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Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

South Africa v England 1st Test Day 3 as it happened

First Test, Centurion (day three):


To get involved e-mail (with 'For Tom Fordyce' in the subject), text 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide) (with "CRICKET" as first word) or use 606 (Not all comments can be used)

By Tom Fordyce

1605: That's us done - South Africa lead by 71. Standing ovation for the contributions on email and text - some beauties in there, and if I couldn't use yours don't take it the wrong way. Benjamin Dirs in the hot-seat at the weekend. Festive joy.

1600: STUMPS - SA 9-1
Onions dropping it short against Harris - oh, fended off towards Cook at forward short leg, an inch from his stretching fingertips. Two gullies in now - is there a yorker coming up? Not yet - shortish, dropped at his feet - fuller, just jabbed off his front peg by the frantic Harris. Last ball - jabbed again, and that'll be stumps. Cracking fight-back from England on a see-saw day, and Strauss's men will go into the weekend with an optimism that seemed entirely implausible at tea.

From Meds, Leavy and Bartlett in snowy Preston, TMS inbox: "To the tune of "I Love Rock and Roll"
"We love Graeme Swann, hit another four with your switch-hit baby!"

1555: SA 9-1
Over the wicket from Anderson to Smith - run away off the face of a defensive push for four past the diving Bell at point. Anderson switches to round the wicket, two slips in, looking for the angler through the gate. Time for one more over?

1551: SA 3-1
Prince got half-forward, prodded, and the ball smashed onto his leg stump of the inside edge. What a start. Who's that coming in - nightwatchman? Yup, it's Harris - probably ready for a breather, to be fair - 32 overs bowled today, five wickets... Onions now from the Hennops River End, and Smith squirts a single off his pads to get off strike. Prod off the hip rom Harris past the grasp of Cook at forward short leg for an anxious two.

From Richard, TMS inbox: "I'm as enthusiastic as the next man, but all this giving your sisters away is a tad unsavoury."

1546: WICKET Prince b Anderson 0, SA 2-1
Out for a duck
Wicket falls

Here come South Africa, England waiting like hungry hyenas - is Prince going to take the first ball, instead of Smith? When was the last time that happened? Leg bye to get Smith on strike straight away - ooof, leading edge from the skipper, survives. Scampered single, Prince waits, Jimmy... BOWLED HIM!

1538: Point of order, South Africa have a lead of 62 after the first innings. There'll be time for a quick joust before the close - Graeme Smith on a pair...

Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: "I think there's going to be a mad session during this Test - that may have been it - but I think there will be one where lots of wickets fall very quickly."

1533: WICKET Swann c Smith b Harris 85, Eng 356 all out
Wicket falls

Massive swipe, will it go - Smith, you spoilsport, why did you have to catch that in the deep?

1529: Eng 348-9
Now then, Graham Onions - stick around, nothing stupi... four! Smashed over midwicket!

From Matthew, TMS inbox: "Sir Graeme Swann... has a ring to it, doesn't it?"

1524: WICKET Anderson c Morkel b Ntini 29, Eng 348-9
Wicket falls

Ntini, checked drive... bagged by a forward-diving Morkel at mid-off. Shame - splendid partnership, and another 20 minutes would have been lovely.

1522: Eng 348-8
Harris again - Swann twirls round, goes down on one knee and belts a glorious switch-hit through cover/midwicket for a four that England fans around the boundary are celebrating like beer rain. 81 to Swanny now, partnership 106, the deficit down to 70...

From Ed, Tooting, TMS inbox: "Not only would I let Swanny have a nibble at my sister, I don't think I'd need much persuasion to let him have a go on me."

1518: Eng 344-8
Oh, that's dreamy again - leaning into a fullish one from Ntini and clipping it casually over midwicket for the four to bring up the 100 partnership. New England record for the ninth wicket against South Africa, beating the previous mark of Fred and Harmie.

From Ricky from Surrey, TMS inbox: "I'm currently drinking from a 'worlds best cricketer' mug, can someone give me Graeme Swann's address so I can post it to him."

1514: Eng 339-8
Concentrate, Jimmy - don't give this away now... Four solid blockers, a head-down drive, and that's a maiden. Partnership of 97, the SA lead down to 79. Interesting, eh?

From Rory's Ex, TMS inbox: "FAO Rory - you're dumped. Lots of love your artistic ex-girlfriend."

1509: Eng 339-8
Round the wicket from Morkel, and that lifter nearly takes Anderson's nose off - brutal, and he does well to fend it desperately past the diving leg gully. Single. Great shot from Swanny - swivelling onto a short one like Alec Stewart and thumping it to deep midwicket for a one-bounce four. Classy cover drive next - has Amla pulled that back from the rope, or was his back leg touching? I'm giving that as a four, but Aleem Dar isn't. He's the boss, but still...

From Matthew, TMS inbox: "Talking of Christmas nibbling. Would it be wrong to get friendly with a friends (who you now rarely see) older sister? It's a starter for ten down the pub later...."

1505: Eng 331-8
Jimmy waits for the whippy Ntini, aiming two cavalier back-foot drives into the covers and failing to pierce the inner ring with one. Single there, the same for Swanny, and the shadow from a floodlight pylon stretches across the outfield like the arm of a giant sun-dial.

