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Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009

South Africa v England first Test day 4 as it happened

First Test, Centurion (day four):


To get involved e-mail (with 'For Ben Dirs' 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 Ben Dirs


1603: A curious, but entertaining, day's cricket. Good morning session for England, but it all went downhill from there. Salt of the earth ton from Hashim Amla, who keeps getting better, ably supported by De Villiers and Boucher. But perhaps the biggest blow of the day was struck by Morne Morkel just before stumps, removing England's captain, who's been the backbone of this team of late. If England manage to pull this out of the fire, my nan's Beryl Reid.

1558 - 11-1 Morkel angles one in and Anderson tickles him round the corner for four. Nice shot that. Anderson gets a thick outside edge, but it's all along the ground. Morkel running to his mark between balls, no idea why, he can't nick any more overs. Morkel, who actually starts his run-up facing away from the wicket before arcing round like an aeroplane on a runway, sends down the final ball of the day... and Anderson survives, somehow, poking again outside off and managing to miss it.

"Hi Ben, am I the only one who thinks England can win this? The total isn't that daunting, we have enough time and KP has to be due some pyrotechnics."
Rachel Tyrrell, Lincoln, in the TMS inbox

1555 - 7-1 Harris into the attack. Cook leans forward, the ball pops up and three close fielders grope at thin air. A slip, a short leg and two silly points in for the Essex man, and Smith brings in a fifth man for the final ball, but Cook survives and so will be back tomorrow.

1551 - 7-1 Can Cook do an Atherton? Ruddy hope so. Morkel's playing the role of Donald at the moment down to a tee - Anderson gets one in the ribs, before dabbling with two successive balls outside off-stump. And again, Morkel really working him over. And again... let's hope he doesn't get a straight one... he does, and Anderson smothers it well. Two overs remaining.

"If England get this total it will be the sixth highest run chase in the history of Test Cricket, although I have to say that I don't think this will happen."
Tom, Weymouth, in the TMS inbox

1548 - 7-1 We've got ourselves a nightwatchman, Jimmy Anderson the man to throw his body on the line. Morkel bowling like a dream, Anderson nibbling and poking and prodding, but he survives the over, and gets off the mark with a tuck to fine-leg. Amazing stat about Morkel, he's bowled 145 no-balls in 18 Tests. Well, at least he's got something to work on. Ntini serving up tempters outside off and Cook's having none of it.

Wicket falls
1541 - WICKET - Strauss c Boucher b Morkel 1 (Eng 5-1)
Morne's taken out England's king pin - brute of a delivery first-up, steepling bounce, and the England captain edges to Boucher behind the stumps.

1538 - 5-0 Four slips and a gully in for Strauss, Ntini, playing in his 100th Test, to have first go with the ball. Strauss is under way immediately, tucking Ntini round the corner for one. That brings Cook on strike, and he's beaten all ends up by one that keeps low. Horrible situation this for a man struggling for form, and Cook's a man struggling for form. That's nice of Ntini, serving up a ball on leg stump and allowing Cook an easy brace to square-leg. Two more for Cook with a poke through mid-wicket, and Morne Morkel will share the new ball.

1532: The South Africans await the arrival of the umpires and England's opening pair, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook...

"Ben, if you've still got that Sam Fox calendar, I'll give you four pounds twenty for it." Kev, Newcastle, in the TMS inbox


1523 - 301-7 declared Morkel getting stuck into Anderson now, carving him through point for four. Smith hovering on the balcony, with intent, which would scare the bejabbers out of me if I were Cook or Strauss. Morkel heaves Anderson to mid-on for one, and Smith does indeed wave his batsmen in. The lead is 363, England will have to face six overs tonight. Nasty.

"Why does England's bowling attack, across the generations, seem unable to maintain a threatening line and length like other nations can? We always seem to start well and deteriorate rapidly..."
Martin in Tonbridge in the TMS inbox

1519 - 295-7 Broad gets his pants pulled down by Morkel, who latches onto a short one and flogs him over mid-wicket for four. This is pretty ordinary to be honest, Broad short again, and Morkel hoicks him round the corner for four more. The lead 347 now... make that 351, Morkel planting a size 13 and clattering Broad to the wide long-on fence. AND ANOTHER! Bit embarrassing this for Broad, Morkel skewing down to third-man. Broad flashes a wry smile, Strauss looks like he's watching CCTV footage of a burglary on his house. Morkel shows the maker's name, but Anderson just manages to drag it in short of the rope. Eighteen from that over.

1513 - 277-7 Anderson loses his line and that's two leg-byes, Trott running round to prevent a four. Anderson bumps Boucher and Boucher has a swing and misses. Boucher spots the inswinger from Anderson and threads his drive through the covers for four. England looking very threadbare now, as Anderson slides down leg and is clipped away for a single by Boucher. Morkel nicks the strike with a poke to mid-on, 10 overs remaining - will any of them be for the England openers?

