Thank you for a phenomenal day of contributions. Marvellous. Benjamin of Dirsyshire is back in tomorrow. Tune in for more of the same. Bye.
From Ken Griffin, Canton, TMS inbox:
"I was really disappointed there was no play all day today. But then I turned my radio volume up to 5."
Play has officially been abandoned for the day - repeat - play has been abandoned for the day
. I've rather enjoyed it.
From Steve in Wiltshire, TMS inbox:
"I've seen this film. This is the one where dinosaurs come onto the pitch at the end and eat the Saffas. Poor Cap'n Smith dies particularly horribly followed a by lighter moment when the 'Rex burps and winks at the camera. "
From Ben, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"Re - 1520: After all the Hollywood predictions about the inevitable rise of the machines beginning in LA or somewhere equally glamourous, it'd make sense that it would actually occur where we least expect it. At least they won't be able to make a film out of it, they'd have to spend the entire first hour explaining what cricket is, and even then Andrew Strauss would probably be played by Matt Damon."
23 balls, we had there. Worth the three-hour wait?
From Rob, Northants, TMS inbox:
"I've got the game on in the other room. My 2& 1/2 year old son has commented that Amla needs to hit it with his bat, the girl (Sidebottom) is bowling and the man in the hat can catch it. I reckon he could be onto something."
1545: SA 215-2
Youch - Broad fizzes one in short and Kallis, ponderous like an elephant hit by a tranquiliser dart, wears it on the pec. Light meters out again here - they're going off!
From Fred Warman, TMS inbox:
"If Gary Jones has been dancing outside the Golden Fleece since 0745, no wonder it has stopped raining. Poor chap must be exhausted by now."
1538: SA 212-2
Siders now, red of face and bouncing of barnet - angled across Kallis, and the ball takes a thick outside edge to squeeze away between gully and third slip for three down to third man. Siders clutches his head in rather over-dramatic fashion.
From Jeff, hungry at work, TMS inbox:
"The anagram of Bruno Iuliano is No rain u boil u, enough said."
1533: SA 209-2
Here they come - which is the signal to manually refresh
. Much obliged. Hashim Amla takes a single off Siders's remainder before Broad is handed the ball at the other end. Amla's not interested in any of those tempters outside off; maiden. Trying to keep half an eye on the scorecard, to be honest. I'm half-expecting it to lurch into life and start lumbering around the outfield, pursued by Megan Fox.
From Fergus Mitchell, TMS inbox:
"Re: Bruno, 14:50. Strong riposte, that. Ouch. Only took you the best part of three hours. Just what I would expect from a non-BBC supporting type."
Apparently our scorecard is claiming the match has been delayed by crowd trouble. Dirty lies, all of it. Unsettling development too, an automated scorecard deciding to take things into its own hands. Does this signal the Rise Of The Machines?
From Judith in Manchester, TMS inbox:
"Re: Bruno. I take everything I read here very seriously. Everything I know about Caroline of Brunswick was learnt on this blog. Thanks cricket fans."
Yup - we'll start in 20 minutes. 14.3 overs left in the day. Moisture in the air, moisture in the pitch - anyone fancy it?
From Sean, praying for ducks on the pitch, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"I'd have to agree with Matt. My lass is like the nodding Churchill Dog when with her mates. Jowels included."
Breaking news (cue flashing 24-hour news channel style graphics, drum rolls, neon flashes) - we'll have another inspection at 1510, with a view to a start at 1530. And now for the weather. Oh - hold on...
From Bruno Iuliano, TMS inbox:
"Apologies to any sad, deluded, stereotypical English sports fans who took my comments to heart."
Do I need to spell out what that graphic is meant to convey? Exactly - doom. Doom for England, doom for delays, doom for draws. And boom boom boom for South Africa. Hold on - who's this in the TMS inbox?
From Jenny in Herts, TMS inbox:
"Maybe the girls Matt knows don't think he'd understand banter."
Here come the umpires for a look. Pitch looks decent. Issue might be the bowlers' run-ups. The officials are rolling a ball about on the outfield, in their white shirts and hats looking for all the world like David Bryant and Tony Allcock.