From Andy G, Weybridge, text on 81111: "To dominic ref. His mug, i'm currently sporting a t-shirt stating Hulkamania is running wild, I might edit it to say Graeme Swann though."

1500: Eng 329-8
Morkel canters in to Swann - big appeal for a snicker behind, shake of the head from Umpire Aleem Dar. Swann grins and then nicks the next one past slip for four - he's loving every second of this. That's 64, his highest Test score - two sisters?

From Rory, TMS inbox: "I'm afraid I can "top" the world's worst mug with one given to me by my 23 year old girlfriend from a paint your own pottery shop. I had to tell her it was amazing; needless to say it looked like she painted it using her feet. With her eyes closed."

1456: Eng 325-8
Amla perched at short midwicket, his folded sun-hat sticking up out of the back of his trousers like a stunted tail. Anderson stays watchful against Harris, happy to play the ancho - forget that, he's just slog-swept him way over deep midwicket for a gloriously defiant six. The partnership up to 83, the biggest of the innings. Jimmy's first six in Test cricket, and that's handy from Andy.

From Ed from Tooting, TMS inbox: "I have a mug sitting on my desk now that says: "I heart Spreadsheets". I don't. I feel nothing but contempt for them."

1453: Eng 318-8
Big up yourself, Samuel. Everyone else, manually refresh. I say this now - if Graeme Swann wants to have a Christmas nibble on any of my three sisters, he can help himself. What an effort. Huzzah! Four more, smashed on the up through cover like King Vivi at his best. I've over-egged that a touch, but let's ride the wave.

By Sam Lyon

1449: Eng 313-8
As Tom Fordyce looms back into view, buoyed by the sight of Graeme Swann thwacking the ball to all parts on the switch hit, James Anderson plays out another Paul Harris over relatively comfortably and adds two more to England's total. With that I'll hand you and your mug chat back to the great TF. Be well folks.

1445: Eng 311-8
Graeme Swann, believe it or not, averages over 40 in Tests - dare he cast half an eye on a maiden century here? He grabs a single off a decent Friedel de Wet over to take his score to 54 off 52 deliveries, with Jimmy Anderson also snatching a run.

From Dominic, TMS inbox: "A mug can say a lot about a person. I work in an office, am late twenties and have a World Wrestling Federation, 'Macho Man Randy Savage' mug circa 1990. It inspires me to be the best I can be, with it's ballooned catchphrase "Oh yeah!"."

That's 50
1441: Eng 309-8
SWITCH-HIT! *Rubs eyes in disbelief* Graeme Swann has only gone and blooming kerplunked one off the middle on the switch hit for four bless 'im. What a knock this is proving. He then brings up his half century with a turn away off his hips for another boundary and England's deficit is nearing the 100 mark.

1438: Eng 300-8
Friedel de Wet restores an element of calm with a maiden.

From Chris, London, TMS inbox: "Re: David at 1432 - offices are invariably full of rather average hot drink receptacles, but does any self respecting male have anything worse than Winnie the Pooh?!"

Referral - not out
1432: Eng 300-8
Oh yes, Graeme Swann has absolutely smorshed that baby, tonking Paul Harris out of the ground with a huge hit over midwicket for six. The referral system comes into play again when Harris raps James Anderson on the pads three balls later, but it clearly hit him outside the line and Steve Davis's original not out decision stands. Graeme Smith, meanwhile, takes the break opportunity to read the riot act to his troops - the Proteas break away from the huddle tails firmly tucked between legs and Swanny and Anderson will now realise they must be doing something right. A welcome change.

From David, TMS inbox: "Quit your laughing Eisuke (1413). Pooh spells it 'hunny' in the stories. The coffee mug I'm holding proves it!!"

1426: Eng 290-8
It's a double change with this partnership starting to prove more troublesome than a bubbling pimple on prom night, but Friedel de Wet has to rely on a brilliant piece of fielding from Paul Harris to stop a James Anderson punch flying away for four second ball. Swann and Anderson tick things over comfortably enough, though, and seven dashed runs are taken from the over.

1421: Eng 283-8
Paul Harris's rest lasts just over half an hour as he is promptly brought back into the attack following Graeme Swann's newly-adopted aggressive approach - and he yields just a single from his return over.

From Lorna, TMS inbox: "Winnie the Pooh doesn't hibernate, he hi-bear-nates."

1417: Eng 282-8
Nice that from Graeme Swann, the Notts man opening his shoulders and punching Ntini up and over his head for four first ball. A couple of scampered braces precede a slap over cover for another four thereafter and this is developing into a valuable little stand.

From Eisuke, TMS inbox: "I am sat opposite Adam from London (1403 post) and he joyfully jumped up and down as his post made it onto the hallowed TMS commentary turf. His joy was as short lived as Bell's cameo, however, as he quickly realised that he had incorrectly spelled "Winnie". Honey on face."

1413: Eng 269-8
It's frugal enough fare this from Morne Morkel but all a bit too short and wide for my liking - that is until he straightens one up a touch and rips one by James Anderson's outside edge with a beauty fifth ball. Anderson shrugs his shoulders and squeezes one past the slip cordon for four next ball. Deficit now under 150.

Jonathan Agnew
Jonathan Agnew on Twitter today: "More controversy about Review System. 35 secs taken by SA - time for replay to be seen in dressing room? Broad and Swann both furious."

