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The number of consecutive final Tests in home series against South Africa that England have won. The Proteas have lost every single final Test they have played in England since readmission - twice to draw a series they had been winning (1994 and 2003), once to lose a series they should have won and would have won but for almost superhuman tactical negativity (1998), and once to concede a consolation defeat (2008), when they cleverly hoodwinked England into thinking the Kevin Pietersen captaincy experiment was a strategic masterstroke.
Whether or not this sequence becomes a five-pronged one will decide whether this series constitutes England's second significant failure of 2012 ‒ the series when England finally, after 108 years, were summarily overthrown as Olympic cricket champions ‒ or further proof of their resilience as a team, and their ability to alchemise victories from the apparent components of defeat. Was England's startling 2011 a team at its peak, performing consistently close to the limits of its collective and individual abilities? Or is 2012 the anomaly?
4 is also: The number of people in Britain who gave the second Test their full, undivided attention. The match gave hints that England might be re-establishing parity, or at least near-parity, with the Proteas after the tourists demolished them like a cheap birthday grapefruit in a fistfight on the Titanic. The Test was played to the noisy backdrop of a nation becoming wildly excited at finding out that it is good at sports of which it had barely even heard a couple of weeks ago. Kevin Pietersen's eye-watering innings and end-of-match strop-out added some intrigue, but a British person being able to make a horse breakdance captured more of the public's imagination.
4 is also: The number of cricket fans in the world who have no opinion on Kevin Pietersen. Three of those four misheard the question and thought it was referring to the former bespectacled 1980s Kent batsman Derek Aslett.
I have written more often about Kevin Pietersen than any other player in the four years I have been writing this blog. That is because he is more worth writing about than any other player - not better, but endlessly interesting, baffling, arresting, exhilarating, inconsistent, and frustrating, on and off the field. He wears his brilliance and his frailties quite openly, in his cricket, his words, and his behaviour. I have no idea what he is like as a man, but he has been a cricketer of ceaseless fascination, through his cricketing peaks and troughs, and his moods, which have swung so much there have been unsubstantiated rumours that someone had been picking at his moods with a bottle top and smearing one side with Vaseline. Please don't retire.
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writerFeeds: Andy Zaltzman
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Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.