From Matt in Buckhurst Hill, TMS inbox:
"How do we know Gina really is a girl? Most girls I know aren't very good at banter, preferring to agree rather earnestly with their girly pals on everything - yet Gina is a natural banter meister. Highly suspicious."
Ridiculous though it seems, I think we'll be back on some time soon. Somehow those puddles - those lakes - have evaporated. The answer's in the question, isn't it?
From Col, Paris, TMS inbox:
"One hopes that the umpires aren't filling this break in play with any baize or cue-related activities. Poor Tone wouldn't stand a chance. "
For all you pitch inspection fans, umpires Steve Davis and Tony Hill will be wandering out at 1445 GMT
to inspect the post-rain deluge damage. On a slight tangent, wasn't Tony Hill a character in Eastenders?
From Nate, NW8, TMS inbox:
"Biased BBC, It's a disgrace to the game, Je t'aime le Wandner."
Just hearing that third umpire Daryl Harper had his volume dial set on four out of 10 when Smith's caught behind appeal was referred to him this morning. This just gets more ludicrous by the hour. Expect statements from the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the International Cricket Council in an attempt to mollify this debacle.
From Roy, Norwich, text 81111:
"Haiku time - Raining in Bullring, Saffer hopes were washed away; English rose: Gina."
From Rich, West Mids, TMS inbox:
"I'm inside the Bullring and can't see a spot of rain. Mind you, I can't see the pitch either, just masses of shopping bag-laden Midlanders. Oh, hang on
Jonathan Agnew on Twitter:
"Vaughan reckons we will still get play today. Can't believe it - bet him a bottle of decent chardonnay."
The Wanderers groundstaff shepherd huge swathes of stagnant rainwater off the pitch with rakes although, miraculously, a lot of the excess liquid has been soaked up in the Highveld humidity. Oh dear, it's started raining again.
From Phil, Henlow, TMS inbox:
"Stereotypical David (12.30): I presume you mean Chandler Bing, rather than Raymond Chandler. For a moment I was beginning to relish how the great scribbler would have described events. 'Parktown didn't seem too far away but there it was dry and here you couldn't smoke a cigarette the rain was so hard. Didn't make sense. The neon lights flashed the score and that didn't make any sense either. Nothing made sense any more, not even that dame Gina.'"
From Rob Coleridge, TMS inbox:
"(Opening trumpet solo of 2001 A Space Odyssey music) - Swanny lobs a poor one down the track, and Amla hurls his bat at the ball, launching it sky high into the air. Straussy, KP, Prior et al, roll their lips back grinning with their ivory white teeth, the ball soars higher and higher, the chattering and 'catch-it-ing' cries become more insistent. In achingly slow motion the ball breaks through the atmosphere as if to disappear off into space rather than fall to a desperate fielder, but no! (Cue great 2001 Crescendo) - A white gloved hand shoots out to take the catch, the camera pans to mirror visored astronaut, which folds back as he turns from the sun, to reveal Freddie, in his England Cap, saving the day from outer space."
The outfield is now completely underwater. Gary Jones, a nation salutes you. Signal from the boss here is that we'll take a pause there. C'est bon?
From Ivan, TMS inbox:
I am in Parktown a kilometer away from the bullring and it's not raining I call this witchcraft by the Poms."
From Pete in Hampshire, TMS inbox:
"Andy from Cheshire roars out of the seething black cloud base in his crop-spraying bi-plane and barrel-rolls over the ground. The iodide has arrived at last. The English Fans, soaking wet but unbowed (particularly Gina, of course) take light meters out of their pockets and raise them above their heads in silent and heartfelt tribute. Then the cheering starts
Still whacking it down with rain. Not a breath of wind to shift it. And more thunder...
From Mark in Portsmouth, TMS inbox:
"Bruno Iuliano in a bizarre Kaizer Soze twist is actually Eric 'Not very good for a BBC supported site' Wandner, I bet his limp is fading as I type."
