Australia in South Africa, 2011-12 November 11, 2011

A quiz on the capers in Cape Town

Need some perspective after a jaw-unhinging day at Newlands?
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In the 2015 previous Test matches that have adorned the history of the universe, few, if any, passages of play can have matched the barking-mad cricketing melodrama that unfolded in the 2016th in Cape Town on Wednesday. On a lively but scarcely fire-breathing wicket, mayhem reigned as the moving ball and the DRS ran amok like a porcelain-loving bull in a well-stocked china shop.

Australia, from a position of total dominance, lost, in quick succession: a few early wickets; their marbles; and control of the game. Haddin, in particular, seemed to be spooked by the scoreboard (which read an admittedly alarming 18 for 5), and forget the match situation, which was, effectively, 206 for 5. Philander and Morkel took full advantage, and the game was not so much turned on its head as flipped into an impromptu quadruple somersault, before staggering groggily to its feet, muttering: "Who am I and what am I doing here?"

Australia had history and an immortal entry in the annals of sporting ineptitude within their grasp - at 21 for 9 after 11.4 overs, they were within one more inept waft of registering the lowest-ever completed Test innings (New Zealand's 26 against England in 1954-55), and the shortest-ever completed Test innings (South Africa's 12.3 overs at Edgbaston in 1924). Siddle and Lyon stapled a small fig leaf of dignity to Australia's obvious embarrassment with a last-wicket stand of 26, and History mopped its brow and toddled off. But it did not leave empty-handed. Here then, is a multiple-choice quiz about the unforgettable day two of the Newlands Test. Each question has multiple answers. Do not attempt if you are (a) an Australian batsman, or (b) an Australian of nervous disposition.

1. What did Nathan Lyon do on Thursday that no other human being has ever done?

(a) He walked out to bat in a Test match with his team at 21 for 9. The previous worst score facing a No. 11 was 25 for 9, when Lyon's baggy green predecessor Tom McKibbin marched to the wicket at The Oval in 1896 thinking, "Oh dear. This is a disappointing score. I bet no other Australian will ever come to the wicket with a worse score than this on the board." He smote a defiant 16 before being caught, taking Australia's score up to 44 all out, leaving Hugh Trumble chuntering into his moustache at the non-striker's end that he had taken 12 for 89 in the match and still been on the wrong end of a shoeing.

(b) He broke the 300-mph barrier on a unicycle. Unicycling has been introduced to the Australian training regime by their new coaches, as a means of improving balance and self-confidence. Lyon took a morning pedal up to the top of Table Mountain, lost his balance whilst looking for a yeti, and careered down to Newlands at breakneck speed.

(c) He became the eighth No. 11 to top-score in a Test innings.

(d) He walked on the moon.

ANSWERS: (a) and (c). (b) has not been ratified by the World Unicycling Federation, as it took place outside of official competition.

2. What do WG Grace and Philip Hughes have in common?

(a) Both men are no longer as effective as Test Match batsmen as they once were.

(b) Both have been played by Hollywood actor Val Kilmer in films.

(c) They have each taken part in one of the only two Tests ever played in which 23 batsmen have been dismissed in single figures in the first three innings of the match - Hughes at Newlands this week, Grace in the Lord's Test of 1888.

(d) Both have featured prominently in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's dreams in the past week.

ANSWERS: (a), (c) and (d).

3. What has Australia as a nation experienced three times in the last 16 months?

(a) An infestation of pterodactyls.

(b) It has watched in gaping-mouthed astonishment as its once-mighty cricket team has been bowled out for under 100, on three separate occasions - 88 all out against Pakistan in Leeds in July 2010, the Boxing Day MCG abomination against England (98 all out), and now 47 at Newlands. Three times in 12 Tests. They had posted a two-figure score just once in their previous 277 Tests over 25 years. They had not been skittled for under 100 three times in two years since 1887 and 1888 - when they had to regroup and take the positives after eight different sub-100 totals. In six matches. It is fair to say that Australian batsmanship improved thereafter.

(c) A creeping sensation that Silvio Berlusconi's behaviour might not be entirely prime ministerial.

(d) It has seen its cricket team win a Test match - in their previous four series, they won three, drew three and lost six. The previous time they won three or fewer games in a run of 12 Tests was between December 1987 and June 1989. At which point, they ground England into a fine pulp, kick-starting a decade and a half of unremitting Ashes dominance. Is this all part of Cricket Australia's masterplan?

