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England v South Africa 4th Test

FOURTH TEST, The Oval (day five):
England 316 & 198-4 beat South Africa 194 & 318 by 6 wickets

England sealed a six-wicket consolation victory over South Africa at The Oval to hand Kevin Pietersen a winning start to his reign as Test captain.

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss, who resumed on 0-0 in search of 197, shared an assured 123 from 32 overs before Cook edged to slip for 67.

Ian Bell was then bowled and Strauss departed after hitting his first fifty of the series with 50 needed.

Pietersen had hoped to hit the winning runs but was dismissed for 13.


By Mark Mitchener

e-mail (with 'For Mark Mitchener' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606. (Not all contributions can be used)

1548: That's about it from us - the women's ODI is still going on, but thanks for sticking with us for an exciting Test match (And thanks for your e-mails and texts - sorry if we didn't have room for yours). We'll be back on Saturday morning for the FP Trophy final, and then the one-dayers next week. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week.
Live scorecard: England women v South Africa

"I think we went slightly off the boil here - we didn't bat as well as we had in the rest of the series, but credit to England for finishing it off. We came with a goal to win the series and we're pleased to have done that. We've got Australia in a few months' time and that's a whole new challenge, but this has been a real collective effort - everybody's contributed. My innings at Edgbaston was a highlight of my life, never mind my career"
South Africa captain Graeme Smith

Kevin Pietersen
"It's been a great few days for the side - after all the commotion at the start of last week, I couldn't have asked any more from the guys. 2-1's a pretty fair reflection of the series - we've tried our hardest, but it's the start of a new era. It's about regrouping now this weekend before we start a difficult one-day series. I couldn't have asked for any more from Steve Harmison, and I'd have rather the big man had got man of the match. But we've shown this week that if we hit our straps, we can beat anyone"
England captain Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen
1530: Time for the presentations. Match referee Ranjan Madugalle and the umps are up first. Man of the match is... Kevin Pietersen. South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has given the England man-of-the-series award to... Kevin Pietersen! Meanwhile, the South African man of the series (nominated by Peter Moores) is captain Graeme Smith. He even doffs his cap to ECB chairman Giles Clarke.

1521: Well, KP has got off to a good start as Test captain - but the selectors will still have plenty to talk about considering the fragility of the batting line-up at times in this series.

We've had a few e-mails today bemoaning the lack of Test cricket after today until 11 December, but there's plenty of one-day games to look forward to before then - and you'll be able to hear all of them on TMS, while BBC Sport will also be bringing you live text commentaries on all of them via the wonders of the interweb (or your mobiles, PDAs or other gadgets).

First up, it's the Friends Provident Trophy final on Saturday between Kent and Essex - then, Scotland face England in an ODI next Monday, and after a Twenty20 international between England and South Africa on 20 August, there's a full five-ODI series to follow.


1516 - Eng 198-4 (52.5 overs)
Harris tosses it up to Flintoff, who chops a loose one down to the third man boundary where it hits the back of a steward's chair. Ever the showman, when Harris tosses it up again, Freddie smacks him back over his head for six to win the game!

"Reading the stories of disenchanted kids endeavouring to obtain their heroes' autographs only to be turned away is incredibly sad. I have a fantastic memory of Chris Cairns blasting a century as the 1994 Nottinghamshire side (Andy Pick's benefit match) played at my local club. When he eventually got out and on seeing this young aspiring cricketer clearly in awe of his batting ability applauding, he took off his pads, went into the bar and bought two cans of coke and two packets of smoky bacon crisps. He then emerged handing me a can and one of his packets of crisps and asked if I would like to walk around the boundary with him. If only all pros could remember what it's all about!"
Mark Noblet in the TMS inbox

1513 - Eng 188-4 (52 overs)
Colly clips Nel off his legs to fine leg, where Ntini hurls himself at the ball as though his life depended on it to save the boundary. Professional to the last, Makhaya is - they run two. Nine more needed.

"I remember the 1991 Oval Test against the West Indies. Robin Smith had scored a ton and was relaxing on the players' balcony. My then girlfriend walked over to him with pen in hand and just as he was going to give her his autograph, she asked if he would be good enough to go and get Alec Stewart's signature for her! His face was priceless, but fair dos, he went and got it!"
Rob Grove in the TMS inbox
[Great effort from 'The Judge'! MM]

1509 - Eng 186-4 (51 overs)
Colly steers an easy single to long-on. Flintoff is going for a "not out" asterisk here and sees off the rest of the over.

