Well, that was some morning of Test cricket, wasn’t it: an awful umpiring decision – not to mention the no-balls that were missed by Mr Bowden – a great ball to dismiss Vaughanie and a controversial catch that wasn’t.
I must admit when Strauss edged Morkel, my immediate reaction was that the ball did not have enough pace on it to carry, but suddenly Sky switched to a wider angle and there was AB de Villiers holding the ball aloft with all his team-mates running round to congratulate him.
The slow motion replay showed that it was one of the least convincing attempts to hoodwink an umpire (even if Billy doesn’t need much hoodwinking) I’ve ever seen. However, it would be too simple to call De Villiers a cheat.
For AB, I have been there too, if at a much lower level and without the cameras to reveal my dishonesty.
I was fielding at extra cover in club cricket one afternoon when an opposing batsman carved the ball towards me. I dived forward, the ball rolled up my arms and after it touched the ground under my chest, somehow ended up balanced on the top of my wrists and forearms. I wasn’t going to claim it, but as I looked up, a number of my team-mates came running towards me, delight on their faces and all keen to congratulate me on pouching a good ‘un.
I knew it wasn’t out, but I didn’t want to let them down, so I simply carried on as if I had caught it. The batsman, who had had a better view, wasn’t so convinced and, after he was confirmed out by the umpire, walked off ranting and raving and then proceeded to verbally abuse me from the boundary edge for the rest of the innings.
Which, in retrospect, I think he was well within his rights to do.
So, if we’re being kind, let’s say that this was what happened to De Villiers at third slip; Mark Boucher and Graeme Smith started celebrating and Morne Morkel, naturally, was convinced. It would have been hard for him to admit that it had gone into his right hand, rebounded out on to the ground into his left and that he had then seemingly pressed it back into the ground as he got up to claim it.
Otherwise, he must have known that the replays would condemn him.
Although, maybe he just didn’t care. And if so, perhaps the match referee should have something to say about this.
And even if he doesn’t, I think there should be a rule that consigns AB to field on the boundary in front of the Western Terrace for the rest of the innings. After that sort of experience, he’ll make sure the ball is well and truly wedged in his hands before making a friendly request of the umpire.