1408: Eng 264-8
Bosh! Makhaya Ntini lines Graeme Swann up with a short one, but everyone's favourite former BBC columnist rocks back onto his heels, grits his teeth and closes his eyes, and rips it off the middle on the pull away for a doozy of a six. Two balls later and James Anderson gets in on the act with a swipe outside off stump over point and away for a four.

From Mitch, Oxford, TMS inbox: "This referral system, as it stands, is only creating ill-feeling and making the game look ridiculous. Either refine it so that it works effectively or drop it. It makes the umpires look stupid, it annoys the players who then argue with the umpires that seem to give them not out in the first place."

1405: Eng 253-8
Just a single from that Morne Morkel over, but it's all a bit short from the big man. Time for De Wet maybe?

Michael Vaughan
1403: Michael Vaughan is back on Test Match Special commentary duties by the way. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to let you know that we've lined him up to tackle some of your questions in a feature for the BBC Sport website. What would you ask him? Have a think - there'll be a form later for you to submit your questions.

From Adam in London, TMS inbox: "Sorry to be a little nit picky but isn't Whinnie the Pooh often pictured walking around in the snow? Thus dispelling the thought that he hibernates like other similar animals."

1400: Eng 252-8
James Anderson has clearly decided he won't die wondering here as he flails wildly outside off stump at the first five Makhaya Ntini deliveries. Plenty of pace and zip from the paceman, but not a slither of willow on any of them and so Ntini decides to go around the wicket, at which point Anderson gets a nick that flies along the ground down to third man for four.

1355: Eng 248-8
Morne Morkel to James Anderson and it's just a single from the over. Slower going than Winnie the Pooh's hibernation diary at the moment this for England.

From Shaun, TMS inbox: "Re: 1342 - Surely Mr. Broad should be more annoyed at getting trapped in front of the stumps instead of worrying about the minor points of the referral rule?"

1350: Eng 247-8
Makhaya Ntini is brought back into the attack and James Anderson welcomes him with a sublime punch through the covers for a Rolex-timing four. The Test centurion responds by grabbing the new cherry but no great movement or misbehaviour off the pitch just yet. Meanwhile, Stuart Broad and England coach Andy Flower have tucked themselves away in the match referee's room no doubt debating that earlier dismissal on referral. Schoolboys-in-the-headmaster's-office-esque.

From David in Birmingham on text 81111: "All this Bell bashing is a disgrace - pure victimisation and bullying! Yes it was a very bad "shot" but has everyone else done great? NO! They haven't and England's innings has not been helped nor undone by Bell alone!"

1345: Eng 242-8
Paul Harris, give yourself a breather son. His last over before the new ball is inevitably taken is a maiden and Graeme Smith pats him on the back and tells him he may as well have a sunbathe down at cow corner. Lovely.

1342: Eng 242-8
Broad is not a happy bunny. South Africa took 35 seconds to call for that review and England are convinced they did so on the prompting of the dressing room. Hhmm. James Anderson sees off the last ball of the over.

Wicket falls
Referral - out
1340 - WICKET! Broad lbw Duminy 17, Eng 242-8
First attacking shot in anger following the tea break from Graeme Swann, reverse-sweeping JP Duminy down to the vacant third man region for a three. That brings Broad on strike and Duminy raps him on the pads immediately. Huge shout but Aleem Dar shakes his head. What seems like an age later, South Africa call for a referral and replays show it hit him in front and was hitting middle halfway up - out.

1335: Eng 239-7
Variable bounce still on show every now and then for Paul Harris and that bodes about as well as a hedgehog contemplating a saunter across the M25 for England. Maiden, kept out well by Broad

1332: Eng 239-7
JP Duminy continues to turn his arm over with the new ball due in three overs after this one. Straight-bat-tastic from Broad and Swann and it's just a single from the six deliveries.

1330: The players are back out and each is practising the cover drive. Oh to see a well executed cover drive...

1327: By the way, you will need to refresh this page if you're desperate to see my name at the top, which will no doubt apply solely to my mum (she loves her cricket she does) and that fella who always emails in with 'Lyon' puns. You know who you are.

1325: So, it would seem I have been handed the unenviable task of talking you through the latest sorry demise of England's batting order then - provided it takes no longer than half an hour or so which, let's be honest, is even optimistic in itself. BUT *ill-placed optimism alert* - lest we forget, Broad and Swann thrashed the Aussies around for a 100 partnership at Headingley only a few months ago. That said, *deflation of said optimism alert* England did go on to lose that Test by an innings and 80 runs. Ah look, at least it's nearly Christmas.

By Tom Fordyce

From The Earl of Bucklersbury, Hitchin, TMS inbox: "Surely while we're in SA it's an ideal opportunity to recruit a replacement for Mr Bell."


1310: Eng 238-7
Last over before tea - single to Broad, and that's the session sealed. Depressing afternoon for England - two days and 37 overs to go, and they're still 180 behind. I'm just going for a short snowy walk - I may be some time...

From Richard in Leeds, TMS inbox: "John Lennon couldn't have put it better;
So this is Christmas
And what has Bell done
Left another straight one
England undone."

