From The Earl of Bucklersbury, Hitchin, TMS inbox:
"Surely simple maths: 130/3*10=433.33, means we're still in with a shout?"
From Mark, TMS inbox:
"Who will join me in a campaign to ban Tom from live commentary involving England. Look at the quality we've got available - Dirs, Cheese, Lyon, Pranav....... Ermmm - yep, forget that. As you were Tom."
From David, Windsor, TMS inbox:
"Is KP the new Bell?"
1602: CLOSE Eng 132-3
Come on Jimmy - ouch, rapid lifter, edged down and away' fast ripper, past the outside edge; full and rapid, dug out. That's our lot - Jimmy survives, but England's hopes hang by - well, not a thread, but a worryingly-frayed rope.
From Sam, TMS inbox:
"Tom, were you born in South Africa? Or perhaps you have some Australian relatives?"
So it's come to this - a hounding of an innocent man. Are you proud of yourself, Sam? Are you? PS in answer to your question, Harlow. I'm not proud.
1559: Eng 132-3
Trott wasting time frantically, if that's possible - two angled away, and that'll leave Anderson to face the final six of the day from Morkel. Gulp.
From Tim, in Chalfont St Giles, TMS inbox:
"We've 10" of snow in Chalfont St Giles at the moment, so even in his current steamed up state Steyn would have trouble taking us."
1555: Eng 129-3
Morkel in to Anderson - he surely fancies another one here - short, off the glove, bouncing just shy of Boucher behind the stumps. Darcie (see below) - this goes beyond what I can control. Anyway, I'm quite lucky in other sports - my football team is in the relegation zone and doesn't have a manager, I haven't been able to run since that one-hour decathlon in August because of a never-ending foot injury, my.... hang on a second...
From Darcie, Snowy Hackney, TMS inbox:
"TOM! STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!"
1551: Eng 129-3
Is that it? New batsman is James Anderson, and it's all gone very quiet in the England areas. Nine minutes left. KP, why must you hurt us so?
1547: Eng 129-3
Full, straight - KP plants his front pad down the track, and this is plumb. I don't want to say it, but it was 100% plumb. Steyn celebrates so wildly that he might have given himself piles, but from the look on his face he'd take the whole of Chalfont St Giles at the moment.
1546: WICKET Pietersen lbw Steyn 6, Eng 129-3
From Tim, Chester, TMS inbox:
"So if Harper is wrong 50% of the time for tricky descisions you may as replace him with a 50p piece. A coin toss would be as accurate and surely more entertaining."
1542: Eng 128-2
Yup, Morne Morkel it is, the long-limbed destroyer - over the wicket, and that's a jafferoo - straight through KP's hurried push. Down on his pace for the remainder - you wouldn't wish an injury on anyone, but would a short two-day affliction be so bad?
From Carole, Maidenhead, TMS inbox:
"Not your fault? Yeah whatever, Tom"
1538: Eng 128-2
Harris licks his fingers and gives the deadening cherry a polish. Trott going back onto his own timbers again, and with the man waiting a forward short leg - Amla, sun-hat folded up like a burrito and wedged down the back of his trousers, waits with hands forward in supplicating fashion. Dabbed and stroked singles; 22 minutes before the close.
From G Khan, Ulan Bator, TMS inbox:
"What the hell was that??"
1534: Eng 125-2
Is that Morkel limbering up out in the deep? I think he fancies a late joust before stumps. Leg-side drifter from De Wet, tickled away off the thigh by Trott for four. Oh, that's sweet - classy on-drive through the gap between midwicket and mid-on.
From Paul, still in hope over expectation, Ealing, TMS inbox:
"I think I speak for all of us Tom. Bring back the Pranav."
1531: Eng 117-2
So many men around KP's bat that he could prosecute them for trespassing. Uppish drives - if you could watch them fall just short of the fielders, you'd feel instantly queasy - and then a dance down the track for a streaky one. Trott follows suit to nick the strike. Which he probably doesn't want.
From Richard, Halifax, TMS inbox:
"What do you mean hammer blow? Surely Matt from Nottingham's plan (12:10) is being played out in all its glory?"
1525: Eng 115-2
Here's a stat nicked off Sky for you - Daryl Harper is officially the worst umpire in the world (professional umpire - let's not get carried away) on the basis on referrals reversed, if that makes sense - 50% of the time he's been proved wrong by the replays. I'll say no more. Except that he's Australian. Whatever. Trott going further and further back in his crease here, and I'll be honest - this is all suddenly looking rather dicey.
1519: Eng 114-2
Rhythmical clapping round the ground, the noise lifting and lifting - in-dipper from De Wet, massive appeal - Umpire Harper's given it! That's an old-fashioned stinker - you could hear the inside edge in Ulan Bator - and KP will refer in an instant. Yup - there you go, absolutely middled into his pad. Harper, you're a waking nightmare...
1516: Eng 112-2
If you thought the chirp for Trott was loud, the KP khorus is deafening - oof, single off the outside edge. That's nice from Trott - rocking back to time a shorter one away for a roller of a four.
From Up Atom, TMS inbox:
"Within minutes of Fordyce's return, F5 collapses. But now, it's taken me back to a time when F5 worked. I feel trapped in a paradox."
1512: Eng 107-2
A little turn into the left-hander, the ball flies off the face of the bat and onto the front pad, and Amla takes the world's easiest catch at forward short leg. Hammer-blow. Absolute hammer-blow.
