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Same again next Thursday? I'm off to stick my fingers in the nearest pile of snow. Huzzah for Onions, huzzah for Bell and Colly, huzzah for this fantastic series. I'm spent.
From Mike from Berkshire, TMS inbox:
"Reckon that you have at last silenced your critics. Gritty innings Tom, and I guess that makes you an honorary Ginger."
Honorary, Mike in Berkshire? I'll wear the badge with pride.
It was the Bell dismissal that brought the place to its knees. Twice in three matches Onions has held Graeme Smith at bay, and the South African skipper will be having purple nightmares about him for the rest of his days. Newlands is still shaking.
From Ben, Cambridge Library, TMS inbox:
"Just leaped out of my seat in celebration, headphones all over the place, seat flung backwards, and looked straight into the eyes of a woman utterly bewildered. Doubt she expected this on Level 5 North Wing, home of Arabic literature."
Let's try to make sense of all this. England have escaped with a draw on par with Cardiff last summer, and the South African fielders are on their knees. Andrew Strauss and the England players stream onto the pitch, hugging Onions and Swann - they will go to the final Test next Thursday in Jo'burg 1-0 in the series, and 10 minutes ago I wouldn't have believed that possible. Anyone else still shaking?
From Tim, Prague, TMS inbox:
"SA crying because of Onions. Bell-issimo! I'm doing a Swan dive as I type :-)."
Cricket, I love you. Graham Onions, I love you. Farewell fingernails, farewell spleen, farewell any chance of sleep tonight. What an extraordinary match. 17 balls survived by the final pair, 11 survived by no.11 Onions alone. He's making a habit of this, isn't he?
From Shay Ladd, London, TMS inbox:
"And Onions has reduced the South Africans to tears... That would normally be too awful a joke to make but I am dancing round the office with my shirt over my head - my judgement has clearly been compromised!"
1558: Eng 296-9
Final ball of the match: LEFT ALONE! LEFT ALONE! ENGLAND WIN THE DRAW - REPEAT, ENGLAND WIN THE DRAW!
1557: Eng 296-9
Fifth ball: short, where's the gloves? Appeal... no! Not out! It'll come down to the final ball of the Test...
1556: Eng 296-9
Fourth ball: yorker, dug out again. Off middle.
1555: Eng 296-9
Third ball: yorker, dug out.
1555: Eng 296-9
Second ball: fended down, safe.
1554: Eng 296-9
First ball: poked at, missed.
From James, TMS inbox:
"It has to be said, this is why we love the game so dearly. How many other sports can be so drawn out and sway so much to come down to such a minute detail as an edge or a straight one to finish a game?"
1547: Eng 296-9
It'll be Steyn to return against Swann. Dot ball! Hold on - has Steyn injured himself? 11 balls left. Nope - he just wants a drink. Don't we all, son, don't we all. Short of a length, jabbed down into the ground. Full, turned away, they'll jog two. Nine balls left. Full again - blocked, blocked away for two more. Eight balls. Short, bouncy, ducked under. Seven balls. Bouncer - left alone. It will go to the final over. Graeme Onions v Morne Morkel. I'll go ball-by-ball for this. It's too much.
From NCW, TMS inbox:
"Please please please don't let this be the cricketing Gods getting us back for the Edgbaston '05 finale."
1547: Eng 290-9
Graeme Onions - come on, man, come on... Short, into the pads - huge ell bee appeal, missing down leg. The batsmen confer in the middle. Five slips, gully, short leg, short straight mid-off. Short, up at the throat - fended up, up... safe! Somehow it falls safe. We have 12 balls left. One wicket, 12 balls. Shiver me timbers.
From Tim in cold sno... oh who cares, TMS inbox:
"My boss has just told me I can go home. Never thought I would say this, but not a chance."
1542: Eng 290-9
Truly, this is beyond belief - it was a decent ball, and poor old Bell, exhausted, spent, could only push at it. 213 balls he survived - just 17 more and England would have been home. It's the Swann and Onions Show.
1541: WICKET Bell c Smith b Morkel 78, Eng 290-9
Morkel returns - steepler - edged - noooooo......
1539: Eng 290-8
I'd forgive Swann if he came out without his bat, so mind-numbing is the tension. Two balls of the over to survive... short, wide, forced away for four. The final one blocked. Three overs, 18 balls, two wickets. Twenty20? It's yours to keep.
From Chris, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"OK, if we get a draw out of this, we will get a extra bank holiday? New pants anyone?? The shine has gone from mine now after 135.4 overs."
1537: Eng 286-8
There are 20 balls left at Graeme Swann comes to the crease. 20 balls. Two wickets. I can't breathe.
1536: WICKET Broad c De Villiers b Harris 0, Eng 286-8
Harris again - screamed appeal - come now, off the pad! Blocked. Blocked again. Big turn, glove - they've caught him! Broad might refer it, but he's gone, he's gone, he's gone...
From Gareth Haydn, TMS inbox:
"Oh great, Ian Bell's about to face the most important few overs of his batting career and now he's got the issue of his dad being held captive at work to deal with too! Poor lad."
1532: Eng 286-7
Steyn coming in like a downhill juggernaut - rapid, jabbed away by Bell. "DOT BALL, TO THE ENGER-LAND!" howl the Barmy Army. Oh, fantastic ball from Steyn - brutal nip-backer, and Bell somehow gets an inside edge on it. Just past Amla at square leg. Next up - full, defended away by Bell, and that even roll away for four. It will. Last ball of the over - wide, left alone, another over gone. Four overs, 24 balls. You didn't need me to tell you that, did you?
From Mike, snowy Brum, TMS inbox:
"Any naysayers predicting the demise of Test cricket, eat humble pie. No one-day game can produce this level of tension. Mesmerising stuff."
1528: Eng 282-7
Smith makes another change - he's taken Duminy off and switched Harris to his end. Interesting. Full one, smothered. Turner - off the pad, big shout of "CATCH IT!" - no, says Umpire Hill. Well played Broad - defended away from the clamouring hands. Five overs now, 30 balls, he types, breaking off to wipe his palms on his thighs.
From Tony, Birmingham, TMS inbox:
"Hugo, seriously mate, I work with Ian Bell's dad - I think you had better go an release that poor sod you locked in the cupboard."
1524: Eng 282-7
Smith will switch to Steyn. Makes sense. Bell on strike - about time - watchful, going up onto his toes and dropping the ball away safely into the leg side. Six overs. 36 balls. Newlands is agog.