ANSWERS: (b) and (d).

4. Why might Vernon Philander and Shane Watson have spent Thursday night discussing plans for a massive 30-foot-high commemorative bronze statue of themselves to be erected on the concourse at Newlands?

(a) Because they had just overheard Peter Siddle and Morne Morkel discussing erecting a 29-foot-high commemorative bronze statue of themselves on the concourse in Centurion.

(b) Because they had just become the first pair of bowlers from opposite sides to take five-wicket hauls for fewer than 20 runs in the same Test.

(c) Because 18 wickets had fallen in 23 overs of Test cricket, and they had been the principal agents of batting doom - both took five wickets in 20 balls. Eighteen wickets tumbled for 68 in 138 balls. Think about that. Have you thought about that? What do you think about that? This included 16 for 44 in 115, as South Africa lost their last seven wickets for 23 (their lowest such total since their first Test after readmission in 1991-92), and Australia lost their first nine for 21 (unprecedented at least since before the dinosaurs were still at the crease). Holy smokes. The apocalypse is coming. No doubt. Look at the Eurozone. Then look at the scorecard from Newlands. Then look at Alastair Cook's Test average over the last 12 months. There is no other conclusion to draw.

(d) Because, during the tea interval, they discovered a method of converting the noise of lbw appeals into electricity, thus solving all the world's energy problems, and rightly believe that their breakthrough should be recognised in artistic form.

ANSWERS: (b) and (c)

5. Before the Newlands Test, what had happened only twice since the First World War?

(a) Another World War.

(b) Both teams had been dismissed for under 100 in the same Test. It happened when India and New Zealand went head-to-head in a loser-loses-all collapse-off in Hamilton in 2002-03, and when South Africa and Australia span each other silly in Durban in 1949-50, and it has happened in Cape Town this week.

(c) A member of the Bush family had won a US Presidential election.

(d) Australia had lost a Test Match after taking a first-innings lead of 188 - their Newlands lead after skittling South Africa for 96. Those two occasions are quite highly regarded matches - Headingley 1981 and Kolkata 2000-01. If Australia lose this match, it will be the eighth highest first-innings lead to have resulted in defeat (excluding the Hansie Cronje's Magic Jacket match in 1999-2000, when the middle two innings were forfeited and England technically won after conceding a 248-run lead).

(e) A Test team had lost eight wickets for 10 runs or fewer. Australia collapsed like a narcoleptic house of cards on a bobsled going down the Spanish Steps in Rome as they subsided from 11 for 1 to 21 for 9. Only twice before had eight wickets fallen for as few runs in a Test, and both times New Zealand were the untriumphant team involved - when Saqlain and Sami carved them up in Auckland in 2000-01 (121 for 2 became 131 all out); and when, on the first day of post-war Test cricket, in Wellington in 1945-46, the Kiwis celebrated the return of peace by slumping from 37 for 2 to 42 all out. They followed this up by losing 6 for 6 during their second innings, and Australia, so appalled that such ineptitude should be allowed on a cricket pitch, did not play another Test against New Zealand for almost three decades. Will they be hoist by their own petard?

ANSWERS: (b), (d) and (e). And (c). And (a). If you count the international dispute over the UDRS as a World War. Which you should not.

Here endeth the quiz.

What a day. I think cricket needs a cup of tea and a sit-down. For mercifully different reasons than it needed a cup of tea and a sit-down last week after the spot-fixing trial. The third day may provide yet more twists, and after the excellent Test matches in Zimbabwe and India, these crazy Cape Town capers have been a further reminder that cricket is generally far more enjoyable when it is being played and watched on the pitch rather than in a courtroom.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jitendra on November 15, 2011, 9:36 GMT

    "Australia lost their first nine for 21 (unprecedented at least since before the dinosaurs were still at the crease). Holy smokes. The apocalypse is coming. No doubt. Look at the Eurozone. Then look at the scorecard from Newlands. Then look at Alastair Cook’s Test average over the last 12 months. There is no other conclusion to draw." LOL!!!!! That's only bound to come from you Mr Andy...

    Take care

  • Dush on November 14, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    brilliant! pls come to the Adelaide Fringe Festival. and there's some decent cricket to be enjoyed prior to this!

  • wicked.wizard on November 12, 2011, 23:38 GMT

    You should write a book!

  • riz on November 12, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    Now, can I say that Australia chocked? They had a lead of almost 200 runs.