1511: WICKET Strauss c Amla b Harris 45, Eng 107-2
Don't read this - repeat, don't read this - simply stab blindly at your F5 key and together we'll reverse... it's not going to work, is it?
From Steve, Stotfold, TMS inbox:
"Hang on a minute. Cook has just asked the third umpire to press F5."
1506: Eng 107-1
Two slips, gully, short and straight mid-off, short midwicket - De Wet slides in, short - punched away by Trott for two past point, 50 minutes left in the day. My fingers are shaking. Fordyce ancestors would be ashamed.
From Jesse, Eindhoven, TMS inbox:
"Reading all sorts of 'what if's' on the BBC and Cricinfo. Surely, you do not need a Dutchman to tell you that after the first wicket falls, England are in a big hoop?"
1501: Eng 101-1
Jonathan Trott, walking in with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He might as well dive into a tankful of sharks dressed as a bleeding seal. Oof - jabbed down on the in-dipper, and the chat goes up another level. Dr 'TV' (see below) - that island was essential for my duties at the BBC. As was the gold-plated keyboard, the diamante mouse and the unicorn-skin mouse-mat.
From Dr TV Liew, TMS inbox:
"Tom, your denial of responsibility for all ills whilst accepting adulation for anything that goes right sounds uncannily like our politicians. By the way, how much did we pay for your duck island?"
1458: Eng 101-1
Short, innocent enough, but Cook has a panicked pull - the ball goes a mile up into the sky, and Boucher is never going to drop that. It's not the despair - I can handle the despair. It's the hope I can't stand... WHY, COOKY, WHY?
1457: WICKET Cook c Boucher b De Wet 55, Eng 101-1
It's not my fault - it's not my fault...
From Peter Clinch, TMS inbox:
"Did you know? The F5 algorithm, is an algorithm by Jean-Charles Faugère for computing the Gröbner basis of an ideal of a multivariate polynomial ring."
1454: Eng 101-0
Kallis rumbling in like runaway dumper-truck - wide, short, slashed at by Strauss - "CATCH IIITT!" howls Boucher, but the ball whistles past gully at hand height. The ton's up.. the ton's up...
From Bryan, Coventry, TMS inbox:
"Can I just thank Gareth in Nottingham for providing a gag that has surely sky-rocketed into my top 3 of all-time. I have now clicked F5 thirty times in order to re-live my initial mirth over and over again."
1449: Eng 96-0
Steyn, Broadesque strop on, races in, face contorted - creamed into the covers by Strauss, straight to Duminy. Along the ground, should you feel panicky. I'm starting to feel a bit sick. An hour and ten minutes left in the day. Come on time - get a rumble on, old boy.
1444: Eng 96-0
Let's be quite clear on something - anything that subsequently goes wrong with either live updates or the England innings has nothing to do with me
. Although if anything now goes even better, I am of course the sole reason. Aagh - that's not the start I wanted - Cookie edges the menacing Shark just shy of second slip. Mind you, he picks up four. Comme ci comme ca.
From Paul Richman, TMS inbox:
"Re Max Klatt - is Pranav to F5 what Bernie Ecclestone is to F1 ? "
1438: Eng 92-0
Steyn, bowling with the sort of rhythm associated with the Famous Flames, keeps it tight for five deliveries before erring on to Cook's thigh pad, allowing the left-hander to nurdle one into the leg side for his 22nd Test 50. Well played that man. Right, after horribly losing my mojo (must have been the crafty criminal who nicked my vintage coat on New Year's Eve), I've suddenly regained my powers. So on that note, I hand you back to Fordyce. Remember what I did you for you kids...
From JB in London, TMS inbox:
"I had a stroke of genius. After having pressed F5 and lost updates for the last hour again, I thought to myself "this is crazy, but it might just work". Heart pounding I hit F5 again, and it worked. Time went back around 30 seconds to before I hit F5 in the first place. It was a crazy plan, but it paid off. Who else out there has the nerve to try it?"
1438: Eng 91-0
Cute clip off his pads from Cook as Kallis strays on leg stump. Jacques' radar needs a calliberation as he twice angles towards the pads, allowing both men to add a couple more to the total.
From Greg in Swannage, TMS inbox:
"What if......I know its not.......Is anyone thinking that maybe......I always thought it was poss.....One day it's got to happ.....What is the remedy for a fast beating heart and clammy palms, dreams of Danish pastries and lonely workshy Bears?"
From Gareth in Nottingham, TMS inbox:
"Did you know the chuckle brothers were actually Siamese twins? The operation to separate them was known as a tometoyoutomy."
1435: Eng 88-0
Strauss and Cook attempt to rehearse another Chuckbrothers skit, but wisely decide to abort a second suicidal single. Steyn attempts to dig on in short, but the ball sits up perfectly for Cook to marmalise - beautiful shot, bat well on top of the bounce, wrists rolled so teh ball skids along the turf - but Smith has a man posted on the deep square leg boundary, booooo, as Cook moves to within three of a half century.
From Kane Fenn, TMS inbox:
"At the begin of the day I bet that the snowman in the back garden would last longer than England's second innings. I hope I'm proved wrong."
1430: Eng 87-0
On comes the Great White Shark Kallis and immediately flirts outrageously with the outside of Cook's bat as if it was a bridesmaid at a colleague's wedding. Bowling with more zip than a YKK factory, at 83.5mph, Kallis gets one to rear alarmingly from a good length outside off stump. Excellent start from the barrel-chested all-rounder.