From Francis in sunny LA, TMS inbox:
"The run rate required is creeping up now. Should we cut our losses and just go for the draw?"
1518: Eng 282-7
Duminy has been transformed into Harbhajan Singh out there - Lord alive, has Broad gone? Nope - off the pad, and they can appeal for those all day long. And they will. Four men in now tight on the leg side, plus two slips, two silly points, the stumper... how can anyone resist this awful pressure? Smother and stifle from Broad. He's holding on. Seven overs. 42 balls. Three wickets.
From Will in London, TMS inbox:
"The BBC should officially rename the live feed as 'The Fordyce Saga'... I can't believe this is happening again."
1515: Eng 282-7
Harris will keep twirling here. Men circle Bell. Harris - full toss, driven away for four. It's all about the balls, in every possible sense. Pad 'em away, Belly - that's the style. Eight overs, 48 balls.
From Hugo Vaux, TMS inbox:
"Tom, I work with Ian Bell's dad, he currently can't bear to watch or listen. This is a good sign, as when he does Ian generally gets out... so I've locked him in a room and won't tell him the score."
1511: Eng 278-7
Poor old Broad - there are close fielders clambering all over him. Duminy gives one some air - ai-yai-yai, inside edge through the only gap there is in the circle. Big stride forward from Broad, dead-bat defensive, repeated. Short, wide, left alone. Prop forward - massive appeal - is this out? No, says Hill, but the South African fielders are certain - they'll refer. Let's have a look - nightmarish, this - please don't give that, he's hit that into the ground, hasn't he? Hasn't he? Ye...essss. Nine overs. 54 balls. I can't watch.
From Alan, Ireland, TMS inbox:
"Don't fret Tom. Remember Cardiff, Colly gets out just when it looks like he would be there to the end. This Test is running to the tried and trusted England method of getting a draw in impossible situations. "
1505: Eng 278-7
Prior just propped forward - the ball came straight off the middle, and De Villiers took a characteristically smart snag at silly point. It's Broad now, with Graeme Swann and Graham Onions quaking in the hutch behind him. There are 10 overs left. 60 balls. Three wickets. Why can't it ever be easy? Just for once?
1501: WICKET Prior c De Villiers b Duminy 4, Eng 278-7
Spin, edge - I don't believe it...
From Paul in Newcastle, TMS inbox:
"Could we rev up yesterday's F5 generated Tardis please to rewind the imminent collapse?"
1458: Eng 274-6
Fielders crowded all around the bat - there simply isn't room for any more. Harris suddenly has a spring in his step - edged by Bell - short! For a dreadful freeze-framed moment it looked as if Smith had snaffled that one, but it fell just shy of his scraping, desperate fingers.
From J Ziegler, TMS inbox:
"It's all my fault. I just emailed a colleague at work jokingly asking when we should start the run chase and just after we laughed across the open plan office Collingwood was out. I am so sorry."
1454: Eng 272-6
Prior strides in, and the vultures are gathering. Three balls left in the over - survived. 13 overs left in the day, 78 balls. I can barely type.
1452: Eng 272-6
It might have been the arm ball, I don't know, but Colly's epic effort is over, snagged at slip - 188 balls, 273 minutes, partnership of 112 from 57 overs. Run-rate 1.96. I'm seeking comfort in random numbers.
1450: WICKET Collingwood c Kallis b Duminy 40, Eng 272-6
From Ian, Cheltenham, via text on 81111:
"I feel Bell and Colly's scores at the end of the day should be balls they have faced. This would reflect what they have been through."
1450: Eng 272-5
So here it comes: the final part of the final session. Harris will take the first over post-drinks - he'll go over the wicket, and Colly squirts a single away to move to 40 off 185 balls. Bell sees off the rest. 14 overs. 14 long, dreadful overs.
From Jason White, TMS inbox:
"It's like Rorke's Drift all over again with Lieutenant John Chard being played by Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. And as the film version depicted the conclusion of the battle, 'the Zulu's withdrew after sustaining heavy casualties. Later, they sang a song to honour the bravery of the British defenders and left'."
1443: Eng 269-5
Duminy again - you're not getting through, states Bell flatly, and that'll be drinks. There are 15 overs left in the match - repeat, 15 overs. 90 deliveries. Hold on.
From Matthew D Benson, TMS inbox:
"Re Grant: Making such suggestions are tantamount to incentivising Forders to tamper with the Live Text Commentary. Can you imagine how De Villiers might respond then?? I think we should be given clear evidence that the commentary has not been manipulated."
1440: Eng 268-5
In the midst of this awful tension I've neglected to flag up the 100 partnership. Sloppy. They've faced over 330 balls already. Anyone else struggling to breathe?
From Tom in Bristol, TMS inbox:
"When I was 12 in the school XI we were set an unimaginable score of over 120 runs. Call me negative, but I batted for two hours and got four runs, but we drew the match. I just hope that Colly and Bell don't have to endure the same kind of teasing I did for having such a poor run rate."
1437: Eng 268-5
This is remarkable now - two men in close in front of square on the off-side, three behind it, short leg, leg slip and stumper. Is that someone perched in Colly's back pocket? Full bunger from Harris, driven gently by Colly into the vast emptiness elsewhere on the field for his first four since who knows when. Fast and full, nasty, survived. 17 overs left, 102 balls. We'll do this together.
From Binky Griptite, TMS inbox:
"I'm looking out of my office window in Sheffield in a South Easterly direction and I can see on the horizon a mass of land of approximately 120,000 square miles, high in natural resources (most notably oil) with what appears to be a population in the region of 2.85m (but no gingers)... If that's not Oman I don't know what is."
1433: Eng 264-5
Morkel charges in - short, swayed away by Bell. Shadows beginning to stretch now across the rich green outfield from the towering floodlight pylons - rapid lifter, and Bell is sorely tempted. Don't be, Bellmesiter, don't be. 18 overs, 108 balls.
From Grant, London, TMS inbox:
"Re: Wisey - I second that, but as Tom is huddled in front of the TV in White City and not under the blue Cape Town sky, I vote we club together and send him out to commentate live for the final series winning Test, if we make it through that is."
1429: Eng 263-5
And now they'll try Harris. Six men in tight, full - driven easily to mid-off. My palms are dripping with sweat - an unpleasant image for you, but that's BBC transparency in action. 19 overs, 114 balls.
From Chris Brown, TMS inbox:
"Just walked past Buckingham Palace and saw a lone guard wearing a red tunic and carrying a pike - I think it may be a Yeom
Ah, not quite got the hang of this, have I?"
