e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (with 'For Ben Dirs' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606. (Not all contributions can be used)
"Re DJs - My son's maths teacher resigned at the end of term to try his hand as a pro DJ. His monicker - DJ Fraction. Things have changed a lot since my day when it would have been MC Tweed at best." Dave Beech in the TMS inbox
1830 - 38-1 Harris edges and the ball flies between third slip and gully and races away for four. There's another four, Harris fending Sidebottom to the long-leg boundary. And Sidebottom thinks he might have his man with the final ball of the day, but Harris digs out his yorker and it's a bump ball to Strauss in the slips. That wasn't very good was it? England are being 'owned' by the Saffers at the moment. I still think there are stacks of runs in this pitch, I just have the horrible feeling it will be the visiting batsmen filling their boots. Thanks for sticking with it - peace out brothers and sisters. Oh yeh, sorry we couldn't publish all your emails, but needless to say we'll always grateful for them.
"As a drum and bass 'head' may I unequivocally state that 'oh my days' is not a term coined for our own vernacular, although many of our soldiers do use it. In times of strife one of our number is much more likely to exclaim 'fierce', 'dark' or indeed 'grimey'. England today have certainly been grimey." Morgan in the TMS inbox
1826 - 30-1 Not such a clever from Flintoff there - he doesn't make McKenzie play enough and his final ball is on the batsman's pads and is clipped away for four through mid-wicket. Just the one over left in the day. Paul (see below), your mate's mum, it's not Mrs Fitzgerald was it? I always liked her, and I often thought she might like me.
"I wonder, how do people start the peeling process on a tough orange - the first incision? I bite into the skin myself. Which makes me wonder, does anyone else eat a carrot by eating the outer flesh first, leaving the sweet smooth centre/core for a tasty treat at the end? Does anyone know the name for the sweet core of the carrot? Ben Dirs - my mate's mum fancies you!" Paul Twiney in the TMS inbox
1820 - 26-1 McKenzie opens the face and runs Sidebottom away for three. Siders strays onto Harris's pads and is tickled round the corner for two, Panesar the man fielding down at long-leg. Sidebottom serves Harris up some chin music and the nightwatchman averts his eyes and is struck on the helmet - the ball balloons over the slip cordon and runs away for four leg-byes. Nasty delivery that, but Harris is unmoved.
1814 - WICKET - Smith c Strauss b Flintoff 7, SA 17-1 Vaughan throws the ball to Flintoff and his first ball beats a lunging Smith outside off-stump. No footwork from Smith... AND FREDDIE'S GOT HIS MAN NEXT BALL! Carbon copy, except this time Smith gets a nibble on it and Strauss pouches the catch at first slip. Freddie makes things happen, he's even sporting an early '80's Botham beard today... nightwatchman Harris is next in, and he just gets his bat out of the way of his second ball faced. Wicket-maiden from Freddie, can't help thinking Vaughan should have had him on from the start.
"They seem to have hung their flag that Vaughan's going to be the Ashes captain. I think that's silly, you've to got play each game and series as it comes, and there's a lot of cricket to be played before we get to the Ashes. If England lose here, then there will be a lot of talk about where they're going. It was a funny choice to pick Collingwood, they left him out of the last game and brought him back when he's not playing very well.
Event info goes here."Vaughan himself isn't playing very well, but they're worried about batting, that's why they've gone for the extra batsman. Bowlers have to get 20 wickets to win a match but if you don't get runs you're not in the game - England just don't bat well enough, they're not consistent." Geoff Boycott on Five Live
1809 - 17-0 That's high-risk stuff from Smith, who nudges to mid-off and scampers through, just beating the direct hit from Anderson. The replay actually reveals he was in by miles and Umpire Dar doesn't even call on the third umpire.
"Is it wrong that I secretly want us to lose the rest of the matches by an innings, if only to provoke the sacking of our selectors? We badly need to rebuild for the Ashes or it'll be much worse than this..." Dave in the TMS inbox
"Re your Nan - I do not believe death would be a barrier to making this side." Phil in the TMS inbox
1805 - 16-0 Every Anderson ball fizzing through miles outside McKenzie's off-stump, this is pretty mindless, dismal stuff. A day spent browsing for ceiling tiles in B&Q would have raised the spirits higher than this. Anderson strays onto McKenzie's pads and is flicked away for four.
1802 - 12-0 Surely we'll get a burst from Flintoff before close of play? McKenzie nurdles Sidebottom to mid-on for a single. Not much happening for Sidebottom, or Anderson for that matter, the South Africa openers could only look more relaxed if they were basted in butter.
1757 - 11-0 Eight overs to play this evening. Anderson not getting the ball to swing back into the left-handed Smith. Anderson spearing the ball across Smith at the moment and he's not making Smith play. Anderson wasting the new ball at the moment - he does get one to swing in and Smith dabs him to fine-leg for a couple. Another on Smith's pads and the South Africa skipper tickles him away for one. Alas John Miller (see below), my nan has been toes up for about 10 years now. She would have fancied a go at the South Africans as well, she never really liked foreigners much.
"Re your Nan - what's her availability for the Oval? Wouldn't worry too much about her batting form, doesn't seem to be a major issue. If she can turn her arm over and put it in the right areas, so much the better." John Miller in the TMS inbox
1753 - 6-0 Big lbw shout from Sidebottom, but that was drifting down leg. Umpire Dar shrugs off the appeal and the ball dribbles way for four leg-byes.
