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Page last updated at 15:46 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 16:46 UK

England v SA, 3rd Test day two as it happened

THIRD TEST, Edgbaston (day two):
England 231 v South Africa 256-6

Andrew Flintoff took two quick wickets as bad light ends play in the final session of the third Test with South Africa 256-6 against England.

Flintoff uprooted Jacques Kallis' off stump for 64 before AB de Villiers' top-edged a pull to Ryan Sidebottom as the tourists lost their sixth wicket.

The all-rounder had earlier dismissed Neil McKenzie for 72 while James Anderson removed Hashim Amla for nine.

Nightwatchman Paul Harris and McKenzie forged a 77-run second-wicket stand.


By Ben Dirs

e-mail (with 'For Ben Dirs' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606. (Not all contributions can be used)


1832: Right, that's that for today. A dismal start from England but it got better as the day went on and crescendoed into another spellbinding spell from Freddie Flintoff. He's a ruddy hero that lad, but Moores and Vaughan want to get the cotton wool out, he's getting through far too many overs for my liking. Thanks for all the chit-chat, sensible and otherwise, and I'll see you tomorrow. Oh yes, sorry if I didn't publish any of your emails or texts, I do try my best...

"Following Mr Henry Adkin's defensive outburst and empathy with the much-maligned Collingwood (see below), I took the liberty of googling him. The only cricketing mention suggests that he turned out for Cheadle Hulme School 1st XI between 1861 and 1863. Presuming this is the chap, this would make him over 150 years old. Good on him for emailing in."
Caspar Prestidge in the TMS inbox

1822 - 256-6 Bit of spite from Anderson who hits Prince with a nasty bumper. Boucher gets in behind the rest of the over and that's it for the day - the umpires have a little chat, offer the light and off the players trot. Herculean effort from Flintoff today and that was a top-class passage of Test cricket, I enjoyed every minute of it.

"A discussion on the existential loneliness of the England cricket captaincy? And Robert Carroll described us as puerile. Stick that in your pipe. If it is a pipe."
Tom Pontin in the TMS inbox

1817 - 255-6 More words between Boucher and Anderson at the end of the over. Not sure what Boucher's done to wind Cook and Anderson up, you've normally got more chance of getting a rise out of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Flintoff strays onto Boucher's pads and is clipped through mid-wicket for four. Boucher loses sight of another attempted yorker from Flintoff and has another moan about the light - with some justification - befoer Freddie loses his line again and the South Africa gloveman whips him away for another four. Monty was the fielder, but he fell to the turf there like a stack of jenga bricks.

"The encounter between Freddie and Kallis reminds me of an old Fred Trueman anecdote. He had several plumb lbw appeals turned down and finally bowled the batsman all ends up. He turned to the umpire and said: 'Nearly got 'im that time, didn't I...'"
Geoff Cox in the TMS inbox

1813 - 247-6 Boucher didn't see that ball from Flintoff and he has a bit of a moan to Umpire Dar after the over. Then Alastair Cook says something spicy to Boucher and the South Africa wicket-keeper, never one to shy away from verbal fisticuffs, reacts furiously. Not sure what Cooky said there, but I'd wager the sentence contained the word 'mum'. Prince picks up one with a nurdle to leg before Boucher reaches for one and squirts three runs down to third-man. Prince acting the goat, scraping around at the pitch, going walkabout, doing anything to delay Anderson's delivery... but that's a beautiful stroke, an on-drive for four.

Wicket falls
1806 - WICKET - De Villiers c Sidebottom b Flintoff 5, SA 238-6
A low full-toss from Flintoff and Prince tucks him away for a single. That's a nasty delivery from Flintoff, getting it up around De Villiers's throat and the batsman diverting the ball to just short of Bell at short-leg. Flintoff over-pitches and is clipped through mid-wicket for four... BUT FREDDIE'S STRUCK AGAIN! Freddie digs in another one, De Villiers top-edges a pull and Sidebottom pouches a horrible steepler down at long-leg. That was in the air for an age - Sidebottom could have jumped into the crowd and signed a stack of autographs before snafflng that. Boucher is the new batter, and he has all sorts of trouble picking up another away-swinging yorker from Flntoff - he misses it, but the ball just misses his off-stump.

