It was hard to believe what was happening on the first day of the Test. Wickets were falling all the time but, as always, you expect the flow to stop at some point, or at least be slowed down by a partnership. But it never happened.
Test cricket very quickly teaches you to expect the unexpected, but India's performance was a shock. I do not believe they are capable of having such a bad day again – certainly not in the third Test! We all know what they are capable of doing and, as well as we played, we know the competition will be a lot more fierce next week.
I still remember December 30th, 1997 as though it was last week. It was the day I scored my first Test century at the MCG in Melbourne. It was the final day of the Test match and we were batting to save the game. Shane Warne was in his pomp and everybody, including the man himself, expected him to run through us.
Every Test century is hard work – some harder than others, of course – but if anybody had told me after that day that I would score another 29 I would probably have laughed. It has been a great journey and I cannot deny that I am extremely proud and honoured to have reached 30 centuries.
When I made my debut as a youngster we often felt inferior as a team because we had nobody with 50+ international caps, let alone 100, and nobody averaged 40, never mind 50. We couldn't help feeling a little bit intimidated by the records of the Indian, English and Australian teams and sometimes we were even in awe of them.
But then Gary Kirsten reached 20 Test centuries and became the first man to play 100 Tests and, of course, we had the great Allan Donald who passed 300 wickets. Slowly but surely we started to create a legacy for younger players to aspire to and my 30 Test centuries is just another piece of that history. I honestly feel that it is a South African record rather than a Jacques Kallis record – it belongs to the country.
But back to the present. I see India have revised their squad for the final Test and included five spinners. I will admit there were more than a few smiles amongst us when we heard the news but nobody was surprised. We were all expecting dry, dusty pitches before we even arrived here so at least we'll get to play on one after the featherbed in Chennai and the excellent pitch in Ahmedabad.
I take no more than a passing interest in the composition of the opposing team – I leave that job to the captain and coach. But I couldn't help thinking that, if India take a few gambles in order to try and square the series, it might mean them playing three spinners and just one full-time seamer to share the new ball with Saurav Ganguly. That would be a gamble which could backfire for three reasons:
First, South Africa really aren't that bad against spin as our record over the last five or six years shows! Second, I believe the new ball is still the best way to take wickets and, with respect to Sourav, he isn't a great threat. And third, if the pitch is dry and uneven then Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel will be just as dangerous as Anil and Harbhajan. I would much rather face a spinner on a turning wicket than somebody who bowls at 150 kilometres per hour on a surface with unpredictable bounce.
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