Thoughts from a fictitious South Africa batsman: This isn't how it was supposed to be in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka in-fielders appeal for a wicket
Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st Test, Galle, 2nd day July 13, 2018

Wait, hang on. This is not how it went when we played these okes last time.

Remember that game in Johannesburg? Ah, what a Test. Our quicks were so good then, and these Sri Lankan batsmen so fearful, they were practically racing each other back to the dressing room. Three days, that's all we needed to win the match. And we did it looking so strong, and athletic, and manly, almost like we were the jocks in one of those high-school movies, running around the locker room bare chested, snapping the wimpy Sri Lanka batsmen on the backside with our towels.

So I don't really understand how, after so recently smashing Australia so hard that half their team is now banned, we have wound up in this kind of trouble in Sri Lanka. I mean, look at our pace attack, and then look at theirs. They only have one seam bowler. Credit to this Lakmal guy for looking in the mirror every day and still having the confidence to go outside with that hairstyle, but his bowling average is over 40 - about twice as high as Kagiso's and Vern's. Apparently he's their captain, but he doesn't bowl himself in the first 35 overs. Is he playing as a specialist batsman at No. 10? None of this makes any sense.

It's like everything is the opposite here, right? When our quicks have their tails up at home, like they did against Australia, they are fearsome, and forbidding. Watch yourself, or you'll get an earful from Kagiso Rabada. Dale Steyn has eyes that scorch, and a forehead vein so pronounced that just by throbbing it's committing more violence than most people have ever done in their lives. These Sri Lankan bowlers are like soft toys. That Dilruwan Perera is so shy that when I tried to talk to him he got so nervous and I had to stop the conversation for fear of being vomited on. Rangana Herath could not be less menacing if he tried. I know dad bods are in, but look, there are Herath indentations around the field from the times he had dived during fielding practice.

And yet, what's this? Between the two of them, they've got us five down for 48, the ball fizzing past the bat. There are so many catchers around the batsman that it's more crowded at the crease than on one of the buses clunking around the stadium. And when these guys had come to South Africa, they'd dropped a lot of catches, while we raced around like superheroes after making stunning takes. Here it's all backwards. Even when we get a full toss and drive the ball into a gap, an unseen fielder pops up as if out of the ground, and zings it back to the keeper who, by the way, never stops yapping.

So what is there to do but prod, and stumble, and poke your bat out and pray that the ball will bounce into it, exactly like their whole top order had done 18 months ago? What else is left to do but go to the press conference and say the same things they did - "it's the conditions that have landed us in this trouble," and "we did apply ourselves with the bat, but the bowling was just too good". This time it is us who are basically out of the match after six sessions, and will have to play extremely well to even take the game into day five.

This is a place where three-quarters of their attack is made up of spinners, their lone seamer only gets the sympathy over before lunch, and while our dressing room is almost in silence, they are in howls of laughter out on the pitch. Everything is in reverse, and so, it would appear, are we.

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