1803 - 233-5 The crowd think Anderson has got De Villiers caught behind, but although De Villiers did drive at that, the ball actually swung after it has passed the bat. Henry Adin, there is a fair amount of scepticism surrounding your claim that you have played county-level cricket. Get in touch and prove all the naysayers wrong.

1758 - 233-5 Great to see Freddie steaming in with such intent, but I can't help feeling he's bowling too many overs. Prince edges and Pietersen makes a good save in the gully. Prince gets off strike with a single and new boy De Villiers is on strike. Too straight from Flintoff, who was striving for another yorker, and De Villiers turns him round the corner for a single.

1753 - 231-5 Monty gets the walking stick round his neck and Anderson is back on. Edgbaston really buzzing now, but Anderson, like a human knitting needle, deflates everyone with a ball down De Villiers's leg-side that dribbles away for four. Scores level, De Villiers still not off the mark.

"Pig-Monkey (or Monkey-Pig) has got the chin of Jimmy Saville... 'Sow then, Sow then'."
Cen in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1748 - WICKET - Kallis b Flintoff 64, SA 226-5
Flintoff is roared in by the Edgbaston crowd - Flintoff's dander is up, my dander is up, Mary and Maureen's dander is up behind the counter in the hotdog stand. Kallis gets a vicious bumper first ball before missing with an airy drive... AND FLINTOFF'S GOT HIS MAN! Another wicket, inswinging yorker and Kallis is castled. Gather round Flintoff for warmth, he's red hot at the moment. De Villiers is the new man, and he manages to keep out his first-ball yorker. Flintoff has 3-54 now from 23 overs, he's making the other England seamers look very mediocre in comparison.

1745 - 226-4 Monty keeping it tight but he's nothing more than a holding bowler at the moment, absoutely no turn. Kallis slams a size 12 down the pitch and slams him over extra-cover for four, one bounce into the fence. Freddie is furious, it could be like Donald v Atherton all over again.

1741 - 217-4 Bizarre: Flintoff serves up a yorker that Kallis clearly doesn't see and Kallis, flinching as if expecting a beamer, almost loses his off-stump. Flintoff not having much luck to be honest. Kallis thinks about nibbling at Flintoff's next ball, before Freddie has him ducking with a swift bumper. And Freddie should have had his man from the fourth ball of the over - another yorker and that was absolutely plumb, the ball hitting Kallis right on the end of the boot. Umpire Dar, however, is clearly having as much trouble as Kallis seeing the ball and decides that was missing leg. It wasn't, it was hitting middle and off. A magnificent over from Flintoff, but he might get hauled over the coals by the match referee, he had a few choice words for Dar as he trotted back to his spot in the outfield.

"Can we talk about cricket please? England need wholesale changes. Collingwood can go, Sidebottom can go (what does he do? He relies to much on swing. He got some average West Indians out, he struggled in Sri Lanka and then he did average against the New Zealanders), Vaughan can go, Strauss can go. Pietersen can captain, he's the only player who gets in the team for me on merit. Who do we bring in? Bopara, Harmison, Shah, Foster. There's something to talk about."
Jack Byrne, Stockport, in the TMS inbox

1736 - 216-4 Sidebottom strays onto Kallis's pads and the burly all-rounder smacks him square on the on-side for four. Half-bunger from Prince and the left-hander drives him through the covers for four. This partnership now worth 81.

1733 - 207-4 Freddie takes the second over after tea, and that's a fine stop off his own bowling, the big man falling to his right and halting a crunching off-drive. Flintoff looks refreshed after his extended break, England could do with him rooting out a couple of quick wickets.