"I'm not even English, and even I'm gutted. I'm a New Zealander who lives in London and I am staggered at the lack of application from England today and for most of the summer in fact. New Zealand, let's face it, flattered to deceive, and in the first real test of their cricketing backbone, England have once again shown their spine is a brittle one." Justin Bridge in the TMS inbox
1747 - 2-0 Smith on strike now and he average 181 in Tests at Edgbaston. Most of the England players are looking a little bit sheepish in the field, like schoolboys shuffling nervously outside the headmaster's office awaiting to hear their fate. I can't help thinking this isn't the time for sheepishness - someone out there needs to get a bit aggressive and grab this game by the tadgers... and fast... Anderson shares the new ball with Siders and Smith is off the mark with a work off his pads.
1745 - SA 0-0 Right, Jerusalem blah blah blah, huddle blah blah blah, and Sidebottom will have first go with the ball for England. I can't help feeling all this gumph at the start of every innings is getting a bit stale. McKenzie shoulders arms to a few deliveries from Sidebottom - he's one of the finest leavers of the ball in international cricket. McKenzie gets a thick edge off Sidebottom's final delivery and that's a good probing over to start from the Notts seamer.
1737: Just chatting to a couple of colleagues and we've noted that the banter among our readers is invariably funnier when England are getting their bottoms slapped. What does this say about the English psyche I wonder? If you'd have believed my nan, her glory years were spent wearing a tin helmet in a coal shed fending off rats the size of rottweilers while German bombs fell all around her. A deeply miserable woman, she didn't tend to go out much after the War ended.
"I once saw Amy Winehouse watching cricket in the Good Mixer. She didn't smell great." Adam Kirkup in the TMS inbox
1732 - WICKET - Panesar run out 1 (Amla), Eng 231 Monty has one ball to survive, and that's two runs to fine-leg... no it isn't! Monty's come back for a second and he's a gonner! It's official: England aren't very good. Freddie storms off the pitch, leaving Monty in his wake - he's furious, and stranded on 36.
1730 - WICKET - Anderson run out 1 (Prince), Eng 230-9 Ntini drops short and Flintoff munches him over the mid-wicket fence. Freddie cutting loose. The next shot is absolutely brutal, a coruscating drive for four to the long-off fence. Good job Ntini ducked or his team-mates would have had to rechristen him Anne Boleyn. Flintoff pushes into the off-side, hares down the track and Prince's direct hit runs Anderson out. Oh my giddy aunt, England are in a right old bind.
1724 - 218-8 Flintoff comes down the track and smacks Kallis through the covers for two. One more for Freddie with a nudge to mid-off and Anderson, who Vic Marks thinks bats a bit like David Gower, is up next, and Kallis doesn't make him play for the rest of the over.
"Well said Richard of Clapham. I actually cheered when England got beaten by Croatia to dump us out of Euro 2008. It was the only way to get rid of McClaren and save us from a humiliation at those championships. Perhaps the same thing is needed here." Paul Crockford in the TMS inbox
1717 - WICKET - Sidebottom c Boucher b Ntini 2, Eng 215-8 Ryan Sidebottom is the new England batter (I just say 'batter' sometimes to wind people up). Flintoff drives into the covers for one before Siders turns Ntini away for a couple. But Ntini's had him on toast, Sidebottom nibbling at one that just moved away off the seam and Boucher taking a very neat catch falling forward. James Anderson is the new man in the middle - it's his 26th birthday today. Hasn't been a great one so far, although Freddie might cut loose now to make it that little bit sweeter.
"Ben, you're in those middle years, not knowing what's going on in the 'charts' as I don't think young people call them anymore. When you get properly decrepit with/because of teenage children, you get to learn all about them again, only it's a bit muffled by bedroom doors and that strange, tangible mustiness that goes with the hormones." Paul, Lancs, in the TMS inbox
1711 - WICKET - Ambrose b Kallis 22, Eng 212-7 Watching these two batsmen scratch away, I just had the sudden urge to start singing Onward Christian Soldiers. I've also got this image in my head of Freddie and Ambrose under siege in a dilapidated building, poking their heads round the corner every few minutes to fire a couple of shots. Ambrose lashes Kallis for a sketchy four to third-man... but he's had his noggin blown off next ball, the Warwickshire keeper staying back and playing on. Whoops-a-daisy Martin Hayesy. But that's why Kallis is one of that rare breed - a genuine all-rounder who can score big with the bat, take prized scalps with the ball and snaffle crackerjack catches in the slips.
"Can you imagine Winehouse in an Enid Blyton novel? 'One Goes Mental in Camden'?" David, Basingstoke, in the TMS inbox
1707 - 208-6 "Flintoff not looking in any great danger," says Blowers on TMS. Just thought I'd drop that in so you know who to blame when he gets out. Freddie does pick up a couple with a nurdle to mid-wicket.
"All the colts I coach say 'oh my days' and none of them are drum and bass fans. I think it's just a school fad, like 'reckon' whilst stroking your chin was when I was at school." Anonymous on TEXT 81111
1658 - 206-6 That's a peach from Nel, getting the ball to nibble away slightly from the fencing Ambrose. Flintoff pushes Harris to point for one and England are moving at a glacial pace at the moment. That's drinks, Freddie and Ambrose will probably have a Horlicks. Apparently sales of oranges are down in Britain because people can't be bothered peeling them any more. How lazy can British people be? Give it 20 years and most adults in this country will be bowling about in nappies.
"Given the absolute fiasco of the cricket today I've resorted to trying to get the peel of my orange in one go. It's a Sainsbury's large and is proving very difficult. Can anyone suggest an alternative breed that provides an easier peeling experience without sacrificing taste?" Alec, Guildford, in the TMS inbox
1653 - 205-6 Ambrose stays back to Harris and tickles him round the corner for two. De Villiers is at leg-slip, but it falls just to his right. Ambrose sweeps hard and picks up a single. This partnership now worth 32.