1508 - 269-7 "That would have bowled Bradman," says Vic Marks on TMS, and he's right, there's nothing Amla could have done about that. South Africa may as well get the England openers out there now... short from Broad and Boucher carves him through point for a single. Morkel is the new batter and he's off the mark with a tickle off his pads. Overcast now, but no threat of rain.

"Every year my uncle who lives in Bolivia sends me a handmade wooden animal for Christmas. I've now got enough to build myself an arc."
Chris in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1502 - WICKET - Amla b Anderson 100 (SA 266-7)
Anderson with the new cherry, and he's making it sing. He gets one to nip away from Boucher, before moving one back in and rapping Amla on the pads. Only a strangled appeal, and rightly so, it was going over. Amla's gone! A shooter from Anderson rips out Amla's off-stump and sends it cartwheeling Not necessarily a good sight for England, the pitch is turning tricks.

He's reached 100
That's 50
1457 - 265-6 That's sweet like chocolate from Boucher, dabbing Broad straight down the ground for four. That's Boucher's 30th Test fifty, he really has been a great servant for South Africa. And there were some suggesting he'd had his time - not on this evidence. Get your hard hats out, it's raining milestones - over-pitched from Broad and Amla clips him to the deep mid-wicket fence for his seventh Test ton. Fine knock, patient and classy.

"Worst present ever was a stadium snack bowl, it made a fake roaring sound whenever you retrieved a snack. The fact that someone thought that I might like it made me feel very sad."
Chris, Leeds, in the TMS inbox

1452 - 257-6 Boucher's got England by the jaffers now and he's applying the squeeze. Lovely stroke, Boucher back-cutting Collingwood for four. Boucher closes the face and eases Colly to leg for a single. Amla nicks the strike, time for some Stuart Broad.

"A long time ago (or so it seems) an ex-girlfriend of mine bought me the first Kylie Minogue album. I waited the whole of Xmas day for the rest of my prezzies from her. Nothing else followed. I dumped her a few months later. We are friends now though."
Matthew Cooper in the TMS inbox

1448 - 251-6 Long-on up and Boucher barges through the open gate and slaps Swann over the top for a maximum. Fifteen overs left after this one. Amla moves to 93 with a clip to mid-wicket, Boucher backs away and scythes to third-man for a couple. Low full-bunger from Swann, and Boucher fills his boots, clipping him through mid-wicket for one.

"Worst Christmas present from my mum, a fire extinguisher and car sponge set. How I smiled with gratitude."
Neil in the TMS inbox

1444 - 240-6 Boucher clips to mid-wicket for one, Collingwood into the attack now. Amla still gritting this out, eight short of his seventh Test century.

"If you look hard enough, Lisa Stansfield is on Twitter, get involved! That's what your Twitter is for."
Stephen, London, in the TMS inbox

1439 - 239-6 Swann gets one to nip back at Boucher, but the ball hits him outside the line and there's not much of an appeal. Boucher drops to one knee and swings Swann round the corner for four, he's now on 32, South Africa's lead now 301.

1436 - 231-6 All quiet on the email front. Anything will do really... what's your worst Christmas present ever? My dad's mum once bought me and my two brothers a Sam Fox calendar each. Actually, I think she saved up vouchers in The Sun. I was about eight.

1432 - 231-6 Amla moves to 92 with a swish to fine-leg. Fine knock this, out of the top drawer. Onions looking like he's wading through treacle now as he makes his way to the wicket. Two runs from that over, drinks, four more overs until the new ball becomes available.

1428 - 229-6 Swanny getting some lavish turn out there, but not having much luck. Boucher clips him to square-leg for one, the hosts steadily accumulating, drip-drip-dripping soil onto England's coffin.

"Does anyone understand Twitter .. been using it nearly a year! Apparently it is for telling the entire world what you are having for lunch... with pictures!"
Anthony Walton, South Wales, in the TMS inbox

1424 - 228-6 One leg-bye and a single from Amla, a drive to mid-off, from Onions's over... 20 overs to come...

1421 - 226-6 Boucher dances down the track and heaves Swann over mid-wicket for four. South Africa turning the screw now, and an interesting fact is that England have only chased down more than 300 to win a Test on three occasions.

1417 - 222-6 Amla just leans on that ball from Onions and the ball disappears over the rope at deep extra-cover. Mmmm... Amla... Onions loses his line and is whipped round the corner for one, before Boucher manages to dig out a yorker and picks up a brace off an inside edge. Boucher nicks the strike with a sweep.