Monkey-faced pig
1725 - 207-4 Sidebottom back into the attack and that's Kallis's fifty, his 48th in Tests, courtesy of a nurdle off his pads for two. Sartre, Camus, Hargreaves, and now we're got Reverends piling in. Those dogs with glasses are a dim and distant memory... but here's a picture of a piglet with a monkey's face.

"Do England have bowling plans for each batter they come up against? To me it seems not. Even playing local friendly cricket for Gills Travel Club the captain and our strike bowlers would have plans for the familiar batters we came up against season in and season out. Secondly, if England lose this Test Match and the series will the selectors pick the same old team for the final Test or will they pick some of the young hopefuls to see if any or none are ready for the next Ashes clash?"
Rev'd Deacon John Letley in the TMS inbox

"Ben - this whole Colly thing is silly. Leave him alone. If anyone can name me a cricketer who has never in his life had a bad run of form, then fine. But cricketers, like all sportsmen, suffer, or enjoy, differences in form. Let's face it, sport would be more boring and repetitive without it."
Gina, Gloucestershire, in the TMS inbox

1721: Sartre, Camus, we should have rain delays more often. Personally, and if we're getting high-brow, I think Vaughan strongly resembles Roger Hargreaves' Mr Bump. Players are out, we'll be off again in a moment.

"Yes, I know exactly where Dougie from Bristol's coming from with his Vaughan as existentialist anti-hero. I was just thinking he was very like Dr Rieux in Camus' The Plague: 'None the less, he knew the tale he had to tell could not be one of final victory. It could only be the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done in the never-ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts.' That'll be Nel and Morkel, I suppose."
Paul, Lancs, in the TMS inbox

"Re: Henry Adkin (see below) - Er, what?! The difference is we're not paid to do it for England. Open heart surgery is difficult but I'll bet if you were going under the knife tomorrow you would want a little more reassurance than knowing we were all behind the surgeon wishing him well!"
James Lancaster in the TMS inbox

1711: Covers are coming off again, we should have play in a few minutes... unless it rains again, in which case we won't... just heard that we're due to start in 15 minutes...

"If the England dressing room is anything like our cricket club's dressing room then Colly's popularity has probably been sealed by bringing the latest copy of Jugs into the dressing room."
John, Manchester, in the TMS inbox

"Dougie has it wrong. If it was Michael Vaughan, it would read: 'Michael Vaughan is all alone, but Michael Vaughan marches like a regiment descending on a city... Michael Vaughan is full of anguish: the slightest movement irks him. Michael Vaughan can't imagine what they want with him. Yet Michael Vaughan must choose.'"
John Miller in the TMS inbox

1701: It's all looking pretty sodden at Edgbaston, more covers are dragged on by the groundstaff. Anyone seen American Gangster? If you're staying in this weekend, get it out of the video shop and settle down with your partner and give it a whirl, it's very good. I was thinking to myself the other day, I haven't been to a nightclub in about two years. And then it occurred to me: maybe I'll never visit a nightclub again for the rest of my days? What an odd thought.

"I am guessing Henry Adkin never complains about politicians at any level who he doesn't think are doing their jobs correctly. The players in the English squad are being paid to perform better than the average person at the game. If they can't do so, then the spectators have a right to question their inclusion."
Allan Wishart in the TMS inbox

"Michael Vaughan is becoming like that Antoine Roquentin in Sartre's incredibly hard to read and annoyingly plot-free existential romp Nausea. 'I am all alone, but I march like a regiment descending on a city... I am full of anguish: the slightest movement irks me. I can't imagine what they want with me. Yet I must choose'."
Dougie, Bristol, in the TMS inbox

1657: Henry Adkin, you have annoyed a lot of people with your Collingwood comments. More importantly, Dougie from Bristol has gone all esoteric and started quoting Sartre! Did he used to dress his dog up as a person?

