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Page last updated at 15:14 GMT, Sunday, 20 December 2009

SA v England 1st Test day 5 as it happened

First Test, Centurion (day five):

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)

To get involved e-mail tms@bbc.co.uk (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

SOUTH AFRICA DRAW WITH ENGLAND

1628: Well that all turned out a bit more enthralling than I expected: one second the game's meandering towards a stultifying draw, the next England have taken a wrong turn and ended up clinging onto the edge of a cliff, while being pelted with hard leather balls by the natives. Much to discuss - Pietersen's rather silly run out, the form of Cook and Bell, one of the best catches you'll ever see from De Villiers - who said Test cricket was a load of old rubbish? It makes Twenty20 look about as in-depth and absorbing as a flyer for your local kebab house.

One ball to go - 228-9 ONIONS HAS DONE IT! The Durham man blocks into the off-side, and England have done a Cardiff and saved the game...

Two balls to go - 228-9 Onions pushes into the off-side, they think about a run, but decide that would be very silly indeed... Ntini shakes he umpire's hand, he thinks it's all over... it isn't, there's one ball left...

Three balls to go - 228-9 That one shoots back at Onions, staying low, but Onions is the equal to it...

Four balls to go - 228-9 Ntini, bowling from wide of the crease as always, gets one to jag back, but Onions smothers it...

Five balls to go - 228-9 Onions beaten outside off, but he survives...

1616 - 228-9 Ntini to Onions, short of a length outside off, Onions can leave it alone...

1614 - 228-9 Leg-side from Morkel, and Collingwood's hit it so well, it's run away for four... can Colly get down the other end for the final over? No he can't, he dabs into the off-side, they think about a single, but sensibly decide against it... Graeme Smith clearly believes in fairytales, he's called for Ntini to bowl the final over, and he's playing his 100th Test...

1613 - 224-9 Big call from Collingwood - Onions nurdles to mid-on, and South Africa pretty much stand back and wave them through for a run. Collingwood on strike for the final two balls of the over, but can he get down the other end for the last six balls?

1612 - 223-9 Three slips, a gully, a silly-point, a forward short-leg and a leg gully in for Onions. In fact, everything's short about Smith's field placings. Onions watches two balls from Morkel go harmlessly by, before the bowler serves up a shortish one and Onions nibbles and leaves...

1608 - 222-9 Clever from Smith and De Wet - leg-side delivery and Collingwood nurdles it off his pads and the ball races away for four. Onions on strike with two overs left to play...

1607 - 218-9 It's buzzing in Centurion now, I repeat, buzzing. De Wet still in the attack, what a debut it's been for the 29-year-old. Three gone in the over, Collingwood not having to play. But he'll have to decide when to take a single. Four slips in for Collingwood, a mid-wicket, and three men in the covers. One ball remaining in the over...

"Only 3,000 entries on Google for 'graham onions rearguard miracle'. An optimistically high number, perhaps..."
Andy in the TMS inbox

"29,600 Google results for "Ben Dirs silly". Only 4,310 for "Ben Dirs insightful".
Oliver in the TMS inbox

1603 - 218-9 Morkel wastes the last ball of his over, that's miles down the leg-side, and Onions survives. Three overs to go...

Referral - out
1559 - WICKET - Swann lbw b Morkel 2 (Eng 218-9)
Yep, Swann's gone, that was hitting leg stump... one ball left of Morkel's over, then three more overs... Onions the last man out of the hutch, he's got a first-class average of 12.

Referral - waiting for verdict
1559 - 218-8 "England crumble to Centurion loss" roars my editor. Don't worry, he's just covering all eventualities. He's also got "Hammers thrash Chelsea 9-0" up his sleeve for later today... whoops, Swanny looks like he might be a goner - keeps low from Morkel, Umpire Dar pulls the trigger, England inevitably refer it...

"I'm so nervous I've bitten all the children's fingernails off. They needed a tidy up for Christmas so it's been handy." Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox

1552 - 218-8 I should make clear that Broad's dismissal was the result of an England appeal, not a South African one. The umpire gave him out, Broad, who knew he was probably out, just wanted to make sure. De Wet gets one to shoot through, but Collingwood jams his bat down in time. De Wet over-pitches and Collingwood moves to 18 with a clip through mid-wicket for four. England survive, four overs left.

"556 entries for 'Paul Collingwood Myrrh' on Google. Just to give Colly a Christmas twist."
Paul in the TMS inbox

1550 - 214-8 A short-leg, a backward short-leg and a man on the hook for Swann against Morkel, who is belatedly wheeled into the attack - they were clearly watching last year's Ashes Test in Cardiff. Another no-ball from Morkel, England could do without those now, before Morkel bumps Swann for the second time in the over. Morkel gets one to nip back, but that was sliding well down leg. Another bouncer gets Swann flinching as if he's suddenly been struck down by a palsy, but he manages to guts out the over.

"Time for Luke Wright to be given a chance?! Hang on, I've just hovered my mouse over the bottom right corner of my laptop screen and it's not before midday, and it's not the 1st of April."
David in Ashley Heath in the TMS inbox

1545 - 212-8 Swanny survives the over, I did of course mean "incomprehensibly" rather than "incomprehensively" a couple of entries ago. Where's Monty when you need him? Six overs to bowl after this one. Collingwood very nearly chases a wide one from De Wet, but pulls his bat back inside the line. It's been a slow burner, but it's bubbling and spitting all over the shop now...

Referral - out
1537 - WICKET - Broad c Boucher b Harris 0 (Eng 209-8)
Broad's body language suggest he knew he hit that, and replays suggest there was a slight deviation. Of course, the men upstairs don't have snickometer or hotspot technology at their disposal, but they've given him! England up to their necks in it now, they've lost 4-4, Swanny up next. Bet you my signed Brazil Pele shirt that he doesn't play any switch-hits.