"It's all right just surviving and defending nicely, but South Africa will take the new ball soon and there will be plenty of extra bounce and they might lose a wicket and England will look back and think, 'why didn't we take a risk or two, rotate the strike, drop the ball into the gaps?...'" Alec Stewart on TMS
1649 - 202-6 Nel getting some shape, the ball curving away from the right-handed Flintoff. Flintoff shoulders arms and watches the ball go over the top of off-stump; Nel licks his fingers and grins, like a naughty boy who's just polished off a sticky bun. That's text-book from Freddie, drivng Nel to the cover boundary to move to 18 from 58 balls. England have also passed 200.
1645 - 198-6 Flintoff very nearly perishes - check that crease for Bostick: absolutely no footwork from the England all-rounder and Nel gets one past an airy-fairy push. Another maiden from Nel. Watching Flintoff having to bat like this makes for rather painful viewing, it's like Maradona playing at full-back. Ambrose falls to one knee and sweeps for a single to fine-leg and Flintoff blocks out the spinner's over.
1639 - 196-6 Harris drags one onto Ambrose's leg stick and is tickled round the corner for four. Harris proving very economical - 0-19 off eight - but he's no real threat... cue a rattle of late-order wickets for the left-arm tweaker.
"It's got to the point where you actually want England to be thrashed so badly, providing the excuse to drive Vaughan and the wretchedly complacent selectors (who exhibit Gordon Brownesque ineffectiveness) out of office, allowing a new guard to be swept in to plan a better team for the Ashes." Richard, Clapham, in the TMS inbox
1634 - 192-6 Flintoff has got his responsible hat on and he's not messing with Ntini. Flintoff either leaving outside the off-stump or getting in ramrod straight behind the ball in defence. David (see below), you are of course right, I'm extremely out of touch. I couldn't tell you who's been number one in the charts for about the last eight years, and why are there loads of young female singers mincing about these days trying to sound like they're soul singers from the '60s? Duffy, Adele, Whatsername, they're all about as cutting edge as Enid Blyton.
."Ben, the kids have been saying 'oh my days' for years. You're more out of touch than an England selector." David in the TMS inbox
1631 - 192-6 That's right in the slot from Harris and Flintoff puts in a stride and eases him through the covers for four. Good shot that, not trying to hit the cover off it. Flintoff nicks the strike with an easy single to mid-wicket.
1629 - 187-6 Ntini has a hearty lbw appeal against Ambrose turned down by Umpire Dar - huge inside edge, don't know what the bowler was thinking of there. Ntini digs one in short, but it sits up nicely and Ambrose crashes him away through mid-wicket for four to move into double figures.
"I can't see Sir Alex Ferguson persevering with a team that both plays rubbish and loses! There'd be a different line-up faster than you could say 'Cristiano Ronaldo!' And the non performers would get a touch of the hair drier rather than seats in the comfy clique that appears to be Team England at the moment!" Trevor, Bradford, in the TMS inbox
1624 - 181-6 Big up DJ Dante and all your crew at Lehman Brothers. if Vaughan was a DJ, what would his monicker be? DJ Bungle? I like the sound of that. Flintoff drives crisply for one and Ambrose nicks the strike with a clip off his pads.
"Re: 'Oh My Days...', it's probable that the yoof in question is an admirer of Drum and Bass music, and in particular the wonderfully titled MC Skibadee. Whenever Mr Skibba cannot think of something interesting to say during a set, which is fairly frequently, he either resorts to barking like a dog or utilising sed phrase to describe whatever sickening bassline he happens to be droppin' at the time. Which is why I prefer Eksman. Hope that helps, and bigups to the TMS Crew." DJ Dante in the TMS inbox
1619 - 180-6 Flintoff unleashes a whip-cracking on-drive for no runs. Ntini digs one in and Flintoff mis-times his pull, allowing Nel, chuntering down to the deep mid-wicket rope like a startled rhinoceros, to limit Freddie to just three runs.
1613 - 176-6 Surely a couple of Ambrose failures here will lead to him being dropped - the Warwickshire gloveman looks like he's been batting with an upright hoover for most of this summer. James Foster of Essex is in form with both bat and gloves, the England selectors should think about sticking him in. Ambrose is unable to nurdle Harris for any runs and the Saffers have got England by the jaffers here.
"Re: Old lady phrases. I'm not sure if it's a widespread phenomena, but I'm sure i heard a spotty youth say 'crumbs me' the other day. Having never heard the expression I couldn't tell you if it was an old lady expression or not but it gave me a chuckle." Robbo, Loughborough, in the TMS inbox
"The England team is rotten. Vaughan is at the root of the problems and has been trying to play 'power-politics' to divert attention from is dreadful form. His comments before this Test suggesting that there is an England team clique sent an appalling message to county cricketers who justifiably deserve a chance - e.g. Owais Shah, who has been treated disgracefully. This is the only reason for the return of Collingwood. Can't wait to see how the selectors 'fix' this for the next Test - they haven't got a clue." Anthony Leon in the TMS inbox
1610 - 176-6 Ambrose goes back to Harris and turns him round the corner for one easy run. Flintoff lunges forward twice and smothers the rest of the over.
1604 - 174-6 We're back after tea and Ambrose is nibbling Ntini to leg and is off the mark with a single. Flintoff remaining watchful, but the Saffers are wheeling Harris back on - how long will Freddie be able to resist? I was in a corner shop the other day and this kid suddenly turned to his mate and said in an exasparated manner, "oh my days...", an old-woman's phrase, but said in this peculiar West Indian patois that all kids see to speak in nowadays. Is it de rigeur among youths today to use old lady phrases? If so, why?