"Mark, Can I ask that you avoid phrases such as 'the score is creeping along here', and 'England are on fire now'? Nothing is more likely to cost us the match today than someone pointing how well we are doing, and the nerves are shaky enough as it is!"
Rick, Reading, in the TMS inbox

1506 - Eng 185-4 (50 overs)
Nel replaces Morkel for one last blast. A single from Colly brings Flintoff on strike, which perks the crowd up. He's off the mark with a single to mid-wicket. Colly drives to mid-off, where a Monty-style fumble from Harris allows them a single.

1502 - Eng 182-4 (49 overs)
New batsman Andrew Flintoff carefully leaves the last two balls of the over. 15 needed, and as ever, England can never do it the easy way.

Wicket falls
1500 - WICKET - Pietersen c McKenzie b Harris 13 - Eng 182-4 (48.4 overs)
KP sweeps and misses against Harris, but then opens the face and carefully places a delicate cover drive through the gap for four, which has CMJ on TMS purring with delight. Harris's response is to abandon Gilo-ball and bowl over the wicket for the first time in ages. And it pays off virtually instantly as KP plays forward and it pops up to McKenzie at short leg who completes the catch.

1457 - Eng 178-3 (48 overs)
Yet another no-ball from Morkel advances the score, Colly firmly punches him to the point boundary for a single. KP then tips-and-runs a single to cover point, where the prowling Ashwell Prince's pick-up-and-throw just misses the stumps.

1453 - Eng 175-3 (47 overs)
Harris continues to wheel away to KP, with just 22 needed now - a maiden over ensues.

Vladimir Putin
"On the subject of Nasser Hussain (1149); Nasser might be a bit of a cold fish, but I've always given him the benefit of the doubt since an incident when we were at the same college. I'd encountered some local student bashers who were cheerfully using my head as a football when Nasser lead the University first XI to the rescue and chased the miscreants off. In case I didn't say it at the time - thanks Nass"
Matt in Manchester, in the TMS inbox

1450 - Eng 175-3 (46 overs)
After a single from KP, Colly lifts Morkel from outside off stump towards cow corner for four. The Durham man digs out a good yorker - a rare straight ball from Morkel today.

1445 - Eng 170-3 (45 overs)
Colly is in watchful mode and sees off a maiden from Harris.

"Quite a few years ago, my brother was an umpire at an indoor cricket centre. One evening, he took me along as there was a celebrity match taking place between Portsmouth & Southampton football clubs. I went along to watch and I was stood next to a guy chatting for ages. I eventually realised it was Malcolm Marshall... What a great bloke he was"
Neil Matthews in the TMS inbox

1441 - Eng 170-3 (44 overs)
Morkel drops one short and is imperiously pulled for four by Colly. He then repeats the shot and gets another four, Morkel's line and length hasn't been up to his usual standards today. Colly then pinches the strike with a single, although I doubt Cap'n KP will mind. 27 more needed - time for a drinks break.

"When I was younger I was waiting in the car park at Canterbury to get Steve Waugh's autograph on his debut for Kent. A man wearing sunglasses pulled up in a luxury car and I thought I'd better get his autograph just in case he was a big player I'd never heard of. When Mark Ealham was signing my book later he noticed the signature and asked who it was, slightly unnerved I replied Min Patel to which Mark responded 'Min Patel is in Pakistan. That's the kit man's autograph'."
James Oliver in the TMS inbox

1437 - Eng 161-3 (43 overs)
KP is hit on the shoulder by a rising delivery from Harris that spits out of the footmarks - he then ponders a switch-hit but changes his mind. Maiden over.

1434 - Eng 161-3 (42 overs)
Morkel returns, but sends down his fifth no-ball of then innings. Colly steers a single through backward point, then KP shovels a three through mid-wicket which is stopped on the boundary by the tumbling Hashim Amla.

Jack Russell
"The first game I saw was Gloucestershire take on Oxford University at The Parks. Only recognising Jack Russell in the field (big clue with the pads and gloves) I cheered every time he caught a ball. When rain interrupted play I ambled over to get his autograph. When I got to the dressing-rooms he was waiting at the gate asking what kept me. He then took me into the dressing-room where I got all the Gloucestershire autographs and played five-a-side football with them before the game was called off. Jack got his England call-up shortly afterwards and has remained a hero since"
Steve - Pickering, N Yorks, in the TMS inbox

1430 - Eng 156-3 (41 overs)
Harris continues bowling Gilo-style against KP, who thrusts his left pad against anything outside leg stump. But when Harris overpitches, KP effortlessly flicks him through mid-wicket for four.

