I was exposed to the Barmy Army before a ball had been bowled and already I could tell they’d add value to the Test series between South Africa and England.
I was unaware that a group of them were sitting in front of me on the flight down to Durban on the morning of the first Test. That was until one of them gave his opinion on the miserable weather that greeted us upon landing.
“I’d say this is inclement,” he said as he leaned over to get a look out the window at the dreary wet runway. As someone who lives in a pace where it rains as much as it does I figured he was well qualified for give the assessment.
Another of the travelling party pulled 25p out of his pocket and then pronounced ‘oh, look a fiver’ – a dig at the exchange rate and just how much fun awaited those who had Pounds in their pockets.
They certainly made a massive dent in beer sales in Durban, so much so that extra kegs had to be brought in, and I’m confident that those running the bars at Cape Town were smiling after each day’s play.
But the spirit in which this series has been played both on the field and among the supporters in the stands.
There’s been sledging. Ben Stokes told Temba Bavuma exactly what he thought of his abilities when a Chinese cut went for four. Bavuma responded in magnificent fashion with a historic century. Stokes was the first to congratulate him when they walked off after South Africa had declared their first innings.
And then there were South Africans making noise on the third day as a group calling themselves the Amla Army or Hashim’s army came out, dressed in white and sporting beards, and voiced their support as he went about building one of his trademark innings.
“Hashim. Hashim, Hashim. Hashim, Hashim. Hashim. Hashim Amla!” they chanted. Liverpool fans would recognise the tune from the song dedicated to the famous footballing Toure brothers, Yaya and Kolo.
It’s been an eventful series so far, again both on and off the field, and the talking points have come thick and fast. It’s meant that have had to keep churning out the copy. Laptop keyboards have taken a pounding. But there are worse places to be working from than at cricket stadiums particularly when they include a stint at Newlands.
For the touring fans the party continues this week. It’s regular programming for the media and for the players there’s the chance to get to grips with conditions at the Wanderers.
Let the good times roll.