Just as Eric Morecambe needed Ernie Wise, so England need a batsman like Nick Compton.
Much has been made of England's more dynamic approach in recent times and it is true they have, in Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and at times, Jos Buttler, a middle-order that are at their best playing positive cricket.
But to have the best chance of playing that sort of cricket, they need someone to play the straight man role that Compton can fulfil. Someone to see off the new ball, draw the sting from bowlers at their freshest and set up a platform upon which they can build. It may be a less glamorous role than playing strokes in the middle order, but it is just as valuable.
It is for this reason that Compton has been recalled. He is certain, barring injury, to bat at No. 3 for England in the Boxing Day Test at Durban.
This is a return - "a second coming" as he put it - in more ways than one for Compton. He went to Clifton School in Durban and still returns at Christmas each year to see his family. Among the trees circling this ground is one planted by his grandfather, Denis, in 1957. Compton knows the opposition, having been a schoolmate of Hashim Amla's for a while, he knows the conditions and he knows the climate.
More importantly, it provides a second chance to make a go of international cricket. While he had some legitimate grounds for feeling aggrieved ahead of his dropping on the eve of the 2013 Ashes, he would also accept that, having failed to reach 20 in his final six Test innings before the axe fell, he had hardly made himself impregnable.
"I didn't take my chance with both hands," he says now. "I didn't play as well as I would have liked."
What he is not doing - and what nobody involved should be doing - is clinging on to any of the resentments of the past. Maybe mistakes were made; maybe judgments were harsh; maybe his recall now simply proves that it was wrong to drop him in the first place. But it does nobody any good to be settling scores or focusing on that now.
"The more time I can spend out there, I feel I'll be doing a job for the team and myself. The key is to push on and get some big scores"
This is a new start for Compton with a new management environment who are not looking to change him as much as utilise his range of skills for the team's benefit.
For nobody should think that Compton has changed since he last played Test cricket. He hasn't developed new strokes, he hasn't found an extra gear. He is, at heart, an old-fashioned Test batsman whose game is built upon a pretty solid defence. He plays fast bowling well and has the hunger to bat all day. The game may have changed - it may have quickened and emboldened - but such qualities will always be valuable.
"I didn't feel I needed to change my game," Compton said after training at the picturesque Pietermaritzburg Oval. "I always felt my game was built on pretty solid foundations. It's just about getting my head down and watching the ball.
"My aim is to get myself in and give myself the best chance. The more time I can spend out there, I feel I'll be doing a job for the team and myself. The key is to push on and get some big scores because that helps the average and your tally of runs."
He was also accused of being somewhat "intense" - whatever that means - by some team-mates after his last spell in the side, but while he accepts his life is probably more balanced now (he is more comfortable settled back in London and is happy in a long-term relationship), he has not felt the need to approach his second chance with any change in his mental approach.
So, in the weeks before the tour, he returned to the nets with his mentor, Neil Burns. Those sessions often involve facing the bowling machine at its quickest with the lights in the sports hall dimmed. The theory being, if he can manage in those conditions, he should be able to manage in the excellent conditions usually prevalent in Test cricket.
"Being hard on myself is one of the things that has got me as far as I have," he says. "You can see it as a negative, but I see it as a positive. It keeps making me strive to get better.
"Yes, at times I questioned whether the chance would ever come again. But the hunger was always there and I always felt I had more to give. It's a cliché, but this really is a dream come true for me."
His recall also reflects well on Alastair Cook. A more stubborn leader might have insisted that there was no way back for Compton who has, at times, been unusually critical of the England regime for a current player and with whom there had clearly been some disagreement during the early months of 2013.
But Cook has shown, as he did when he insisted upon the recall of Kevin Pietersen before the India tour of 2012, that a change of heart can be good for the team. Compton is, in many ways, a batsman in Cook's image. It seems to be working pretty well for Cook.
And if Cook and Compton become bogged down while batting together? It may be regarded as the sort of problem England would like to face. The fragility of their top-order has been a recurring fault of this England side - at one stage this year, the third wicket had fallen for 52 or fewer in eight out of 14 innings - and a little bit of solidity, even if it takes some time out of the game, can be no bad thing.
It appears England will play their Test batting line-up in the game against South Africa A, a three-day match starting on Sunday. Indeed, the top eight here is likely to be the top eight in Durban.
There is a strong temptation to rest James Anderson, however. Anderson delivered only five overs in the opening game but, such is his experience and his importance to the attack, there is a reluctance to make him bowl any more than necessary before the Test series starts. The short gap between the first two Tests - just two days - is especially unforgiving for the seamers.
With Anderson likely to be rested, there is a chance for Steven Finn to impress. Mark Footitt, who produced a nervous performance in Potchefstroom, is also likely to win another chance to find his feet in this environment, while Stuart Broad is expected to play in order to gain a little more rhythm.
Chris Woakes, who looked the sharpest of the England attack in the nets on Saturday, is the most likely choice of third seamer for the first Test. But it remains possible Finn could displace him, or push himself up to first reserve if the management feel that fresh legs are required for the second Test.
In a perfect world, England could have done with a little more warm-up time. But they decided against requesting that this game lose its first-class status and allow them to use 12 or 13 players in the knowledge that it was highly unlikely such a request would have been granted. Many of this South Africa A side, substantially stronger than the opposition in the first warm-up game, have international aspirations of their own to further over the next few days.
The pitch at the Pietermartizburg Oval, where the playing area contains a large tree just in from the backward square boundary, has been slow and uneven in recent times. But the Kingsmead groundsman, Phil Russell, has been drafted in to improve it in recent weeks and appears cautiously optimistic. In this hot, humid weather batting is less hard work than bowling, but there may well be some assistance for the seamers.
Meanwhile Paul Farbrace, the assistant coach, is expected to join the tour party on Saturday evening having been given a little extra time at home after a relentless year in which he has lived and breathed every success and failure of every member of the squad.
England (probable): Alastair Cook (capt), Alex Hales, Nick Compton, Joe Root, James Taylor, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Mark Footitt