Stuart Broad held the court in the English team room; the same in which he would lead the bowlers' meeting later that day; the same one he remembers from 2016, when he then went out and took 6-17 at The Wanderers, including a five wicket spell for a single point in 36 balls.
It is very different now. Broad was already one of the most experienced players in the team at that time – only Alastair Cook, Nick Compton and Jimmy Anderson were older – but now, with Anderson missing, he is very much the older statesman.
It's an increasingly vulnerable place to be, especially with such enthusiasm for a young side shooting for the third consecutive test win, amid the suggestion that Joe Root has emerged as a better captain now that he a more malleable group has to control.
There are echoes of the Gareth Southgate regime, here: a manager who puts his faith in youth as a youth resources to spend time on an old regime.
The Phasing of Wayne Rooney, The Refusal to Reclaim Jamie Vardy – It was obvious from that moment that Southgate preferred the eagerness, the novelty of youth. He did not want dilapidated old faces who saw their presence as a favor.
Broad certainly would not fit into that category, but with his old partner Anderson he undoubtedly represents a strong alliance.
It was noticeable in Port Elizabeth that Root would sometimes run to Broad and give instructions, while in the past those conversations might have already taken place between Broad and Anderson, who had then passed on their wishes to the captain.
It is complex. Root would not want to be without Broad and Anderson when the circumstances are right. But which captain doesn't want to mention the shots?
First test (Centurion)
South Africa won with 107 runs
Second Test (Cape Town)
Won England with 189 runs
January 16-20, January 1945 ]
Third test (Port Elizabeth))
England won by innings and 53 runs
Fourth test (Johannesburg)
] England led the series 2-1 with one test to play
Root admitted Thursday that Broad, indeed all senior fast bowlers could be grumpy. He had decided to find it charming.
So these are interesting times for Broad, who may not be touring Sri Lanka where spider is king and will visit England later in the year. It would make him almost 34 when he played for England in the summer.
Yet he did not speak like a man who is afraid that his career will end. He sees Anderson, still vital at 37, he sees young players watching him; he sees a path ahead.
& # 39; Oh, it gives you so much energy, really, & # 39; Broad said. & # 39; You walk into the dressing room with these young players every day and it encourages you – if you spend a little time with them, they are incredibly mature.
& # 39; Pocket Crawley, Sibley Dom, Ollie Pope, Sam Curran, Dom Bess – incredibly mature children and they absorb information very quickly. I feel that I can share a lot of experience within the group and the young players really listen to things like that.
& # 39; You forget how much you can learn at 21 or 22, subtle changes that make the difference.
& # 39; There is a myth that all young people want to do is play T20 – but as a test-playing, test-loving 33-year-old, what I like is that everyone who comes into our environment would know it can't be further from the truth.
You have men who are hungry and desperate to develop as test crimeters; they all want long, successful, Ash-winning test careers.
& # 39; And that is a great sign for English cricket, because the desire is to make this team the best in the world, and with the talent around, who knows?
& # 39; I have seen Ollie Pope operate, it must be one of the best young prospects England has ever seen. If we can be patient, let him settle down, learn his trade at six o'clock, he can deliver anything for England.
& # 39; If we can win this series, it would be a great achievement because we have seen young players come through. When I leave next week, I look back on this trip and I think: English cricket is really in good hands.
& # 39; But Jimmy is also an inspiration to me because of his way of acting. He has become a better bowler, so I look at him and think: why not me?
& # 39; His experience came together, all his know-how and he was able to deliver consistently. I feel that my consistency has also improved over the past 12 months due to the energy and excitement and enthusiasm of the young boys for training and play.
Just as Southgate benefited from a relatively benign schedule at the 2018 World Cup – England cynically, England defeated every team they hoped would beat, and lost to the two good teams they played – so Roots team here has benefited from a bad show from South Africa in back-to-back tests.
Certainly the batting performance in Port Elizabeth was bleak and the loss of the fastest bowler Kagiso Rabada is a huge blow.
On a fast Johannesburg wicket, it gives England the advantage because Mark Wood and Jofra Archer stay fit. However, it is still expected that Broad will take the new ball; just not forever.
& # 39; It is now a different kind of role, & # 39; he added. & # 39; You start a little less to give your own performance and you start to give more to others. That sounds very cheesy, but it's true. & # 39;
As he says, English cricket seems to be in very good hands.