The former is middle-aged and blocky – though still extremely fit.
Rabada is a lithe 22 years old and developing into a world-class player. But as the red mists of passion descended as the England innings dragged its way to conclusion and the body language of the touring South Africans started to show a form of exaggerated dyslexia a new bond was forged between the two, echoing the type of below-the-belt interjection at the dismissal of all-rounder Ben Stokes that cost Rabada an enforced rest in the second Test.
“How the hell,” said the Mechanic – or heated words to that effect – shaking his head at the seeming apathy of the South African team, “can the Proteas manage a start of 17/2 and then just seem to totally lose their way? “And how can they manage to give Joe Root two lives? First it was Aiden Markram wandering in off the fence to fluff a fairly straightforward chance when the England skipper had five. Yes, I know he was a substitute fielder, but that was straight out of cricket 101.
“Then JP Duminy does exactly the same thing, dropping a regulation catch off the England skipper when he was on 16. You can’t afford to give Root one life … never mind two. And what does he end up with? 190. This was where we lost the Test match.
“Then Rabada starts bowling as if he had no idea why he was on the pitch at Lord’s. He’s far be er than he showed spray-painting everything but the right line in his spell. This, surely, was the time for the captain to step forward and give his young quick a talking-to.
“But then we went into the game with a stop-gap skipper with Faf du Plessis at home with his new child and AB de Villiers has decided he doesn’t want to play Test matches.”
Once again the Mechanic shook his head in deep frustration, the lines of a passionate and Patriotic Proteas supporter etched deep into his brow. “If that was not enough, we have two England batsmen ruled not out off no-balls. First Morne Morkel oversteps – and oversteps by the size of his massive cricket boot – to rattle the stumps behind Stokes. How is this possible? Bowling is what he does for a living.
“But worse than this – in my eyes far worse than this – was Kershav Maharaj delivering a no-ball that had Root outside his crease and a clear stumping disallowed. How the hell (or words to that effect) does a slow bowler manage to overstep? Two shuffles and a hop and he can’t manage to stay behind the crease. But with Root already on 149, it was already too late for tears.”
It is perhaps fortunate that the Mechanic declined to get into the cracks which have suddenly appeared in the South African batting. Translating that into printable English would have been difficult in the extreme. But his early prediction had proved correct. Dropping Joe Root twice had indeed turned the Test.