From David, sad, deluded, stereotypical English sports fan, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"I have to say, Bruno's comment just made my day. How long has Fordyce been doing this gig? Has Bruno been checking these updates for the past few years, just seething with rage until he finally could take no more and just exploded in a mildly underwhelming Chandler-mimicking ('could your commentary BE any more biased') email?"
From Geoff, Berkshire, TMS inbox:
"Flintoff, in leg braces, awkwardly stumbles onto the field, the South African players laughing and pointing. Gina from Gloucestershire shouts in her characteristic Southern States (counties) drawl: "Run Freddie, run". Freddie stumbles at first, then, as he gets faster, his leg braces break apart and he's sprinting across the field towards the wicket, ball in hand. He delivers a blistering ball that explodes Kallis's stumps."
Whoah! Claps of thunder exploding all around. Non-natives are panicking and sprinting for the hills. Wrong option, boys.
From Adrian Horsewood, TMS inbox:
"How are we to take Bruno Iuliano seriously without the mandatory 'not very good for a BBC-supported site'?"
It's smashing it down. This could stay soggy for a while. Who's nearest the champagne?
From Chris, TMS inbox:
"Bruno weren't you in a movie of the same name recently?"
1209: SA 207-2
Come on Siders - run through them, man, run through them... Two slips and a gully in, surprise bumper, and Amla pulls off the splice just past the scrambling Colly at short mid-on. Is that rain in the air? It is, you know.. we're off!
From Bruno Iuliano, TMS inbox:
"Could your commentary be any more biased? Rather than playing up to the sad, deluded, stereotypical English sports fan, try acting like a professional."
1204: SA 203-2
It's only Jacques Kallis in next. What's he ever done? What's that? 10,633 Test runs? 33 centuries? Ah.
From Pete, Loughborough, TMS inbox:
"Re: Steve Jarratt. Does the big twist come when Tony Hills (played by Jeremy Irons doing a bad German accent) reminds Captain Strauss that substitutes are not permitted to bowl and South Africa go on to complete a crushing victory? Not a 'feelgood' ending, I'll grant you, but one you probably wouldn't see coming."
1201: SA 201-2
Just enough hoop on that from Siders to draw the edge, and Strauss did the rest at first slip. In even better news, fat, dark clouds are gathering. The groundstaff have even donned their cagoules. Fear us, South Africa, fear us!
1158: WICKET Smith c Strauss b Sidebottom 105, SA 201-2
The comeback starts here...
From James, Devon, TMS inbox:
"Re Steve Jarratt...the camera pulls back to reveal the great Freddie, trundling onto the field of play in a motorised chair. One leg juts out in front of the totem player encased in plaster of paris from his recent knee surgery keeping him from claiming another IPL fortune. John Williams soundtrack ends abruptly as Fred's chair gets a wheel stuck in a divot and he's dumped unceremoniously on his strapping backside."
1151: SA 197-1
We'll have some more Sidebottom out there. Wicketless from his 13 overs so far, but if he can winkle out Smith here all will be forgive... short, wide, slashed away for the four that takes Smith to his ton. Super knock - his first 50 came off 105 balls, his second 77 as pedal met metal, and that's back-to-back Test hundreds for the skipper. Well played, sir. Even if you were out on 15.
From Joe Brynes, TMS inbox:
"Steve Jaratt - you delivered that so nicely with such anticipation, my heart genuinely swelled when you dropped the Flintoff bomb. I haven't felt that fulfilled since I landed the role of the Pharaoh is my prep school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat."
1147: SA 187-1
Jim's looking weary here - wide, touch of movement, but Smith gets lucky with an outside edge that races past third slip for four more. 99 now for the big unit, the lead to seven, and the hope leaks out of England like air from a punctured lilo.
From Patrick Peake, TMS inbox:
"(Said in the cigarette-laden tones of voice over man) 'In a world where wickets are a priceless commodity one man shall hold the key to victory.....his name........err........' Any ideas?"
1143: SA 180-1
Short again at Amla - jabbed down to Anderson in the gully. Amla goes for a short panicked walk and is almost run out as Jimmy hurls at the timbers. Direct hit would have seen him off, I think. Short again to Smith - come on Broady, mix it up - and the skip will tickle that away for two more down to fine leg. Parity, for a brief moment at least.