"Mr Dirs, I think I might have stumbled upon the reason for this particular Test match not being a sell out. It's because we're garbage. Hope that helps." Dan Taylor in the TMS inbox
"Re. Richard Knight at 1526 - interested to hear the mechanics of how 'banging one's head against a brick wall whilst being held upside down in a vat of marmalade' would work. Is it some kind of brick wall-lined marmalade vat? I'm not sure the food standards people would like that, even without the human contamination factor." Jon in the TMS inbox
"Regarding the reference to the Elephant Man (1505), whatever happened to him, he made one good film and no-one's seen him since?" Andrew, Barnsley, in the TMS inbox
1543 - 173-6 Ambrose - another in the England batting line-up who makes Bill Wyman look like Gary Sobers at the moment - survives the last ball of the over. Old Nel is madder than a box of frogs - he's continually trying to engage Flintoff with his theatrical gurning between deliveries, and he makes a song and dance of his last ball before tea, waving his right hand in an attempt to distract the batsman. It's wide outside off-stump though and that's tea. I'm sure it will be a cosy one in the England dressing room, all chums together sharing out the Werther's Originals and telling tales about the 2005 Ashes series. I can just imagine Vaughany leaning forward in his armchair like Uncle Albert and proclaiming every now and again: "During the 2005 Ashes..." I wonder if they've got an open fire up there?
1537 - WICKET - Bell c Boucher b Ntini 50, Eng 173-6 Ntini, who has struggled to find any sort of rhythm today, angles the ball into Flintoff's pads and there's one leg-bye. Oh my deary my, down goes another, Bell feathering to Boucher behind the stumps. Dar took an age to pull the trigger, but there did seem to be a pretty big noise. As an England fan, I would rather smash my arm repeatedly in a car door than watch much more of this... it's the inevitability that haunts me most...
"Five wickets down before tea? Who's the lucky so and so who's been given the commentary job for Sunday? Looks like it's a long lie-in and the Hollyoaks omnibus for them instead." Grant in the TMS inbox
1531 - 172-5 Flintoff is the next man at the crease and he'll face Nel first-up. Nel, who approaches the crease as if he's pulling a Morris Minor, is loving this little contest. He pretends to take a snapshot of Freddie after the Lancashire man shoulders arms extravagantly and scurries down the crease after his next delivery, gurning mischievously as Flintoff goes walkabout. Nel strays onto Flintoff's legs and the England all-rounder makes hay, clipping him to deep mid-wicket for three.
1526 - 168-5 There's Bell's fifty courtesy of a super cover-drive - that's his 19th in Tests, but England could do with him knuckling down and passing a hundred for the ninth time. Ninety four balls and nearly two hours, now is Bell's big chance to prove he can score tough runs.
"Does anyone else feel like trying to understand the England selectors is like banging your head against a brick wall whilst wearing a straight jacket and being held upside down in a vat of marmalade? What more does Shah have to do to get a chance? How many more times much we watch Vaughan edge to the keeper and Collingwood prod hopelessly to first slip? It's getting beyond comical now." Richard Knight in the TMS inbox
1518 - WICKET - Collingwood c Smith b Kallis 4, Eng 158-5 Morkel strays onto Bell's pads and Bell fills his boots, clipping him away for four. Kallis is still on... and that's Collingwood gone! The Durham man staggers out of his crease like a man emerging from solitary confinement, wafts his bat and Smith, falling forward, pouches the catch at first slip. I'm really not sure what the England selectors expected from Collingwood - he was in rancid form before the Headingley Test and he's played a couple of hit and giggles since. England really are horribly mediocre, they are going to get absolutely crucified by Australia next summer unless someone starts shaking things up.
1514 - 154-4 Kallis is an old tease, every ball outside Bell's off-stump, apart from one, which Bell whips to mid-wicket for one. Yeh, yeh, yeh, I know Graham Taylor isn't a former England skipper... this auto-refresh is a ruddy nightmare and it feels like my head is going to explode!
1511 - 153-4 Colly is off the mark! Bit of width from Morkel and Collingwood jabs him through wide long-off for four. Thank God for that, watching the Durham man trying to get off the mark was like watching open heart surgery. Morkel hist back well though, making things uncomfortable with a bumper and another ball that jags back into Colly's ribs.
"If watching Collingwood get off the mark this morning was like watching open heart surgery, would you say that Vaughn's recent batting is akin to watching a colonoscopy?" Kevin, Bermuda, in the TMS inbox
1505 - 149-4 Big lbw appeal from Kallis against Bell, but Umpire Davis reckons that was missing leg. And that's another doozy of a delivery from Kallis, who gets the ball to hoop away and leave Bell. That's why it's a touch for Smith having Kallis in his team - if he's not scoring runs, he'll root out a couple of the opposition's top players as a bowler. And he's tighter than the elephant man's hatband today, 1-21 off 11 overs.
"Re 1350 - You wonder why Edgbaston is not a sell out for any day, well, 55 quid for the cheapest tickets must be a clue! Hoping we are still in it when I venture down there on Friday for our annual works outing." Becky in the TMS inbox
1500 - 149-4 Morkel back on and he continues to cause problems. He serves up some rub music to Bell which the local boy manages to fend off just short of Amla at short-leg before getting one to rear up outside off-stump. There's former England manager Graham Taylor in the stand - black shades, black shirt, white tie, he looks like he's going to pull out a Tommy gun and start strafing the South African fielders. Bell picks up one with a tug round the corner.
1457 - 147-4 Kallis still nagging away at Collingwood, but South Africa aren't going to gift-wrap his first run - the Durham grinder still on nought after 14 balls, all from Kallis.
1452 - 147-4 Nel gets one to leave Bell off the seam and the Warwickshire man edges... Smith at first slip, and the ball seems to be in the air for an age... but Smith, who appears to have splints attached to his legs, topples backwards and is unable to get his fingers underneath. Nel roars in Smith's direction - Smith better watch his back, drop another catch and Nel will make his ears into a necklace. Great comeback from Bell, who laces Nel through the covers for four. Good contest this. And another boundary from Bell, getting stuck into an over-pitched delivery from Nel.