1307: Eng 237-7
Singles dashed and scampered, and the deficit is 181. 181! (shakes head sadly, grimaces, tries to fold arms and then realises impact on typing)

From Macca in Bristol, TMS inbox: "Re. Adam in London, to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland":
"Ian Bell……..are you listening
To this song, that we're singing
You left it alone
Now it's time to come home
You'll fly in to a winter wonderland."

1302: Eng 234-7
Swanny, not a man to let a few wickets get his pecker down, turns a single to leg as the sun goes behind a cloud for the first time all match. Nothing rainy about it, before you ask. Check-slog from Broad - four, just over mid-on with the spin off Harris - a single run away off the face and then a crashing drive straight back down the ground from Swann. Here marks the start of the traditional token tail waggage.

From Mike from the North, TMS inbox: "Re Ian "Jingle" Bells, how about?
Ian Bell, Ian Bell,
What a waste of space,
How many times will he let us down?
He's a W.G. dis-Grace."

1257: Eng 224-7
Let's look on the bright side: England have avoided the follow-on. Has that helped? No? They still trail by 194 runs, and even with some old-fashioned blazing from Broad and new-man Swanny that looks like the steepest and slipperiest of mountains.

From James in Warwickshire, TMS inbox: "Was JB's first flat wallpapered in discarded newspapers? - Do tell."

1252: WICKET Collingwood c Kallis b Harris 50, Eng 221-7
That's 50
Wicket falls

Lovely sweep from Colly, and that's his half-century - his 17th in Test cricket. Well done Co... gone! Words of congrats die on lips - Harris actually turns one a fraction, and in shock Colly edges straight to slip. Deep, deep trouble.

From Adam in London, TMS inbox: "In tribute to what may be Bell's last match I have been trying to make up a festive song for him. So far I have (in the tune of "Jingle Bells")...
Oh, Leave it Bell, leave it Bell
Don't get in the way
I bowl it slow and pretty straight
And you'll give your stumps away.
Struggling to think of any more - any suggestions?"

1246: Eng 216-6
Broad strides in to join the heavy-hearted Colly; if it's painful watching these wickets go down from here, it must be even worse from where he's stood. Gasp - Broad wafts at De Wet and chinese cuts past his timbers as the slips leap and then clutch their caps.

From Ronnie, TMS inbox: "I have a pretty decent technique in the bedroom too and, like Jim, I wouldn't fancy 11 Saffers standing around analyzing said technique..."

1242: WICKET Prior c De Wet b Harris 4, Eng 211-6
Wicket falls

This is a sorry business - slogging sweep, top-edged straight down fine leg's throat. Is Harris the most successful non-spinning spinner of all time?

1238: Eng 211-5
Ugh-aagh - clear edge from Colly, falling a inch shy of the tumbling Boucher. Maiden for De Wet, half an hour till tea.

From JB, London, TMS inbox: "Tom. This Teletubby stuff is irritatingly trivial - I bought my first flat off Uncle Bulgaria."

1231: Eng 211-5
Careful, Matt Prior - stepping away to cut with the non-existent turn and almost finding his timbers rattled. The sightscreen/advertising hoarding has jammed on the logo-facing side, and we'll have a tedious breather.

From an unhappy Jim in Sheffield, TMS inbox: "The argument that Bell has a great technique is nonsensical for me. I've got a decent technique stood in my bedroom, but surrounded by 11 Saffers baying for blood it might fall down a bit. Although I'd have probably had a stab at hitting the ball."

1226: Eng 209-5
A glimpse there of Ian Bell on the England balcony, face hidden by pulled-low cap and sunglasses like a shamed celeb. He bites nervously at his thumbnail as Colly tickles off the pads for another Thorpe-like single.

From Rob, Wiltshire, TMS inbox: "I've just returned from Uganda where they brew a lager called Bell. It's fairly weak, tasteless and doesn't leave much of an impression."

1219: Eng 206-5
De Wet to join the porty, as Shaun Pollock might say. Dear oh dear - Prior pokes feebly at three consecutive testers outside off and misses them all by a combined width of hummingbird's toe-nail. And there's another, slashing this time off the back foot and meeting nothing but the ball's slipstream.

From George, (still) frozen of High Wycombe, TMS inbox: "Re. Paul in West London. What skulduggery is this? I am reliably informed by various web-sources that the baby in Teletubbies is called Jessica Smith. So… Clearly not your nephew. This should really have been checked before it was posted. Not very good for a BBC-supported website…"

1214: Eng 204-5
A break for drinks. Perhaps Bell is enjoying his in last-chance saloon. Take that you swine, says Colly, rocking back to batter Harris's shorter one over midwicket for a strangely shocking six.

From A furious Phil in Beverley, TMS inbox: "Don't be harsh on Bell. You never know how much a Paul Harris delivery is going to turn. Oh, hang on a minute..."

1208: Eng 198-5
Come on Colly, you burnished-copper battler. Whoosh - stunted drive at the returning Ntini, Boucher howling in anguish behind the baked timbers, followed by a streaky low-down edge between first and third slip.

From Dominique, TMS inbox: "I went to Barbados for the Windies-England Test in 1997. There were four guys who were dressed as The Teletubbies on each day. After the last day (rained off so match was drawn), I ended up in a bar with the four of them (minus outfits). Three of them left, but myself and Dipsy ended up at a girl's house, where he decided to jump off a ledge onto a road and broke his leg. I ended up holding his hand until the ambulance came and took him away."