1413 - 214-6 England already require 275, this is going to be a real old ding-dong on the final day. De Villiers chomping on a carrot up on the balcony, the Saffers look like they're all sat around someone's backyard having a barby. They're on top now, make no mistake. Just the one run from Swann's over, a work off Amla's pads.

1409 - 213-6 If Lisa Stansfield is reading this, can you get in touch, we were just wondering what you're up to. That one keeps low from Onions but Boucher manages to jam down on it. Why aren't there more people called Winston in the world? Short and wide from Onions and Bouchers flays him through point for four. Bit too easy this for the hosts.

1405 - 209-6 England get a glimpse, Amla prodding forward and the ball falling just short of Collingwood at slip. "He's played quite beautifully," says former England skipper Michael Vaughan on TMS, and he is, of course, correct, Amla's knock has been a doozy. Maiden over. Will the Saffers give England's openers a few overs tonight? Makes sense, it's the last thing Strauss and Cook would want.

1402 - 209-6 "If we keep the lead below 300, we must have a chance," emails Martin in Herefordshire. I agree, but I don't think that's going to happen, England have really taken their foot off the pedal here. Anderson strays onto Boucher's legs again and Boucher clips him through square-leg for four more. Runs coming quite freely now.

1359 - 204-6 South Africa pass 200 courtesy of a leg-bye before Swann gives Boucher another gimme, a full-toss which the little wicketkeeper eases to the deep mid-wicket fence. England looking a little weary now.

"Someone told me that Caroline Cheese wore gloves made of cheese. Edam, I think." Honest Frank via Twitter

1356 - 197-6 Anderson, striving for the yorker, serves up a half-bunger on leg-stump and Boucher's off the mark with a clip through mid-wicket for four. Anderson, not put off, finds the yorker this time but Boucher manages to dig it out. Scorcher from Jimmy, getting one to hoop away after a barrage of inswingers, and beating Boucher's poke outside off.

1352 - 193-6 Swann drops short and Amla backs away and carves him through point for a couple. Amla now on 81, just the two from the over. Looking a little cloudy now in Centurion.

1350 - 191-6 Jimmy was looking a bit sluggish until that wicket. Pretty much a straight one really, Duminy just missed it. Boucher, the last of South Africa's proper batsmen, is next up the ramp. Not sure about this referral system. Surely it would be a better idea to show the different angles and whatever on a big screen, it seems a bit dangerous to me that you have a better idea of what's going on if you're watching on TV than if you're at the match. Oh well, Boucher survives the over.

Wicket falls
1346 - WICKET - Duminy lbw b Anderson 11 (SA 191-6)
Anderson too straight and Duminy whips him away for one. One more for Amla, Anderson latching on to a full-toss, before Anderson strikes - just above the knee roll, Umpire Davis raises his finger, Duminy refers it, and Hawkeye says it's clipping the top of off.

1340 - 189-5 Swann to continue, with a short fine-leg and a short leg in for Amla. Amla tucks one round the corner for one, before Duminy sweeps fine for four. One more for Duminy with a sweep to backward-square.

1337 - 183-5Anthony (see below), I am indeed on Twitter, although you're right, I don't like to shout about it, mainly because I'm still not really sure what it's all about. Thunderstorms in the area tonight apparently, but they reckon we should get a full day's play tomorrow. Thirty-two overs left today, Anderson keeping it spot on in the first over after tea, although he does stray with his last ball and Amla moves to 77 with a clip off his pads.

"Oi! Bendy, just noticed you are on Twitter. Kept that quiet."
Anthony Walton, South Wales, in the TMS inbox

1330: Players making their way out now, we'll have some play in a couple of minutes. Any emails welcome, it will help me make it through the day. Huge session this, this South African pair can really start pouring it on now.

1320: Many thanks for that spell Nav, it's Ben Dirs and his stupid, stupid name back in the seat. Talking of tailors, a bloke down the pub was telling me last night that Mike Gatting's egg and bacon MCC tie is actually made of eggs and bacon. He bought it from a tailor in Gants Hill who specialises in making clothes made from food. I'm thinking about buying a pair of walking boots made from Dundee cake.

By Nav Soneji

1312 - SA 182-5 Graeme Swann bounds in like a toddler who has just discovered the secret stash for remote controls, but Duminy plays the party pooper and thrusts his front pad out and safely fends for tea.

1309 - SA 182-5 Argh! The demons of the Centurion Park pitch rear their ugly heads as a good ball from Anderson outside off stump keeps seriously low, but Duminy's inside edge just evades his off stump and hurtles towards the boundary for four. Fortunate.

1305 - SA 176-5 An early single from Amla gives Swann another pop at Duminy, once again allowing Swann to give Duminy another grilling. Diffident defence from the Capetonian, who, with tea a kettle's boil away, opts for soft hands and obdurate defence.