1449 - 139-4 If Collingwood can notch up a ton here it will go down as one of the great England innings. Kallis nags away at him outside off-stump and the South Africans really want him to sweat blood for his first run. A maiden.
1442 - 139-4 "How do you sell a rabbit to a partially deaf man?" writes someone or other via text. "DO YOU WANT TO BUY A RABBIT!!?" Thats a maiden over from Nel and it's time for some drinks. This Pattinson chap upsetting the unity of the team and all that, that's a little bit odd if you ask me. This England team reminds me of when I used to want to hang about with my older brother and his mates when I was a kid. My brother used to tolerate me, but you could tell he never really wanted me there. I got a bit choked up writing that... such sad memories...
"I will speak ill of no man, but all the good I know of everyone. However, why is Vaughan still in the England side let alone captain? Have you seen him run lately? It's like watching Steptoe." Paul Stubbings in the TMS inbox
1438 - 139-4 Collingwood is next up the ramp - he's scored 39 runs in five Tests so far this summer, at an average of nine. It's OK though, he was dropped for the Headingley Test and sent off to find some form and, erm, he didn't really find any and now he's back. Bell gets off strike with a clip to mid-wicket and that brings Colly on strike. Kallis sticks one right in the corridor and Colly feels for it before jagging his bat back, as if he's just had his fingers singed.
1431 - WICKET - Cook c Kallis b Nel 76, Eng 136-4 Three singles from Harris's over, this England pair happy to milk the South African spinner. Savage stroke from Cook, leaning back and carving Nel through cover-point for four. But he's gone three balls later, playing back and getting a thick outside edge to Kallis at second slip, who takes a gem of a catch diving low to his left. For the record, I like the wood 'spoon' as a form of mild abuse. I often think I should use the word 'schmuck' a bit more often, but have to remind myself I'm not Jewish.
"I have always been a fan of the word buffoon. Vaughan is batting like a buffoon, the England selectors are a bunch of buffoons etc etc." Matt, London, in the TMS inbox
"As a Yorkshire fan I am backing Vaughan to remain England captain - purely because I don't want him back in the Tykes' batting line up." An anonymous Yorkshire fan on TEXT 81111 - NAME! FOR GAWD'S SAKE! A NAAAAAAME! - thanks
"I'm sick of this automatic page refresh. All it does is bring me bad news. Regularly. Without being asked." Matt, London, on TEXT 81111
1425 - 129-3 Cook stays back and cuts Harris through point for a couple to move to 70. Peachy shot from Bell, standing tall and easing Nel through point for four. I'd hate to be there when something genuinely bad actually happens to Nel - he reacted to Bell hitting that four as if he'd just seen his car being crushed. That's a stroke of luck for Bell, Nel getting one to rise on him and take the glove, only for the ball to bounce over Kallis in the slips and run away for four. Nel lets out a primeval roar - Gunther is clearly a very angry man.
"Is there any chance we could have a **** icon for when the players start barking abuse at each other?" Mad, Greenithe, in the TMS inbox
1416 - 118-3 Nel back on and he gets one to nip away from Cook. Some extravagant swing there after it beat the bat, and Nel has a little chat with Cook afterwards. If Graeme Smith is the nasty prison governor from Shawshank Redemption, Nel is the bully-club wielding prison guard. Bit of extra bounce from nel and Cook, startled somewhat, jabs the ball back and Nel takes it on the bounce diving to his right. The crowd love that, everyone loves a pantomime villain.
1412 - 118-3 Here's South African spinner Harris. He actually has pretty good figures in Test and first-class cricket but he's had about as much cutting edge as a jam roly-poly in this series so far. Cook waits on one and whips him to mid-wicket for one. Bell thinks about giving him the charge, but that's good flight from Harris and Bell plays him from his crease.
"'Cretin' - good abuse Rob (1350), joining Jim's 'lemon' (1328). Let's give out more abuse." Ben, Southend, in the TMS inbox
1408 - 117-3 Text-book straight drive from Bell and that's two more - he moves to 18. But Morkel is still getting something out of this pitch, banging one in back of a length and causing Bell all sorts of problems. The sure sign of a class bowler, managing to breathe life into a pudding of a pitch.
1403 - 114-3 Rolex timing from Bell, flipping Ntini through mid-wicket for a couple. Should have been three runs there, lazy running. Ntini, angling the ball in from wide of the crease, strays onto Bell's pads again and is clipped to mid-wicket for one. Dandy Highwayman stuff from Cook, standing tall and punching Ntini through the covers for four to move to 67. This partnership now 40.
1359 - 107-3 Morkel gets one to rear up off a length and Bell fends it off to just in front of gully. One for Bell. Another wicked delivery from Morkel, Cook nibbling before pulling his bat out of the way as if he's just been caught with his hands in his mother's handbag. Two more for Cook with a nudge into the covers.
"Fifties and sixties are neither here nor there in the context of a Test match, it's the 150s-plus that make a difference at this level." Henry Blofeld on TMS
1355 - 104-3 That's England's 100, Cook clipping Ntini off his legs for a couple. And that's a pearling stroke from the left-handed opener, on-driving for four. Cook is rapped on the pads and there's a huge appeal - but that pitched outside leg and Umpire Davis waves it off.
1350 - 98-3 Shot of the day from Cook, stroking Morkel through the covers for four. Cook takes a sharp single and the rather disturbing news that has just reached me is that Edgbaston is not a sell-out for any of the five days. That's especially odd when you consider the kids are on their summer holidays. The Twenty20 effect? Or are most of the kids just setting fire to bandstands? I just don't know any more...