From Pete Rowden, TMS inbox:
"Gina meets man (played by Christopher Walken) in Cheltenham pub. They discuss cricket, particulary TMS. It's love. They go back to Walken's place. Gina disrobes, to reveal she is in fact Mick Channon, " You is a luverrly filly" says Mick. Walken does a gliding dance a la the video for Weapon of Choice, and they tiptoe into a Gloucestershire sunset across a cricket pitch, where Gooch is in the nets. "Nice one Mick," he yells. FIN"
1138: SA 176-1
Smith, arm-guard Velcroed into place, green helmet, big white sausages of gloves - big boot down the track, driven straight for two. 90 now for the skipper, and not even a sniff of swing. Trouble.
From James, Kent, TMS inbox:
"RE The Gina Rom Com - Now Beesey's Tense Thriller. I'm thinking we'd need another twist, maybe Gina could out psycho Ray Liotta (other actors also available etc etc) and be using TMS to compile a list of victims to pick off one by one."
1132: SA 174-1
Doesn't like it up 'im, Amla, but he does like it full - edgy drive past backward point for four more. Anderson kicks the crease and stalks back to his mark. Rapid steepler next up - fended up, up, up - surely someone's got to catch thi... no, it somehow falls safe between three onrushing fielders. looks of disbelief on English faces.
From Steve Jarratt, TMS inbox:
"What we need is for someone to get injured in the field. Images of the poor guy being carried off are intercut with close-up shots his replacement - pulling on his jumper, slotting sunglasses into his pocket, doffing a white, wide-brimmed hat - to the quiet strains of the Indian Jones theme. As the stirring orchestral chords swell, the camera pans around the faces of the shocked South African supporters. With the Indy theme now blasting out, the brim of the hat tilts up to reveal Flintoff - rested and ready for action."
1125: SA 166-1
Broad tries some more short stuff - decent aim on that one, right up at Amla's snout, fended up and away from the hovering fielders.
From Gina, Gloucestershire, TMS inbox:
"That the man I met last night has not written in; is it he is not on the website today? Or I have upset him? Or he didn't like me anyway? None of those are good options, are they? So no 'complete me' placards can be expected, although I am now dreaming of Colly holding up such a sign for me."
1120: SA 166-1
Anderson from the golf club end, two men straight on the drive - Smith takes a giant stride forward and smothers and squashes. Re the Gina placard moment - could we have a Hollywood-style standing ovation, the sort started by a solitary clapper who initially draws only stares but is then joined by another - and then another, and another, the claps speeding up and increasing in volume, until the entire ground is cheering and roaring? Maiden.
From Beesey, Wales, TMS inbox:
"Re: The Gina Rom-com , I'm more of a tense thriller man myself - how about a plot where this chap is a crazed psycho who has hacked into her laptop and wormed his way into her affections by pretending to be a fellow TMS watcher. Ray Liotta would be perfect for the role."
1115: SA 166-1
The soaring sax sounds of Guru Josh's 'Infinity' fill the Wanderers air as the players return. We'll have Stupot Broad to resume - two slips, gully, two leg gullies, round the wicket - huge bouncer, way over both batsman and stumper - four wides. Inauspicious.
From Mark C, Cumbria, TMS inbox:
"Re: Peter and the implausible film plot. Gina would reply 'You had me at 'Are you the Gina from the BBC website coverage?'"
From Jamie, Liverpool, TMS inbox:
"RE: Robert UK, I always wondered whatever became of the DJ and producer of the classic 90s dance track classic 'Children', good to see he's keeping up the good work in the sound industry."
From Iain, Birmingham, text 81111:
"What England need here is an 80s-style montage of wicket-taking complete with power ballad inspirational music."
From Peter, London, TMS inbox:
"RE: Andy L from Cambridge. All implausible sporting movies must also have a romantic element. How about just as Straussy and the team are walking off after bowling out the Saffers we see the man Gina met last night running on to the pitch waving a large placard reading 'Gina - you complete me'?"