1424: Eng 262-5
Kallis has his arms folded at slip, Smith tugs at his cap. They'll call on Morkel here, they'll have to... and here he comes, the elongated Suggs. Colly squeezes a brace of full ones back to mid-on - he simply will not be tempted, and even a glimpse of his emotionless face is enough to almost bring me to tears. 173 balls for his 34. I think I'm falling in love.
From Anonymous (just in case she's watching) of East Sussex, TMS inbox:
"Re: Chris, Norfolk. Chris should count himself lucky if his wife looks like Ian Bell. My ex-wife looked like Derek Randall eating a lime."
1419: Eng 262-5
Steyn for his 32nd over of the innings - unstinting, erm, stint - full, not so fast, driven dreamily by Bell for a lovely four through the covers. 21 of the bigger units, 126 of the smaller ones.
From Wisey, TMS inbox:
"Forders, If you get us through this, you'll be shipped back to blighty, paraded on an open top bus around London, a plaque in the Long Room and given a magical sweet factory with tiny orange Collys and Bellers tending to all the sweet needs. Take it Forders, take the chance, run on home with it now and don't stop for anything until you get there."
1415: Eng 258-5
It'll be Kallis now, going wider in the crease - that'll bring a leg bye to get Bell on strike, and the strawberry-blond stalwart flicks the next away for two more. One to follow, and the Barmy Army trumpet sounds clear through the Cape Town sky. 22 overs, 132 balls.
From Karl (in my command bunker outside Sheffield), TMS inbox:
"Following up on Steve from Stotfold, if Chris' wife is indeed a dead ringer for Bell, he should leave her like the clappers."
1410: Eng 254-5
Mickey remains motionless. Must be checking his emails. As a man in the crowd wearing a red, white and blue jester's hat leans forward and blows cool air on his palms, Steyn comes in again - must surely be tiring, but Smith will have to wrench the ball from his rigor fingers if he wants to stop him. Bell waits - defended, left, defended, left, left, defended. 23 overs, 138 balls. 138! So many, so many...
From Jono in Shrewsbury, TMS inbox:
"We've got a ginger cat that hasn't been out for three days now. Admittedly it's because he'd have to put his precious little paws in the snow but still, that's gotta be an omen. Just to secure England's fate I've locked the cat flap."
1406: Eng 254-5
Mickey Arthur up there on the South African balcony. He's staring intently at something on his laptop - if you're reading this, Mickey, give us some sort of signal - a wave, a streak, you decide. Bell angles Duminy away past Kallis at slip - two more, and every ball negotiated is being cheered by the frantic England contingent roasting slowly in the stands.
From Michael, London, TMS inbox:
"In response to an earlier comment: 'It' is actually a girl and we named her Laura, however, if Bell keeps on batting like this I may re-name her Ian. I'm sure she'd understand."
1403: Eng 251-5
Strain steyns - I'm sorry, Steyn strains - and Colly watches that one right onto the middle for two out to deep point. 25 overs, 150 balls. Noise from the Barmy Army.
From Steve, less snowy Stotfold, TMS inbox:
"To Chris in Norfolk - perhaps your wife is a dead ringer for Bell."
1358: Eng 249-5
Duminy, straining, twirling - oh, lovely shot from Bell, timing that away through midwicket for the four that takes him to his half-century. Super effort from the much-maligned middle-order man - his 22nd Test 50, and quite possibly the most valuable of the lot. Single - four more! Colly edges away - along the ground, mind - for four down to the third man fence. 26 overs, 156 balls.
From Andy, Dubai, TMS inbox:
"Watching from Dubai, where earlier this week they unveiled the world's tallest tower. Call me biased, but I reckon a draw here might just be the greater achievement..."
1354: Eng 241-5
Graeme Smith is working his way through his fingernails at slip - at the rate he's going, he'll be chewing on his elbows come drinks. I think he'll give Dale Steyn another go here - yup, and the weary paceman, hair plastered to his face with the day's exertions, grabs the ball. Single to leg, wonderfully-judged leave by Colly outside off and another tipper off the toes for one more. Michael (see below) - i like the way you refer to your first child without any mention of name or, indeed, gender. Old-school.
From Michael in London, TMS inbox:
"My wife (who is not Danish) recently had our first child. It is ginger and it took an age to get out. Could be a good omen..."
1351: Eng 239-5
Duminy skips in - gaagh, pushed at catchable height straight past the wailing Amla at forward short leg. He'll take a single, and I'll take a moment or two to recover from that. The partnership to 75 from 255 balls. 28 overs, 168 balls.
From Chris in snowy Norfolk, TMS inbox:
"My one-year-old boy keeps kissing the TV screen and saying 'ma-ma' whenever Ian Bell is shown. Should I be concerned that my wife looks like Ian Bell, sad for Bell that he has a slightly effeminate appearance or proud that my boy already recognises and appreciates great, dogged Test cricket when he sees it?"
1348: Eng 237-5
Concentrate Fordyce, concentrate - I'm shipping overs at a hopeful but entirely inaccurate rate. There are still 29 to come, and if you wish you could slap me for that, don't worry - I'm slapping myself. Harris - Collly will not be moved. Maiden.
Geoff Boycott on TMS:
"He's a delightful player, Ian Bell - front foot, back foot, he's got all the shots and plays quite beautifully. It makes you want to shake him when he gets himself out, like in the first innings when you'd have struggled to reach the ball with a sweeping brush."
1345: Eng 237-5
Bell, patting his bat anxiously into the crease, waiting for Duminy's tweakers - singles into off, and that's classy - a controlled on-drive through the glimmering in-fielders for an easy-on-the-eye four. 29 overs, 174 balls.
From Lewis, TMS inbox:
"I just dropped a pack of Starburst on the floor. Only one fell out, and guess what colour it was? That's right, yellow. Yellow has the same number of letters as orange - it could be an omen..."
1341: Eng 231-5
Harris now, over the wicket, the catchers crouching low, the barbs flying thick and fast - dead bat, dead bat, dead bat. 30 overs, 180 balls. Bell's now faced 122 balls, Colly 142. Keep it going, Los Gingeros, keep it going.
From Ben from London, via text on 81111:
"I've just seen a fox that looked exactly like Colly catch a fish from the stream I'm doing research in. It was as magnificent as his batting today. If that's not an omen, I don't know what is. Truly magical. Come on England!"
1338: Eng 231-5
Smith opts for Duminy from the other end, drifting them into the breeze, and you can't blame him - looked more dangerous than Harris in that tiny turn before tea. Bell pushes into the covers for one; Colly absorbs the remainder like human blotting-paper. 31 overs, 186 balls...