  • Rahil Khan on November 12, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    LOL. Hilarious! This is one quiz I would fail but still walk out laughing as if I had aced it!

  • rishabh k rana on November 12, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Goodness Me!!!!!! What an hilarious article out of an embarrassing situation!!!! An infestation of pterodactyls. It cnat get funnier!!!!

  • waterbuffalo on November 12, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Fantastic article about a fantastic match. I think it is only fair to rub salt in their wounds because Steve Waugh seemed to think it was a good idea not too long ago but I'll leave it to the experts . Any sense of glee would be better left to the imagination.

  • Bandon Decker on November 12, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    With regard to question 5, a case could be made that the lead of 188 was actually the seventh highest to end in defeat. One of the higher deficits was in the forfeited Test at the Oval in 2006. Interestingly all of the other six higher than 188 involve Australia.

  • Graz on November 12, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    Andy, two things. 5c is incorrect, members of the Bush family have won four US presidential elections since WWI (2 each). Also 5a is definitely correct. As you've pointed out on numerous occasions (The Department, the Bugle, and your stand-up), the World Wars were a best of three, but because the Allies were 2-0 up the third was played behind closed doors. Germany won and now technically own Lincolnshire.

  • AR on November 11, 2011, 23:18 GMT

    The unicycling bit cracked me up! God bless you Andy!

  • Jitendra on November 15, 2011, 9:36 GMT

    "Australia lost their first nine for 21 (unprecedented at least since before the dinosaurs were still at the crease). Holy smokes. The apocalypse is coming. No doubt. Look at the Eurozone. Then look at the scorecard from Newlands. Then look at Alastair Cook’s Test average over the last 12 months. There is no other conclusion to draw." LOL!!!!! That's only bound to come from you Mr Andy...

    Take care

  • Dush on November 14, 2011, 11:04 GMT

    brilliant! pls come to the Adelaide Fringe Festival. and there's some decent cricket to be enjoyed prior to this!

  • wicked.wizard on November 12, 2011, 23:38 GMT

    You should write a book!

  • riz on November 12, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    Now, can I say that Australia chocked? They had a lead of almost 200 runs.

  • Rahil Khan on November 12, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    LOL. Hilarious! This is one quiz I would fail but still walk out laughing as if I had aced it!

  • rishabh k rana on November 12, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    Goodness Me!!!!!! What an hilarious article out of an embarrassing situation!!!! An infestation of pterodactyls. It cnat get funnier!!!!

  • waterbuffalo on November 12, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    Fantastic article about a fantastic match. I think it is only fair to rub salt in their wounds because Steve Waugh seemed to think it was a good idea not too long ago but I'll leave it to the experts . Any sense of glee would be better left to the imagination.

  • Bandon Decker on November 12, 2011, 2:55 GMT

    With regard to question 5, a case could be made that the lead of 188 was actually the seventh highest to end in defeat. One of the higher deficits was in the forfeited Test at the Oval in 2006. Interestingly all of the other six higher than 188 involve Australia.

  • Graz on November 12, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    Andy, two things. 5c is incorrect, members of the Bush family have won four US presidential elections since WWI (2 each). Also 5a is definitely correct. As you've pointed out on numerous occasions (The Department, the Bugle, and your stand-up), the World Wars were a best of three, but because the Allies were 2-0 up the third was played behind closed doors. Germany won and now technically own Lincolnshire.

  • AR on November 11, 2011, 23:18 GMT

    The unicycling bit cracked me up! God bless you Andy!

  • Aman Narang on November 11, 2011, 21:33 GMT

    Excellent read.....almost as funny as the Test match itself

  • Tom on November 11, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    Wednesday sure did have a feel of "Who's getting the leather jacket?". Obviously I'm ecstatic my team won, but Thursday really was a bit of a let-down after Wednesday's craziness.

  • chris on November 11, 2011, 20:41 GMT

    You should include (c) in No 5. After all Bush snr won in 1988 and Bush jnr in 2004, but he didn't win in 2000 - not the election anyway, only in the Supreme Court!

  • Simon Meader on November 11, 2011, 19:59 GMT

    I bet Bozo wouldnt enjoy reading this piece. I like zaltsman makes me chuckle. He has come up with some class lines about his wife. He did one in front of her and she came back with a class line of her own and shot him down. He took it really well and roared with laughter.

  • subho4321 on November 11, 2011, 19:51 GMT

    3c is also correct

  • shand on November 11, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    What are you saying Zaltzman? That the Australians are perfectly happy with Berlusconi's performance over the last 16 months? Let's not lay that at their door as well, they've had enough trouble as it is.