Referral - waiting for verdict
1534 - 209-6 Incomprehensibly, Smith has called Harris into the attack, it's like Cardiff all over again. He does slide one past a defensive lunge from Broad... and South Africa think they've got him two balls later: Broad comes forward again, and Harris and Boucher, and indeed every South African on the field, are convinced there's a noise...

1531 - 209-6 Tremendous spell this from debutant De Wet, he's now taken 3-2 in four overs. Broad sees out the final ball of that one, 48 balls to go. Will the Ntini experiement continue? I can only think Morkel must be injured - if De Wet's getting so much trampoline with the new ball, Morkel would surely be doing the same?

Out for a duck
1529 - WICKET - Prior c Boucher b De Wet 0 (Eng 208-7)
Prior's a walking wicket at the moment, and he's De Wet's latest victim - another steepler outside off, Prior fences and Boucher snaffles the catch. England in serious trouble here, eight overs to go after this one... Phil Barker points out that if you type "Paul Collingwood" and "octopus" into Google, you get 3,720 hits (now 3,721).

1525 - 208-6 Benet emails in to tell us "Paul Collingwood" and "dogged" brings up 34,300 hits on Google. Nuggety brings up 11,000. Colly gets a full delivery from Ntini that shoots on, but Colly digs it out.

"Surely the long-running Bell experiment has to end now - he looks totally out of his depth and has not improved. Time for Luke Wright to be given a chance."
Dave Hartin in the TMS inbox

1519 - 207-6 Matt Prior is next out of the hutch, as replays show that that ball from De Wet didn't do too much, but Bell was just late on it. Talking of late, Prior's next up, and he's playing at that almost as the ball's clunking into Boucher's gloves. There'll be no early finish to this match, 10 overs to go in Centurion.

Wicket falls
1516 - WICKET - Bell c Boucher b De Wet 2 (Eng 207-6)
Two to Bell with a clip to leg, he's off the mark. Catches win matches - Bell fends at a decent delivery from De Wet, edges, and Boucher takes a quality catch diving low to his right.

1513 - 205-5 If you type "Paul Collingwood" and "obdurate" into Google, you get 1,610 entries. I think he should change his name, like Marvellous Marvin Hagler. Obdurate Paul Collingwood, it's got a good, honest ring to it. OOOH! Nasty scuttler from Ntini, and the obdurate Collingwood does well to keep it out.

1508 - 205-5 De Wet has got his dander up, and he has Bell swaying out of line with another bumper. De Wet beats Bell with another grenade that explodes outside off, while the next ball stays low. Have to feel a little bit for Bell here, he's got half the country questioning his place in the side and he finds himself facing a young buck armed with a new cherry with his side trying to save a Test match. But then, that's Test cricket.

1506 - 205-5 Ntini gets one to nip back at Collingwood and there's a big lbw shout... but Umpire Dar says it was going over, and the hosts have no reviews.

"Re: Sir Ian Blog - is that perchance the well-known 'Burts Butchers' in Lancaster? I always thought of him as a slightly judgemental Gary Pallister."
Jon in York in the TMS inbox

1503 - 201-5 Bell sees out the final two balls of De Wet's over, and the mystery of why the debutant was preferred to Morkel is a mystery no longer, that was a spiteful delivery to remove Trott.

Wicket falls
1459 - WICKET - Trott c De Villiers b De Wet 69 (Eng 205-5)
You will not see a better catch than that, ever. And that's no exaggeration. Snorter from De Wet with the new cherry, Trot nibbles and De Villiers, who looked to be going to his right, suddenly drops to his left, sticks out a mitt and picks the ball up less than an inch from the turf. Trott's monumental, 212-ball innings comes to an end. South Africa, meanwhile, have announced a 14-man squad for the second and third Tests. Wayne Parnell's name is the only one to drop out from the 15 initially picked for Centurion. That means Ryan McLaren, Alviro Petersen and Dale Steyn - who sat out the first Test because of his hamstring injury - are the three players back in the reckoning, along with the current XI.

"My local parade of shops boasts a large, jolly fibreglass model of a man standing outside the butcher's shop. With his white apron, boater and arms across his chest he is a dead ringer for Jacques Kallis standing at slip. Apart from the jolly bit obviously."
Sir Ian Blog in the TMS inbox

Referral - not out
1454 - 201-4 Colly's rapped on the pads, and that looked in front on first viewing - the impact was outside, but the batsman wasn't playing a shot. Graeme Smith refers it, but on second viewing that was missing by quite some distance. That's South Africa's reviews all used up, and Colly punches Ntini to the long-off boundary next ball.

"Not too unhappy with a draw but can't get over the feeling that as paid entertainers England could and should have had a bit more of a mind to go for a win. They still have six wickets in tact! India would definitely have given it a go I think."
Greg T, Japan, in the TMS inbox

1449 - 201-4 Trott edges, and the South Africa fielders are momentarily interested, but it lands safely. The second new ball is available, and South Africa will take it immediately. Ntini to have a dart with it, we're one over from the point where the skippers can shake on a draw.

1445 - 201-4 "Boooring!" come the cries from the stands, as Morkel spins an American football off his right hand back into the stands from whence it came. Four for Collingwood with a jab through the covers, and that's England's 200.

"Some people make the most stupid comments about KP. He averages over 50 right? Won us a ton of games right? And how many games have his misjudgements truly cost us? Any? Get over it. We need him. He's by some distance our best and most reliable player."
Sam in the TMS inbox

1442 - 196-4 Talking... talking... Trott playing rope-a-dope against Harris, but he does pick up one with a nibble to mid-wicket. This game meandering towards its conclusion with all the intensity of a confused father playing his son's unfathomable new computer game on Christmas morning.