From Christian, Cornwall, TMS inbox:
"Re: Tom Collins and Mr Rickman's sledging, if I were to place a legendary English actor into the field for sledging purposes I would look no further than Brian Blessed, imagine the look on the Saffa faces as something akin to a jet fighter engine starting rumbles to their side."
From Robert Miles, UK, TMS inbox:
"As a sound engineer involved in many cricket tournaments around the world for TV, in my experience, we have not routinely given the third umpire any audio, apart from communications with the TV director, only a tv monitor, which is what has been requested by the cricket authorities. Having not worked on a game with this new review system, perhaps this will be looked into, however sounds can also be misleading, especially if played at slow speeds with the pictures, as they might not be accurately in sync. Microphones are not magic - they will pick up all sounds around the wicket - not just the ones we are most interested in."
From Ben, TMS inbox:
"RE: Andy L from Cambridge...I'm welling up, man!"
1032: LUNCH SA 160-1
Nothing there for Anderson at all, and that's the break. South Africa 20 runs behind, nine wickets in hand, both batsmen set and Jacques Kallis to come in next. Brandy it is...
From Andy L, Cambridge, TMS inbox:
"Why can't life be like one of those implausible sports movies: Straussy gathers the troops at lunch to remind them of their impoverished roots: Jimmy rescued from the coal face in Burnley as a wee lad; Siders saved you from a life of scaring birds; KP, found wandering the African savannah eating wild honey and antelope. With orchestral notes rising, our veteran captain implores them, having achieved so much, to give every ounce of remaining energy in one final do or die session. Roaring with intent they charge out post lunch to bowl them out for 179. Just imagine."
1027: SA 156-1
Colly's doing his best here, but even this chirpiest of optimists is starting to look a little melancholic of mouth. Three singles, one more over before luncheon. A chap in the crowd can't be bothered waiting - he up-ends a family pack of crisps and allows the contents to pour into his upturned mouth, for all the world like a man who hasn't eaten in a week.
From Dr Dick, St.Neots (also wearing brown trousers coincidentally), TMS inbox:
"Gina, never mind all this business of secret hand shakes... I would suggest you stray away from any sort of body contact until you can confirm or otherwise how genuine this chancer is... Did you check if he had his trousers tucked in his socks, or was wearing bicycle clips... I feel sure my fellow text commentary followers will confirm that is our standard dress code at times like this."
1023: SA 156-1
Strauss decides to bring Anderson back into the attack for a pre-lunch rumble. I've seen better gambits - Amla goes on the uncharacteristic assault, thrashing and dashing - four, edged over the empty fourth slip slot, four more driven authentically through the covers. That's his half-century, and the England total hoves into view.
From Phil, Southport, TMS inbox:
"I don't think a secret handshake is required as the hunched shoulders and despairing suicidal look of people who have endured days of intolerable pain and heartache is going to give us away."
1017: SA 143-1
Smith's made his mind up - he slog-sweeps at Swann again, and although it's more toe-end than middle it'll roll away to the deep midwicket fence. 81 now for the skipper, and a heavy sense of doom hangs in the air.
From Terry in Romania, TMS inbox:
"Re. secret live text handshake. Surely the this should vary depending upon the predicament in which our brave boys find themselves. For example, my current suggestion is a limp-wristed shake, eyes glazed, with free hand placed upon forehead in classic 'I can't believe this is happening' pose."
1011: SA 135-1
Amla's playing Colly as if he's Waqar Younis. Not quite sure why, but it's a strawberry blond straw to clutch. Maiden. Re Wayne below - do the Masters of Rehabilitation step in when the Masters of the Universe pull a hamstring?
From Wayne Ackerman, TMS inbox:
"We are busy with one of our Masters of Rehabilitation exams at the University of Southern Denmark. Really pleased for your text updates in between."
1007: SA 135-1
We return to the Battle of SwannSmith. Skip down the track by the big man, mighty mow over mid-on for four. Intent signalled.
From Rory, bored of revising, TMS inbox:
"Fordyce if you're going to hand over to the mighty Soneji you need to let us know, instantaneously everyone in the country reading this will start to feel more upbeat and the cricketing Gods will sense this, giving rise to six wickets in an over for Swann. Try it again, go on I dare you."