From Max Klatt, TMS inbox:
"For the last two days, Fordyce has been tormenting us with these 'IT issues'. The moment Soneji turns up, the world is right again and my F5 can catch its breath back. Give the man the job permanently
1423: Eng 87-0
One of the pitch demons has popped back, he's managed to make lure the ball to keep low from a good length, but fortunately outside Cooky's off stump. The next ball sees the hirsute opener rattled in the crackerjacks as Steyn digs one in short. After pretending to act all hard as if it didn't hurt, Cook suddenly sinks to his knees with his insides currently spinning faster than a Laundromat dryer.
From Steady Hand Jeff, TMS inbox:
"I went out at lunch and bought myself several packs of playing cards. I am presently building a house out of them, it's going amazingly really well."
1416: Eng 87-0
Has it come to this? After batting like Jack Hobbs and Walter Hammond, Strauss and Cook revert to running like the Chucklebrothers with a suicidal single into the off side off Steyn. But Cook's bacon is only saved by Duminy's throw from backward point misses the one stump he had to aim for at the striker's end. "To me, to you. No to you, not to me" I think I heard through the stump mic. Rotherham's finest are probably practising that sketch as I type.
1412: Eng 82-0
Huge eruption of noise, all in hope rather than anything more from the South African faithful gently roasting in the heat at Newlands, as the ball spoons off Cook's front pad and into Hashim Amla's hands at short leg off Harris. but not even a murmur of inquisition from the 11 fielders. Two gentle singles and England are 18 shy of what could be the most important century stand of Cook and Strauss's opening careers.
1409: Eng 80-0
Cook batters his way into the 40s with a crunching pull shot from a delivery which wasn't exactly short from the returning Dale Steyn. The fast bowler - who permanently wears the expression of a schoolboy who can't find his blazer after play-time football has finished - is then eased through cover with nothing more than a gentle pat off the back foot from the Essex opener for three. Steyn serves up a treat for Strauss - short and wide outside off, but the left-hander finds the indefatigable figure of JP Duminy at backward point. More confidence-inducing cricket from the England openers.
From Will, in a positively arctic office block, TMS inbox:
"Left for lunch as England took to the crease. Returned without us having incurred any loss. Should I ask my boss to release me for the afternoon and all of tomorrow? You know, for Queen and country."
1403: Eng 73-0
Strauss plants his front foot down the track and smites Harris over midwicket for a four with more authority than a European Law directive.
1359: Eng 69-0
A vast array of St George's flags, fluttered by a host of characters rapidly displaying the same deep red hue of the cross on significant parts of their bodies, wave as Cook tickles a ball on leg stump off his hip down to fine leg for his fifth boundary. The pitch demons have wandered off to the sales in search of two wooden tennis racquets to strap to their feet for their next trip to Blighty, they're nowhere to be seen.
1356: Eng 64-0
Cook reverts to type as he goes on the retreat as Harris tosses his grenades outside off stump. Cooky plays around one that doesn't do anything off the turf, while a backward prod inside his crease is banged into the ground a little too close to his off stump for comfort. Good arrows from Harris.
1352: Eng 64-0
More width, this time from Morkel, as Straussy tucks into his favourite square cut, but just as he reaches for an extra helping of custard, JP Duminy pulls off an acrobatic stop at backward point to stop a dead-cert boundary. Ooooh, streakier than a pack of Frazzles as Strauss attempts an expansive drive outside off stump, but doesn't quite get to the pitch as the ball skids past a second gully for four. Hold on to the handles, we're in for a bumpy ride.
1348: Eng 58-0
Harris tosses up high outside off stump as Strauss winds up like Brian Lara, bat high above his right shoulder to carve three runs through point. Hmmmm, Lara.
1345: Eng 55-0
After his first-over aberration, Morkel compensates for his error and discovers his most effective line and length as Strauss drops two feet short of AB de Villiers at fourth slip. A squirty single, an inside edge down to fine leg, the only scoring shot from a probing over.
From Lee, TMS inbox:
"I have just checked my lottery numbers and found I am £8 million pound richer. Then I decided to play the F5 game...."
1340: Eng 54-0
Cook loads the bullets and squeezes two booming sweep shots off Paul Harris; the first rattles into the midwicket hoardings while the second sails high over Friedel de Wet's head at deep square leg for six. Six? Alastair Cook? Defensive rearguard? Have England just had a tea-time tactics talk from Clayton Lambert and Virender Sehwag? Graeme Smith rubs his three-day old stubble, a poser indeed.
1336: Eng 42-0
Possibly weighed down by an extra helping of the tuna and mayo, Morkel drops too short from around the wicket and Strauss leans back and eases a rasping pull shot through square leg for four. Nothing else to trouble the England skipper, who periscopes his blade in extravagant style as Morkel strays wide outside his off stump.
A man who enjoys a pie or 12 has just taken his seat at Newlands decked in a salmon-coloured smock as Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss resume England's second-innings riposte on 38-0. Morne Morkel to bowl the first over after tea.
So as Tom waltzes out of the front door with the blueprint to build the biggest snowman in Shepherd's Bush, it's left to little ol' me to chuck snowballs from our fifth-floor window at all the poor souls down below while filling you in on events in Kip Toon. Normally, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to refresh your web browser
or hit F5
to see my name appear at the top, but I fear I might regress and end up sitting on a red toy routemaster bus brum-brumming in the nuddy at my parents' old house aged three and four days. I had a cracking barnet though.