1439 - 195-4 Duminy getting plenty of energy on the ball, and he gets one past a rather wooden lunge from Colly. Full-bunger from Duminy and Colly whips him through mid-wicket for one, before Trott scurries a quick single to mid-on.

1436 - 192-4 Harris gets one to grip and beat Trott's forward defensive before sending down a quicker one and beating the batsman's cross-the-line swish. That was sliding down leg though.

1431 - 192-4 This game drifting now, as Trott blocks out another maiden over from Duminy. Players take drinks, the South Africans sprawled all over the grass like a load of cricketers sprawled all over some grass.

1428 - 192-4 One run from Ntini's over, courtesy of a tuck round the corner from Trott, who's now scored 65 runs from 187 balls. Old school.

"What a shambolic waste from KP. A typically senseless way to give up your wicket when the situation needs the exact opposite. Kevin may be a supreme hitter of a cricket ball, but great batsmen are far more shrewd and tactical than KP seems able."
James, Exeter, in the TMS inbox

1424 - 191-4 Duminy trundling in, and it's a peach of an afternoon in Centurion. Four byes for England, Collingwood lunging and missing and the ball scuttling away under Boucher's gauntlets. Twenty-three overs left, and we're seven overs away from the new ball becoming available.

1420 - 184-4 Ntini is wheeled back into the attack. Trott scratching out a canyon-deep groove in the pitch with his spikes between deliveries, as the crowd begins to thin out in Centurion. Bumper from Ntini, and Trott tugs him round the corner for one.

"Keith Moon was a superbly talented drummer. His recklessly, almost obsessively hedonistic behaviour led to a sadly early demise, thus depriving music-lovers all over the world of potentially decades more output from someone who stood head and shoulders above the crowd. Does anyone else think that KP is sort of on a par with Moony (okay, he doesn't actually do anything life-threatening) in that he also deprives cricket-lovers all over the world of the pleasure of him batting by getting himself out in a reckless fashion? Your Keith Moon analogy may be better than you think."
Mark in the TMS inbox

1416 - 184-4 Apologies, it's getting to that time of day again and some of my spelling is disintegrating rather alarmingly. Duminy back on instead of Harris, and Trott nibbles him to leg for a single.

1413 - 184-4 To Jonny Ridd (who is apoplectic with rage about my criticism of KP), I was, of course, being ironic, KP shouldn't just be the first name on England's team-sheet, the selectors should just get the shop that prints the team-sheets to include his name next to the number '4'. Lbw appeal by De Wet against Collingwood, but that was going over, before Trott nudges to leg for a single.

"Maybe if all of our batsmen had performed as poorly as KP in this Test we would all be sipping cold beers by now instead of cogitating on the probability of another England collapse?"
Richard in Tunis in the TMS inbox

1408 - 182-4 Actually, Boycs is surprisingly sanguine about the whole KP run-out issue. Ian from Essex emails in to put me right on "faynights", apparently it's "feinights" instead. Trott blocks out another maiden over from Harris, the fourth on the spin.

1406 - 182-4 De Wet gets one to shoot through, but Collingwood gets his bat down on it. Reach for your hard hats, Sir Geoffrey's just entered the TMS commentary box...

1401 - 182-4 I think a better analogy would be, not picking Pietersen because of his occasional rushes of blood to the head would be a bit like The Who chucking Keith Moon out of the band because he liked to let his hair down every now and again. Who would they have put in there instead? Russ Abbott?

"Well, I was right about KP getting his head down, but not to run himself out! Sack him! Keel haul him! 100 lashes with the cat should teach him. Still, I suppose a rush of blood on 81 is far better than a rush of blood on 0."
Mick Ames, Malvern, in the TMS inbox

1359 - 182-4 Two runs from De Wet's over, one a work to leg from Collingwood, the second a flip off the hip from Trott. "Not picking Pietersen because of his occasional rushes of blood to the head would be a bit like shooting your feet off because you can't be bothered to cut your toenails," emails Richard in Somerset, somewhat obliquely.

1354 - 180-4 Harris with another tight over, Trott continue with his policy of blocking the left-arm tweaker and taking no chances. Simon Mann on TMS is mysteriously referring to Smith as "The Sea Lion". Any ideas? How many times do you reckon Terry Nutkins has uttered the phrase "actually, it wasn't a seal, it was a sea lion..."

"That Pietersen, eh? He's being carried by the rest of the England team. He's nothing but a showboater and an incorrigible egotist. Not to worry though: we've got Ian Bell."
Oliver, TMS inbox

Referral - not out
1351 - 180-4 De Wet with an lbw shout against Collingwood, but that looked to be sliding down leg to me, and it is. Bit of a waste of a referral by South Africa skipper Graeme Smith, although the men upstairs poured over it for a couple of minutes. Colly getting a working over from De Wet - first he edges to just short of the slip cordon, then he gets a scuttler that just misses his off-peg. De Wet gets right up Collingwood's nose after the next delivery, before Collingwood gets off the mark with a cover-drive for four.

"KP - you are a plank. Given England's penchant for batting-collapses, it will now be a miracle if they save this game."
Luke in the TMS inbox

1342 - 175-4 That was just weird. Trott presumably shouted "no", but Pietersen, looking out towards the fielder, got his nut down and hared it, like a man running from a bear. The good news is, Collingwood's next up the ramp, and I can't see him giving his wicket away - he is to cricket what the Hoover Dam is to man-made monuments. That's a lovely shot from Trott, backing away and carving Harris through the off-side. SHOULD PIETERSEN EVER BE ALLOWED TO ENTER THE UNITED KINGDOM AGAIN?! Discuss...

Wicket falls
1338 - WICKET - Pietersen run out 81 (Eng 172-4)
De Wet to continue and Pietersen and KP blocks out the first four balls of the over... I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry... KP's just run himself out for absolutely no reason, dropping the ball into the covers, legging it, and Trott not moving an inch. The daft showboater.