1202: Eng 193-5
Cannot believe what I've just seen. For once you should be glad that there are no video highlights of this series available - watch that dismissal and you'll want to thrash the screen senseless in fury. Prior jogs in, and England are in it deep.

From Ralf, TMS inbox: "Does anyone else think Ian Bell is a bit like Po? In that he's small, collapses quite a lot and no one can quite understand what he brings to a team?"

1157: WICKET Bell bowled Harris 5, Eng 189-5
Wicket falls

Hat-man Kallis at slip, Amla at short square leg, and Colly charges Harris - mis-hit slap off the inside edge straight through the close fielder's legs for one. What? What was that shot from Bell? Straightforward non-turner from Harris, the same ball he's been bowling for months, and for some baffling reason Bell pulls his bat high out of the way - bowled middle stump. Dreadful, dreadful non-shot...

From Paul in West London, TMS inbox: "For all you Teletubby fans just like to tell you my nephew Edwyn is the face of the sun in the show and it's even his laugh."

1153: Eng 188-4
Bell paws at his mark on the crease like a meek bull, the sound amplified through the stump mic to sound like a horse eating crunchy oat cereal. Push-drive for one into the covers as Duminy makes a fine sprawling save.

From Rob, TMS inbox: "Tom, I can't believe the level of interest in Tellytubbies this morning. I played in a Lords Taverners charity match many years ago and had the ignominy of being caught on the boundary by Po off the bowling of Henry Kelly. Now I ask you, which is the worst part of that in the scorer's book, Po or Kelly? Needless to say Po was not in costume."

1148: Eng 187-4
Bell off the mark with a tip off the hips, and then Colly slap-sweeps fine for four more. Kallis in at slip, and with Boucher going for the helmet, the big unit has perched Poucher's cap and shades on top of his own hat. It looks like he's got a smaller, shyer man hiding in his head.

From Stephen in Runcorn, TMS inbox: "Does anybody know if the Teletubbies have been effected by the digital switchover?"

1144: Eng 176-4
Hold on a second - I've just seen a replay of KP's dismissal, and it looks like Morkel might have no-balled there. Referral! Nope - it's too late. Grrrr. Timed off the toes by Colly - three to midwicket as the bearded fielder Amblas after it.

From Julia, HR Adviser, Un-named virtual university based in Milton Keynes, TMS inbox: "The Tinky Winky that left was Dave Thompson, he took the production company to an Employment Tribunal following these 'creative difficulties' - he lost. He then stated that 'no one could play Tinky Winky like him'. Bizarrely a Tomliboo also lost an ET."

1140: Eng 168-4
Ladies and gentlemen, please place your bets. Will Ian Bell (a) take the game by the scruff of the neck and score runs when his team-mates are in trouble, or (b) play his full part in a sorry collapse? Nice from Colly, skipping down to Harris and lofting him in controlled fashion over midwicket for four.

From Big John in balmy Warwick zero degrees here, TMS inbox: "My brother used to work with a guy who was adamant that it was his feet used in the walking sequence off the Bill"

1135: Eng 168-4
Hammer blow for England, joy unconfined for Smith and his troops - KP aims a big drive at one outside off and inside-edges straight into his leg stump. He can't believe it, and neither can the England balcony - he was looking set, finding his shots, timing the innings a treat, but he's heading hutchwards now...

1133: WICKET Pietersen b Morkel 40, Eng 168-4
Wicket falls

Morkel looking very much like the Saffa Harmison here - some real gangly pace and menace, mixed up with no-balls and help-yourselfers down leg. Colly wears a rapid one on the thigh guard and then drives for one, before KP - BOWLED!

From Neil, Ipswich, TMS inbox: "When I met the cast, what impressed me most about the Teletubbies is that they all do their own stunts."

1129: Eng 164-3
England looking to keep the board ticking over here, both players using their feet to Harris to knock him out of his groove. Singles tipped away, and the rattled tweaker spears one down leg which misses everything on its way to the fence.

From Dave in London, TMS inbox: "I like to tune in to get updates on the teletubbies, and I assume that Tinky Winky in some way obeys quantum theory, being in many places at once and possibly a particle, or a wave."

1125: Eng 155-3
Pace and lift from Morkel, charging in past Umpire Davis, who has his sun-hat clutched behind his back like a tourist in a cathedral. Colly jabs down late and nearly plays on, and then signals to the dressing-room for a tablet of some sort. Sunbrellas all around the boundary, and reclining punters tip back pint-pots as KP helps himself to a leg-stump half-volley and picks up a racy four to the deep square leg fence.

From Mark, TMS inbox: "Please advise Rich of Hereford and anyone else who meets a Teletubby that there were two Tinky Winkys- the first left after creative differences."

1120: Eng 150-3
Dreamy from KP, advancing to meet Harris with dancing feet and drilling one with the sweetest of timing through midwicket for four. Stolen single, and then Colly sashays down the track too to drive into the covers for one. Positive intent since the sangers.

Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: "If they play the full game I still sense there could be a result here."