  • Random Dawg on November 11, 2011, 16:48 GMT

    *Two different Bush family members won elections, but between them they won more than that. *Nathan Lyon hit 14. *There's no dignity in 47 all out ;)

  • John Sunder on November 11, 2011, 16:47 GMT

    I think this is a master plan from the ICC to promote test cricket. They have over tried in making it to look better than T20 or IPL where only a max of 20 wickets can fall in a day in a single match.

  • Mohan on November 11, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    oscar peice! If the test match is a roller coaster, this one hilarious at its best. Hats off

  • sameer on November 11, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    haha!! this is very funny

  • nikhil on November 11, 2011, 16:06 GMT

    Superb as always !

  • Paddy on November 11, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    hilarious! Andy at his very best!

  • Nikhil on November 11, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    Excellent as usual Andy!! Keep them comin...

  • kailesh on November 11, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    A perfect plate of Zaltzman's Dessert's to round of an amazing day of cricket. :D

  • AK on November 11, 2011, 14:26 GMT

    Didn't a member of the Bush family win the US Presidential election 3 times - George B. once, and George W. B. twice?

  • Kunal on November 11, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    LOL... "(Lyon) broke the 300-mph barrier on a unicycle. Unicycling has been introduced to the Australian training regime by their new coaches, as a means of improving balance and self-confidence. Lyon took a morning pedal up to the top of Table Mountain, lost his balance whilst looking for a yeti, and careered down to Newlands at breakneck speed."

  • Aleem on November 11, 2011, 14:10 GMT

    Simply amazing...!!!! Laughing my heart out and still finding it hard to exhale all the humor breathed in while reading this master peace....

  • Dan on November 11, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    Andy, a member of the Bush family has in fact won a US presidential election on three ocassions... unless you discount the time Dubya cheated!

  • Sandeep on November 11, 2011, 13:57 GMT

    Hilarious as always is the case with you... the curtain has certainly fallen over Australia! They are now mere mortals...enough said

  • Rahul J on November 11, 2011, 13:44 GMT

    brilliant andy!!!!! absolutely hilarious!!!!! what a day of cricket and what a super article!!!! :)

  • prakash on November 11, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Yes, Andy. As recommended, I'm having a cup of tea sitting down.

  • mathew on November 11, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    Excellent.....me the first to comment.....super..

  • Karthik Reddy on November 11, 2011, 11:59 GMT

    "Siddle and Lyon stapled a small fig leaf of dignity to Australia’s obvious embarrassment" - that was a great comment! :D

  • Lord Emsworth on November 11, 2011, 11:53 GMT

    Warm hello from Blandings Castle young Zaltzman. Regarding the young lad Nathan Lyon in part 1 of your quiz I think there should be an option E as well. Would read: Lyon, as Oz's nr. 1 spinner going into the match, was given just 3 overs in 2 innings ? By the way, wonderful picture of old man W.G. I always thought he was an ugly devil (Reminds me always of my brrrr... Aunt Agatha) but he looks real handsome in this photo shoot.....

  • TUSHAR MUKHERJEE on November 11, 2011, 11:53 GMT

    Hey Andy, You missed another one of the records.Jacques Rudolph became the First Batsman to play twice and be dismissed on the same day when 4 innings were played on a single day. Check it out that never happened before in the previous 2015 Tests. However i do enjoy your stats.. Thanks, Mr.T.

  • Dylan the tragic on November 11, 2011, 11:29 GMT

    Oh Andy, this is your best yet... such priceless gems as the fig leaf of dignity, the apocalypse, cricket needing a cup of tea... I really think these ought to be kept under lock and key, viewed by members of the public prepared to hand over good money and stand in a long line for the privilege of viewing. Exquisite. Not to mention the 'Andyesque' stats, golden.

  • Anonymous on November 11, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    this is a humorous Q & A, if you r cricket crazy.

  • PT on November 11, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    Excellent article. I nominate 'narcoleptic house of cards' for simile of the decade.

  • Doug on November 11, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    I'm an Australian, but that was still quite funny, well done! It was almost as funny as watching the 3rd day's play, which just ended (in a session), leaving me plenty of time to get some work done. Incomprehensible, the whole thing. Actually, in the overall context, I think Michael Clarke did the wrong thing by making that 151, because if he had have got out early, the pitch might still have been doing abit by the time SA had their 2nd innings and the aussies might have had a chance!