"A few years ago, I was playing for Sussex 2nd XI v Essex at Chelmsford, I had been run out for a supremely incompetent six runs (batting at number nine having not bowled) when one of the Essex fans asked me for my autograph just as I was about to walk up the stairs to the changing rooms. It made my day and I signed merrily away, imagining what it would be like to have to fend off hundreds of kids wanting my signature. Now, 12 years later on, I work for a bank having never made the top grade, and that fan has probably never looked at that page in his autograph book again"
Danny Alderman in the TMS inbox

1424 - Eng 152-3 (40 overs)
Smith brings in two slips, a fine gully and a short leg for Colly against Ntini. Colly clips it off his legs, Morkel gives chase but they manage an all-run four anyway! Colly pulls, there's an appeal for a catch behind but ump Davis is again unmoved.

Shaun Pollock
"All of a sudden, there's a little bit of tension in the crowd - and if another couple of wickets were to fall, it would make it a very interesting finish"
Former South Africa captain Shaun Pollock on TMS

1421 - Eng 148-3 (39 overs)
Paul Collingwood, who you could uncharitably describe as the last of England's recognised batsmen, pads up to Harris as the left-armer continues bowling outside leg stump. Colly's off the mark as he guides a single to long leg.

Wicket falls
1418 - WICKET - Strauss c Smith b Harris 58 - Eng 147-3 (38.1 overs)
Suddenly, it's two wickets in three balls as Strauss prods forward to Harris and gifts Smith his second catch of the innings at leg gully! Surely not even England could mess this one up?!

1417 - Eng 147-2 (38 overs)
A standing ovation for captain Kevin Pietersen as he walks to the crease - who writes his scripts? Will he hit the winning runs? There's an lbw shout off the first ball, but it hit him well outside the line and umpire Steve Davis shakes his head.

Wicket falls
1414 - WICKET - Bell b Ntini 4 - Eng 147-2 (37.5 overs)
Fourth umpire Richard Illingworth is on briefly with a water-bottle for Aleem Dar. Strauss guides a single to deep mid-wicket - England now need exactly 50 to win. But it's not over just yet - as Bell steps forward to Ntini who knocks over his leg stump with an inswinger!

"I went to a Viv Richards benefit match at a local village ground in Somerset when I was 11. Joel 'Big Bird' Garner stood on the boundary and patiently signed every autograph request with a smile and a little personal chat, Vic Marks did so but seemed almost embarrassed to have been asked. As for the great man himself? Took me ages to get through the crowds of taller boys surrounding Sir Viv, only for him to tell me he didn't like people who pushed and refuse to sign my programme... Scarred for life!"
Nick in the TMS inbox

1410 - Eng 146-1 (37 overs)
Harris continues his "footmarks" line of attack on Bell, who's finally off the mark with a clip through mid-wicket for four. According to a couple of friends from the team I play for, that was "the perfect four" as it had two men chasing all the way to the boundary (thus tiring them out) but went for four. I should also keep you posted that Sri Lanka have beaten India to win their three-Test series 2-1.
Report: Sri Lanka wrap up series victory

1407 - Eng 142-1 (36 overs)
Ntini gets a bit of lift against Strauss, and keeper Boucher is surprised to have to take one high above his head. Strauss straight-drives, not for the first time today, and despite a half-hearted chase by Nel it goes for four.

"Re: Tom [1218]. Lara is a top man, he once signed and gave me his scoresheet after getting 103 in Barbados, on the golf course! I believe centuries are rarer for him with the club than the bat but he wasn't that pleased"
RBM, London, in the TMS inbox

1402 - Eng 138-1 (35 overs)
Harris bowls over the wicket (in the manner of Ashley Giles) to the right-handed Bell, aiming at the bowler's footmarks outside leg stump, but Bell plays out a maiden.

That's 50
1359 - Eng 138-1 (34 overs)
Strauss gets a thick outside edge past gully for four, leaving Ntini cursing his luck. He then brings up his 14th Test half century - and his first of this series - in style with a confident on-driven four.