From Graham Jeater, TMS inbox:
"Is Paul in Lancs, actually Paul in Spain on a nice summer break?"
1334: Eng 231-5
So then - this is it - Harris will have the first over after tea. Slip, short gully, silly point, forward short leg, leg slip - dabbed away late by Bell, and he'll jog a single there. Come on Colly - back in the groove - yup, that's the one, blocking and padding with grim, relentless determination. 32 overs left.
From Paul, Spain, TMS inbox:
"There's a junction outside my flat. In the middle of it is a piece of metal attached to a pole, advising drivers where each road will take them. I think it could be a sign."
From Dom, Far Headingley, via text on 81111:
"I live in Leeds and spent a large proportion of yesterday building/sculpting an igloo. That's right, just north of Leeds an actual igloo (or semblance thereof). 17 hours after its entrance to the world, it's standing strong and steady. We've decided to name it Colling Wood Manor."
From Will in London, TMS inbox:
"Just went for a tea break at work and the only biscuits I could find were a couple of old, gnarled Gingernuts that wouldn't crack no matter how hard I bit into them. If that's not another good omen then call me Sally. The curse of the Fordyce will be lifted."
Michael Vaughan on TMS:
"If South Africa don't go on and win this game then I think Graeme Smith's missed a big trick not bowling Duminy more today. He got more turn in that last over than we've seen previously. But what a stunning session that was for England - brilliant batting."
The magic numbers: 33 overs left, 198 balls, five wickets, one session. I don't think I can handle this...
1310: TEA Eng 230-5
Duminy it is, spin-flicking the ball from hand to hand as he skips in - my giddy aunts, big turn from outside off, sizzling back in, and somehow Colly keeps that out. Horribly testing, this - oo-aahh, massive appeal for a bat-pad, but Colly blade was nowhere near that. Tea! It's tea!
From Mark, Greenwich, via text on 81111:
"I work for a company that makes toy plastic figurines. I'm pleased to report that in an unusual departure for the norm Nicola has recently over taken Cheryl in our best selling Girls Aloud range. Could there be a clearer omen? It's a done deal people."
1307: Eng 229-5
Aarrrghh - brutal smasher of an in-jagger from Morkel, but Colly wears it on the chest like a veteran displaying his campaign medals. 35 overs, 210 balls. Last over before tea? Duminy gamble?
From Matt, London, TMS inbox:
"I'm afraid I don't have any orange-coloured or carrot anecdotes today. I just thought I'd contact you because everyone other person called Matt or Matthew seems to have contacted you today. It could be an omen."
1303: Eng 229-5
Boucher the Poucher thunks his big white gloves together behind the timbers and exhorts his comrades to greater deeds. It'll be Steyn again, white towelling sweatband pulled high on his forearm like a dancer from High School Musical - short, rapid, ducked under by Bell. More rapid nastiness outside off, but Bell tugs his twitching blade away to hang in there. I've never actually seen High School Musical, I'd like to point out - I've imagined what a dancer in it might look like. Hang on - is that worse?
From Michael Francis, TMS inbox:
"I'm really beginning to think that we might not win this. I know Swanny is still to come in, but getting 200+ in the last session is a big ask. Disappointed."
1258: Eng 229-5
Double change from Smith, fidgeting now, biting his thumbnail - it'll be Morkel, men clustering in the slips and short on the leg side - full onto leg stump, drilled into the vast empty spaces out straight on the leg-side for a jogger of a three. Short, lifting - gaagh, edged by Bell towards second slip - short! Bounce, you lovely wearing ball, bounce...
From Tim Nicholson, London, TMS inbox:
"I'm trying to appear busy in the scrap yard I work in whilst sneaking looks at the score on my phone. I've just noticed some copper pipes in corner of the yard that have been there since last year - they seem very hard to shift. Another encouraging sign?."
1254: Eng 225-5
Here he is, the creme de la creme of the attack all day - I'm not touching those, says Bell, blinking out from under his lid. Straighter at the death, angled away off the face between fourth slip and gully for a four that means as much as a dot ball. 16 minutes to tea, 38 overs left, 228 balls...
From Josh Cooper, TMS inbox:
"If there are that many men around the bat, why don't they just appeal against the light?"
1250: Eng 221-5
Kallis, broad-shouldered, bustling - Colly blocks, blocks, blocks. Smith chomps on some chewing-gum, surveys the scene and signals for The Return Of Steyn. Big, big period coming up - 20 minutes until tea, Steyn sniffing a priceless ginger scalp...
From Adam in Lancs, TMS inbox:
"I don't know about Paul, but avidly following live text this afternoon is definitely lowering the standard of IT Support I'm currently providing."
1246: Eng 220-5
Yap yap yap go the jackals - out the way you hungry hounds, says Colly, smashing a full toss from Harris through the circle of close fielders for four to the midwicket fence. Single turned away by Bell, and Colly will stifle and kill in front of his stumps. Partnership to 61 runs, more importantly from 185 balls.
From Thom James, Lancaster, TMS inbox:
"Now come on peeps. I'm pretty new to this virtual-text-spectating experience, but Tom cannot be blamed for the collapse of our boys out there. Now lets do what we do best. Get behind the underdog, support the hopeless despite their enormous failings. Because from the ashes (no pun intended) of inadequacy and despair will rise the phoenix of complete dumbfounded ecstasy
if we pull this off that is. Otherwise, blame that Fordyce chap I say."
1242: Eng 214-5
A blustery wind threatens to lift Smith's sun-hat off his head at slip as Kallis rumbles in - he'll switch to round the wicket, and Colly will touch that angler away off his knees for one more. 41 overs left, 246 balls to go, 28 minutes until tea. Not that anyone can eat anything.
From Matthew Clark, TMS inbox:
"I work for a company which uses plant extracts to make cleaning products and I am currently doing the invoices. I have noticed that our orange oil based cleaner is selling well, notching up a good score this month. Another good omen I think. If anyone asks, we do not make anything with carrots in."
1238: Eng 210-5
Harris is complaining about the ball here - I'll take that. So much chat buzzing around Colly from the jackals around the bat that his head must surely explode. Somehow he stays stiff of resolve in the pressure-cooker atmosphere and sees off the set of six - another maiden, but who cares?
From Andrew Hills, TMS inbox:
"Has anyone heard from Paul in Lancs today? I hope he's alright. Maybe it's actually him that's the curse, not Tom."