: "No one knows this, but last night a meteor was heading directly for Earth. Just before impact, I hit my F5 key... How about that for saving the world? Beats a cheap movie starring Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis."
From Matt in Derby
: "With all this Back to the Future nonsense going on I'm hoping this mail will be posted in the commentary for the 1st Ashes Test in Cardiff - Matt, this is you from the future, bet all your money on a 2-1 series win for England. P.S. Check before reversing your car off the drive on December 17th
the cat's asleep behind the back wheel."
TEA - 1311: Eng 38-0
Plenty of men around the bat now, acres open in the covers and deep on the leg side to tempt the big thrash - defended by cook, his heart banging almost visibly under his ribs. My giddy aunts - big spit from the rough outside, and Cook wears one on the, ah, abdominal protector. That's tea, South Africa are reeling. Ish.
From Tony Crackburn, TMS inbox:
"I've just been sacked for continued inappropriate usage of the internet. To my relief, I pressed F5 and I have a reprieve."
1308: Eng 38-0
De Wet to Cook - huzzah! Four pulled away through midwicket. Tickles off the pads, and the target is down to 428. Tea after one more.
From Graham, TMS inbox:
"I slipped over this morning and hurt my back; do you think if I press F5 I can warn myself before it happens?"
1305: Eng 28-0
Hello - will we have some Paul Harris? Yup - tall, tousle-haired, cap-sleeved like a 1950s biker - too full, slapped through midwicket by Cook for a pressure-busting four. Grimace from the spinner. Big old workload ahead of him, you'd think.
1300: Eng 28-0
Friedel de Wet to have a joust - six steady leave-alones, as the theme tune to Rupert the Bear plays repeatedly in my head. I blame Lonely Rupert earlier, plus the way the words 'Friedel de Wet' perfectly fit the song's chorus. Maiden.
From Paul, Brussels, aka the world's worst statistician, TMS inbox: "So that's five percent of the target total racked up in quick time, with zero percent of wickets lost, the maths is looking good."
1255: Eng 28-0
Steyn fancies this - short leg in for Strauss, signalling the rapid stuff is about to st... ow-wow-wow, vicious lifter that Strauss wears right on the left bap. The crowd love that. Steyn follows through with some friendly advice on how to play him, stalks back to his mark and - ooof, a repeater at the throat, this time Strauss ducking underneath the missile. I'll have a single there, he says, jabbing the next ball away into the covers to give Cookie a rumble.
From Phil, Worcester, TMS inbox:
"I've just had my lunch, pressed F5 and found I hadn't."
1250: Eng 27-0
The grassy banks around the ground rammed with shirt-off punters, the produce of the nearby brewery being consumed at a carefree rate. Cook takes six stern looks at Morkel's tempters and leaves the whole lot alone. That's the spirit.
From Steve Whittle, London, TMS inbox:
"I have a washer that costs me about £30k a year, admittedly she does an excellent job, and the cooking is an added bonus."
1245: Eng 27-0
I promise you'll enjoy this over. If nothing else happens in this match to provide any cheer for England, simply manually refresh and technical problems will allow you to enjoy it repeatedly. Steyn, full, FOUR! smashed through cover. Steyn, full, straighter, FOUR! Straight back down the ground. Steyn, who cares where, FOUR! Smashed through cover again! Just 439 more runs, and this world record victory will be complete.
From Nick in the British Library, TMS inbox:
"Am currently attempting (poorly) to write my dissertation on the postmodern in JG Ballard. I just wrote about the state of reality being in flux in Ballard's writing as he confuses the fictional moment with the memorialisation of an event in his non-fiction autobiography. Jean Baudrillard's simulacrum and Guy Debord's 'Society of the Spectacle' have been duly referenced. However, Ballard's concerns are slim compared to the mysteries of the TMS commentary 'fact-or-fiction' debate. Not what I expected from a BBC-funded site."
1240: Eng 14-0
Morkel, long arms windmilling - big stride from Cook, lovely drive down the ground for the three that reduces the deficit to a mere 451. South Africa on the back foo... oh, who am I trying to fool.
From James M-P, sunny Nottingham:
"Yes - refreshing has been taking the old updates away. It's like going back in time. I suspect, however, that the Back to the Future franchise would have been less successful if Marty McFly had only to press F5 rather than hitting 88mph in the Delorean."
1235: Eng 11-0
Steyn again, round the wicket - cripes, that's an absolute brute, angling in and trapping Strauss right in front - massive appeal from half of Cape Town... not out, says Umpire Hill. Just - and I mean just
- going over the top. Steyn, dander up - he's so worked up here he might forget to release the ball, and just keep running straight through the concrete walls of the pavilion - aahhh, another brute, fuller this time, same deafening appeal.... no! says Umpire Hill! did it hit him just outside? Menacing margins these - mnenacing...
1227: Eng 7-0
Steyn goes round the wicket, and Cook will jab down late to pick up a single into the covers. Oooh - did that one go through the top? Strauss, helmet glinting in the harsh mid-afternoon sun, puffs out his cheeks and goes for a short stroll towards square leg.
From Tim, London struggling to concentrate on European Case Law, TMS inbox:
"Re: 11.57 Slightly unfair on the late lamented Mr Moon. I saw him once at a family gathering and he was the model of restraint (apart from his suit which looks like it had been made by optically challenged inebriated seamstresses). He even bought me a couple of drinks after which things became slightly more hazy. Were he still with us I might encourage him to sue you for that gross calumny. Not very good for a BBC supported site."