"I was fortunate enough to be at the Headingley Test of the famous 'Botham's Ashes' series. After the game I waited outside the dressing room but all I had was box of chocolates to use an impromptu autograph book. Geoff Boycott was the first to sign it. After that Dennis Lillee came out of the dressing room. I handed him the box. He took one look at Boycott's signature, mumbled 'I'm not signing next to that', turned the box over and signed on the other side!"
Kevin, Bermuda, in the TMS inbox

1356 - Eng 130-1 (33 overs)
Strauss comes down the pitch and chips Harris over mid-on for two. A single brings Bell on strike against the left-arm twirler for the first time, he sees off the rest of the over.

"When I was about 13 I went to see the British Masters golf at Woburn. At the time Nick Faldo was probably the best player in the world. But when I tried to get his autograph after his round he was surly and refused to sign. Even now, when I see him on TV I become that disillusioned kid again"
Gareth Kingston in the TMS inbox

1351 - Eng 127-1 (32 overs)
New batsman is the right-handed Ian Bell, and his first ball is nudged away for four leg byes.

Wicket falls
1348 - WICKET - Cook c Smith b Ntini 67 - Eng 123-1 (31.2 overs)
Cook is back on the pull - as it were - as he makes Ntini disappear through mid-wicket. But less than a minute after my "gaffer" Oliver Brett says to me "of course, Cook famously always gets out in the 60s", he drives at Ntini and gives a regulation catch to Graeme Smith at first slip. Nice one, Brettmeister General.

1346 - Eng 119-0 (31 overs)
Harris has four men around the bat, tempting Strauss into a big mow, but he misses and it hits him on the shoulder. They run a comfortable two to fine leg, then another brace through extra cover - Strauss moves to 65.

"My club side hosted a benefit game for Asif Din - and he brought along Allan Donald. What a top bloke!"
Nigel Prideaux in the TMS inbox

1343 - Eng 115-0 (30 overs)
Ntini returns at the Vauxhall End, and Cook gets England going with a single. Strauss is hit on the pad, there's a half-hearted appeal and they run a leg bye. Cook straight-drives another four, and a profitable first over after lunch for England.


1339: We're getting under way again. Can England do it before tea, or will we see a characteristic collapse?

Nasser Hussain
Vladimir Putin
"Nasser Hussain [1149] is the spitting image of Vladimir Putin!"
Andy, Northampton, in the TMS inbox

"Re: 1204 - Was that the name of the opening bat for England's women or the whole of the top order?"
Paul, Bath, in the TMS inbox
Live scorecard: England women v South Africa

1300 - Eng 109-0 (29 overs)
Strauss tries to clip Harris through mid-wicket but AB de Villiers makes a smart stop. Four men around the bat, but Strauss sees off the over, and that's lunch - Cook has 58 and Strauss 38. An excellent morning session for England, who need just 88 more runs to win. Back with you in a little while, go easy on the e-mails for a bit!

"I was watching Glamorgan playing India many moons ago, before I knew who was who. Three Indian cricketers were approaching and Dad encouraged me to go and ask them for autographs. One put his arm around my shoulder and kindly got his two team-mates to sign as well. Dad looked at the results and whistled - Prasanna, Venkat and Chandrasekar"
Colin Allcars, Newport, in the TMS inbox

1257 - Eng 109-0 (28 overs)
Strauss prods Morkel to gully but picks up two from an overthrow. He then steers a single to leg - one more over before lunch?

"Good morning Mark. Re: Jo Jackson... what is it about parents who don't stop and think when they name their children? Presumably all her life Jo Jackson has had people asking her 'Are you really going out with him?' and thinking it really original. My favourite was created by Mr and Mrs Hyde when they called their daughter Jacqueline. Honest"
David Russell, hard at work in Melton Mowbray

1253 - Eng 106-0 (27 overs)
Cook and Strauss play very similar shots, both cutting past point for three apiece. Captain Smith runs up to consult with his bowler - he can sense the match ebbing away from the Proteas.