"I admit it, I was one of those calling for KP to be dropped and accused him of being a passenger. I am willingly wearing sackcloth and ashes (they are keeping my head warm in this cold weather). Maybe he read my comments and decided to get his head down. I know, he didn't. Well done KP."
Mick Ames, Malvern, in the TMS inbox

1334 - 172-3 Thirty-five overs left in the day, England need 195 at 5.57 an over. Apparently, skippers can shake on it at the start of the final hour. Trott clips Harris to mid-wicket for a couple, England safely negotiate the first over after tea.

1329: Apologies, someone made a right old nause-up of the summary, Trott and Pietersen have of course scored half-centuries, not centuries. Faynights! Faynights! Players are out, we'll have play in a minute.

1324: Well well, it looks like England are going to get a draw out of this after all, didn't think that was going to happen last night. By the way, where are all those people who were calling for Pietersen to be dropped? Come on, there were loads of you about a couple of weeks ago. He was being "carried" by the rest of the England team, apparently, was nothing but a "showboater" and an incorrigible "egotist". Funny, I think he's playing rather well.

1318: Many thanks Pranav, it is Dirs back in the seat from now (if you're after a cheap laugh, manually refresh and you'll see my name at the top of the page)...

By Pranav Soneji

1316 My time in the seat has come to an end - thanks for all your album suggestions - you're all wrong except anyone that said Jamie T. Or possibly the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Dirsy - nose fresh from a Miles Davis-style trumpet blow, will take you through until the end of the match.

"Carole in Maidenhead: the longevity of ELO is one of mysteries of the Universe that scientists are still looking for an answer to, much like quantum gravity. maybe the higgs boson is the answer to both."
Mark, Middle of the North Sea, TMS inbox

1312 - 162-3 TEA Morkel bounds in for what will be the last over of the session - confirmed by two successive no-balls. Strange shot from Pietersen, more a double-handed topspin smash than a cut shot, collecting three for his inventive shotmaking. But no alarms from the last ball of the session, batted out by Trott. That's tea. Brilliant session for England - 85 runs but more importantly, no wickets. Apart from KP's lbw let-off - courtesy of a no-ball from Morne Morkel - there has been little to grumble about.


1306 - 162-3 Kallis, shoulders as broad as a stately home, is probably gagging for a cuppa and a large dose of carbohydrate-based sports beverage. His six deliveries leak just one, a back-foot push from Pietersen from the last delivery of the over.

1303 - 161-3 Kudos to Danny Porter, who points out that the opening track from Jamie T's album is just four runs short of England's victory target. Another anodyne over, this time from Morne Morkel, two more runs to the tally. The sky outside my window is not too different a shade of blue from what I'm seeing in Centurion.


1258 - 159-3 Even ambling in at eight paces with a rib as fragile as a lightbulb, Kallis is making life a tad sticky for Pietersen. Two deliveries threaten to keep low as Pietersen jams his bat down to ensure he is not castled by a spitter. Another maiden. JT and KP have the whiff of fresh bread in their nostrils - sandwiches taste that much better when you're scheduled to come out for the final session in tact.

1255 - 159-3 Morkel charges in like the 1645 Cape Town to East London Express, but is met by a series of obdurate forward defensives from Trott. Maiden over.

1250 - 159-3 Intriguing move by Smith, who tosses the ball to a less-than-fit Jacques Kallis, who said he would not bowl in case he aggravated his fractured rib which was threatening to keep him out of this Test match. He's bowling nowhere near full pace, though, as Mark Boucher steps up to the stumps for an innocuous over, conceding three runs. Mockers alert - things are looking good for the England duo right now. Just 20 minutes before tea.

That's 50
1246 - 155-3 Plenty of support coming in for Jamie T - also pointing out that I also referred to the album by its first single rather than its proper title of Kings and Queens. Special mention for the best rhyming use of the name Kris Akabusi, which goes to Dizzee Rascal. Huge shout for LBW from the returning Morkel as the ball slaps low on Trott's pads, but umpire Steve Davis shakes his head and the replays show why - the ball would have missed leg stump. A classy cover drive and a classy way to bring up your second Test half century in only his second match. Impressive.

"Not looking to jinx this partnership or anything, but their current run-rate is about 3.5 per over. Forty overs at that kind of rate would be 150ish, leaving around 70 from the last six or eight overs. If they pick the pace up a bit after tea, it's very doable if these two make a ton each, especially with an extra hour for a result."
Sam, TMS inbox

1242 - 149-3 Flashback - Harris adopts the Ashley Giles defensive line from over the wicket to the two right-handers, allowing both men the opportunity to thrust their front pads down the track with impunity. Hardly what one would call positive tactics from the team supposedly with the advantage. Trott takes a single.

"Reference whippersnappers and Wednesday early closing, may I advise you 'youngsters' that when I was a kid in Fulham, early closing (called half-day closing in those days) was on Thursdays."
Ken Turner, 0 degrees in Spain, TMS inbox

1237 - 148-3 Productive over for England as Trott opens the face of the bat and gently glides a full delivery from Ntini behind point for four before Pietersen adds eight to his tally with two successive boundaries - one thickish edge past second slip AB de Villiers and a second more authoritative front-foot drive past Ntini's despairing dive in his follow through. It's album of the year time in all the polls and I shall reveal mine...Jamie T Kings and Queens. Discuss.

"Paul in Lancs has made a schoolboy error in his reasoning. Never thought I'd find myself typing that - particularly with a thumping head - but yes! So Paul, how do you explain the longevity of ELO (But don't shout, my head will implode)?"
Carole, back in Maidenhead, TMS inbox

1232 - 135-3 Unorthodox from Trott, who attempts to pad a ball from over the wicket outside leg stump from Harris, but the ball balloons close to his gloves before outrageously flirting with his off stump. Pietersen joins in the comedy antics attempting to sweep from an upright position, including one shot which cannons off his bat twice before it is cut off back a short fine leg - actually, make that more back stop. Maiden over.