1301 - SA 175-5 Silky leg glance from Amla, caressing a horror of a full-bunger from Broad through midwicket for four, a stroke that takes him into the 70s. The sundries swell with two leg byes off the sizeable pad of JayPee. Aggers has just informed us that Andy Flower isn't at Centurion Park because of illness. Get well soon Andy. Half a pound of grapes and a tattered copy of House and Hound is winging its way to your sickbed.

"A few years ago a friend of mine slipped on his way back from the garage, where he had been collecting the frozen turkey from the deep freeze. He broke his arm on the way down and the turkey (having been lobbed gently upwards) spiralled down onto his head, knocked him cold, so to speak. Not funny at the time but looking back..."
Richard in the TMS inbox

1258 - SA 166-5 Left-hander? Graeme Swann? The off-spinner immediately goes around the wicket to new man Duminy and looks aghast as Aleem Dar turns down an lbw appeal. Slightly perplexing considering the ball came right off the chunk of the bat. Still, good over that, lots of flight and plenty of guile.

1255 - SA 166-5 The ideal fillip 20 minutes before tea as JP Duminy strolls out to the middle and almost makes a howler first up, spooning a full delivery on his feet into the air, but well short of any danger at square leg. A sudden spring in the step of England's XI now and the banter is considerably more audible around the bat.

Wicket falls
1250 Wicket AB de Villiers ct Bell b Broad 64 - 165-5 AB mistimes a drive off Broad, but the ball squirts harmlessly to mid-on. However, no such fortune from the very next ball as Ian Bell takes an outstanding catch diving low to his right at short cover as De Villiers tucks into a half-volley outside off stump.

1249 - 165-4 First bit of uncertainty for a while from De Villiers, who chips a checked leg glance over short leg's head and just short of midwicket off Swann. That's the closest England have come within a sniff of a wicket for a while.

1246 - 162-4 Ugly bowling from Broad, who sends down a shocker of a wide which evades wicketkeeper Matt Prior and first slip Andrew Strauss as the home duo collect two more bonus runs. Broady, ears steaming like Elmer Fudd, attempts to knock De Villiers' head back to Johannesburg, but digs the ball in so short it sails at least two feet over the batsman's head. Is that the faint outline of a smile from Steve Davis? No.

1241 - 158-4 Bit of a one-day feel about this patch of the game, field a little more conservative, easy singles to pick and Ben Dirs heading in the direction of the kettle. Swann attempts to prise this duo from the crease with a few flighty off-breaks, but all he gets for his endeavours is three more runs to his bowling figures.

1238 - 155-4 No sign of these reported rainclouds as yet as Broad gets on the money like BBC business editor Robert Peston and bags himself a maiden.

"Re: Phil Smith, There was one episode of Rainbow where Bungle was swimming in the sea and his trunks came off. He then refused to come out because he was embarrassed despite usually wearing nothing at all."
Simon Fuller, Cardiff, in the TMS inbox

1234 - 155-4Tweak o'clock for England as Graeme Swann returns, but for a slightly grizzled gurn from England's batting saviour, nothing of note to please the St George's flag-waving patrons sat half-starkers on the grassy banks. Apart from the glorious sunshine and almost limitless supply of their choice of beverage. Bit like in the press box I would imagine.

"Not a good half hour. Finally found some red vermouth to make this Christmas cocktail recipe I saw in the paper. Walked back from town, slipped over twice on ice and 5 mins from home the Tesco bag splits and the vermouth bottle smashes on the floor. Walk in the door, vermouth stains on my trousers, to find that that Amla and the man with no first name are tonking us. I need a drink."
Gary, Market Harborough, TMS inbox

1230 - 153-4 Broad charges in with the brief of preventing a potential run haemorrhage. He half does his job, only for De Villiers to gather a couple more into the off side.

"Re: 1209, Nav Soneji should choose his similes more carefully. I would refer him to Natural England's (the nation's nature conservation quango) recent report, A review of Red Squirrel Conservation Activity in Northern England, which makes a rattling good read... and perfect sense. You can download your copy from Natural England's website.
Graeme Duckworth, TMS inbox

1225 - 150-4 Still can't work out this referral system. The replay from De Villiers' referral a couple of overs earlier clearly shows the ball hitting the stumps, yet the third umpire remains unconvinced about this. That's like a doctor saying he doesn't quite trust the life-support machine to do its job. Anyhoo, De Villiers is making hay like the WBA world heavyweight champion, spanking Collingwood through point for four before turning a couple through midwicket. The wheels are beginning to loosen on England's victory wagon.

That's 50
1218 - 142-4 If De Villiers was a biscuit, he would most definitely be a Viennese sandwich, eye-catching, indulgent and the perfect companion with a cup of tea. He brings up his half century from just 70 balls, runs which are slowly edging South Africa into a favourable position. Another single, this time with flick off his hips from a leg-side delivery from Onions.