Geoffrey Boycott
"I was once hanging around outside the away dressing-room at The Oval when Surrey had played Yorkshire. Myself and the other boys were starting to despair when Sir Geoffrey appeared through the door, pointed at me and said 'would you like an autograph?' I nodded. 'Come in here then...' and I followed him into the dressing-room where the rest of the Yorkshire team were preparing to leave. He insisted that every player sign my book, signed it himself and then said 'grab my bag - the car's in the car park', so I became the only successful autograph hunter that day as well GB's personal porter"
Lex in London in the TMS inbox

1248 - Eng 100-0 (26 overs)
Has Kallis been hit out of the attack? He's off after one over - while Boycs on TMS thinks SA are missing the injured Dale Steyn badly, Morkel returns. Has he sorted the no-ball problem out from earlier? Cook nurdles a single to leg, then Strauss cover-drives for three. Cook brings up the hundred partnership with a single to square leg.

Peter Alliss
"As a young teenager and not knowing the protocol, I approached tournament leader Peter Alliss for his autograph as he walked down the first fairway on his final round of a a Pro-Am tournament in Bangor, County Down. In classic Alliss style he smiled at me saying 'This is not quite the time sonny' but signed my autograph book anyway. And it's my birthday today and I am older than Joe Jackson"
Peter in Fairford in the TMS inbox

1243 - Eng 95-0 (25 overs)
After a leg bye rotates the strike, Strauss comes to the party against Harris by guiding an easy four through mid-wicket.

That's 50
1240 - Eng 90-0 (24 overs)
South Africa really need a wicket now, so Nel's off after three unthreatening over and Jacques "Shark" Kallis enters the action with his medium pace. After another Strauss single, Cook executes another of his favoured pull shots and they run two - he has 46 now. Kallis lobs it in short and wide, and Cook cracks it through cover point for his 14th Test fifty. He then opens the face and runs three to third man. England are on fire now - what was in those drinks at the drinks interval?!

Text in your views on 81111
"Kallis and Gatt at the same game [1215]? Tough match for the caterers!"
Alex, Bristol, via text on 8111

1235 - Eng 80-0 (23 overs)
Amla returns to the field with his finger strapped up, McKenzie asks him if he wants to return to short leg but Amla declines. Another quick single off Harris takes Strauss to 24. Cook pushes a two towards third man.

"I was at the SCG in January 2003 when Matthew Hayden was trying to ignore a young Aussie kid with a miniature bat for signing. He got tonnes of grief from us in the Barmy Army and the Aussies as well. After a good hour he finally relented and signed it. Within the next hour he had started and finished his innings after a shocking lbw decision and went on to cop a fine for smashing a window in the pavilion. I think we put a hex on him"
Lee Marmara in the TMS inbox

1232 - Eng 77-0 (22 overs)
The score is creeping along here, with England more than a third of the way towards their target. Strauss tips-and-runs a single to leg. Cook pulls Nel for another four, which has Nel shaking his head as he trudges back to his mark.

"I remember Allan Donald going round Edgbaston, not long after he joined Warwickshire, during a Sunday League game that he was injured for. He made sure he signed every kid's autograph all the way round, then went back round again to make sure he hadn't missed any. That's professionalism for you"
John Ridler in the TMS inbox

1227 - Eng 72-0 (21 overs)
Strauss comes down the pitch to Harris and flicks him for a quick single to leg, but Prince's throw is well wide of the stumps. Cook swipes at one which keeps low, but Bouch misses it and they run a couple of byes. We have blood on the tracks as Amla suffers a cut finger while stopping a ball at short leg, and goes off for treatment. He removes his helmet, shin pads and "box", going off the field for treatment - Neil McKenzie draws the short straw and takes his place under the lid.

"Aged about 10, I went to a Test match at Headingley with my Dad and ran on to the pitch at lunch to get Dickie Bird's signature. He told me to come back at tea time. Dutifully, I ran back on at tea only for him to snap at me 'Not now, son! At the close of play'. At the close he changed tack somewhat and simply told me to go away. Kapil Dev, on the other hand, was an absolute gent when I asked for his autograph. He also ruffled my hair. Lovely man"
Paul McIntosh, Newcastle upon Tyne, in the TMS inbox

1222 - Eng 69-0 (20 overs)
My "gaffer" Oliver Brett notes that Cook has either been a "happy hooker" or a "prolific puller" today - I can't think what he means. Either way, he (Cook that is, not Brett) steers Nel for another cross-batted four through mid-wicket. An off-drive brings two runs to extra cover.