1003: SA 131-1
Colly will have a wobble here. It's come to that already. Smith walks down the track to meet him, licking the lips, rubbing the tummy - just the single, but you fancy Smith saw that as the mere hors d'oeuvre.
From Ross, TMS inbox:
"Gina, are you in love already? To you, this man is 'amazing' already, to all us blokes, he's chanced his arm and won. Now if only Swanny can do the same..."
0959: SA 130-1
Swann's trying to tempt Amla here - he's left a gap in the field at extra cover to draw the drive so he can fizz one through the gaping gate. Amla stays watchful until the final ball, when he side-steps down the track and lofts wilfully - the ball flies high into the leg side, and can the sprinting Strauss get there? Nope - shy by two yards. Not going for England this morning.
From Chris, Newcastle, TMS inbox:
"My favourite part of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was where Messers Costner and Freeman manage to walk from Dover to Nottingham IN A DAY and still have time for a jolly good scrap with some ne'er-do-wells on Hadrian's Wall on the way. Looks like England require something equally implausible to happen to escape with anything from this game."
0956: SA 128-1
The grimmest news yet for England - in a desperate move, I handed the reins to Pranav for those last two overs. Nothing. Not a squeak. Broad goes short and wide, and Smith will slap that away for a muscualr pulveriser of a four. Hmmm.
From Phil, Southport, TMS inbox:
"I think in cases like Gina's we need to devise a BBC cricket web commentary secret handshake, should we ever meet in real life. It looks like this...oh wait you can't see me can you."
0953: SA 124-1
More smiting from Smith, this time through midwicket off the Swannatron from around the wicket. The burly South African captain is booked in for full board (full English for Smithy's brekkie?) as he neatly turns a delivery off his hips for a single.
0950: SA 120-1
Smith, parched lips quenched with luminous sports beverage in a sponsored bottle, tucks a delivery on leg stump from Broad off his pads for a simple boundary past fine leg. The words "peas" and "shelling" spring to mind.
0941: SA 115-1
Time for one more before beverages, and Smith will sup on 56 not out after another thunking four is driven away through the covers. Come on, Nelson - England expects. Rather desperately.
From Doug Simmonds, TMS inbox:
"Gina, the man was clearly running out of conversation and happened to strike gold."
0936: SA 106-1
Delightful little duel between Smith and Swann, this - the twirler tempts with floaty winkers, and Smith is drawn forward into falseness. Swann then tries a rapid arm-ball but Smith has second-guessed him - whipped away off the pads for runs behind square.
From Gina, Gloucestershire, TMS inbox:
"Was out last night in Cheltenham and got speaking to a nice bloke. When I informed him of my name, he asked if I was the same Gina on the BBC cricket web commentary! How is that for spooky, and rather amazing too?"
0931: SA 102-1
Broad to return, always up for a rumble. Amla tries to steal a single to Colly, and that takes plums - fling at the timbers, but where's the man backing up? Overthrows, four of them, and England can't afford to fling away freebies. Loose down leg up next, and Smith will munch on those all day long - four more, clipped away with ease, and that's the big man's half-century. England on the slide. Or slaarde, if you're Shaun Pollock.
From Stan, Walsall, TMS inbox:
"Talking of films, Daryl Harper would make a great Hollywood baddie. He could be like the shady Presidential adviser in Independence Day - close to the centre of power but clearly useless at the job he's paid for."
0926: SA 89-1
Yup, it's Swann o'clock - can he conjure up his usual first over strike? Smith advances - leading edge - oh, just wide of mid-off. Swann scowls, flicks the ball from hand to hand and dances in again - BAAGHHH! Absolute doozy, drawing Smith forward, biting in the track and fizzing past the outside edge. Smell the leather.
From Andy, Cheshire, TMS inbox:
"I was in the Officer Training Corps back in the seventies, and have quite a few air miles racked up with SAA. Happy to volunteer for the Silver Iodide seeding mission so long as my boss is happy to give me the day off (will probably have to finish this tender response first)."
0922: SA 87-1
Ominous mk II - two over-pitchers on off stump, and Amla takes his trademark stride down the track to batter them both between point and cover for successive fours. Time for some Swanny?