1115: Eng 144-3
Deep breaths all round, and we're under way again. Morkel from the Hennops River End, tall, gangling, and KP takes a big stride forward to stifle the lift. Dabber off the pads for the first run of the afternoon session, and Colly then has a fence at one that climbs like a stunt-plane from short of a length. Just a couple of clouds sauntering over the roof of the main stand, but otherwise those grassy banks remain the ideal place to be in the entire wide world.

From Colin, TMS inbox: "Once, on a plane from Heathrow, I found myself sitting next to producer of Teletubbies, after several sherberts I occasioned to ask her who was her favourite actor in teletubbies, and in all seriousness she replied Tinky Winky. That'll teach me to be ironic at 25,000 feet."

From Andy, snowed in in Edlesborough, Bucks, TMS inbox: "To Rich in Hertford - I can't believe you fell for that old "I'm actually Tinky-Winky from the Teletubbies" chat up line."

Geoffrey Boycott
Geoffrey Boycott on TMS: "Kevin Pietersen has played with common sense. He hasn't looked to dominate but hasn't allowed the bowlers to dominate him. His defence is really good and he has been looking for areas where he can score, such as the sweep shot which has been annoying Harris. He's been the big plus this morning for England."


From Rich in Hertford, TMS inbox: "I'm really a saddo - I was at a party last night with one of the real telletubbies ( Tinky Winky ) - he was in civvies. Strange but true."

1032: Eng 143-3
KP beginning to find his sweepy groove now - down on one knee to flick Harris round the corner for two, followed by another tickler fine for one more. That's lunch - tough old session for England, and it should be a gripper this arvo. Back in 25 mins or so - anyone for a quick snow-ball fight?

1028: Eng 140-3
Ntini bends from the waist, accelerates off his mark and leaps at the crease - just shy of a length outside off, defended doughtily by Colly. Time for one more before the break?

From Matt, Switzerland, TMS inbox: "Imagine my surprise, after putting the finishing touches to my Laa(-)Laa costume for tonight's office party, when you mention a fifth Tubbie at 0844. Now we have to find someone to be Wafty(-)Wafty at short notice. Can anyone tell me what colour this new character is and does it carry any special equipment."

1024: Eng 140-3
Over-pitched from Harris, and KP is on that in a flash - mighty sweep, way over midwicket for the first six of England's stunted response. No need to try that next ball, Kevi... oh, go on, then, almost get yourself out lbw with the ugliest of mows.

From Adrian, TMS inbox: "Yes, it must be awful for Rachel in Ipswich's husband, having to carry the weight of all those "We called but you were out" cards on these dangerous icy streets."

1020: Eng 133-3
Wide and bouncy outside off from Morkel, and KP leaves them like a matador waving past an enraged bull. 10 minutes till the interval - can England survive until sandwiches?

From Mick, Birmingham, TMS inbox: "I wonder if Rachel is proud of the litigious actions of her husband. I don't ever remember Postman Pat threatening General Manager of the Pencaster Sorting Office with legal proceedings because he and his black and white cat might just slip up walking up the drive of Granny Dryden. A sad reflection on society, I fear."

1015: Eng 131-3
Harris, darting in his cunning non-turners. Short extra cover in, and that's nice from Colly - clipper off middle stump to pick up his first four of the day. Not a cloud in the sky up above, but plenty of metaphorical darkness above the England balcony.

From Henry, TMS inbox: "...and how about the Finnish word "pääjääjää" which means "the main stayer". This is getting silly!!"

1010: Eng 126-3
Morkel to replace De Wet, with Colly crabbing around in his crease. Big partnership needed now - Smith's men are sniffing another in the 20 minutes before luncheon. Well played KP, up on the toes to kill Morkel's lifter stone dead. Conflab in the middle between the England pair, Colly dwarfed by the bristling cut of KP's jib.

From Graham (aka G-unit) in the frozen South, TMS inbox: "...AND another thing...Did you know that the dots above i's and j's are called 'Tittles' (no, honestly), and therefore it is entirely appropriate to criticise somebody's handwriting by saying, "your tittles are so small I can hardly see them", or even, "you have some magnificent...oh well, you get the idea" [and a set of three dots which I seem to be using a great deal called an ellipsis]. The Greek lower-case iota LOOKS like a lower case i, but is, in fact, tittleless."

1005: Eng 125-3
Trott trudges back to the pavilion, pressured out, and England are wobbling like a sop on rollerskates. Lord alive - how has that missed the stumps? KP pokes at Harris's in-dipper, the ball goes through the gate and then appears to go clean through the stumps. Four byes, and Straussy's decision to stick South Africa in looks more and more like a stinker.

Text in your views on 81111
From Simon in Plymouth, text 81111: "Re. Frozen of High Wycombe...i think that's more commonly known as 'the penguin shuffle."

0958: WICKET Trott b Harris 28, Eng 119-3
Wicket falls

You could see that coming - Trott was looking increasingly rattled, and after Harris keeps him strokeless at the back of his crease, he charges down the track, misses by a mile and is comprehensively cleaned up...

From Rachel, Ipswich, TMS inbox: "Hi Tom, I have just had a call from my husband advising me that he has managed to get the day off work - he's a postman you see and when he threatened to sue if he broke a limb they sent the whole office thinking about using the same excuse for my comfy office job, what do you think? Any chance?"