"Whilst volunteering for St John Ambulance at Lord's in 2005 I came out of the pavilion to be accosted by two small boys asking if I'd sign their bats, I wondered why but duly obliged. Just before the boys left they said 'Thank you Marcus'. I didn't have the heart to tell them and two minutes later, the real Tresco walked past"
Tim, Surrey, in the TMS inbox

1218 - Eng 63-0 (19 overs)
Strauss edges one through the slips, pursued by Kallis (who is wearing a sunhat, with a green SA cap on top of the sunhat) and they run three. The increasingly assured Cook adds a single.

"When I was eight, I once watched Norfolk v Warwickshire - Brian Lara was playing and on his way to the team bus after the game, not only did he sign my miniature bat, but he asked me to carry his bag whilst he signed autographs for everyone else! What a top guy"
Tom, Norwich, in the TMS inbox

1215 - Eng 59-0 (18 overs)
Ntini takes a rest and Andre Nel will have a go from the Vauxhall End. A straight-drive from Strauss is met with a good sliding stop from sub fielder Duminy. But when Strauss pushes a single, Amla's throw at the stumps isn't backed up and so the Middlesex man can add a "five" to his score.

"I remember as a lad going to Lord's to see Middlesex v Surrey in a one-day game with my autograph book. Wandering around on the boundary that day was the great Mike Gatting who I managed to get to sign. Later in the innings a player whose name I didn't recognise was patrolling the boundary and I decided against getting such a non-entity's signature. That non-entity's name? Jacques Kallis"
Tom Robertson, Reading, in the TMS inbox

1210 - Eng 54-0 (17 overs)
Harris is still bowling into the rough, with a puff of dust springing up nearly every time the ball pitches. Cook turns him for a single to Andre Nel who is a 'long leg' in both senses of the word. Strauss nudges a leg-bye to bring up the fifty stand, Cook advances down the track and chips a four over mid-wicket.

"What I want to know is, why are we playing only four tests against the number two Test team in the world, but played six consecutive Tests [home and away] against NZ? It seems these days we only play five Tests against is the Aussies. Drop (or cut down) all these meaningless ODIs and get some more Test cricket played"
Darren in the TMS inbox [You won't like the India tour schedule then - two Tests and seven ODIs! MM]

1204 - Eng 48-0 (16 overs)
Cook opens the face and angles Ntini past gully for four to third man - the shortest boundary on the ground, the one in front of the dressing-rooms - before a slightly streakier edge brings four to the same location. A single ensures he keeps the strike. While the men take a drinks break, I can tell you that England's women have won the toss and are batting in their latest ODI against South Africa at Shenley. Opening the batting is the wonderfully-named Ebony-Jewel Cora-Lee Camellia Rosamond Rainford-Brent.
Live scorecard: England women v South Africa

1159 - Eng 39-0 (15 overs)
Time for some spin - Simon Mann and Shaun Pollock on TMS expect Paul Harris could wheel away from one end for much of the day from the Pavilion End with his orthodox slow left-arm spin, and he's going to bowl over the wicket to England's two left-handers. Strauss sweeps for a single, Cook turns another past short leg. Boucher the poucher then misses one which shoots through for four byes.

Geoffrey Boycott
"Re: Angus (1125) - you must have caught Boycs on a bad day. We saw him after Day 3 at Edgbaston, asked the same question, and he couldn't have been more accommodating!"
Ben Duckworth in the TMS inbox

1154 - Eng 33-0 (14 overs)
After that over of complete chaos, Morkel leaves the field completely and sub fielder JP Duminy is on. Strauss, facing Ntini for the first time today, plays and misses, but then an on-driven four takes his score to nine. He reaches double figures by guiding the next ball to long leg and they run three.

Huddersfield Giants
Heather Graham
"Got the audio feed on the headphones, live Olympic badminton on one web page and this live text on the other - I love Monday and just saw a catch off a no-ball. If I was being hand-fed chocolates by Heather Graham wearing nothing but a Huddersfield Giants scarf I'd know I'd died and gone to heaven. Cheers, cheers cheers BBC"
Mick in Leeds in the TMS inbox

1149 - Eng 26-0 (13 overs)
Morkel's radar is off as he slings in a wide which the diving keeper Boucher takes in front of first slip. The batsmen rotate the strike for the first time today as Strauss helps a single down to fine leg. Morkel drops in another short one and Cook hooks again - another four. The last ball hits a footmark and is taken by Graeme Smith at first slip, but isn't called a wide.