1229 - 135-3 Stoic defence from Trott as Ntini mixes up his angles from over and around the wicket. The fast bowler, as faithful as a German Shepherd and just as nimble, is turned away for a double into the leg side.

"David in Spain - It's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure you can validly claim that any terminology acquiring capital letter status is necessarily therefore a social institution. The currently popular youthful pop-combo JLS have capital letters to their name, but I can't see them having any great longevity. It is true that their bland musical offerings are to blame for England having been 81-3, however."
Paul in Lancs in the TMS inbox

1223 - 133-3 Genius from KP, two steps down the track and another picture-perfect straight drive past bowler Harris for four. If this is a man struggling to regain form, then my name is Terence von Kierkenheim. More singles follow.

1220 - 127-3 Trott takes the bait and hangs his bat out to an Ntini delivery and is suitably beaten by one which doesn't really do anything of the playing-better-than-expected surface. Ntini takes his operation around the wicket and sees the Vince Vaughan lookalike eke four more to his total with a thick outside edge down to the vacant third man boundary, a shot which brings about a burst of Status Quo's Rockin' All Over The World. The Quo turned up in my Band Aid karaoke effort last night, made the more amusing by the sight of ABC's Martin Fry looking like an anaemic Bond villain.

Referral - out
Referral - not out
1212 - 123-3 Trott attempts to work a well-flighted Harris tweaker into the vacant on side, but the ball ends up in the bucket-sized hands of Jacques Kallis at first slip. The hosts have their arms in the air like a raver at a Carl Cox gig as umpire Aleem Dar consults Steve Davis at square leg, presumably to work out whether the ball carried into Kallis' hands. He calls for the assistance of third umpire Amiesh Saheba, who confirms the only contact was with Trott's boot. Ooooh! Amla spills a toughie! KP prods forward with his bat well in front of his pad towards Amla's left, but he can't quite close his hand in time to hang on to what would have been one of the best short leg catches at Centurion in 2009.

1206 - 122-3 Heart-in-mouth time as Pietersen goes expansive outside off stump to Ntini, who changes his line and goes around the wicket, but completely misses the ball. Thoroughly unnecessary but thoroughly KP.

1200 - 121-3 Pietersen drops to one knee, shifting his left leg out of the line of a straightish Paul Harris delivery and smears the spinner to the vacant midwicket boundary for four with a crunching slop sweep. He attempts another dose of the long handle treatment a couple of balls later as he saunters down the track, but is beaten in the flight and thrusts his left pad down the track, sending the ball looping high into the air but just past the diving left-hand of short leg Amla, who is left sprawling on the middle of the track. Umpire Aleem Dar gives a look as if Hashim has just relieved himself in his patch of prized begonias - spike marks on the middle of the track are not what England - or the Pakistan official - want right now.

1156 - 116-3 More lusty drives from Pietersen, but he can't pierce the circle on the off side as Ntini piles in from wide of the crease. Kaypee manufactures an on drive from a ball on off stump, shuffling across the crease, but finds Hashim Amla at midwicket. Maiden over.

1152 - 116-3 Harris sees his text-book over blotted by a juicy half volley on off stump dispatched through mid-off, or "meed ooorf" as Shaun Pollock might say, for four by Trott.

That's 50
1149 - 112-3 Pietersen flicks De Wet to midwicket to bring up his 16th Test half century. Interestingly, he has just as many tons. More luscious strokeplay from the Pietermaritzburg-born ex-England skipper, this time with a punchy back-foot drive through extra cover superbly curtailed at the boundary ropes by the evergreen Makhaya Ntini. The fast bowler then makes a horlicks of his bog-standard long barrier as the ball squirts beyond his grounded leg for a single which never should have been.

1144 - 106-3 Trott steps back and takes full advantage of a delivery a touch short from Harris, using the full depth of the crease to effortlessly time the ball through midwicket for his third boundary. The over also featured a trademark KP suicide single made a little less heart attack-inducing courtesy of a misfield at mid-off. Needless to say he's two short of a 50.

"Re: Nobby Solano's trumpet prowess - apparently the chap was rather good, although he never dragged his horn out onto the pitch to lead us Villa fans in a post-match victory tune. But he played with Dion Dublin, no mean sax fiend, and it has been claimed they formed an impromptu jazz combo when the mood took them post-training."
Stan, Walsall, in the TMS invbox

1140 - 100-3 Pietersen tucks in like a hungry patron at a wedding buffet as De Wet drops short and wide outside off stump, helping the ball through backward point for four, a boundary which brings up the England ton. Only 264 more required. De Wet quickly regains his control and gives nothing else away.

"Re Urban Cookie Collective, I'd like to put in request for Real2Real featuring The Mad Stumpman."
Achar Handi, TMS inbox

1136 - 96-3 Day five pitch and Paul Harris, a man who supposedly couldn't spin a New Order 12", beats Trott was an absolute ripper pitching on middle and fizzing past off. Unplayable, like fending off a spitting cobra with a curly wurly. Still, the belligerent Trott remains. Maiden over.

"Let me assure your whippersnapper of a colleague that Wednesday was indeed always Early Closing Day. Look! It was so writ in stone, it even had capital letters. Then came supermarkets, flexi-time and all the ills of modern society that have resulted in England being on 81-3 today."
David, Spain, TMS inbox

1133 - 96-3 Pietersen's a goner - NO HE ISN'T! Kaypee is beaten all ends up by a delivery from Morkel which refuses to bounce off the track, clattering into his pads just above his toes bang in front of middle stick. The South Africans go up as if they've just won the world Buckaroo championships, but umpire Aleem Dar has his right arm raised at 90 degrees - Morne has just overstepped the popping crease. Can you refer a no-ball? Nope. Smith looks gutted, as if someone has given him a KP fridge magnet for Christmas. And to compound his misery, Pietersen spanks the next ball through midwicket for a majestic four.