1235: Eng 210-5
Four slips in now for Bell, a gully, a short leg - here comes Kallis, powering through the stiffening breeze like an ice-breaker pushing through the thick stuff - short, rapid, just about avoided by Bell. 43 overs left, 258 balls. My hands are shaking. Too early, Fordyce, too early.
From Alex in Sunderland, TMS inbox:
"Horrible, horrible stuff this. My boss has a lazy left eye, however he sits on my right, so I'm trying to flick between these updates and my system when I think he is looking right!"
1231: Eng 210-5
Six South African fielders within two feet of Colly. Quite how he's dealing with this I'll never know - by this stage I'd have impaled myself on my own blade, screaming and foaming at the mouth.
From Martin, London, TMS inbox:
"Who are all these johnnycomelatelys that want your head after one poor game? This must be what it's like being a Man City/Chelsea fan. Don't worry, there are still those of us at the back of the home end, chanting your name and wearing our 'Remember Cardiff' T-shirts. Colly and Fordyce, the dream team to take England to safety."
1227: Eng 207-5
There's a sub fielder on, parked out at square leg, and no-one seems to know who he is - looks like a cross between Lions skipper Paul O'Connell and deposed Bolton manager Gary Megson. I'll have words. Kallis kontinues, and Bell will leave those happily. We're at the halfway point in the day. Does that help at all?
From Matt, London, via text on 81111:
"Am trying to feed little Molly her first solid meal. The carrot won't budge. Is this another orange-topped omen?"
1223: Eng 206-5
So unsure was I there of the possible mockers-inducing nature of leaving the keyboard then that I considered doing something I haven't done since a car journey to Burnham-on-Crouch at the age of four. Teen. I joke, of course. About the last bit, anyway, Harris now, rhythmical chanting in the crowd, men crowded around the bat - Colly doesn't care, of course he doesn't, and he dead-bats away the whole lot. 101 balls he's survived now, 47 minutes until tea, 46 overs left in the match...
From Noel, Norfolk, TMS inbox:
"Hang on there just a minute. Just read Will from London's post at 1150ish and discovered much to my horror that Fordyce is at the reins. Admittedly I should have been paying more attention and spied it sooner but surely, surely, surely after yesterday's debacle he should be on brewing up duties and a long way from a keyboard??? All hope has just drained from my anxious body."
1219: Eng 206-5
Tommy's popped off to the John to see a man about a dog, so I've stepped into the breach for a moment. Oh, it's Stevo, by the way - Pranz is taking a well deserved breather today. Sharks Kallis is finally into the attack to try and dislodge the obdurate Colly, who gets an inside edge and a single down to fine leg. Bell sees off the rest of the over, and I'm thanking my lucky stars nothing bad happened in that over. See you later.
From Gary, Halifax, TMS inbox:
"The description of Dale Steyn steaming in at 700mph has intimidated me enough to drop my first ever 'free vend' coffee (new colleague engagement idea 2010, cups are smaller though) all over my crisply ironed shirt..."
1212: Eng 205-5
De Wet again, and Bell watches all six onto the middle of his dead bat. Phewy. This is awful. 48 overs left in the day, and here come drinks. Never before has 48 seemed so mountainous a digit.
From Chris (currently viewing this from behind sofa), TMS inbox:
"Tom, ignore Will. You seem to have got into your stride for this final day on our descent to the inner rings of hell or ascent to a higher plane of ecstasy. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
1207: Eng 205-5
How many more overs has Steyn got left in him in this spell? Looks like he's tiring a fraction - still rammed full of menace, don't get me wrong, but a touch more wayward. 0-13 off his six with the new ball, and how he hasn't got a scalp I'll never know.
From Noel, Norfolk, TMS inbox:
"From wikipedia - 'energetic
agile with great stamina
able to run all day
highly motivated to work
single-minded to the points of obsessiveness
' surely Colly is - ahem - a Collie?"
1204: Eng 205-5
First change of bowling since the new ball, and we'll have De Wet for a joust - thanks very much, says Bell, the average pace dropping at least 10kmph from Morkel's missiles, and the direction a whole heap of leave-alone. Two, touched off the pads. Overs left, you say? 50. 50! 300 deliveries. Which sounds better?
Geoff Boycott on TMS:
"If you really like your cricket, this is for you. You've got a bowler in Dale Steyn right at the top of his form racing in, bowling quickly and bowling well, and these two are gonna have to play pretty well to keep him out."
1158: Eng 203-5
Colly copping an absolute mouthful from Prince at short leg, and he's almost licking his lips with relish as the barbs fly in. Oh dear, that is ridiculous - Steyn is bowling like an absolute dream, and he beats Collingwood at least four times with unplayable doozies. Colly actually laughs as the last one screams past his outside edge, and Steyn joins in - he extends his follow-through down the track and gives Colly an exaggerated and mock-angry punch on the upper arm. Nice scenes.
From Ian, London, TMS inbox:
"Am currently giving my advent calendar from Christmas a makeover so that I can use it to count down the last 25 overs this afternoon. Being lazy with the clearing up has its merits."
1153: Eng 203-5
Morkel again, windmilling, roared on by the expectant hordes clapping and cheering behind the boundary boards - too full, and Bell leans into that one to drive calmly through cover for the three that takes England past the 200. Re 'RS' (see below) - if you did adopt this England pair, you imagine Colly would be an immensely loyal addition to the household. Bell, meanwhile, would need careful looking-after - particularly on Guy Fawkes Night, when you'd probably find him hiding in the cupboard under the stairs, curled up in a ball with his hands over his ears while fireworks fizz and explode in the distance.
From Will in London, TMS inbox:
"Tom, did you know that an anagram of Thomas Fordyce is 'Hey, sad comfort'? I feel that is exactly what Gina has just offered you. Now please bring Pranav or Ben back soon and we might still save this Test match."
1149: Eng 199-5
The three slips crouch low, hands on knees - short leg in too, yammering away under the dark green lid - oh, how has Colly survived that? Steyn is a jaffa machine at the moment, arcing them in towards off at a horrible zinging pace and then seaming them away at the last minute, and Colly can't get anywhere near them. Steyn can't believe he hasn't found a single edge - hands on hip, staring up at the cloudless sky. Did I mention the cloudless sky? It won't rain in Cape Town, not if they play through to dawn.
From RS, "working", TMS inbox:
"I just went on to my Yahoo email (other email providers are available) and the advertising banner at the top of the screen read "Adopt an Orang-utan now". Is this a good omen for our fiery red-haired couple in the middle? I would happily adopt both if they save the match."
