It’s when they fall to the ground, not when they jump. when they scream but there is no sound. When Ben Stokes is not the centurion or the one with a five-wicket haul but is a player of the match as England takes Newlands for the first time since 1957.
Bodies everywhere the place, voices lost and a series squared one apiece.
Test match wins don’t come more satisfying or harder fought, even if the margin of 189 runs seems steep. The difference was 50 balls. That’s how close South Africa came to stave off defeat.
How few opportunities England had left to point out hours and days of toil into something worthwhile.
They battled tooth and nail to prise the first-innings advantage, courtesy of James Anderson’s five for 40. Then ground things out with Dom Sibley’s help, a maiden century of 133 not out from 311 balls to line 438 to win and 146 overs to bat.
By Tuesday afternoon, because the red lobsters within the stands found their voice through generations-old songs, forged more from defeat than glory, the runs had lost their appeal. And, eventually, due to Stokes, South Africa all its batsmen.
His late spell of 4.3 overs saw him take the last word three wickets – his only success in 33 overs of body-punishing work – to nab the winning moment after stealing the limelight on day four with a shocking 72 from 47 balls.
At now it’s almost just greedy: three spoils of glory inside nine months. He was reluctant to need the credit alone, forcing Sibley to return up and accept the individual award with him, recognizing his star turn was only possible on the shoulders of others.
Most encouragingly, though, was the presence of more shoulders beyond his. this is often only one win – the first of Chris Silverwood’s tenure at the fourth attempt – but plenty of it, including Joe Root’s captaincy, felt like sustainable, legacy-building improvements.
Still, this was a result it felt like would never are available the moments after tea.
For when Anderson pulled up after delivering the final ball of the first over of the final stanza, only his second with the new ball, Root knew the wits of an individual with 584 Test wickets to his name was lost to him.
That 584th victim had are available the morning session, Keshav Maharaj trapped LBW three overs into the day. South Africa reduced to 129 for 3, runs remaining losing importance (309, for the record) but the seven wickets to urge seemed plausible with 83 overs left and thus the promise of a pitch that might deteriorate. Oh, and thus the second new ball.
But this, this weary over with England needing five more wickets after 59 overs of toil and a middle period which earned them just one, was only Anderson’s second thereupon new ball.
He was late out after lunch, popping a couple of painkillers as he made his way down the steps. A side strain was the whisper that came through. And on this evidence, it looked bad.
He got given one moreover, a maiden which was as easily ignored as defended. Root pulled the pin, turning to Stuart Broad for a subsequent go at the Wynberg End.
As is that the way with anything against Anderson, his age – 37, you’d have heard – leads to mention physical degeneration, even after a 27th five-wicket haul within the first innings. Not for the first time within the last six months, his body was letting him down. Thankfully, though, his hands were fine.