The Test series between Australia and South Africa has been a throwback to another era in many senses so it’s perhaps fitting there is now a pregnant pause.
Both camps have a week-and-a-half between the second and third Tests to refresh then reassess how they plan on breaking the 1-1 series deadlock.
Such an extended break is a genuine luxury in modern-day cricket. Context is often hard to find, games are squeezed into series then series are packed into the calender like peak-hour commuters on the London Tube.
Steve Smith’s side for example never had more than a week-long break between Tests during the recent Ashes.
Even Smith, renowned for being a cricket nuffie and his marathon net sessions, admitted he felt “drained” after the Ashes and didn’t want to pick up his bat.
The skipper wasn’t alone.
“I know a lot of the guys throughout the Ashes series were pretty mentally drained, it was pretty tough,” Usman Khawaja told reporters this week.
“Even I found after that Ashes series I was pretty tired mentally. I didn’t realise it until it was finished.
“It’s very hard to keep the intensity the whole way through … you need a little bit of a break here and there. It’ll be good for both teams.”
Coach Darren Lehmann agrees, having given his players the rest of this week off and invited them to be tourists in the true sense of the word. No tune-up game, no training.
“They’ve had a long summer,” Lehmann said.
The touring squad will reassemble on Sunday then have three net sessions before the series resumes in Cape Town on Thursday.
South Africa’s brains trust will spend their break studying labour law and previous International Cricket Council (ICC) code-of-conduct appeals, desperate for spearhead Kagiso Rabada to have a successful hearing and avoid a two-Test ban.
A total of six charges have been issued in this series.
To put that hostility in context, prior to the clash in Durban there hadn’t been an Australian charged in a Test in more than two years.
The cricket has also been decidedly different to the recent home summer, with runs now at a premium.
“It was tough work … it was reverse-swinging quite early. There were a few divots in the wicket,” Khawaja said of his knock of 75 in Port Elizabeth.
The current contest is also an outlier because of how long it is.
Australia and South Africa have never clashed in a four-Test series during the post-apartheid era.