1146: Eng 199-5
Tension so thick in the air out there you expect to see the ball make a visible trail through the atmosphere, in the style of Matrix bullets. Morkel tests Bell with a short spitter - worn on the left nipple as Bell leaps high and throws hands and bat low out of the way - and then a succession of should-I-shouldn't-I's in the Corridor of Errmm just outside off.
From Adam, Brum, TMS inbox:
"Re: Matt in London: Steve Waugh used to refer to Athers after his J'Burg heroics as the "Cockroach" due the difficulties to stamp him out. Maybe Colly's daemon would be the rat in our backyard that we can never get rid of?"
1142: Eng 199-5
An over that's the very dictionary definition of menace - Steyn, tearing in, the wind tugging at his short-sleeved shirt, full, fast - Colly beaten all ends up by three absolute jafferoos. Nervy, nervy period for England. How long till tea? An hour and a half, you say? Seriously?
1138: Eng 199-5
Let's get this straight - 58 overs left now. Make that 57 - Colly defends against Morkel again, watching three pass the outside edge before allowing one to angle onto his bat and dribble away for one to the leg-side. 18 runs now off 69 balls from the Durham Defender.
1132: Eng 198-5
Steyn, snarling, pumped, tears in - controlled off the open face by Bell for four past a diving third slip. Sweet. Waaghh, nothing sweet about the next one, spitting off a spiteful crack in the track and whistling past the outside edge. 348 balls left...
From Gina in Gloucestershire, TMS inbox:
"Tom - I feel you are being picked on, so I wanted to offer you my support. OK, you're not top of my list of pin-ups (Colly will take some dislodging from there) but I am offering you my hand of comfort and friendship and maybe a little cuddle. I am not Danish though, so you may not be too interested or impressed at all by that."
God bless you, Gina, and all who sail in you. I feel no shame in playing fourth fiddle to Lord Colly of Wobble - none at all.
1127: Eng 194-5
The England pair taking an age between overs, and slowing things up between deliveries as much as they can. Why not? A mere 360 balls to survive. Morkel, straight and fast - Colly dealing with him like a man on a beach playing French cricket, shovelling him off his toes with minimal backlift. Brisk wind buffeting the stands at Newlands, tugging at the cracking flags.
From Matt, London, TMS inbox:
"In the world of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy (Golden Compass being the film based on the first book), each person has a daemon that reflects their character. I think, in 1005 below, you've touched on Bell's - a vole. Collingwood's would have to be something obdurate but not over-bearing - a Shetland Pony? KP - a Peacock?"
1121: Eng 194-5
Steyn stalks back to his mark, turns and sprints in - outside off, going away, dabbed late by Colly for four through the gully. Leg-side in-dip, and Colly will turn those away for successive twos to the vacant spaces out beyond square leg. 60 overs to go - let's count them off...
From Ben Burton-Brown TMS inbox:
1115: Eng 185-5
Yup - new ball taken, and Morkel's the man to use it - that is brutal, instant lift shocking Bell and smashing into his gloves. The ball loops up and away, falling short of slip - looks like Bell had his hand off the glove when that hit, so he was safe either way. Whoosh - wide, going wider, taken by Boucher full length in front of first slip as the ghosts of Steve Harmison briefly possess the beanpole bowler. Strayer onto the pads - four clipped away to deep square leg by Bell as Harris lumbers round, cheeks puffed out, from fine leg. Ooof - another nasty lifter, skating past Bell's outside edge. It's all happening.
From Harold Harrison, Southampton, TMS inbox:
"I feel I am the TMS commentary version of Ian Bell - I can rack up the published comments in the games/sports that don't matter (your late night tennis games, your football commentary from the Carling Cup) but when the pressure's on I crumble quicker than a home-made cookie. Shame on you BBC for your fickle nature. We'll see who needs me when it's a late night Fed Cup game halfway around the world and Murray's nowhere to be seen."
1111: Eng 180-5
We're back again - searing heat, five men around the bat for Harris as he gets through the last over before the new ball - tickle from Bell to leg, and then Colly resumes his Maginot line impression.
From Tim, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"'I feel sick'. Tom, you really are Ian Bell. I have this image of him chundering up his sausage roll before walking out to bat after lunch and Colly just looking at him in utter disgust."
From Stewart, Bristol, TMS inbox:
"If we're on the subject of musicians occupying the crease, I think Elton John might be a good shout. Sure he might look a bit showy, but come the end of play, he'll be the one saying 'I'm still standing.'"
1031: LUNCH Eng 179-5
Duminy will have a twirl after all - faster, flatter - Colly, why? Needless slash outside off, and Boucher can't believe he didn't nick that. Squirter down leg, turned away fine - four. That'll be luncheon, and the important numbers are these: 62 overs left in the day, deficit of 286, five wickets in hand. I feel sick.
From Dom, Cumbria, TMS inbox:
"Surely what's required is a little bit of the 'Loaf - let's see the saffers deal with a Bat out of Hell. Rather than a bat from Bell. See what I did there?"
1027: Eng 175-5
Harris, half of Cape Town camped around the blade - ach, inside edge onto front pad, but the ball drops shy of the waiting Amla. Shorter, and Bell will slap that off the back foot for two deep into the covers. One more before lunch?
From Joe Clutterbrook, TMS inbox:
"The time for witticisms and banter is over. Let's all join together in blind faith and pray to the cricketing gods for a New Year miracle. As an aside I watched a diabolical portion of Christmas television scheduling a couple of weeks ago in the form of The Shaggy Dog in which our hero, former Home Improver Tim Allen, was accidentally bitten by a dog and subsequently took on canine form himself. Any chance of Boycs tucking into Ian Bell at lunch time?"
1023: Eng 173-5
De Wet again, short and straight mid-offs/ons in for Colly - not a glimmer of the stumps left showing as The Wall thrusts bat and pad forward. Leg-side strayer, and Colly dinks that away past square leg for two. Four runs off 45 balls from Colly, the very definition of stonewalling.
From Gary in Chester, via text on 81111:
"Do you think it's too early to start bringing on a change of gloves for the batsman? Well it worked against the Aussies."
1019: Eng 171-5
Three men in close on the off side, two men close in on the leg, plus Boucher as poucher, and Bell is having his ears torn off with a tornado of chat here. Harris pivots on that front foot and sends down a looper - ooh, left alone by Bell in a style horribly reminiscent of that dark, dark dismissal at Centurion. Stiffen that resolve, Belly.