0915: SA 79-1
Ominous, this - Smith, having been sorely tested by Jimmy's in-swingers, has now got his gimlet eye in - he watches that one all the way on to the middle and drills it away through midwicket for a don't-chase-it four. Michael Carberry on as sub fielder - more than decent on the patrol, that man, but can he mark his on-pitch international dayboo with a startling snag?
From Tom Collins, TMS inbox:
"MEM was dwarfed in Robin Hood by The Rickman. Bet he's good at cricket, particularly sledging. I can just see his menacing tones from short leg."
0910: SA 70-1
Siders looks like he's got a bit of a birthday strop on here. Amla dead-bats one back up the track, and the curly-topped toiler pretends to hurl the ball back at the stumps before deciding to hang on. As menaces go, it's less Jeff Thomson and more Emma Thompson.
From Henry B, text 81111:
"Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves stars Morgan Freeman in one of the great woodland birthing scenes of cinema. The Sidebottom would have blended perfectly into the tree-dwelling entourage."
0906: SA 68-1
Anderson tears in - Smith, you jammy jabber, how did that one not get through. Jim's in-dip working a treat here, but the skipper is hanging in there. 33 nuggety runs from 86 deliveries, and them apples is unattractive ones.
From Paul in Lancs, TMS inbox:
"Officeware-focused rain dances outside public houses are all well and good, but a more scientifically proven method of creating a drawn Test match is the use of supercooled silver iodide to seed rain clouds in the vicinity of the ground. This could be achieved through a relatively straightforward top secret and illegal military intervention by UK troops, and result in a 1-0 series victory."
0901: SA 67-1
Update on Harpergate - apparently the TV feed he watched the Smith replay on didn't have sound
. Who turned the volume down? Unmask this monstrous meddler, I say, and have him paraded round the outfield, dragging three giant screens behind him, while ace-armed fielders use him as tomato target practice. Sidebots swings gently in to Amla, and the biggest beard in Test cricket blocks and leaves.
From Robert Skupham, TMS inbox:
"Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's best work was in The Abyss which is exactly what England are looking into."
0854: SA 66-1
That's a delight of a snorter from Jimmy - fast, bendy, smashing into Smith's front leg - high, unfortunately, but it brings a chorus of "YAARRRooooh..." from the close-in fielders. Fraction too short next up, and Smith swivels in a flash - four, pulled away to the deep square leg fence and almost decapitating Cookie under the lid at forward short leg. Ooh-la - decent response, drawing a poke outside off and edging past third slip for a fluky swine of a four. Drinks.
Jonathan Agnew on Twitter:
"Spoken to TV boys re Smith - seems no doubt about a noise and that he nicked it. (We do not get the sound) Harper would have had the sound."
0848: SA 56-1
Phenomenal work on the texts - Strauss is bringing Anderson on without delay. The first one keeps low and scoots away for a bye off Prior's ankle - never pleasant, that - and the next is driven back down the track. Anderson stops it with his boot; expect the ball-tampering allegations to start shortly.
From Richard, Wrexham, TMS inbox:
"It appears the rain dance has only worked in the UK! Are we sure we were all twirling our feet in the correct direction? Team meeting at 10am to get the moves right if we do not have a few wickets to celebrate?"
0842: SA 54-1
More than a few people wondering why Jimmy Anderson hasn't been called on so far. Text 0800 STRAUSS to find out; mobile costs may vary but will inevitably horrify when seen at end of month on statement. Broad keeps Amla jabbing and jittery - decent line on off and just outside, and the slips slap thighs to encourage.
From Dan B, depressed in work, TMS inbox:
"Mary-Elizabeth was at her best in Scarface as the sister brought in to the world of madness against her wishes and ended up in pain and suffering, is there an analogy for us here? Trott?"
0836: SA 53-1
Still a whole heap of chunter out there after the Smith edge/not edge. England are still convinced, and it's put a rocket up their rumps - much better from Siders, foxing Amla with a cunning straightener and then forcing him to jab down late as a sneaky swinger almost squeaks through the bat-pad gap. A fluffy cloud eases in front of the sun.