"On the subject of autograph hunting, as a seven-year-old, my dad took me to see Somerset v Essex. At the close I ran straight up to Nasser Hussain for an autograph, only to be find that 80 overs at 2nd slip had left him "too tired" to sign it. Thanks Nass"
Mark, Bristol, in the TMS inbox

1144 - Eng 20-0 (12 overs)
Cook straight-drives Ntini, and it only just reaches the boundary but that's four. The Essex man cuts loose again off a no-ball, with another hooked four through mid-wicket. England's best over of the day.

"Hi Mark, re: the Jo Jackson comments: I note that there have been no British male medallists thus far at the Olympics. Is this because 'It's Different For Girls?'"
James in Leeds (and several others) in the TMS inbox

1139 - Eng 11-0 (11 overs)
Another no-ball from Morkel - only another 186 more, Morne, and we can all go home. Strauss almost launches himself at a wider delivery from Morkel, but lets it go at the last minute. Just that no-ball from the over.

"It's my birthday today - and I've reached the big 40! A win to kick off the new captain's reign with all the top five batsmen scoring exactly 40 would be a great present"
Martin, greying and creaky in Essex, in the TMS inbox
[Considering the ability of some of the batsmen to get a "start" but fail to push on, you wouldn't bet against it - MM]

1134 - Eng 10-0 (10 overs)
Shaun Pollock proudly takes the summariser's chair, wearing his TMS tie. Ntini varies his angle of attack, but he's really got Cook pinned down, and it's another maiden - there's only been one scoring stroke off him today.

"Joe Jackson [see 1110 entry]? He's 54 today!"
Paul Radford, Leicester, in the TMS inbox
[That's a great stat. Happy birthday, Joe! MM]

1130 - Eng 10-0 (9 overs)
Still quite a few empty seats if you're thinking of rocking up to The Oval on the off-chance. Morkel now has a leg gully, as well as the helmeted Amla at short mid-wicket, well in front of square. Strauss flicks one off his hip, straight to Prince at leg gully (put there for exactly that shot)... off a no-ball! Morkel growls with frustration, he's bowled a few no-balls in this Test and has now been denied a wicket.

"What's the point of playing rain-affected tests against NZ in June, and then finishing up before the best of the summer?"
Reuben Anderson in the TMS inbox

1125 - Eng 9-0 (8 overs)
Cook plays and misses against Ntini again, while Aggers on TMS recounts how when he went for his first trial at Leicestershire, he didn't have any boots, but fellow paceman Les Taylor luckily took the same size and lent him a pair. Ntini gets a bit of movement against Cook, and it's not easy for England at this stage.

Geoffrey Boycott
Shaun Pollock
"Was at The Oval yesterday and bumped into Shaun Pollock on the way out, asked him for a photo which he obliged, even saying it [the rain] would 'wee on us' if we didn't hurry up. Then saw Geoff Boycott and asked him the same question, and got a big 'no' from the great man before he turned and fled!"
Angus in the TMS inbox

1122 - Eng 9-0 (7 overs)
Strauss is in about three minds to a bouncer from Morkel - coming forward, then ducking, and then swaying out of the way. Another maiden.

"Draw. Can see it now. England 152-1, rain stops play. Our best batting knock for a long time, some solid shots, big hits and an all-round superb display stopped by rain"
Jae Lloyd in the TMS inbox
The Oval weather forecast, from BBC Weather

1118 - Eng 9-0 (6 overs)
As Phil Tufnell on TMS compares Sri Lanka's new "mystery spinner" Ajantha Mendis to Paul Daniels, the wily right-arm paceman Ntini is doing exactly what England didn't do yesterday - making the batsmen play. CMJ thinks the England bowlers could learn from him. But Cook defends assuredly. Second successive maiden for Ntini.

"Tricky day for England. SA need to shake off the 'end of term' blues and win ito show how dominant they have been and illustrate England's batting, selection and captaincy incompetence. A win for England will just confirm the status quo and that everything will be all right with the current way things are handled by the ECB"
Mark Goodall, Swindon, in the TMS inbox

1114 - Eng 9-0 (5 overs)
Strauss is hit on the gloves by a lifter from Morkel, but it pops up safely, well short of the slips. The Middlesex man is off the mark as he guides a full-length ball on middle and leg through mid-wicket for four.

"It may be England's last day of Test cricket till 11 December but more to the point, it is Tim Ambrose's last day of international cricket, Or it should be anyway!"
James in Norwich, in the TMS inbox

1110 - Eng 5-0 (4 overs)
Ntini, bowling from wide of the crease, gets pace and bounce as he just fails to find the edge of a forward prod by Cook. Maiden over - but England should be in no hurry.