1127 - 89-3 Nice start from Morkel, who earns a thick outside edge off Pietersen's bat, but the ball skids along the turf and is stopped by the sizeable mitts of Jacques Kallis at second slip. Kallis was about as mobile as the aforementioned Hillman Avenger there. Morkel opts to go around the wicket to Trott, but the Warwickshireman ducks without too much alarm.

"It's a bit embarrassing for English cricket that there are currently 13 South Africans on the field."
Jon, Scotland, TMS inbox

Not true John. Paul Harris was born in Zimbabwe. Puts a whole new complexion on things.

1123 - 88-3 Awwww, authoritative from Pietersen, stepping down the track and thumping Friedel de Wet down the pitch with the perfect execution of a straight drive before stealing a single off the last ball. KP probably thinks he can win this.

1118 - 81-3 Forgot to say, hit the refresh button on your web browser or you may be fooled by the prospect of two Ben Dirs sitting next to each other in a musty west London office. Morne Morkel, who bears a 6/10 resemblance to BBC Formula 1 presenter Jake Humphrey, ambles in for an average over, spraying it around like a roadside gritter as Pietersen tickles a couple backward of square. A no-ball and a bye later and it's all over. Guru Josh blares out from the stadium speakers. What next? Urban Cookie Collective?

1111: I've just been thwarted by a well-known shopping centre directly opposite Television Centre attempting to buy a pack of severely overpriced razors. Sunday shopping hours are very inconvenient when trying to watch cricket. Talk of the trading laws turns to Wednesday half days, when shops had the liberty to close at lunchtime for the rest of the day. This missive has been met by utter derision by one of my colleagues, who claims he's too young to remember this. He is also 30. He also had beef goulash for the first time in his life last night, which might explain things. Out come the England duo, closely followed by the South Africans. In the words of Wayne's World, "game on".


1107: While Sir Dirs of Essexshire dips his singed-tipped fingers into the fast melting snow, I will attempt to fill the void while Jonathan Trott eyes his third French Fancy before joining Kevin Pietersen out in the middle.

Ahh...I'd forgotten about the Goose Barnacle. Did you know that in the days before migration was recognised, people actually believed Geese were born from these crustaceans, hence the name the of Barnacle Goose. Using the same theory, many people believe Ian Bell was hatched from a duck egg."
Professor Pedanthony Walton, South Wales

By Ben Dirs

"Whilst at Villa, Nolberto Solano was taught trumpet by John Quirk, member of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Little Big Time Band; incidentally himself no mean fifth change seamer and occasional middle-order switch-hitter, rejoicing in the imaginative nickname 'Quirky'. He would often receive phone calls a matter of minutes after the full-time whistle, asking about which valves played which note, or asking advice about a particular passage he'd been trying earlier and had been trying to work out during the match. Any Villa fans have an opinion of Nobby's trumpet playing?"
Chris from slightly snowy Hampshire in the TMS inbox

"Ouch. Oooh. Why is this snow so loud? Aargh. Sob. Never again."
Carl Evans, Crepy, France, in the TMS inbox

"If the barnacles in question were goose barnacles, Pollicipes pollicipes, then they could well be hanging, as they have a pendulous chord-like stalk which attaches them to floating material in the open sea. I assumed it was this species that was being referred to in the analogy. Keep up the zoological metaphors."
James, Exeter, in the TMS inbox

1034 - 77-3 One more over before lunch. Four around the bat for Trott... and that's just the off-side. I'd wager there'll be a bit of chatter going on out there, but that's the way to shut them up, hit the ball to the boundary. Good shot that, through mid-wicket off Harris. Trott smothers the final ball before lunch, and you have to say that was a pretty decent session for England.

Michael Vaughan
"That should calm the dressing room down and send a message to the remaining batsmen that there aren't too many gremlins in this pitch."
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan on TMS

"For a year I had a 1975 Hillman Avenger Tiger. Ex-competition, full rally spec. Race cage, and shed loads of aluminium. Bright Orange - very flairy. Fluffy not. Could shake double-glazing at 50 metres on fire up. Did make a ton on the home straight at Silverstone. A ton, that would be good..."
Ian, Calabar, Nigeria, in the TMS inbox

1029 - 72-3 Freebie for England, Duminy losing his grip and the ball racing away for four byes between wicketkeeper Boucher and slip Graeme Smith. Duminy getting the ball to drift across Trott, and Trott continues to prod and poke - but he's still there, he's still ruddy there...

1025 - 68-3 KP very nearly sticks his batting partner right in it, dabbing to cover and setting off for a quick one. A clean pick-up from Duminy there would have been interesting. David in Sydney emails in to remind us that Jack Russell faced 235 balls for his unbeaten 29 in the "Atherton Test" of 1995, while Ade from Oxon says: "If it means we save the Test I couldn't give a monkey's if Trott bats all day for 50*. Bring on the new Chris Tavare." Trott tickles Morkel round the corner for a single.

"Technically a barnacle like your limpet would be sticking to Trott, not hanging, which would imply some kind of dangling. This of course impossible to do horizontally."
Pedanthony Walton, South Wales, in the TMS inbox


1021 - 66-3 Trott given some width and he picks up a couple with a square-cut. Trott sweeps for two more next ball, but he's staked to the crease next ball, toes pointed down the ground and prodding tentatively. A FOUR! Duminy serves up a rare pie and Trott squirts some ketchup on it and yanks it to the mid-wicket fence.