From Jez, Kennington, TMS inbox:
"I've got those multi-coloured Post-It notes (other removable notelets are available), which are easier to remove than paint and marker pens, plus they can also be fashioned into interesting shapes with scissors or have appropriately worded incantations written upon them. I'll be performing outside The White Hart opposite the office. Can we manage a rainbow (nation) of different coloured pubs?"
0830: SA 53-1
Broad charges in, face flushed - oof, super late in-dip into Smith's front pad, and only an inside edge stifles the shout. In he comes again, faster still - gaaghh, right across Smith's uncertain prod. Broad stands with hands on hips and stalks back to his mark - Lordy, he's done him again, drawing a frantic bottom-handed flick towards midwicket that sends at outside edge flying past KP in the gully. Smashing over.
From James Eadon, TMS inbox:
"I've just celebrated the birth of my first child... Oliver at 4.24, but I'd happily change that to Stuart, Jimmy, Graham or Ryan in exchange for 5 wickets under 30."
0824: SA 47-1
Here's a stat to lift the mood - that was South Africa's biggest opening stand of the series. Actually, that could work either way, couldn't it? Amble amlas in - I'm sorry, Amla ambles in - and Siders greets him with a leg-side loosener which the new man angles off his hip for four down to the fine leg fence. Next ball, same scenario - four more, and England can't afford to feed them like that.
Jonathan Agnew on Twitter:
"Big news from the middle: Nasser has split his Sky trousers!! Having to wear emergency England tracksuit pants!!"
0818: WICKET Prince c Swann b Broad 19, SA 36-1
Argue with that one - fat edge, bagged - farewell, fair Prince, fairwell...
0817: SA 36-0
Sidebottom trundles in - wide, slashed at by Smith - huge appeal, and England are celebrating wildly - Umpire Hill shakes his head, but England are convinced - they'll refer this. Let's have a look, well, without Snicko or Hot-Spot, third umpire Daryl Harper is never going to give that. Referral refused. sigh. What do you mean, that was Mary Steenburgen?
Graeme Swann on Twitter:
"Someone on our floor has just been playing an ace of base song at very high volumes. the culprit shall be hunted down and flogged."
0812: SA 36-0
Mastrantonio. That's the one. Decent in Parenthood, if memory recalls. Broad goes too full, and Prince leans into that to clunk the first four of the day back down the ground. Ominous.
From Paul, London, TMS inbox:
"Morning all, I have no face paint as am stuck in my cold dark office but will highlighter pen do. I have painted my face in orange and green and am ready to dance - where's this golden fleece you speak of?"
And it's the birthday boy at the other end - hair bouncing like Marian's in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. No way I'm trying to spell the actress's name off the top of my head. Gentle loop outside off, and those can be watched away with minimal knee-knock. Mastriaino? Masticator?
Here come the players - looks like it'll be Stuart Broad to open out for England, Skipper Smith on strike, three slips and a short leg - drifter onto the pads, tipped away for one. That's better - decent lick and bounce across Prince's chest, and Matt Prior behind the timbers bellows his appreciation. Not many in the steepling stands, but it's early doors.
Siders might have asked for slightly saucier weather to greet his big day - bright blue skies overhead, sunshine, barely a sniff of muggy cloud. Although there's talk of thunder mid-afternoon. Hmmm.
Other non-alcoholic drinks are available. Btw - possible omen alert - today is Ryan Sidebottom's birthday. 32, should you fancy sending a card. Wishes of the day, Siders.
From Gary Jones, TMS inbox:
"118118 says the afrikaan word for rain is 'reen' - derives from the dutch. I hope for a burst of early wickets but, failing that, my plan is to take a fair proportion of clothes off, apply neon face paint left over from a kids party, find a stick (a ruler may have to suffice as sticks seem scarce in our office) and dance outside the Golden Fleece pub downstairs chanting 'reen reen beautiful reen'.. I hope others will join in up and down the country and we may together make much precipitation."
Right. Do we think the score at lunch will (a) something to celebrate with champagne, or (b) something that calls for brandy?