1222: Eng 5-0
Morkel switches to over the wicket, just to be contradictory. Three slips in - Smith, the massive bulk of Kallis, Magic-Hands De Villiers - gully, point and cover. Strauss leaves alone. Just 461 needed, and the chase is on. Was anyone convinced by that last clause?
From Michael, working in Cambridgeshire, TMS inbox:
"I work as a buyer in the Aerospace industry, and part number 1856M24P02 (Washer) cost me $939. Mind you it has a 30-day lead time."
1216: Eng 5-0
Steyn, a'snorting and a'stamping - rapid and skiddy menace to Cook, and the opener wears a nasty one on the thigh guard. Coming over the wicket, Steyn, with Morkel at the other end coming round - tricky angles, and these are indeed dicey times. Either Cook has a much flatter head than the average batsman or his helmet is overly domed - it seems to have rise up much higher than that of any of his England team-mates.
From Richie, Newcastle, TMS inbox:
"I feel Adrian Garlic is missing out on the joy of the "inanities" spouted on here. Feeling the buzz waiting for your email to pop up, waiting...it's coming!! and then, no, yet again it doesn't appear, cheers Fordyce."
1210: Eng 2-0
Remarkably, it seems these technical issues are in such good form that they're not only preventing new updates getting through but actually taking old ones away
. Truly the boundaries between fact and fiction are becoming ever more blurred. Aaghh - edge from Strauss, just short of the bellowing Smith at first slip. Nervy.
From Matt, Nottingham, TMS inbox:
"This will be easy. Smith got 183 on his own. All we need is for our batters (from Strauss to Prior) to get a piffling 50 each leaving a mere 25 each for the bowlers. We'll make up the rest in extras. Come on England. You've got the whole country (and a Danish girl) behind you."
1205: Eng 2-0
Here we go - the towering Morkel, the crouching Strauss... onto the pads, touched away for a single. Dabber from Cookie to get off the quacker too. That's the stuff - just 464 more needed...
Right. Will this pitch (a) continue to look like a batsman's dream, or (b) suddenly start behaving like Keith Moon at a family christening?
From Anon, text 81111:
"Strauss to fall early...but Cookie and Leon to knock off the first hundred, followed by a reckless an absurd a sublime double ton from KP. The two mediocre gingers chipping us past 400. A collapse in the lower order - drama! Nine down. The swashbuckling Swannmeister - destiny - cover drives past a despairing Smith dive - the winning runs. Series in the bag. Delirium."
From Paul, Leyland, TMS inbox:
"Rather unfair from Adrian Garlic I feel. I wonder what the most expensive washer ever produced cost? Last year I had to replace eight quad rings on the carbs of my XJ650 and I seem to remember they were upwards of 65p each."
From T McConnell, TMS inbox:
"Adrian Garlic. As requested I have decided to provide a full analysis on behalf of those you feel should be providing it. From what I have seen and heard the match is so far beyond reach that any analysis is surely redundant now. As such there is little else to do but banter away the blues."
1151: WICKET Duminy c Prior b Anderson 36, 15, SA 447-7 dec
Snick, bagged, batsmen walks... declaration. England need 466 to win. 466!
From Rob in snow covered, fully functional Berlin, TMS inbox:
"Re Adrian Garlic, he missed off the killer sentence 'not very good for a BBC supported site'. How can I take his opinion seriously?"
1149: SA 445-6
Nope, no declaration yet - they've only got a lead of 460+, after all. Duminy tries a switch-hit against Swann - top edged over Prior for two. Has Graeme Smith fallen asleep?
From Euan, 'working' in Glasgow, TMS inbox:
"Re: Adrian Garlic. I for one find the discussions make up an integral part of the commentary and I'm sure Patrick and Lonely Rupert agree. If you want 'proper' commentary without reference to Danish girlfriends and other inanities then go to Cricinfo. Begone! The puerile masses have spoken!"
1147: WICKET Boucher c Bell b Swann 15, SA 442-6
We'll have Swann on here - well, that'll slow things up - Boucher has battered that a mile into the stands at deep midwicket. He attempts the same next ball - skied, bagged by Bell jogging back to short fine leg. Is this the declaration?
From Chris, Manchester, TMS inbox:
"How long before somebody invites fate in from the cold for a cup of warm bovril by mentioning the words 'spirit of', 'Athers', 'Donald', '185 not out' and '643 minutes' in the same sentence? Too late."
1142: SA 434-5
Anderson, hair tufted with sweat, turns and trundles in, weariness smeared all over his face - angled into Boucher's front stick, probably missing down leg. England slowing these overs up again, desperate to use up as much time as possible. On the South African balcony, Paul Harris tries to spin a volleyball on the tip of his index finger but fails repeatedly.
From John, TMS inbox:
"Adelaide's a long way to come for Rupert to find a friend, but we have a kangaroo which comes in from the bush each day for a drink of water from the birdbath and a munch of the grass. We've christened him/her Roopert, so they might have some common ground. It was only a thought."
1135: SA 432-5
These updates aren't getting through again, are they? (sighs heavily, shakes head, makes derogatory comment about IT professionals/nameless internet saboteurs to colleague on right). Onions, hair rigid and black like coal, serves one up in the slots and Duminy thrashes it high over cover for four more. There's a single to leg and then Boucher edges streakily through the vacant first slip slot. Lead above 450 - how many more does Smith want? 475?