0954: Eng 119-2
Real fear of the shooter for the England pair now - Twitch has got the trotts - I'm sorry, Trott's got the twitches - too, and that's an ugly swipe from the Warwickshire man. Better from KP, taking a huge stride down the track and crashing a drive away through the diving hands of point for a muscular two.

From Chris, TMS inbox: "If we're showing off the lengths of our strings of dots, has anyone ever heard of the Katujjijiit Development Corporation in Nunavut, Canada?"

0949: Eng 117-2
Harris, tall, bleach-tipped, goes left-arm round to Trott and nearly cleans him up with one that goes straight on with the arm. Not much fizz from the big man so far, but on the money like Lizzy Two.

From Frozen of High Wycombe, TMS inbox: "Re. words with 3 consecutive dotted letters. Some time ago I and my colleagues came across 'indecisijig' in a slightly dubious word list. Apparently it's the little dance you do in the corridor when you meet someone coming the other way, and hop from foot to foot as neither of you can decide which side to pass on."

0944: Eng 114-2
My giddy aunts - this pitch is starting to behave like an absolute disgrace. De Wet lands one on a crack, and the ball scoots past Pietersen's off-stump without bothering to climb more than an inch off the deck. England still 304 behind, and with every dicey delivery that chasm looks deeper and wider.

From Rob, Grimsby, TMS inbox: "I thought you said you loved me, Tom? Did that weekend in Cleethorpes not mean anything to you? I even bought you a sea-shell with your name on it. Mum's going to be so disappointed."

It's not you, Rob, it's me. Whatever happens, though, we'll always have Yarmouth.

0941: Eng 112-2
Thanks to my colleague Al for writing that last over update, albeit in rather flat fashion. Courtesy break called, y'see. Harris again, firing in the darts, and Trott, happy to play the supporting role, dead-bats back while KP fidgets at the other end.

From Richard in Cambridge, TMS inbox: "Hijinks is the only word with three consecutive dotted letters? Has anyone told the Fijians?"

0938: Eng 112-2
Drinks over, just one run in the next over. Not much happening out there.

0930: Eng 111-2
Apologies - in bigging up the number of South African-born players on the pitch, I forgot that Paul Harris was born in Harare. Sloppy. I'd expect better from a BBC(-)supported Fordyce. KP advances down the track to Harris and then blocks the ball back. Decent ding-dong; drinks.

From James in Woolwich, TMS inbox: "If hyphons have now been removed, is hijinks the only word with three dotted letters in a row? Not cricket related but it will help me cross the t's. no….wait…."

0925: Eng 107-2
Double change from Smith, calling for Friedel de Wet. Aaagh - flamboyant drive from KP, missing the edge by a frighteningly small margin. 29 C in Centurion. We'll be lucky to get that as the net temperature across the entire month back here.

From Disgruntled, Edinburgh, TMS inbox: "So, when is the big day for you and Paul in Lancs? Where are you honeymooning?"

Lancs, Disgruntled. He won't leave. It's going to cause problems in the long-term, I can tell.

0922: Eng 107-2
Time for some Bomber Harris, thinks Smith, and in comes a slip, a forward short leg and a short extra cover. Plenty of chat out there, but it'll take more than that to make KP blush. Single, turn in to Trott's pads, and spin could be a weapon on this wearing track.

From Charles, TMS inbox: "Re: 0902, Mr Fox should know that all hyphens were removed from the OED in the 2007 edition, replaced either with either two words ('pot belly') or one ('leapfrog'). Not so fantastic now, are we...?"

0917: Eng 105-2
13 South African-born players on the pitch now, of course, although I've got no beef with that. Or biltong. Tight from Ntini again, and there are only scampered singles to be found. KP's eyes on stalks.

From Ed, TMS inbox: "Where did all this pseudo intellectualism come from? It was much more fun when Sarah from wherever used to write in, or we all made up stories about which famous person we had just seen in a pub. On that note, I'm having an early one and I'm sat just across the bar from Terry Wogan drowning his retirement day sorrows in Shepherds Bush."

0912: Eng 105-2
The only way KP could leave that one from Morkel any more showily would be if he threw in some of those glitter bombs they use at major cup finals and The X Factor. Rapid singles; Smith stares with impassive loathing from slip.

From Lloyd, TMS inbox: "Stop whining and fishing for friends. Everyone is trying to concentrate like the Eng batsmen need to."

I don't have an ex-wife, Lloyd, but if I did, I have a feeling you could do a job.

0908: Eng 103-2
Now then. Key times, these - KP all twitchy and ramped-up, Trotter looking to drop anchor, South Africa clambering all over another breakthrough. Trott drives Ntini, the ball dribbles back towards the non-striker's end and KP flings himself back into his ground with outrageous ostentation. If they made neon strides he'd be wearing them.

From Mr Fox in Pelaw, TMS inbox: "Can we have a little consistency, please? It is, should and shall always be "...a BBC-supported site". Hyphenated. I expect more from a pedantry-obsessed readership."

0902: Eng 102-2
Chaos at Centurion - the crowd have the option of (a) booing Kevin Pietersen to the crease, or (b) picking up a free beer from one of the many bars. You can see the war going on inside the heads. Now then, KP - oh yes, dashing cover drive off Morkel to get off the quacker in cavalier fashion.