"Collingwood? Ed Joyce? Cretins. All. Carry on Vaughan. I will judge you at the end of the series." Rob Harrison in the TMS inbox
1347 - 93-3 Ntini strays onto Cook's pads and that's his fifty with a clip to mid-wicket. Cook's 13th Test fifty, England could seriously do with him going onto his eighth Test hundred. The Essex man is getting the reputation as a 'sixties and seventies man' - he's had nine scores of between 60 and 65 apparently. That's a cracking shot from Bell, standing tall and dragging Ntini to the mid-wicket fence for four. Bell, as always, looks in decent nick.
1339 - 88-3 Right, we're off again and Cook flips Morkel's first ball to mid-wicket for a single. Bell goes to leave and doesn't get his bat out of the way in time and the ball ricochets into the ground in front of the slips. I have to report that the England skipper is getting absolutely slaughtered in your emails, anyone would think he'd nutted the pope. No foot movement from Bell and he gets a thick outside egde for four. Sketchy. Alec Stewart on TMS reckons Pietersen might be hit in the pocket after hanging about a bit too long after his dismissal...
"There's a difference between disappointment and dissent, and the way Pietersen stood there after being given out bordered on dissent..." Alec Stewart on TMS
"How long can Michael Vaughan ride on the coattails of the Ashes win before the selectors wake up and realise the man is not performing and hasn't been for some time now? People knock Ian Bell for not contributing under pressure but MV has consistently failed to put runs on the board. Give Collingwood the captaincy, get Shah in the top order and let's move on." Ben, Northampton, in the TMS inbox
"VAUGHANY OUT OUT OUT! Surely the best captains should lead by example, so bring in someone who can ACTUALLY bat! I think Ed Joyce should be given another chance, he's been doing well with Middlesex!" Laura in the TMS inbox
1328: Just need to clear something up - it would appear Umpire Davis has said Pietersen was out caught by Prince, not lbw, although we think the South African players believe he was lbw... although it may have hit him outside the line... and he didn't hit it anyway... all very confusing...
As promised then, for you web users, here's the clip of Aggers and Vaughan from yesterday... before the golden duck...
"Out with the old and in with the new, Bopara and Shah must be knocking on the door now, surely? And if you want a good batsmen and captain Robert Key seems to be doing a good job at Kent. England have more talent in the batting department than people think (as well as Shah, Key and Bopara there is Denly, Carberry, Malan, and Sales) so it makes no sense to stick with players who are out of form and in their 30s." Chris Smith, London, in the TMS inbox
"Am I the only one with this feeling that the England batting line-up is something similar to letting Norman Wisdom painting your front room? Now matter how much enthusiasm and positive thinking is applied it's just going to end in disaster..." Thomas Moffatt, Douglas, Isle of Man in the TMS inbox
"When Vaughan talks about playing six batsmen does he include himself in the six? The lemon." Jim, Holmes Chapel in the TMS inbox
1300 - 82-3 Bell announces his arrival at the crease with a creamy cover-drive for four off Kallis. The Warwickshrie man under pressure as well, there's a deep suspicion he can't score heavily with his side under the cosh. And that's lunch... England will be fine, they've got loads of batting left... oh, hang on a minute... STOP EMAILING FOR 40 MINUTES!
"Kiss of death today my friend. Nel in for a painful day, minutes before taking two wickets in successive balls, then Pietersen to 'sock it to 'em' before promptly getting out. No more forecasts please!" Paul Brannan in the TMS inbox
1250 - WICKET - Pietersen c Prince b Kallis 4, Eng 74-3 KP's a gonner! Sorry, that might have been my fault. He misses a straight one from Kallis and Umpire Davis pulls the trigger. England in turmoil, the South Africans go wild. Some confusion about the manner of that dismissal - TMS scorer Bill Frindall reckons that was lbw, but the Edgbaston scoreboard reckons Ashwell Prince snaffled a catch at gully. Either way, KP's back in the hutch.
"In regards to Vaughny's slumber party, do you think Vaughan and Collingwood would end up spooning all night long?" Yet more anonymous via TEXT 81111 (Write your name at the end of your messages, ta)
1246 - 73-2 Nel, his dander well and truly up, is bowling beautifully now. He did learn from his early mistakes, when he bowled too short, and this fuller length is paying rich dividends. Cook gropes at an away-cutter from Nel and the South African paceman grins maniacally, like a staggering drunk who's just seen up a lady's skirt.
"So we still are still playing with five batsmen then? I'm sure Aggers will be too professional to say I told u so when he interviews Vaughan later." Yet another flamin' anonymoyus TEXT 81111 - it ain't bowling reverse swing, put your ruddy name in after your texts
1240 - 72-2 Now might be a good time to unveil the audio of Aggers and Vaughan having a bit of a spat the other day. By the way, snicko reckons Vaughan got a nibble on that, it would appear the England skipper was trying to bluff the umpire. Cook picks up one with a clip to leg and Pietersen is off the mark with a nonchalant whip to mid-wicket for three runs. There are some crazy people who wanted to see KP dropped after the Headingley Test... sock it to 'em son...
1236 - WICKET - Vaughan c Boucher b Nel 0, Eng 68-2 England skipper Vaughan strolls to the crease and he's under a bit of pressure... HE REALLY IS NOW, HE'S OUT FIRST BALL! Vaughan comes half-forward to a probing ball from Nel and feathers one to Boucher behind the stumps. Umpire Dar had no doubts, although Vaughan looks at him as though he's just found him heavy petting with his mother on the sofa as he leaves the field.
1235 - WICKET - Strauss hit wicket b Nel 20, Eng 68-1 South Africa make the breakthrough, Strauss clipping a ball from Nel off his pads and sliding back onto his stumps.
1231 - 68-0 Kallis dredges up a nasty inswinging yorker that Cook does well to gouge out. Kallis trots down the other end and eyeballs Cook. Cook has the last laugh, edging with soft hands past third slip for four. I read at the weekend that Matt Lucas has been voted Britain's 'favourite bald person'. Gail Porter bagged second. They both must be so ruddy proud.
