There are still a couple of innings left for Test cricket
The Times Editorial: The enormity of South African cricket's achievement at Lord's is hard to underestimate. The magnificent victory has enabled the Proteas to knock the world's best team off its throne. For now we are No1.
Until, of course, the Proteas themselves are toppled. As England knows, after becoming Test cricket's No1 team around this time last year when they took the top spot from India, uneasy rests the head that wears this crown.
The challenge to South Africa will come as soon as November when the Proteas head Down Under to play Australia, a team still rankling from its own dismissal as the best cricket side in the world. It should prove to be another intriguing series. Until then, however, cricket fans must endure some limited-overs games as well as a Twenty20 World Cup.
The three-match series between South Africa and England has been gripping. The drama of the Proteas' massive victory in the first game at the Oval (where they had never won before) was briefly eclipsed by the Olympics in London, but normal service was resumed late last week with the pulsating denouement at the home of cricket coming on Monday evening as the shadows began to fall across Lord's.
The series, almost everyone agreed, needed to be decided over five Tests. But such are the demands of money and TV that it was sadly confined to just three. Nevertheless, the three games (two wins for South Africa and one draw) has again emphasised the primacy of Test cricket in an era when the fad appears to be the quicker formats like T20.
Test cricket is a slowly unfolding drama, with twists, turns and nuance. It is Shakespeare or Mark Twain (even Stephen King) to T20's Schwarzenegger or Sidney Sheldon.
Obituaries of Test cricket have appeared lately because TV prefers the fast-food version of the game. After the series which has so captivated us, we can only hope that its death, like Twain's, is greatly exaggerated.