1130: SA 420-5
Official stat: England's highest fourth-inning successful run-chase was 332, to beat the Aussies in Melbourne in 1928. So a decent recent track record, then. Crackeroo - Duminy mows Anderson way, way over long-on for a massive six. Three lads in the crowd leap to make the catch but get in each others' way and make a right old pig's ear of it. Put a name on it, lads.
1125: SA 412-5
This little joust could just get Duminy back in nick here - lovely drive through cover for four, a nervy fence at Onions outside off and a slappy pull backward of square leg for four more. In the crowd, three girls in bikinis apply sun-cream and drink beer. And they say Test cricket can't cut it any more.
1121: SA 401-5
A purist's catch, that one - never easy when it's coming over your shoulder. Boucher in now to join the toiling JP, and when's this declaration going to come? England have never successfully chased more than 320-odd to win a Test, have they?
From Chris, TMS inbox:
"For Lonely Rupert I am in the throes of assembling a snowman to enjoy TMS with this afternoon considering no-one else is here. I work in Newcastle city centre so a five-minute metro into town and you too can enjoy the snowman craic, he's got a crazy sense of humour and will have you in stitches."
1117: WICKET De Villiers c Broad b Anderson 34, SA 401-5
Down the track, lofted slog, and the ball goes high, high, high to long-off - oh, fine catch by Broady, running backwards and taking it over his shoulder.
From Adrian Garlic, TMS inbox:
"Two days ago I read one of your readers' comments about the 'puerile' trash you publish. How true! I am interested in the cricket and good analysis. I realise you have to pander to the proles but, really, do cricket enthusiasts log in to your report to read the rubbish that appears. 'girlfriends, Danish liaisons', the list of inanities is endless. I wouldn't pay you in washers! How low is the BBC!!"
1115: SA 400-4
That's lunch done, although it was more of a mid-morning flapjack in my case. One of Mama Fordyce's Christmas stash - a little hardened by the intervening days, but all the longer-lasting for it. Onions now, the high multi-layered stands towering over him - stroked into the covers for one by Duminy before De Villers does the same. If England do chase this down to win, it would now be a world record-breaking score.
From Matt 'veteran Newcastle night out-ist', Romford:
"Rupert, you're at Uni, in Newcastle, probably one of the most 'lady friendly' places on the land and you're moaning about being alone? There must be a bit of rough out there for you? Mummy and Daddy would never know."
From Sally in Wilts, TMS inbox:
"Hey, girlie from Somerset! Get off Rupert! I live in Jesmond, and I reckon by the posh name that he does too. Although I have made it to work, so I can't be his friend today."
1030: LUNCH SA 397-4
Brakes on from England - just 24 overs bowled in two hours, and that's shabby alonso whichever way you look at it. We'll have lunch there - South Africa lead by 415, and they'll carry on after the interval - foot to the floor, you'd have to think, with the aim of getting England in after a spicy hour of mayhem. No?
From a depressed James in sun-drenched Sydney, TMS inbox:
"Shocking, unbelievable scenes here today Forders and I'm not talking about the weather. Australia coming back from the dead to win a remarkable test here in Sydney. And to think the stick I gave my Australian brethren after their batting performance on day one, I'll be receiving it threefold if England are ground into the African dirt as I fear they may be today. Test match cricket; she can be a cruel mistress."
1025: SA 394-4
The last three overs have taken 21 minutes. Not that England are trying to use up time or anything. Idle thought for physicists and Paul in Lancs - can anyone truly use up time? Oh, what a shot from De Villiers - angled away off the face through the gap fine of gully for a four that couldn't be more classy if it was riding a gilded chariot.
From Trevor Smith, Wilts TMS inbox:
"Re: Lonely Rupert - What subject are you studying Rupert? I'm a University Tutor and so am willing to volunteer for the position of 'Friendly Tutor who sees the real potential within, regardless of what the others might say'."
1021: SA 390-4
Broad again, and De Villiers thinks about leaving it but withdraws too late, the ball cannoning off the retreating face and away to gully along the deck. Nice drive out to Trott sweeping on the cover fence, and they sprint through for two. Lead of 408. Ouch. Big ouch.
From Andrew Young, TMS inbox:
"For Lonely Rupert - If you are feeling particularly at a loose end, then please head to my office in Gosforth, and shovel the snow from the roof, in front of the windows, giving the ridiculously false impression that yet more snow is falling. Result: my boss sends us all home, I stick TMS on with the text feed, and have a well-earned New Year rest on my, erm, 3rd day back in the office. You can then head back to the library. I'll even give you directions. Thanks.."
1015: SA 388-4
Anderson, scampering in, Duminy still not off the quacker - hmm, that'll help, leaning back to pull through backward square leg for four off the bottom edge. Rhythmical clapping from the Barmy Army, paused only for howls of oh as Anderson skids one past JP's outside edge. 15 minutes until luncheon.
From Doctor Steve, TMS inbox:
"I'm off work this week but wouldn't have been able to get in anyway. Fair? Should I ask for my leave back?"
1010: SA 384-4
De Villers fancies this now - sashay down the track, met by a bouncer, creamed off the middle with a flat-bat pull for a sizzling four to the midwicket fence. *** Lonely Rupert section officially abandoned as result of email offers below ***
From Simon Mathieson, TMS inbox:
"Re: Ian Hookway. Ouch, better hope the pregnant wife hasn't taken a sudden interest in heroic match saving deeds akin to the legends of ancient Greece. Strange craving though, its usually peanut butter."