"Be gone F5! Away with thee, mouseclick on Refresh button! You are too clumsy and time-consuming. All hail to the funky new fold-down updatey thing. Rest now, all-conquering computer geeks, your work is done!" Ben Hampson in the TMS inbox
1227 - 63-0 Nel tries Strauss out with some chin music and a top-edge from Strauss dribbles away for four down to long-leg. Nel drops short again and Strauss tugs him away for a single to square-leg for one. Cook gets up on tippy-toes and punches Nel into the covers for a couple before swivelling on one leg and clubbing nel away for another four. Nel not learning, today could prove painful for the big man.
1224 - 52-0 Apologies if you're having any technical difficulties what with this new auto-refresh thingy. To be frank, it's a ruddy nightmare for me as well - but together we can make it while the world is crashing down... Just one from Kallis's over, a nibble down to fine-leg from Strauss.
"My brother-in-law said at the time that Collingwood's double century in Australia was the worst thing to happen to English cricket." Anonymous via TEXT 81111
"You can just see Vaughny's slumber party, all the boys playing Top Trumps: 2005 Ashes Edition. Little Harmy is crying in the corner, 'I miss my family, I want to go home now please Mrs Vaughan'." Another anonymous via TEXT 81111
1216 - 51-0 Kallis drops short and Cook puts manners on that, crashing the South Africa all-rounder through mid-wicket for another four to bring up England's fifty. A few more strokes like that and the ball will be speaking the Queen's English. Strauss pulls Nel away for a single before the eccentric right-armed seamer serves up an off-cutter that Cook defends. Send back the defibrillators, I think this pitch might already be dead...
1206 - 46-0 Kallis is into the attack and his first over is a maiden. Nel drops short and Cook swivels and pulls him away for four through mid-wicket. Cook tries to repeat the shot and gets a cue-end. Nel - or is it Gunther? - strolls down the wicket and spits a few verbals Cook's way. I've got to be honest, Nel seems more simple than intimidating. it must be like batting against Lennie from Of Mice and Men. He drags another one in short - not sure why he keeps doing that, this pitch has the consistency of a lemon drizzle cake - and Cook yanks him away for one more. Good comeback from Nel, Strauss nibbling at one outside off-stump and finding himself beaten.
"I am concerned that Rob's (1147) over-the-top celebration and subsequent dismissal will result in his being suspended for the first qualifying match in the European Championships campaign, compromising our chances of going through. Can we appeal?" Ben in the TMS inbox
1159 - 41-0 A big man Nel, and if I'm being honest, he looks a little bit out of shape. This is his 35th Test and he has 119 wickets at just over 31. Nel getting plenty of carry through to Boucher behind the sticks, but he's not making England's openers play enough, although Strauss does pick up a single with a dab into the off-side. A huge amount of effort for very little reward at the moment. Players take drinks. I heard a remarkable thing from Nasser Hussain the other day: apparently Duncan Fletcher was a big fan of Collingwood because of his "short back-lift". Remarkable. Presumably Brian Lara and Gordon Greenidge would never have got a look in under Fletcher's stewardship.
"My World Cup-winning goal sees a header come out from a packed opposition penalty area to me on the edge. I bring it down with one touch and curl a speculative effort inside the far post past the statuesque keeper. I could give you the next day's headlines as well if you want..." Tim Miller in the TMS inbox
1154 - 40-0 Ntini drags one in short and Cook is onto it in a flash, rocking back and lacing him through point for four. Plenty of empty seats at Edgbaston, not sure why that is. It's got all the atmosphere of a nursing home Christmas party at the moment. Crackerjack shot from Cook - back of a length from Ntini, the ball sits up and Cook pulls him away languidly for four. Cook 24, Strauss 12.
1147 - 31-0 That's a maiden from Ntini, but he's not causing the England openers any dramas at the moment. And we've got a change of bowling - it's Gunther into the attack! My eagle-eyed colleague has just spotted that Nel has written 'Gunther' as his bowling mark. Nel really striving for something in that first over but he doesn't get anything back from the Edgbaston deck - there looks like stacks of runs in this pitch.
"Firstly when I picture it, it's always against Germany in the pouring rain. It's 2-2 and the match is going to penalties. After a tense goal-line scramble, I rifle the ball into the roof of the net from about two yards to complete my hat-trick. Unfortunately I was booked for a rash challenge in the first half, and my 'over the top' celebrations earn me a second yellow and an early bath. The 10 men hold on though, and we win the World Cup!" Rob in the TMS inbox
1139 - 31-0 That's a jaffer from Ntini, the ball pitching and curving away from Cook. But Ntini doesn't keep the pressure up, dropping short and finding himself cut away by Cook. A no-ball from Morkel, who's persevering from around the wicket, and Cook edges between third slip and gully and the ball runs along the ground for four. That's a beauty from Morkel, the ball swinging back into Strauss and the left-hander just getting a sliver of wood on it and he picks up one to fine-leg.
1136 - 20-0 Strauss is lured into the drive by a fullish delivery from Morkel that the England opener mistook for a half-volley. Proper Test stuff this - England's openers watchful, Morkel probing away. That's a maiden.
"Congratulations Mr Dirs! Within three minutes of your threat to nause up the new refresh thingummy (see entry at 1033), our entire server went down and has only just come back up. Not sure how you did it – but you sir are a genius! We are all off to the pub to watch it on the telly while we wait for the computer chappy to fix things." A very grateful Ian in Birmingham in the TMS inbox
"Everyone knows about Gunther within the camp. Andre Nel is like our version of Merv Hughes, and he can be quite aggressive in the changing room at times... he likes a bear hug..." Shaun Pollock on TMS
1131 - 20-0 Ntini seems to have reverted back to his pre-Headingley form - he found a bit of 'zing' in Leeds, but he's struggling for rhythm so far this morning and England's openers are playing him quite comfortably. Handy for England, Morkel's looking deadly at the other end.
