadn't? What if it had been given and inevitably referred? We have seen in this series that the absence of a snickometer and Hot Spot cameras has meant that decisions given either way have only a small chance of being overturned on appeal owing to the lack of incontrovertible evidence from the straight on cameras. England would have lost a test match and Manny would have been denied the credit that is his due.
During the course of day four at Cape Town, we on the sofa investigated the absence of Hot Spot in some detail following an email from listener and blogger Paddle Sweep (paddlesweep.in) that implied the cost must run into millions (of what, more anon). To give Paddlesweep his credit, it was a fair assumption. After all, if only the England and Australian broadcasters have use of them, they must be rare and expensive, you would think. But think again. The full story is covered in impressive detail by Paddle Sweep on his own blog, but suffice to say that after calling the manufacturers, we on Test Match Sofa were assured that you could pick one of these cameras up for £20,000. You need four to be totally effective (the side on cameras getting the really faint nicks), so a total of £80,000 is required. Given there are only 7 test playing nations without them, £560,000 is required to kit out the entire world of test cricket. A massive sum of course, for the likes of the ICC which recorded operating profits of a measly £20m in 2007, or indeed the BCCI which is barely staying afloat with its £61m of profit from the IPL alone.
So, in an act of Getty-esque generosity, and again big credit to us boys (and girl) at Test Match Sofa, we are starting a campaign which has already raised £92 of credit. £50 from every listener and we'll hit our target. We shall then donate the cameras to each test playing nation's board on the proviso that all Hot Spot referral decisions (now to be called Test Match Sofa Moments of Destiny) are referred not to the off field third umpire but rather to whoever is on commentary on the Test Match sofa at the time. It's a small price for the cash poor world of international cricket to pay to the people who really deserve the credit for the revival of test match cricket, and Manny in particular.
Listen to Last Over 3rd Test In Full.
Listen to 3rd Test, Cape Town, 5th Day Highlights.