1006: SA 380-4
JP Duminy on a king pair - he won't fancy this - oof, survived with a nervy jab to leg. De Villiers, now the senior man, slashes wildly at Broad's in-dipper and Chinese cuts past his timbers for the flukiest of fours.
From Jamie, TMS inbox:
"Rupie, I feel for you buddy. Bro-mance is so hard to come by these days. I'll be your casual acquaintance for the next hour."
1001: WICKET Kallis c Prior b Anderson 46, SA 376-4
As Billy The Trumpet blasts out the theme tune to Coronation St (other soap operas etc etc), James Anderson returns to the attack. Jim was officially warned by Umpire Harper earlier in the day, I'm told - edge, bagged by the 'keeper! In your face, over-officious, erm, officials!
From Somerset, TMS inbox:
"I would like to volunteer to be Rupert's tomboyish best female friend who is secretly in love with him. Everyone needs one of those."
0957: SA 373-3
Yup, AB's ready for the racy stuff - four, driven crisply on the up though cover, Broad still halfway through his follow-though as the ball hits the boundary boards *** start of Lonely Rupert section *** Or, Rupert, get yourself on Facebook (other social networking sites are available), contact a load of randoms and sign them up as 'friends'? *** end of Lonely Rupert section ***
From Paul in Lancs, TMS inbox:
"Is this a new TMS live text feature? There are certainly real commercial opportunities in the development of personalised sections at a premium price, a bit like the subscriber only service on the FT website where the really interesting economic news is reserved for people who can afford it. Brilliant business strategy in many respects, Tom, though perhaps an awkward fit with the BBC's avowed remit as public service provider. I'll call the Director General, see what he thinks and get back to you."
0952: SA 368-3
"Wicket coming here, Swanny!" chirps Prior from behind the timbers, and Billy The Trumpet parps his first cheery notes in the stand to add to the unfathomable optimism. Dabs and anglers-way for singles, and Kallis might as well be having a net out there. *** start of Lonely Rupert section *** Rupert - while you wait for someone to get round to yours, why not stuff a pillow into a spare shirt and pretend Pillow-Shirt Man is a new pal? *** end of Lonely Rupert section ***
From Ian Hookway, TMS inbox:
"Re. Simon 0916: Spot on - Arrived at the station fully expecting incompetence to have triumphed, but blow me down with a feather, the train arrived, I got a seat and now I'm slumped at my desk wallowing in self pity. Still, beats being at home with the kids and the pregnant wife
0948: SA 364-3
Let's have a think about this wicket here. It appears to be behaving itself impeccably at the moment - those cracks haven't widened, the top remains solid and the bounce is consistent. If you did have to bat for five sessions to save a Test, you'd settle for this as a day four/ day five track. *** start of Lonely Rupert section *** any volunteers in the north-east to pop round to Rupert's and make him feel a little more popular? *** end of Lonely Rupert section ***
From Tim, Birmingham, TMS inbox:
"9:12am - Smith Wicket, Delighted. 9:17am - Trudging through Snow to work, Gutted. 9:22am - Receive email saying I can go back home. Ecstatic. 9:28am - Laptop in hand, TMS feed on the go. Cash back."
0945: SA 362-3
Little dabber from AB off the face for two down to fine leg, and that might mark the official start of the De Villiers 'eye-in' period. Lead to 380. *** start of all-new Lonely Rupert section *** Patrick, going in the email below, I think you'll understand *** end of all-new Lonely Rupert section ***
From Lonely Rupert, Newcastle University:
"Desperate times call for desperate measures. Having been well and truly sacked off by my mates this morning - something about being too cold to revise - I have decided to break my personal TMS duck in order to recruit new friends. Fordyce gets Best Mate status, naturally, and 'Patrick on the bus' can be stand-in. Ahh, much better."
0938: SA 354-3
Bless you, Jacques Kallis - if you need a chap to drop anchor at an inappropriate time, Shark's your man. Tidy from Broad, and after the Big Unit waddles a single, AB defends as if his side were 13-3. *** start of Patrick section *** I was going to abandon the Patrick section, but with Shark in, maybe I should reconsider *** end of Patrick section ***
From Chris, Newcastle, TMS inbox:
"I stepped away from my desk for 15 minutes and came back and genuinely believed o'nions had got a hat trick. Damn you Fordyce, Damn you! Incidentally, anyone skiving from work in Canary Wharf today - no lying snow or problems getting here at all. Get to work."
0932: SA 353-3
We'll have some Swanny now, the new ball still only an hour old - full toss as AB advances, slogged into the leg-side for a single. Kallis tickles one more away past Cook at forward short leg. De Villiers has his already short sleeves neatly rolled up to reveal further bicep. If he were Michael Madsen, he'd have a packet of fags tucked under the folds. And probably an ever-expanding paunch, going on Madsen's recent work. Drinks. *** start of Patrick section *** Patrick - you still on the bus? *** end of Patrick section ***
From Dave, TMS inbox:
"I made it to the office today, admittedly it was made somewhat less onerous by the fact that I work from home. Still had to negotiate a flight of stairs a potentially slippy hall rug and a door though, so I feel justified in joining Harry basking in the Bulldog Spirit."