1128 - 20-0 This Morkel looks a tasty bowler to me - awkward lift, plenty of pace, he'll take a stack of wickets. He nags outside Strauss's off-stump before bringing one back and hitting the Middlesex man above the roll. Strauss had no business leaving that. The man to the left of me has just pulled out a plum of a lookalike - Morkel and 1980's 'Brat Pack' stalwart Anthony Michael Hall. You wouldn't be able to tell them apart.
"Vaughany was pricklier than the famed Jungle Book paw-paw in his Aggers interview. He said it with a laugh but this was saucer of milk for table two stuff. To be fair to Aggers, he played it with a straight bat. Hope Our Lord MV comes up with the goodies though, he's a great captain and (once he's in) a brilliant batsman. PS. Love the auto update!" Andy in the TMS inbox
1124 - 19-0 Too short from Ntini and that's a relief for Cook, who yanks him away for three. There's Gunther chasing it down! And what an effort, the big man diving towards the boundary rope and just pulling the ball back. Get that man some oxygen! He's starved of oxygen! Strauss pulls another short ball from Ntini away for his first four of the day to move to seven.
1118 - 12-0 Morkel looking a real threat so far this morning. Cook drives at a full delivery outside off-stump and is beaten. Not a clever stroke. Cooky is beaten again by another delivery that nibbles away, but Cook does pick up one with a carve into the covers. Dicey times for the Essex man. A discussion in the pub last night: when you're scoring the World Cup-winning goal for England in your living room, what kind of goal is it? To the astonishment of my mates, I always convert a bobbling ball in the box with a sharp header at the near post. Even in my wildest dreams I'm a realist.
"RE Collingwood - like the Masters at Augusta, anyone who gets a double century against the Aussies down under deserves a free pass into the England squad for life." James, Ascot, in the TMS inbox
1115 - 11-0 Looks like a peach of a day up in Brum, and it's a peach of a day down in London. Anywhere in Britain where it isn't a peach of a day? Barking? Maiden over from Ntini, Strauss not having a dabble at any of those.
1112 - 11-0 Cook gets himself into a right old pickle, Morkel getting one to shoot through, the ball skewing off Cook's outside edge and the ball landing just short of Harris at gully. Not really a chance, unless Harris has got extendable arms. Cook runs Morkel away past gully for the first boundary of the day - an "educated edge", according to Vic Marks on TMS.
1107 - 5-0 Ntini to share the new ball with Morkel and his first ball raps Strauss on the thigh and that's another leg-bye - still no runs off the bat. Cook gets a shortish one from Ntini and there's the first run off the bat, Cook cutting into the covers for a single. Strauss is off the mark next ball courtesy of a clip to mid-wicket. The Middlesex opener misses out on a short ball on leg stump, and is unlucky not to play on.
"Loving the new space-age auto update! I seriously doubt if there has been a better use of the licence fee payers' money in the last 25 years." Chris from E17 in the TMS inbox
1100 - 1-0 It's the rangy Morkel to have first go with the ball for South Africa, and his first delivery curves away from the left-handed Strauss outside off-stump. Morkel sends one wide down the leg-side and Boucher can only deflect it away - England are off the mark with a bye. Cook nibbles at one outside off and he has another prod at the final ball of the over - Morkel thinks about having an appeal, but that was nowhere near the bat.
1057: No Dale Steyn for South Africa today, so we'll have Andre 'Gunther' Nel instead. Tom Fordyce spoke to him recently - what a weirdo. Gunther, not Andre...here's Jerusalem, and players are out in the middle.
1049: I've just been told about a little spat between Aggers and Vaughan on the wireless last night. Apparently Vaughany got very precious and started having a go at Aggers about his Test record - I'll stick a link in when Vaughan trots out to bat, sounds tasty. The Pattinson farce rolls on: apparently he's now realised he can't play for his home state Victoria - because he's English! So now he's having a meeting with Geoff Miller to see if he can be cleansed of his Englishness. Odd.
"All this talk of Pattinson's non-selection is nonsense. He is simply fixing the hole in my roof after Monday nights storm. He should be available for The Oval, weather permitting." Peter Sowerby in the TMS inbox
"Call me cynical but could Colly's re-selection be anything to do with the fact that MV does not want to upset the Twenty20 skipper ahead of the multi-million dollar Caribbean selection process - interesting that Vaughny now 'quite likes the idea of Twenty20 cricket..." Paul Taylor in the TMS inbox
"It's all a bit matey isn't it - still, Colly getting back because he's best buds with the skipper isn't that bad. Whilst playing for the Great Britain Students American Football team, one guy got selected on the back of his parent's ability to buy 50 sets of playing jerseys. I'm watching your live commentry in a college devoid of students - don't worry, I've not broken in - I work here. It's very boring..." Scorchio, Nottingham, in the TMS inbox
1033: England skipper Michael Vaughan has won the toss and he's decided to have a bat. Good news for those of you with sore forefingers: we are trialling a new auto-refresh thingy today, which means you no longer have to jab at the F5 key all day. On the down side, I'm bound to nause it up at some point today meaning the whole page will crash. Sorry in advance.
1030: Oh my days, what a pickle England have got themselves into before this crucial third Test in Birmingham. New Kid's out on his ear because he upset 'team unity' (is the England dressing room actually some delicate eco-system?) and Colly's back in on the back of a few runs in a Twenty20 knockabout. If I was Owais Shah or Ravi Bopara, not only would I be a different colour, I'd be a little bit irritated as well.
It's all so chummy, I wouldn't be surprised if the England team all bundled round Vaughany's mum and dad's house for a pyjama party after today's play. Maybe Colly's back in the side because he can get his hands on Porky's?
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