From Andy in Manchester, TMS inbox: "As Paul in Lancs seems to be part of the BBC "Talent" pool, can I demand to know what his salary is under the Freedom of Information act?"


0857: WICKET Strauss b Ntini 46, Eng 98-2
Wicket falls

Dear oh dear - short from Ntini, Strauss goes back - and is beaten all ends up by a ball that shoots along the deck. No chance, and his shoulders slump as he looks back to see his off stump cartwheeling backwards. Delight in the crowd - that's free beers all round...

0853: Eng 98-1
Decent line from Morkel, probing away like a pumped-up Paxman. Can anyone hear me? Hello? Hello? (looks around, filled with crushing sense of loneliness, gulps back the tears)

From Ian in Warrington, TMS inbox: "I'm guessing one of those treacherous pieces of ice got to you after bad mouthing them.The scoreboard is ticking over, but none of your pearls of wisdom have shown up since 0800. I'd expect better from a BBC supported site"

0849: Eng 98-1
I'm told that we've got technical problems somewhere, and that no-one can read anything I'm writing. Does that mean I can say things like **** AUTOMATICALLY DELETED BY BBC CENSOR **** Over-pitched by Ntini, squirted away past point by Trott for the first four of the day.

From ancientbriton, TMS inbox: "Well I am neither a fool or a speed skater but i had to leave home for work at 5am and I can assure it was colder than my ex wife's heart then."

0844: Eng 93-1
Gaagh - angled tempter from Morkel, and Strauss has a dice at it - wafty-wafty, and he's lucky not to snick that behind. Morkel tries a straighter one and the ball shoots along the deck - rueful shrug from the skipper. Morkel goes wider in the crease - another angler, another waft. Nervy times.

From John, TMS inbox: "Mug of tea to hand, just waiting for the staff canteen to open up for my morning bacon roll, but otherwise all set…until we have to go out for the office Christmas lunch at 12! Here's hoping for a good session!"

0839: Eng 91-1
Ntini from the Hennops River End, still hunting this first wicket that - I'm told - will mean the local brewery giving everyone in the ground a free beer. In the spirit of the season, let me say this: for every wicket I take today, I'll buy every one of you a whisky mac. Two slips, gully, short extra cover - tip-and-run singles apiece from Strauss and Trott.

From Peter, London, TMS inbox: "I feel cheated by the 'snow'. Hungover and cheated, Fordyce."

0834: Eng 88-1
All set? Morkel has the ball, just two slips in, Graeme Smith hidden behind those greeny-purpley lensed shades that look like petrol spilled in a puddle. Trott prods into the covers, and then finds the man perched at short midwicket with a clipper off the toes. Steady.

0828: Here come the South African fielders, striding out with purpose. Grassy banks around the boundary, a few early arrivals laying out blankets and smearing cream on noses and exposed shoulders. Sigh.

From Paul in Lancs, TMS inbox: "I was deeply upset to see you conflate postmodernism and poststructuralism late yesterday when you described Jaques Kallis picking at his callous. There is nothing whatsoever postmodern about Kallis picking at a callous. It's poststructuralist, certainly, in its Barthes-like attempt to convey the end of shared linguistic and literary meaning, but it's not postmodern; in no way does his act, however linguistically subversive, signify or reflect material change in the economic or cultural condition of our society. Not very good for a BBC-supported site."

0821: It's as if all the colour and light has been sucked out of the UK and piped directly to Centurion. The brightest blue sky, an outfield that defines lush green and a golden sun easing its way through a lazy arc. I might cry.

Geoffrey Boycott
Geoff Boycott on Test Match Special: "Runs should be able to come just batting normally and by time we get to tea let's see where we are. Don't rush it, there are three days to go."

0815: Just seen a few shots of the Centurion track - as cracked and battered as the soles of a barefoot sadhu.

0800: Snow. Biting winds. Ice so treacherous underfoot it would stab you in the back as soon as look at you. Only a fool (or speed-skater) would venture outside in weather like this - let's huddle round the warmth of our laptops and see this one out together, jah?

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Live Scores - South Africa v England


  • South Africa drew with England
  • South Africa: 418 & 301-7 (85.5 overs)
  • England: 356 & 228-9 (96.0 overs)

England 2nd Innings

Player outReason Bowledby Runs
Total for 9 228
Strauss c Boucher b Morkel 1
Cook c Smith b Harris 12
Anderson c Boucher b de Wet 10
Trott c de Villiers b de Wet 69
Pietersen run out 81
Collingwood not out 26
Bell c Boucher b de Wet 2
Prior c Boucher b de Wet 0
Broad c Boucher b Harris 0
Swann lbw b Morkel 2
Onions not out 1
Extras 11nb 10b 3lb 24

see also
Michael Vaughan Q&A
21 Dec 09 |  Cricket
Swann inspires England fightback
18 Dec 09 |  England
Swann keeps England in contention
17 Dec 09 |  England
SA v England: 1st Test day two photos
17 Dec 09 |  Cricket
Swann defends England referrals
16 Dec 09 |  England
Kallis century frustrates England
16 Dec 09 |  England
England's last tour of South Africa
15 Dec 09 |  England
Harris aiming to put England in a spin
11 Dec 09 |  South Africa
Rain hands England one-day series
04 Dec 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England

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