0926: SA 349-3
Glimpse of KP there at gully, his Brentesque goatee well-tended under his dark blue cap and impenetrable shades - not been his match so far, and without a ton to his name in the series so far, he'll be dreaming of blades of glory to save adopted bacon over the next few days *** start of Patrick section *** Who knew that elephants could tap-dance? *** end of Patrick section ***
From Mark, Brighton, TMS inbox:
"Climbed two hills, on my bike, faced a blizzard on the seafront and was only called an idiot by one taxi driver, bless him. I too have the sanctuary of live text and empty office to nurse me through the snow, which is good as getting home might be a bit more difficult, C'mon on England...if the Aussies can do it."
0921: SA 349-3
That's put the brakes on a little - Stuart Broad gets the nod from Skipper Strauss, and that's steady-eddie Hemmings from the blond marauder - just a single leaked as AB gets his eye in. *** start of Patrick section *** An elephant on the pitch? Remarkable enough by itself, but on a unicycle? *** end of Patrick section ***
A little more about the
I mentioned earlier on. Colleague's done a full news story. Hats off.
0916: SA 346-3
Wonderful skipper's knock by Smith, and he waves his bat to all quarters as he trudges off. Hello - replays seem to indicate that Onions no-balled by a clear two inches on that one. Retro-referral, anyone? AB De Villiers the new man in. *** start of Patrick section *** triple breakthrough! Now it's Onion's turn to bag his first Test hat-trick. I can't believe my eyes *** end of Patrick section ***
From Simon Jeavons, TMS inbox:
"Re. Harry 0857: I made it in despite willing the 511 Shrewsbury to Hadnall bus service to be cancelled
.what happened to the good old days when 3 inches of snow bought the country to its knees????"
0912: WICKET Smith c Collingwood b Onions 183, SA 346-3
Short, lift - swung away, high and top-edgy by Smith, Colly running round underneath it at long leg - bagged! *** start of Patrick section *** do we need a Patrick section in this over? *** end of Patrick section ***
0908: SA 346-2
The fun starts here - now it's Kallis's turn to go all King Vivi, leaning back and slapping merrily over cover for four more. Patrick - below - I'll do an alternative version for you. *** start of Patrick section *** Incredible scenes - Anderson's first Test hat-trick, and England are right back in this *** end of Patrick section ***
From Patrick, seat on the bus, London, TMS inbox:
"Tom, we'd believe anything you write. Could you 'spice' this up a bit?"
0904: SA 336-2
I'm hearing that we might have more technical issues here. Woe, woe is us. Cancel trains, by all means - close schools, abandon articulated lorries on the middle of motorways, but monkey with the live text? Some people. Smash - Smith crashes a brutal cover drive high over the infield for the boundary that takes him to 182.
From Harry, in the Home Counties, TMS inbox:
"As the only person in my office to make in through the blizzard I am celebrating. Heating on full - Live Text on the projection screen - Give me a Castle Lager and I may as well be in Cape Town! Has anyone else in made it to the office today or am I the only one?"
0857: SA 332-2
Super over from Onions, that - getting right in close to the umpire, whirling away with that whippy action of his, and Smith is finally in trouble - fencing at one run across him, jabbing down on one that comes back and escaping with a ell bee shout that might just have been going a touch high.
0852: SA 332-2
Bright blue sky overhead, green-leaved trees swaying gently around the boundary edge, Table Mountain glowering in the background - it's no Racecourse Ground, Derby, but it'll do a job. Tight and full from Anderson - just a single off that, but the new-ball overs are ticking away...
0847: SA 331-2
If you're just waking up, two things: (a) what time do you call this, there's snowballs to be thrown, and (b) you don't want to know what Australia did to Pakistan overnight. 9-1 they were for the victory. I know. Onions to Kallis, and that's a dreamy shot - slight strayer onto the pads, but he's drilled that effortlessly between midwicket and mid-on. Lead to 349.
From David, Gloucester, TMS inbox:
.if the Enger-Land bowlers have been ball-tampering then they aren't very good at it - what was it yesterday? 300 runs & 2 wickets
0843: SA 325-2
Smith's not messing about here - smashing slashing cut past point for four, a fuller one driven with muscular power through cover for two to Cook on the sweep and then - wooh - four more, this time streakily off the outside edge past a despairing Bell at backward point. Few fears in the track, but then there didn't seem to be any in Durban last week before South Africa came in for their second innings, did there?
0837: SA 315-2
What do we think South Africa will declare on here? Lead of 400? 450? I'm thinking the latter - Smith to his double ton, England ground into the dirt... Mind you, Graham Onions has other thoughts - two doozies past Smith's outside edge, and the cherry is chatting like a canary this morning.
0833: SA 314-2
Here we go - James Anderson, new ball in hand, Graeme Smith on 162 not out, Jacques Kallis on 21 - singles, jabbed down into the leg-side. Oof - absolute ripper from Anderson, angling in to Kallis and then jagging away off the track to leave the mighty-armed batsman poking at thin air.
Mind you, there is a bit of a stink in the air - allegations of ball-tampering against James Anderson to go with the whinges about Stuart Broad standing on the ball on Tuesday. Breaking news is that there will be no official complaint from the South African team, although some ex-pros in the ground think the damage has already been done by the unofficial complaints.
Cape Town? Scorchio. There'll be snow no-drifts - I'm sorry, no snow drifts - to save England's bacon at Newlands today.
And so they came, one by one, across the snowy wastes - small figures, wrapped in blankets, struggling through the knee-deep drifts, sometimes falling, sometimes faltering, but forever pressing onwards, for they had but one aim - to get to the office in time to do the text commenta... actually, it wasn't that hard, was it?