"Ouch. Oooh. Why are these keys so loud? Aargh. Sob. Never again."
Carole usually in Maidenhead in the TMS inbox

1017 - 60-3 Another no-ball from Morne Morkel, he's bowled some ludicrous amount in his 18 Tests so far. Two mid-wickets in for KP, they're waiting for him to unfurl the old flamingo shot. Morkel tempts KP outside off, but the England lynchpin stays patient, watching them whistle by. SuperSport Park filling up now, the grass banks looking pretty well-populated now.

1012 - 59-3 Duminy replaces Harris, right-arm off-spin replacing left-arm orthodox. Pietersen lunges and gets an outside edge, and picks up a single to point. That one goes through with the arm, and Trott, stuck in his crease, is beaten. Are there any witches in the house? It looks like someone's turned Trott to stone.

"I was on a club cricket tour in the Isle of Man in the early 1980s, and Roy Castle was staying in the same hotel, as he was appearing in summer season. He played a full part in a non-sober hotel corridor cricket match in the small hours of the morning, and gave the ball a genuine tweak."
Mike Bell, Ashford, in the TMS inbox

1009 - 58-3 Morkel back into the attack, and he has Trot playing a rather lavish, Jack Russell-esque leave. I think it was a leave. Short from Morkel and Trott rolls his wrists on it and picks up a single. That's nice a nice stroke from Pietersen, who's looking very nicely-balanced today, and he picks up three more with a cover-drive.

"KP bats all day and he'll go down as the best batsman we've ever had. Come on, bit of history today… Can't get rolled over by the H&M of cricket can we? What will that make England? Primark? Please!"
Michael S, Malmö, in the TMS inbox

1003 - 54-3 Just three men around the bat for KP, and there's not much they can do about that - over-pitched from Harris and Pietersen stabs him through the covers for four. Pietersen looking to play positively here, and he uses his feet and jabs Harris to the long-on fence for four more. Chalk and cheese at the moment, Pietersen a rather flamboyant blue-vein, Trott the big slab of chalk. Smith takes out the man at sill mid-off, KP's aggression having an effect.

0959 - 46-3 Majestic from Pietersen, clipping De Wet through mid-wicket on the walk for four. Sweet, it was whipped almost from outside off. One more for KP with a nudge to leg, before Trott shuts up shop.

0955 - 41-3 Gary, Market Harborough - Cook "fluffy and flairy"? Cook's got about as much flair as a 1975 Hillman Avenger. The crowd think Pietersen's popped one up to the man at sill mid-off, but that was off his pad exclusively. KP gets off strike, before the vultures swoop in for Trott... but the Warwickshire man nicks the strike with a nibble to leg.

0950 - 38-3 Trott rendered almost strokeless here, but he finally has a go at one, doesn't quite get it, and the balloon lands in no-man's land. A couple of runs though, Trott now on five... from 45 balls... deary me, Trott gets a shooter that beats the bottom of his bat, this is torturous watching, and tenser than a root canal.

0946 - 34-3 Trott gets himself into a right old pickle and Harris very nearly gets one through. Five men surrounding Trott now, and they seem to be getting closer with every ball. Trott needs to play a couple of strokes here, otherwise the close fielders will be hanging off him like barnacles in a few overs' time.

"I am sorry - that is not good enough by Cook - again. I don't care what his average is, I doubt there is a person on the planet who had any confidence that he would bat more than an hour this morning - every England cricket fan who saw we were one down last night hoped it was him out and not Strauss. We need grit and granite now and not fluff and flair. I hereby guarantee he will get out for under 20 in both innings in the next Test match too because that is what he does. Right, got that off my chest, off to cook some bacon."
Gary, Market Harborough, in the TMS inbox

0944 - 34-3 De Wet puts us all in mind of New Zealand's Shane Bond in the office, he looks a decent prospect. Pietersen not having a go at everything so far, De Wet shoving his deliveries down the corridor of uncertainty and Pietersen, looking positively sure of himself, leaving it all alone.

0939 - 34-3 Trott drops to one knee and drags Harris round the corner for one, as news reaches me (from the other side of the desk) that Nolberto Solano used to play the trumpet down the phone to Sir Bobby Robson. Remarkable. Four men round the bat, two slips, short cover and a short leg, but Trott's like a solidly-rendered wall.

"I heard Jimmy Anderson on the wireless last night saying that this was a day when the England batsman would all need to 'stick their hands up'. Immediate surrender seemed strangely defeatist advice, but then I realised he might even be advocating Bell's technique to everyone. He should stick to twitter."
Paul in Lancs, TMS inbox

"In 1981 12-year-old Donna Griffith from the UK managed an estimated 1 million sneezes in a year. A record not to be sniffed at."
Greg T, Japan, in the TMS inbox

0927 - 28-3 Pietersen gets a gimme delivery first ball, on his pads and he turns Harris round the corner for one. Two slips a silly point and a short leg in for Trott, but he won't be giving Harris the charge at any point today, and he blocks out the over.

Wicket falls
0924 - WICKET - Cook c Smith b Harris 12 (Eng 27-3)
Trott nudges Harris for a single, before Harris switches to over the wicket to Cook... and that's worked like a dream, the ball turning, grazing Cook's glove and ballooning off his pad to Smith at leg slip.


Twitter
"Huge day today. Wolves v Burnley 1.30pm."
James Anderson on Twitter

0918 - 26-2 Harris with another no frills over, Jonathan Trott doing what he has to do, getting his head down and smothering the left-arm tweakers work with the minimum of fuss.

0916 - 26-2 Big appeal from Ntini, but that ball caught the top of Cook's pad rather than the inside edge. Seen them given though. Ntini strays onto Cook's pads and is helped to the square-leg boundary. Time for more Paul Harris, the cricketing equivalent of H&M, at first glance you think he's a load of old toot, but when you take a closer look he's actually got some nice bits and bobs.