"My GP is the spit for Graham Taylor, which allows me the indulgence of exclaiming "Do I not like that" when the prognosis is less than desirable. He's never joined in on the fun, which leads me to conclude that he does not share the observation."
James, Exeter, TMS inbox

1213 - 137-4 England frustration is as thick as Christmas pudding at SuperSport Park. The third umpire - not on Graeme Swann's Chrimble card for this year - is back in action, this time for a run-out call from a quick single, but Hashim Amla is well and truly home, the only question was whether the bat left the crease was he was sliding in his bat. No fancy frolics for Colly, who leaks a mere double. Beverages.

Referral - not out
Referral - waiting for verdict
1209 - 135-4 Filthy half bunger from Onions but De Villiers gets a little too overexcited and is too early with his back-foot pull, dragging the ball through midwicket for a couple. Huge excitement as Onions traps De Villiers on the crease, sparking a massive appeal turned down by umpire Steve Davis. Strauss summons an impromptu team meeting and eventually flashes a "T" in the Australian official's direction. Hawk-Eye says the ball would clip leg stump, but third umpire Amiesh Saheba returns the call back to Davis and unsurprisingly, the original decision is upheld. This referral system makes about as much sense as reading a Quango report on squirrels.

1202 - 131-4 A brief flicker of control from Broad, who pins Amla with six good deliveries, offering nothing to spank on a silver platter.

1158 - 131-4 Woah! AB plays plays a horribly unconvincingly flat-bat pull, but the ball from Onions gets too big on him, making contact high on the bat but sending the ball looping over mid-on's head for a couple. Agony for Onions, which sounds like a PG Wodehouse novel. A shade more assurance next deliver though, angling his bat with protractor-like precision to feed a couple down to third man before tickling a gentle glance off his pads for four.

1154 - 123-4 Talking of dogs, here comes the reliable Colly and his brand of effervescent medium pacers. He leaks a couple of runs from a thoroughly innocuous over, if that over was a High Street shop it would be Rosebys.

1150 - 121-4 More shape than a weight watchers meeting from the returning Graham Onions, who has AB groping outside off stump with a delivery which moves away from the bat. It makes up for an earlier horlicks, punished like a naughty German Shepherd puppy after an indoor toilet mishap by De Villiers with a scything cut through point for four.

"My recently grown-up daughter who is staying with us at the moment rightly points out that Pingu's father (see below) was always ironing their black bits (if you'll excuse the expression)."
Chris in the snow in Cambridgeshire, TMS inbox

1145 - 117-4 Amla goes aerial, skipping down the track and smearing Swann over mid-on's head for his sixth boundary, a shot which brings up his 15th Test half-ton. More manners, this time through point as Swann drops too wide as the bearded wonder collects his seventh boundary. The earlier England stranglehold is more like a limp-armed cuddle right now.

"My GP looks like a slightly weathered and hen-pecked version of Villa manager Martin O'Neill; I just hope he is as shrewd and canny as O'Neill, or I may in (medical) trouble."
John, London, TMS inbox

1141 - 109-4 More effective single-mongering from Amla, who prods Anderson through midwicket for a single to move to 49. AB is a little more circumspect, opting to shoulder arms to a perfectly hittable ball outside off peg from Anderson. No doubt one of the words in his ear from his captain at lunch was "longevity", as well as "pass the butter dear boy".

1138 - 106-4 Amla notches the SA ton before AB plays a delightful shot off his back foot, using the depth of his crease and slicing Swann through the covers for four, the kind of stroke which could start cults.

1133 - 99-4 Prior, standing up to the stumps, nonchalantly snaffles a delivery outside off stump left alone by AB as if it was bowled by a 68-year-old village grenade chucker, rather than James Anderson steaming in at 86mph. This is the same bloke with a question mark the size of Belgium about his glovework hanging over his head before the start of the Ashes. Impressive renaissance. Meanwhile, Amla sneaks a couple with some nice placement down towards third man.

1128 - 95-4 Amla launches into a Swann delivery with a confident front foot stride down the track and pushes the ball into the covers, where an acrobatic stop prevents a boundary but not the single as this fifth-wicket pair bring up the 50 partnership.

"A confession: many years ago, while at college, I used to make beer money by betting my housemates on which window would be chosen (round, square, arched) as we watched Playschool in the afternoons on BBC1. As I nearly always won - the occasional, ummm, deliberate mistake notwithstanding - my housemates became increasingly upset and eventually refused to play. Much to my shame, I now have to admit that it was a repeat, and that my sister would watch the 11:00am offering on BBC2 then phone me to tell me the shape of said opening. Sorry guys."
Rob, Notts, TMS inbox

1125 - 95-4 Whoops, I meant to say Bernard changed his name to Mike below, rather than keep Mike, which would be a totally pointless story. Meanwhile De Villiers creams another dreamy leg glance through midwicket for four, Anderson the victim this time.

