Omar Henry now coaches the university cricket team in Stellenbosch, but as recently as two years ago, he was convener of the selection panel that picked the side to tour India (2004-05). These days, Henry, who became the first Coloured cricketer to play for South Africa in 1992-93, focuses more on his family, and his 14-year-old son Riyad, who aspires to be a seam bowler, rather than a spinner like his old man.

"I loved the work I did with Cricket South Africa," says Henry, "but you spend so much time away from home that you wonder whether it's worth it." It's a feeling that the likes of Graham Thorpe and Marcus Trescothick have expressed in the past, but with the game's administrators interested only in shoehorning in more and more matches, who's listening?

Henry says he's excited by some of the young talent coming through in South Africa, though there continue to be whispers about the transformation process that will never please every section of society. This is a country moving away from its racist past, but the undertones can still be felt at times. During the Durban game, when people were encouraged to send their SMS messages to be flashed on the giant screen, one person wrote: "Why are there so many traitors in this ground? You should go live in India then" - a view inspired no doubt by Norman Tebbitt, and the multitude of Indian flags that were being waved before the evening collapse.

One of those in the media enclosure that evening as things fell apart was Sunil Gavaskar. A journalist tried to put him on the spot about the greatest innings he ever played, but Gavaskar wouldn't bite the bait. He was then offered a choice - was it the 221 that nearly took India to victory at the Oval (1979) or was it the epic 96 in his final Test at Bangalore? Again, the man himself refused to pick.

Later though, he told a friend: "I honestly don't recall a single thing about those two innings - not how they bowled, or what the fields were like, or what shots I played." According to him, he was in such a zone, with concentration and technique in perfect sync, that nothing else mattered. What the current lot of Indian batsmen wouldn't do to scale such heights on this tour.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo