ANY CRICKET lover who had, last week, ended his term on a desert island, would have deduced on his return that England's cricket was in a right old mess.
He would have noticed that after four times getting themselves into a potentially match-winning situation in the fourth Test here, England contrived to lose it by a considerable margin. What really would have made him wonder what was going on were the frilly bits round the edges that always seem to assume such importance.
There was the question on the second evening of whether or not Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher were right to come off for bad light when they were running the South African attack ragged. Trescothick admitted it was his decision to return to the pavilion and it appeared he was the only man in the ground that would have done so.
By coming off, they gave the South African bowlers the chance to regroup and when play resumed a few minutes later the two batsmen had to regain their momentum. Neither did and Jacques Kallis, the outstanding bowler of the match, removed them both. It was not long ago that Trescothick was perceived as Nasser Hussain's natural successor.
Incredibly, Trescothick has said that if he was again faced with the same set of circumstances, he would have acted in the same way. For a mind- boggling piece of self-justification and obstinacy, this takes the biscuit. If he really believes this, it is surely time for the men in the white coats. …