1121 - 89-4 Liquid batting from Amla, whose rapier-swift wrists whip Swann through his point favourite area for his fifth boundary to move to 40.

1118 - 85-4 De Villiers turns a leg-side delivery off his pads from Anderson through midwicket for two, a disdainful turn of the wrists. Incidentally a petrol station near the vicinity of my alma mater used to employ a shop assistant who was the spit of Terry Nutkins of the Really Wild Show fame, who also famously had his little finger bitten off by an otter (Nutkins, not the shop assistant). More puzzling, though, was his colleague, whose name badge read Bernard before Christmas but in the new year it changed to Mike.

1115 - 82-4 Dirsy's doubling his weight in prawn mayonnaise, so I'm slotting into the hotseat for the next session, so hit the refresh button so you know who to hurl your Christmas cake at. Swanny first up and he turns a redder shade of crimson as Aybee steals a double which really shouldn't have been courtesy of some lax fielding from Stuart Broad at fine leg. Cue stares that could cut through bank vaults.


By Jamin Dirs

"I had an appointment with my new GP the other week, and ever since, I haven't been able to stop trying to work out who he looks like. Then, just this morning, I finally realized that he is a dead ringer for (former Spurs boss) Peter Shreeves. Does anyone else have a doctor who looks like a mediocre football manager from the 1980s and 90s?"
Tim Haveron Jones, Maidenhead, TMS inbox

"RE: Tim from Dubai. Thanks for the ingredient list, I have all those. Now what do I do?"
Mike, TMS inbox

"TV is full of oddities like that (see below). Pingu's father was always ironing, despite the fact that none of them wore any clothes. Ever."
Ben, Mansfield, TMS inbox

Text in your views on 81111
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Stuart, Brighton, text 81111

"10 oz currants, 6 oz sultanas, 3 oz raisins, 3 oz dark natural glace cherries, 3 oz mixed chopped peel - Cut your own or use ready cut. Grated rind of 1 lemon, Grated rind of 1 orange, 2 tablespoons of whisky, brandy, rum or sherry, 4 eggs - room temperature, 6 oz butter - room temperature, 6 oz soft brown sugar (or caster sugar if you have none), 3 ½ oz of self raising flour (use all plain if you have no SR flour, this cake is not intended to rise, but be level.) 3 ½ oz of plain flour, 2 oz ground almonds, 1½ teaspoons of mixed spice (this should contain cloves, cinnamon etc), 1 tablespoon golden syrup or corn syrup, Optional 2oz walnuts or blanched almonds chopped. Optional 2 oz chopped dried apricots."
Tim in Dubai in the TMS inbox

"Did anyone else ever wonder why Bungle walked around the Rainbow house naked for the most part, then proceeded to put on pyjamas for bed or shorts to go swimming?"
Phil Smith, Worcestershire, in the TMS inbox

"My grandmother sometimes refers to women as being 'handsome'. I thought it was an odd thing to say when I first heard it as a small child but eventually realised it is an appropriate description in some instances. That said, my grandmother is currently 101 not out (sitting in the room next door tucking into the mince pies) so perhaps it's a turn of phrase from a bygone era."
Stephen in the TMS inbox

"Men can refer to women as handsome because women sometimes refer to men as pretty. For example, Ali Cook is a 'pretty' man, but someone like KP is not. Jude Law is a pretty man, but Hugh Jackman is a proper handsome man. Need I go on?"
Samantha in the TMS inbox

"I thought I would share with you what I have just witnessed outside my shop. A rather plump lady started slipping on the ice and was going down in instalments when in her desperate attempt to stay upright she grabbed at a passing gentleman who was carrying a Christmas tree. This didn't really work out as she only managed to pull him over as well at which point he dropped his Christmas tree into the road and a passing bus run over it. Merry Christmas all and bring on Swanny."
Darren Griffiths, Hornchurch, in the TMS inbox

1034 - 80-4 That really is a very fragrant stroke from Amla, creaming Broad through the covers for four with the minimum of fuss. De Villiers watchful now, playing for lunch, and he tucks a single off his pads for a single to bring the session to a close. Good period of play that, what you might call absorbing.

"Re David and Christmas cake recipes - I have a really good recipe. Can't tell you though, its a family secret."
James, scuppered by the snow, Wakefield, in the TMS inbox

1027 - 73-4 Maiden over from Broad, who's keeping the South African batsmen very honest with some nice line and length. De Villiers with a twirl to mid-wicket for one, and Amla replicates the stroke for a single of his own. One more for De Villiers, before Amla very nearly plays on, lunging forward, the ball jamming into the ground and just clearing the stumps.