  • Richard on November 11, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    Pedantry alert: didn't the Bush family win 3 elections - senior one, junior two?

  • Sandy Saltsman on November 11, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla seem to have sat cricket down and given it a pot of tea today. No more capers for the papers, behave old boy. And cricket seems for once to have listened. Mercifully. For my old heart could not have taken another day of yesterday. If you get my drift that is. And to think that in two days time, India and the West Indies will do battle again in the garden of Eden with the young boy Sachin again looking for his 100th century for the 100th time (almost). Though one can expect the scores there to be a wee bit higher. I can almost bet on that.

  • Godwin on November 11, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    Brilliant side-splitting article!

  • Rockstarzzz on November 11, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    Good One Andy.

  • John on November 11, 2011, 9:22 GMT

    This is hilariously toooo good.. v well written...

  • The Expat on November 11, 2011, 9:16 GMT

    Another great piece. Because I'm pedantic, I have to point out that a member of the Bush family has won a US Presidential election three times since World War I: Bush Sr. in 1988, and Bush Jr. in 2000 and 2004. (Arguably five times, as Bush Sr. was also the winning Vice-Presidential candidate in 1980 and 1984.)

  • Alan on November 11, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    Outstanding article and at such short notice. You never fail to put a smile on my face.

  • SubtleKnife on November 11, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    3 (c) must also be true, surely! Not even Australians can be that oblivious...

  • Matt V on November 11, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    "(which read an admittedly alarming 18 for 5)"

    * chuckles

    "(a) Both men are no longer as effective as Test Match batsmen as they once were."

    LMAO

  • mihir on November 11, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Good one Andy. This match is fantabulous. i say get these teams to play more often and watch some unpredictable statistics ooze at the end of each match.

    India and England have a long way to go. And this is really a good advert for the test arena.

  • tomthepom on November 11, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    magnificent andy, very funny, we are not worthy

  • Kartik on November 11, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    I never thought it was possible to consistently turn cricket into written comedy. But there is one man who does it.

    I am speechless. This is genius.

  • shobhit on November 11, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    Simply hillarious...mayhemic writing to sum up Australia's journey from megaloaniacism to masochism...ha..

  • Michael Raubenheimer on November 11, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    I do suspect that Andy Zaltzman is a well disguised Interpol agent looking into match fixing. Do not let his Pennywise the Clown hairstyle nor his witty writing fool you.

    Andy you narc!

  • jerome on November 11, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    what do you think the score woud be if marshal holding croft ambrose and roberts were bowling in these conditions?

  • M Raja Sekhar Reddy on November 11, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    Just outstanding

  • tushar mathur on November 11, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    sorry..but its not funny at all

  • Rabindranath on November 11, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Excellent Article Andy.. I loved it..

  • kangaroussy on November 11, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    and i shall, in future, leave the funnies to mr zaltszman. and that chap who posts as andyzaltzmanshair.

  • kangaroussy on November 11, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    That was really funny! I laughed so hard that mrs kanga came over for a read. "thats not funny" she said. I asked for a review. turns out I was right all along. DRS wins again.

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  • kangaroussy on November 11, 2011, 7:09 GMT

    That was really funny! I laughed so hard that mrs kanga came over for a read. "thats not funny" she said. I asked for a review. turns out I was right all along. DRS wins again.

  • kangaroussy on November 11, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    and i shall, in future, leave the funnies to mr zaltszman. and that chap who posts as andyzaltzmanshair.

  • Rabindranath on November 11, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Excellent Article Andy.. I loved it..

  • tushar mathur on November 11, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    sorry..but its not funny at all

  • M Raja Sekhar Reddy on November 11, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    Just outstanding

  • jerome on November 11, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    what do you think the score woud be if marshal holding croft ambrose and roberts were bowling in these conditions?

  • Michael Raubenheimer on November 11, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    I do suspect that Andy Zaltzman is a well disguised Interpol agent looking into match fixing. Do not let his Pennywise the Clown hairstyle nor his witty writing fool you.

    Andy you narc!

  • shobhit on November 11, 2011, 8:02 GMT

    Simply hillarious...mayhemic writing to sum up Australia's journey from megaloaniacism to masochism...ha..

  • Kartik on November 11, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    I never thought it was possible to consistently turn cricket into written comedy. But there is one man who does it.

    I am speechless. This is genius.

  • tomthepom on November 11, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    magnificent andy, very funny, we are not worthy