Cape Town - South Africa, now trailing 2-1 in the four-Test home series against England from 1-0 up, have set themselves up for the real danger of some ignominious records against them.
Following their innings defeat in Port Elizabeth on Monday, should they now also lose (or only draw) the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers from Friday, they will become the first Proteas side of the post-isolation era to have crashed in successive home Test series, if you add it to the shock 0-2 reverse to Sri Lanka last summer.
The last time that fate befell them was as far back as a lengthy period between 1935/36 and 1949/50, when they suffered four on the trot at home - twice each to England and Australia.
Faf du Plessis and company are now also under threat of losing three series in a row (regardless of whether home or away) for the first time since 2004/05, given that the first-time home defeat to Sri Lanka was followed a few months ago by the 0-3 hiding in India.
In that prior 2004/05 period, the Proteas were first beaten 1-0 in Sri Lanka (two Tests), then 1-0 again in India (also two Tests) and finally 2-1 (five-Test series) on our pitches by the emerging English side under Duncan Fletcher’s coaching tutelage.
This is the first SA team to have lost two home Tests in a row (Newlands and St George’s Park) to England, specifically, since 1956/57.
If there is one good omen to try to bank in the context of the current series for the wobbling Proteas, it is that Clive van Ryneveld’s team clawed back then from a 0-2 deficit to draw the third Test in Durban and then square things up at 2-2 overall by triumphing at the Wanderers and St George’s Park.
But if Joe Root’s outfit win again at the Bullring, they will become the first England side to prevail three times in a row in Test matches here since especially distant 1913/14, when they won all of the first three en route to a 4-0 triumph in the series, with one stalemate.
*The last time South Africa surrendered three home Tests on the trot to any opposition was in 2005/06, when Ricky Ponting’s golden-era Australians clean-swept the Proteas 3-0.
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