"How about some decent intelligent commentary on the cricket instead of this incessant and puerile sexist drivel." CRICKET IS FOR GROWN UPS TOO!"
Jimmy in the TMS inbox

1021 - 70-4 Amla picks up a single from Broad's over, courtesy of a flick to leg. Swanny getting some lavish turn there, and De Villiers goes chasing down the leg-side, but doesn't get a glove on it. Classy cricketer, Swann, I like him.

"Could someone ask Michael Vaughan to do a Bungle?"
Evan in the TMS inbox

1018 - 68-4 Broad nagging away outside off, and Amla balloons one off his glove into the leg-side. That's a bit more authentic from De Villiers, who looks in tremendous nick - one step forward and he creams Swanny through the covers for four. Is there a more aesthetically pleasing player in the modern game? A single. There are three men in my office crying with laughter, merely at the mention of the children's programme Rainbow. What a show. How did they pitch that to LWT? "Right, there's this pink hippo who's a little bit camp, some geezer who's got a zip as a mouth and a chow chow who walks on hind legs, and they all kip in the same bed..."

1008 - 60-4 Ladies - us men were just discussing whether you would be offended if we referred to you as "handsome". I like handsome women. Rula Lenska qualifies, as does Catherine Tate. Maiden over from Broad. Swann's a real bag of vipers this morning, and there's another very decent lbw appeal against Amla. That came back a long way, but Umpire Dar was having none of it. England refer, but it hit him outside the line. Have that Swanny - De Villiers comes down the track and caramelises the England off-spinner over long-on for six.

1000 - 51-4 "Does anyone know a good tailor?" emails Colin Read, mysteriously. Yes, Colin, there is a shop in Romford called Madhouse, the lining on their sports jackets is second to none. De Villiers is the new man at the crease, and he's off the mark with a tuck round the corner for one. Crackerjack stroke from Amla, freeing his arms and thrashing Swann through point for four.

Wicket falls
0954 - WICKET - Kallis c Cook b Broad 4 (SA 46-4)
Swanny keeping it real again, just one from that over. Kallis looking a little bit twitchy against the England spinner... AND HE'S A GONER! Cheap wicket for England, Kallis sticking a short one from Broad straight down Cook's neck at deep square-leg. Good catch that, he had to adjust his hands and take it behind him. The Saffers in a bit of trouble here.

0949 - 45-3 Broad nagging away outside Amla's off-stump, like he said he'd do before this series began. Boycott talking about keeping the umpire sweet, and the advantages of doing so.

0946 - 45-3 Swann into the attack, and he's getting some serious turn. A strangled lbw appeal against Kallis, before a far more confident shout. Strauss thinks about referring it, but thinks again. Another lbw appeal, but Kallis was miles outside the line. Promising over though, Swanny looks like he's going to go through this South Africa middle order like a Sweet 'n' Spicy Pot Noodle.

"Re Simon in Canterbury (see below): it really depends what you're drinking. Anything up to good vintage port is fine, but I would raise an eyebrow or two at spirits. At this time of year, though, with the weather closing in and England a bit on the back foot, we could certainly make a case for a medicinal whisky or two."
Evan in the TMS inbox

0938 - 45-3 Time for some Stuart Broad, and he gets Kallis hopping with his first delivery. Among the many conversations I had last night, one theme was: "Is Stuart Broad actually that good?" Kallis with a single to point, before Broad has a confident lbw appeal against Amla turned down by Umpire Davis. Lipps Inc on the Centurion stereo. Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, talk about, talk about, talk about movin. Why?

"Simon in Oxford - Rather than focus on whether this pub tried to charge you for cocktails you had not consumed, you might be better pursuing the company under the Trade Description Act (1972) sec.3 para 42.1, which from memory states that 'No business intent on serving or professing to serve cocktail drinks, other than appropriately mixed beers, will be entitled to call itself 'public house', or its shortened form 'pub'. Such establishments are entitled only to refer to themselves as 'wine bars' or, where cocktail drinks are the principally advertised sales item, 'pretentiously posh joints.'"

Paul in Lancs, TMS inbox

0933 - 44-3 That's a peach of a stroke from Amla, who chucks his hands at the ball and dispatches it to the point boundary. Quick mitts. Good comeback from Anderson, getting Amla nibbling with an outswinger. Time for some drinks.

"Does anybody know a good Christmas cake recipe? Keep well."
David in the TMS inbox

0928 - 40-3 A couple of runs from Anderson's over, a single apiece for Kallis and Amla. Onions with another tight one, just the one run from Amla with a force into the covers, and it's all very tense out there in Centurion.