From Simon Taylor, TMS inbox:
"Calvin, having been stuck outside Waterloo for 60 mins now on the delayed 0853 from Twickenham, may I suggest that the patience shown by my fellow passengers of Carriage B would handsomely qualify us all for a lengthy residence at the crease today."
1015: Eng 169-5
We'll have some Friedel de Wet here - thought we might have some tweak from JP Duminy, but FdW it is - full, dipping in to Bell's pads, and that's clipped away with dreamy timing to midwicket, where the adrenalised Steyn makes a fine sliding save. De Wet only operating at 75% pace there, I'd say. 67 overs left in the day, 297 needed to win. It's under 300!
From Will, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"What about Pete Townsend? He could be a good Substitute. What he would do to the bat when he got out would also be pretty amusing."
1010: Eng 168-5
20 minutes before lunch, and Harris calls for more men round the bat - slip, short gully, silly point, forward short leg. Colly ignores them all, defending with dead-eyed resolution. All hail El Gingero Magnifico.
From Phil Hagen, TMS inbox:
"Please Tom, name your price - with the number of people watching the text commentary we should be able to arrange a suitable whip-round to financially compensate you for leaving your position now before it's too late. Think about it - if you leave whilst Swanny is still in the hutch we can even afford another wicket before tea!"
1005: Eng 168-5
Steyn, eyes out on stalks - dead-bat from Bell, blinking like a vole under his gleaming metal helmet grille. Oh, super drive through the covers - he'll pick up four for that, which makes up for the fact that the four I gave him earlier was actually a three. Apologies, Bellophiles. Complete silence from Gary Jones (see 0951). I'm finished, aren't I?
From Calvin, Sheffield, TMS inbox:
"Re: Twisted Deviant 0945 - While Eddie might have a good first-class average, his temperament doesn't lend to obdurate crease minding. Perhaps a better choice would be Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. He's hung on for years with no dramas and a reliably safe pair of hands. Also good for chants of 'Charlie, Watts the Score? Charlie, Charlie, Watts the Score?'"
1000: Eng 164-5
Ian Bell: your time is now. This is your day. Silence the doubters. End the criticism. Dabber outside off, four though backward point. That's my boy.
From Gabes, Cambs, TMS inbox:
"In the famously tight Chandigarh Test in 2001, England set India five to win in the second innings, which they just managed to do, in two balls. The 2006 match was a bit better - they at least lost a wicket on the way to the 144 they needed. I'm wondering if we have actually won any games at 'C' grounds?"
0956: Eng 160-5
Super bowl, angling back in from outside off to thrash the stump clean out of the ground. Maybe Trott could have closed the gap between bat and pad, but it's too late for regrets - timber everywhere, and that is a hammer blow for England's hopes.
From From Alex in snow-free Prague, TMS inbox:
"All we can hope is that the lack of grit in the UK at the moment is not due to the freak weather, but rather because Colly ate it all before leaving for South Africa in the knowledge that he'd have draw on those reserves today."
0955: WICKET Trott b Steyn 42, Eng 160-5
Steyn now, replacing the heavily-sweating Kallis - sneering snarl on his bronzed face, and Trott gets right forward with left elbow high in the sky to block away. BOWLED HIM!
From Gary Jones, TMS inbox:
"Tom, would you like me to ask my daughter's purple ball what your own future will hold?"
Do it, Jonesy. Although if it's bad news, keep it to yourself.
0949: Eng 160-4
20 balls without scoring from Colly now - he looks as bothered by that as the love-child of Boycott and Tavare. Ole! Single off the hip to get off the burgeoning duck. Rumours that Friedel de Wet has a dicky back and might not bowl at full whack today. Clutch at these straws, I say - clutch for all you are worth.
From Twisted Deviant, TMS inbox:
"Writing away at home on my computer while flicking to the Live Text here and there. I'm looking at the Iron Maiden calendar my sister got me for Xmas and a maniacal Eddie brandishing a cricket bat for the January theme. How we could do with him at the crease now."
0945: Eng 159-4
Harris skips in, his sand-filled footholds like stepping-stones on the grassy pond of the outfield - yikes, big turn again, and Trott prods at the thinnest of air. Skipper Smith caterwauls at slip.
From Steve, Bristol, TMS inbox:
"Tom - maybe we should be counting in balls per batsman to survive? Approx. 80 overs = 480 balls, ÷ 6 batsmen = 80 balls each, or just over 12 overs. Easily doable - have faith in the redoubtable, Collingwood and Trott!"
0941: Eng 159-4
Short and straight mid-off in for Colly against Kallis after Trott turns another single off his knee-roll. Kallis rumbles in, his Cadfael tonsure causing his balding pate to wink in the bright sun like an enamel plate - outside off, left alone. Change in the field now - forward short leg, that short mid-off switching to mid-on to make for a curiously crowded leg-side field.
From ex-pat Andy in East London SA, TMS inbox:
"Good. Nightwatchman out, now we can push the run rate. Doubt we will need all those overs."
0936: Eng 158-4
I hope Colly's got someone to slather his exposed areas in factor 50 - the back of his neck is already pinking worryingly in this harsh midday sun. Darter Harris getting turn here, and if that doesn't scare you, nothing will. Maiden.
From Fergal Madigan, TMS inbox:
"Re: 0918 - I agree that it's crunch time for Fordyce. It's immensely frustrating given that we've seen his natural talent in other forays - rugby blogs, best-selling books, albeit under the watchful eye of Dirs - to see him responsible for such a litany of batting collapses through misplaced wordplay. Perhaps a bit of time away from the pressures of TMS live text, maybe at the Daily Mail's live updates, will give him the skills to cope with the big occasion."
0930: Eng 158-4
You know what hurts me most about this 'Curse of Fordyce' slander? How quickly people forget Centurion. Who was on duty as England sealed that match? Who was there when our batsmen established that massive first-innings lead? I won't even mention Lord's last summer, Chester-le-Street, erm, the best bits of Edgbaston... Kallis again, and Trott will duck low under three skiddy bouncers. Nice - two turned off the toes, three driven through the covers. Glimpse of Jimmy Anderson up there on the England balcony, shaking his head and grimacing as Stuart Broad nods sympathetically and pats him manfully on the knee. Drinks.
0923: Eng 153-4
Colly the new man, England wobbling - bounce from Harris, deflection, Kallis at slip - caught! Umpire Hill's given it, but Colly asks for an instant referral. Let's have a look at this - come on, nowhere near the bat, straight off the thigh pad. Reprieve!
From Mike in Vilnius, TMS inbox:
"If Tom is the Bell of commentators, I'm hoping it's bellicose or belligerent rather than belly-up."