0911 - 22-2 Paul Harris, left-arm spinner, into the attack. Trott smothers his first few balls, before Harris, never a great spinner of the ball, gets one to fizz away and beat the batsman's lunge.

0907 - 22-2 Mayhaya Ntini into the attack. News reaches me that Ntini received a hand-written note of congratulations from Nelson Mandela in commemoration of the fast bowler reaching the 100 Test mark. Lovely stuff. No real gremlins in this pitch so far this morning, and I can't help feeling too much was made about it last night, it was only really that one dodgy ball in the whole day's play, the one that went straight through Amla.

"There was a girl on Roy Castle's Record Breakers in the 1970s who had sneezed non-stop for months on end meaning she had some dubious red-nosed sneezing-related world record. So you've got a way to go there yet. A bit like the England cricket team!"
Andrew in Kazakhstan in the TMS inbox

0900 - 21-2 De Wet, who begins his approach with a couple of little skips, like a foal taking its first tentative steps, gets Cook playing rather unconvincingly, shovelling slightly uppishly round the corner. De Wet gets one to nip back at Trot, but that was sliding well down leg. Trott gets his first run with a whip round the corner, that will be a blessed relief for the Warwickshire man. Via Cape Town.

0858 - 19-2 Morkel ploughing a furrow outside Cook's outside stump, but Cook refusing to go fishing. Morkel eventually strays onto Cook's pads and is turned away for one. Pity the poor person who has to use this keyboard after me, I'm currently chasing down the record for most sneezes in a single day. Any idea who holds it?

"What Trumpet Voluntary!? Fair enough a moment in musical history, but then again so is the High Contrast mix of Adele's Hometown Glory, I wonder if said editor has heard of that!?"
Digby Reed in the TMS inbox

0855 - 18-2 That wasn't a maiden the previous over, Cook actually picked up a single off his pads from the final ball. One more for Cook with a clip to mid-wicket, just the two runs from the over.

"Morning all, the bacon sandwiches are ready (white bread, brown sauce, naturally) and the coffee's on. I'm predicting a long hard slog for England with them getting bowled out shortly after tea. Probably for around 260 odd runs. I hope I'm wrong, of course."
Bairdy in the TMS inbox

0849 - 16-2 Cook gets one from Morkel that shoots through low, before the lanky fast bowler sends down a yorker, which Cook digs out with the minimum of fuss. That's a maiden...

Twitter
"3 things i want to see today. jimmy get a fifity, cookie a hundred and the toon smash the smoggies>"
Graeme Swann on Twitter

0846 - 16-2 Trott is the new man in the middle, and he gets a pretty decent bouncer first up, but plays it well. De Wet getting up a head of steam, and that's another short one, this time outside off. And another, Trotty getting a working over here, and there's the inevitable good length delivery, which locates the edge of Trott's bat and dribbles through to the slip cordon. Hmmm, decent lbw appeal off the final ball of the over, that had Trott in a bit of a pickle, and all in all that was a pretty testing over from the debutant.

Wicket falls
0840 - WICKET - Anderson c Boucher b De Wet 10 (Eng 16-2)
There's not going to be any heroics from nightwatchman Anderson, he goes in very tame fashion, gloving a leg-side delivery from De Wet to Boucher behind the stumps.

"What are you on Rachel of Lincoln? This is the season to be Merry... an early start perhaps?"
Stewartie from Kirkcaldy in the TMS inbox

0838 - 16-1 Here's Morkel, who looked veeeery nasty last night. Four slips and a gully in for Anderson, and Jimmy's not hanging about, throwing his bat and anything wide, but Duminy thwarts him both times at backward-point. But not this time, that's an absolute peach of a back-foot drive from Anderson, crashing Morkel through point for four.

0833 - 11-1 Small crowd in, dotted about here and there on the grass mounds that encircle the ground. Four slips in for Cook, and De Wet's bang on the money with his first five balls, but Cook's right behind them. That's a more taxing length with the sixth delivery, bit shorter and rising, but Cook leaves it alone.

0829: Players are out in the middle, play in a moment... De Wet, on debut, to have first go with the ball this morning...

0824: Anyone up and about and reading this? If so, get in touch, that would be smashing. How long's Jimmy going to hang around this morning? "I can't believe you don't know the Trumpet Voluntary," says my editor, as if it's not weird enough being up at this time of a Sunday morning.

"I remain absolutely convinced that England can win this and that they will approach the day with this in mind. So many players have a point to prove. Come on lads!"
Rachel Tyrrell, Lincoln, in the TMS inbox

0817: As horrible as this situation is for England, it's also a day of big opportunities for some of their players. Can one of them dig in and make a name for themselves? Alastair Cook? Ian Bell? Someone's got to do it, why not them? They could do with the runs.

0814: Michael Vaughan on TMS tells us Ashley Giles is in the nets putting the England batsmen through their paces, they're clearly expecting Paul Harris to be a key figure today. Strangely, they've got Ryan Sidebottom chucking down some left-arm spin as well. Having seen some of England's bowling in this match, I really don't think he's got any need to reinvent himself.

0811: Unfortunately for England, the rain doesn't look like it will be saving them today. Overcast from what I can see, but pleasant enough in Centurion, about 24C... although Aggers on TMS has just told us that there's a chance of thunderstorms at 3pm local time...

0808: Hello. Tough old day of England survival methinks, no way they'll be hunting this total down. Who can be a modern-day Atherton? Ten and three-quarter hours Athers batted for in 1995. That's some knock.




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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

Close
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
South Africa v England photos
20 Dec 09 |  England
England deflated by Amla century
19 Dec 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 09 |  England
England's last tour of South Africa
15 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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