Get involved on 606
"'Jo Jackson - stepping out' [1036]. was that a reference to singer Joe Jackson's 1982 hit?"
Snackster on 606 [Well spotted - it went completely over the heads of all my colleagues here - MM]
Join the debate on 606

1106 - Eng 5-0 (3 overs)
The lanky Morne Morkel goes round the wicket to the left-handed England pair, sending down a no-ball to Strauss before having him playing and missing at one which keeps low. Morkel pitches it up well, enticing Strauss to have a nibble.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins
"For a period in history, if the series was level, the final Test would be a 'timeless Test' - it would be interesting to still be playing on this pitch on the eighth day!"
Christopher Martin-Jenkins on TMS

1102 - Eng 4-0 (2 overs)
We've got four balls of Makhaya Ntini's over from the Vauxhall End from last night to complete, after he was interrupted when they went off for bad light. Cook gets a little ripple of applause for a forward defensive stroke, then the Essex man gets England off the mark with a fluent hook shot just past the square leg umpire for four.

1057: As the last few bars of "Jerusalem" fade into the air, England openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook walk out - the Proteas are already on the field after their photo.

Mike Selvey
"Going off for rain when they did was in England's favour as South Africa would have had a lot of adrenaline from that partnership between de Villiers and Harris. But if they can knock out two or three with the new ball, they know there's some fragility to England as they're a batter light. Isn't it a shame that we're not in the middle of August yet and this is the last day of Test cricket?"
Former Middlesex and England seamer Mike Selvey on TMS

"What a lucky chap I am. I have a job where I can choose when I go out, and as luck would have it I am going to see a client, so I shall leave at 11 and listen to TMS in the car! I am very nervous for the boys as they have a habit of imploding in these situations"
Colin, Hertford, in the TMS inbox

1053: South Africa are having a team photo on the outfield - right below the England dressing-room. A bit of psychology?

"Another nervous day in prospect, although I will stick my neck out and say England will crawl over the line with three wickets remaining"
Red Kitching in the TMS inbox

"This is a team effort today - it's not about individuals, we'll just be going out there and trying to knock off the total"
England's Paul Collingwood on TMS

"Wakey, wakey Mark. I'm assuming you meant a result is more likely than a draw?"
Andrew Siviter in the TMS inbox
[No, I mean I just can't see the match being a draw, as England only have to score 197 runs in three full sessions. If they lose fewer than, say, six wickets, they should get the runs by the close. I just can't picture them being 150-9 with Monty and Jimmy batting out the last two hours. I reckon that scenario is less likely than South Africa rattling through England and taking regular wickets, with England being bowled out with the scores level - otherwise known as a tie. But that's just my opinion! MM]

Text in your views on 81111
Monty Panesar
"I'm here at The Oval watching England warm up and Monty is looking in fine nick"
James Katz, via text on 81111
[As much as England fans love Monty, I'm sure they hope he doesn't even need to get changed today, and can just sit on the balcony in his tracksuit and applaud! MM]

1036: For those of you keeping half an eye on the Olympics, Team GB have grabbed a couple of medals in the pool this morning - Rebecca Adlington wins gold, while Jo Jackson will be stepping out with pride after earning a bronze. Even better news for you Ben Dirs fans is that BD is your guide to all things Olympian today on the live text front.
Live text - Olympics, with Ben Dirs

1030: Morning, everyone. Today is England's last day of Test cricket until 11 December, when they face India in Ahmedabad. After today, they have a whole host of ODIs and Twenty20s against such diverse teams as South Africa, Scotland, the Stanford Superstars and India (plus Sri Lanka, New Zealand and possibly others in the Champions Trophy) - but if you're a five-day Test junkie, this is your last fix for a while.

The match situation at The Oval is remarkably simple - England are 0-0 in their second innings. They need 197 runs, South Africa need 10 wickets. And I'd even be prepared to bet (although probably not to pay up) that a tie may even be more likely than a draw today - considering the weather forecast is pretty good.

see also
England set for tricky run chase
10 Aug 08 |  England
Pietersen ton puts England ahead
08 Aug 08 |  England
New era begins well for England
07 Aug 08 |  England
South Africa in England in 2008
02 Aug 08 |  Cricket

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