0923 - 37-3 That's a maiden from Onions, who's keeping it tighter than the bark on a tree. The South African cameramen love a lady, I've noticed. A year ago I would have written something about a lady wearing a bikini or something, but then Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand said something nasty about some bloke who was in a 70's sit-com's granddaughter and as a result I can't say stuff like that any more. Apparently Carl Froch's girlfriend has A-levels in PE, leisure and recreation. She failed her A-level in shopping.

0916 - 37-3 Whoa there Hashim, you'll give Jacques a palsy. Quick single into the covers. Kallis clips off his toes for one, and Amla picks up one more into the covers. A lot more uneven bounce this morning, bit of movement, England need to hustle South Africa out here, because you don't want to be chasing 250 on this deck.

"I'm with you on the gastro-pub thing. Had our Christmas bash last night and, not only was the food pretty rubbish, but the pub then added £300 of champagne and cocktails we hadn't ordered or drunk to the bill. Given that the original bill was only £200, we were understandably a bit miffed. The night ended with all of us embroiled in a raging argument with the manager which involved lots of drunken finger jabbing and shouting. All very festive it was."
Simon in Oxford in the TMS inbox

0911 - 34-3 Jacques Kallis, the cricketing equivalent of a giant slab of mature cheddar, strolls to the crease, and he negotiates the last four balls of the over.

Wicket falls
0906 - WICKET - Smith b Onions 12 (SA 34-3)
Graham Onions has just bowled Graeme Smith, which is lovely. Think that might have jagged back plenty. Lovely.

0903 - 34-2 The Associates' Party Fears Two is the most catchy song ever, we've decided in the office as Amla gets up on his haunches and punches through the covers for three. Anderson ploughing a furrow around the wicket to Smith, who whips off his legs for a single.

"We had our Christmas do last week, we were served roasties, but I was more shocked to be served sliced sprouts."
James, not golfing, Wakefield, in the TMS inbox

0854 - 28-2 "Any chance you could also keep us updated with events at the Waca?" emails Stev from Italy. The Windies are 201-5, chasing 359. A couple of wickets have just gone down, those pesky Aussies look like they're going to win that one. Just one from Anderson's over, a clip round the corner from Smith.

0851 - 27-2 Hashim Amla is the new batter and he's off the mark with a very sharp single into the covers. Amla's not mucking about, another brace to mid-off, and there's a four - too wide from Onions, and Amla punches him through point. Far more importantly, Gary from Market Harborough reckons Paul Harris looks like Bobby Davro. My father once took the whole family to see Davro in Torquay. If I were writing the posters, I would have written, in very large letters, "SEE HIM WHILE HE'S HOT, HIS BUNGLE IS TOP-NOTCH". Thought of anything to ask Michael Vaughan yet? We've lined up the ex-England captain to answer a load of your questions, so have a little think about what has happened in this Test and send it in.

Wicket falls
0843 - WICKET - Harris b Anderson 11 (SA 20-2)
Four runs for Harris courtesy of a rather annoying edge. He really is an irritating so and so this Harris, and I mean that in a nice way. Another four, that was a better stroke through backward-point. Ding-dang-do, Anderson's bowled Harris round his legs.

0839: Onions with a decent lbw shout against Smith, but that was high. Onions doesn't really look like a sportsman, he looks like a chap you'd find fixing the fridge when you pop round to drop some shopping off to your nan's. Smith with a couple of runs to mid-wicket.

"Paul Harris' technique at the crease is akin to The Honey Monster trying to fend off the amorous advances of a feral cat with a stick. Not that I've actually witnessed this, you understand"
Steve Edwards in the TMS inbox:

0835: James Anderson with the first ball of the day, and Smith smothers it as if it's a beloved pug. Doesn't even make sense. Maiden over to kick off, Anderson bang on the money.

"Is 8.21 to early to be drinking?"
Simon, Canterbury, in the TMS inbox

"At my desk in eastern Congo. Dodgy connection. Very excited by our fightback yesterday. Cant wait to see if Anderson and Broad are on song this morning."
Pip in the TMS inbox

0829: Just seen that Bell dismissal, what was that all about? Players coming out now, Graeme Smith and nightwatchman Paul Harris the men in the middle. I feel terrible. Christmas dinner yesterday. Without roast potatoes. Not big, not clever. Some of these gastro-pubs make me sick.

0815: Didn't see any of the cricket yesterday, was it any good? Heard Swann's knock was quite a doozy. They were expecting thunderstorms today in Centurion, 60% chance this afternoon, but it's looking tremendous at the moment, and ruddy hot.

0808: Good day to you. There is a game of cricket today, let's chat about it and stuff.

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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
Jonathan Agnew column
18 Dec 09 |  England
Swann inspires England fightback
18 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
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England

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