0919: Eng 153-4
If this is a portent of how England's luck will be today, there's all sorts of trouble in the air - Harris serves up a juicy full toss and Anderson sweeps with relish - down onto his own toe and straight to Prince at leg slip. The fielder had only moved up there the ball before, too - Boucher signalled for him to come up, with Skipper Smith uninvolved. 80 overs left now, six wickets, the deficit 313 - unhappy maths, non?
0918: WICKET Anderson c Prince b Harris 9, Eng 153-4
From Phil 'captain America' Adcock, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"In all truth Tom is the Bell of the TMS line-up - he looks good on paper but cracks at the very first sign of pressure. You need a big innings today my boy."
0914: Eng 148-3
Smith signals for some Shark, and Kallis fancies this - over the wicket, across Anderson's bows and scooting past the outside edge with frightening regularity. Smith screams at slip, but the only noise as the ball passed the bat was Anderson's sharp intake of breath.
From Chris in Singapore, TMS inbox:
"Not wanting to devalue other comments, but I believe the key word was not lost a 'tight' Test in reference to the 'C' grounds - of course if this game was to slip away quickly, it would no longer be tight and the observation would still be true."
0910: Eng 148-3
Oh, the runs are flowing - full toss from Harris, big pace forward from Trott, middled away with classy control for four between extra cover and mid-on. 35 minutes survived - multiply that by seven and we're home and hosed. Roughly-speaking.
From Keith Edwards, TMS inbox:
"Tom. Today is the day you silence all your doubters, all the people who say you can't bring England wickets and runs when it really counts. Sure, you've had your moments, but it has often been on the back of Pranav's good work. But not today. Today is the day you will carve an innings of substance. I have total faith."
0905: Eng 144-3
Morkel again, charging into the stumps like a runaway crane - short, lifty, zipping past Anderson's outside edge. That one's onto the hips, and Anderson draws the first cheers of the day from the England fans by turning it away to long leg for two. 322 runs for victory...
Duncan Fletcher on TMS:
"Bounce is more critical than turn sometimes for the spinner, and Paul Harris has got a couple to bounce sharply already."
0901: Eng 142-3
Paul Harris will have a dart, his sleeves rolled high, his tousled mop bleached at the tips like the third member of Black Lace. Ooof - big turn, and Trott is beaten by that. Boucher yelps and flings the ball into the air hopefully.
0857: Eng 141-3
Another old-fashioned scorcher at Newlands, the outfield a rich green, the sky an unblemished blue, Table Mountain a massive dun presence just beyond the boundary. Casual controlled cut from Trott for two to move to 31. Just 84 overs left to survive.
From Keith Edwards, TMS inbox:
"Christchurch, 1983 - England lost by an innings, making 82 and 93. I think we'll do without the 'C' word, shall we?"
0853: Eng 139-3
For some reason, Anderson is playing with the expansive ease of one of the great attacking left-handers - big drives outside off, feet anchored - it's like Banger never went away, with the difference that Anderson hasn't laid willow on a single one.
From Rob, Kingston, TMS inbox:
"Re 0826: Calcutta is properly called Kolkata... So England's record in towns/cities beginning with C is safe. Unless we've lost in Christchurch, Canterbury, Chennai, Colombo, Cuttack, Chandigarh, Centurion, Chittagong, Chester-le-Street or Cairns."
0848: Eng 139-3
Morkel, all arms and legs - well there's some torso and head in there too, to be fair - full, outside off, and Trott leans into that to take a three to deep extra cover. Morkel doesn't mind - he's have a pop at Anderson now - and the nightwatchman responds by aiming a Richie Richardson drive at one wide of off. Easy now, Jimbo.
From Rebecca in Zurich, TMS inbox:
"Sorry to dampen the 'C' theory, but what about Colombo?"
0843: Eng 135-3
Steyn, an energised anger smeared all over his chops - well played Jimmy, up on the toes and dabbed away to point for a scampered single. Trott gets forward and blocks before turning one off the pads for another single. We'll get 'em in singles, as George Hirst famously said. In 1902. 263 needed to win on that day, and after being 48-5 England knocked them off. It does
happen, you know...
From Nicholas Agg-Manning, TMS inbox:
"Think Rourke's Drift was a very honourable draw - we certainly did not lose it - but we did the one-dayer staged the day before at Isandlwana..."
0839: Eng 133-3
Morkel now, the big danger-man on this track, you'd think - tall, cantering in - oh, that's a dirty brute of a delivery, jagging back in at blistering pace and cannoning straight into Trott's crackerjacks. Even the stony-faced Kallis at slips allows himself a small wince. Trott, rattled and teary of eye, wafts at one that straightens outside off and nearly thins through to Boucher. 332 needed for the win...
From Gary Jones, TMS inbox:
"Morning and sorry to be a prophet of doom but my daughter has a purple crystal ball thing you ask a question to, shake and it gives you the answer in a lit up triangle on its screen. So I asked it if England would win or save the Test and it replied "I don't think so, silly". Assuming it must not have mis-understood my question I tried again and added a bit of extra info on Trott's average and Swann's purple patch of late. It answered "smelly feet".
0833: Eng 133-3
Here we go - Jonathan 'They Shall Not Pass' Trott, accompanied by James 'They Probably Will At Some Stage' Anderson. Big noise from flag-waving fans around the ground - it'll be Dale Steyn to come tearing in... straight, defended doughtily by Trott. 539 balls to go - knock 'em off, boys, knock 'em off. Single dinked away to leg, and the chase is on. Ish.
A possibly spurious 'fact' from a colleague to my right: England have never lost a tight Test in a town/city beginning with the the letter 'C'. Cardiff. Centurion. Erm, Colchester. Who said Calcutta?
The great rearguard actions of all time - Cardiff '09, Jo'burg '95, Rourke's Drift - hold on, did we lose Rourke's Drift?
Come on - I was never going to miss this, was I?
No sooner had I typed those words than in walked the man himself. So while he divests himself of associated pieces of snow-repellant apparel, let me remind you of the situation - England are 1-0 up in the series and need to bat through the final day to keep that lead heading into the final Test at Johannesburg, while South Africa need seven wickets to even things up. Alternatively - and don't get too excited at this stage - England need to score another 334 runs for the greatest victory since Test cricket began.
Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, and since some of you have no place to go.......yes, it's the final day of the Cape Town Test, so clean those fingernails and prepare to chew. Mr Fordyce isn't here yet, but a search party has been sent out from TVC and I expect the witty wordsmith of W12 to be with us shortly.