A fish out of water would be an easy phrase to pluck out of the air in response to the defeat of the Proteas in their first Test match in Pakistan for 12 years. That would merely belie the layers of challenges the SA team faced.

Having played on the Newlands dust bowl in the 1970s, fresh from the lush-green seaming Kingsmead pitch, I have much sympathy. The Newlands contests with their wonderful array of spinners — Denys Hobson, Grahame Chevalier and Richard Morris — working their magic was a nightmare. A strong Natal side could manage two sparse victories in 12 years. Even in the 1970s, a Currie Cup win away from home was cherished owing to the different conditions — and the crowds, of course...

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