"In reply to Henry's comments (see below), I think people are justified in their criticism of Collingwood. If he is not performing then he should not be in the team. If I did my job badly I would not expect to keep my job. I understand that no-one should be slated for the odd mistake but an average of around nine for England since the start of the summer isn't good enough."
Jordan Ridd in the TMS inbox

Rain delay
1650: Lancashire's Dominic Cork is on the wireless chatting about old times with Aggers and Alec Stewart. Well worth a listen. Corky hasn't had a bad career - 889 first-class wickets at 26.59, 9,033 runs at 25.23. Bad news elsewhere - brollies are back up...

"Re Piers Pennington (see below), I reckon Colly must be bringing mind-bending drugs into the dressing room. No one in the England set-up seems to have realised that three of our 'batsmen' can't bat and they've dropped one of the only people who can be relied upon to make runs. Incidentally, how do you justify dropping Broad to bring in another batsman when the batsman you bring in has a lower Test average than Broad and he just made a very decent 50? Surely hanging onto him gives you a better batsman and another bowling option?"
Dan Hughes-Morgan in the TMS inbox

"I think Colly should be left alone, typical Brits that we are slate anybody doing anything wrong, and if they're doing well then we get behind them and find someone else to slate! It's wrong, having played county level cricket myself, I can partially understand the amount of skill it takes. Not everyone can do it, and I would like to place money that a majority of people slating the England team can't catch, bat or bowl. Instead of slating them, why don't you help them out and support them?"
Henry Adkin in the TMS inbox

1640: Angus Campbell Golding challenges me again - "uh, what about your 'marmalising' then?" says Angus. "marmalize, Brit. slang. marmalise, 19- marmalize. trans. To thrash; to crush or destroy. Also fig.: to defeat decisively," says the OED. The overs are coming off, we're going to have some play in a few minutes.

"Oi! Why are you so lazy? I can't be bothered rummaging about on the Telegraph's site for a monkey-faced pig - why don't you just publish it for us. And what's more where's the top-hat wearing hamster you made tantalizing reference to? Again apparently too lazy to publish?"
Nantwich Nigel in the TMS inbox

1634: This lull in the action presents the ideal opportunity to clear something up: I get an awful lot of emails accusing me of making words up, chief among them the word 'nurdle'. Here's what my online OED has to say about the word: "nurdle, v trans. To work (the ball) away gently, esp. to the leg side; to accumulate runs slowly by this method. Freq. in nudge and nurdle. Also to nurdle one's way and intr."

"Isn't it great to see Colly back? Just a shame he can no longer bat, catch or dibbly-dobbly. But everybody agrees he brings something to the dressing room. I've been trying to imagine what it is. Perhaps a vegetable that's grown in a rude and amusing shape?"
Piers Pennington, London, in the TMS inbox

"I think Hunter S Thompson may have difficulty turning in his grave, weren't his ashes blasted out of a cannon?"
Jonathan Young via the TMS inbox

1624: As if today couldn't get any weirder, Alex in Paris has just sent in a picture of a piglet, born in China, that has the face of a monkey. I can't be bothered cutting the pic, but it's in the Telegraph. Why do you never get piglets born with the face of a monkey in Britain? God, this country is drowning in mediocrity...

Rain delay
1615: Yes Robert Carroll, you're right, I should grow up, and so should everyone else. Hunter S Thompson, a man who ate LSD for breakfast, would be turning in his grave at the thought of dogs dressed as humans. Alas, the covers are still on at Edgbaston, we've got a delay. On the plus side, Stuart Small has sent in a link to cats that look like Hitler.

1559 - 205-4 Kallis nurdles Panesar to mid-wicket to bring up the South Africa 200. Flintoff serves Kallis up a bumper which the big man ducks underneath with the minimum of fuss. Kallis picks up one with a nudge to mid-wicket. It's not getting any better for England - Prince drives, edges and the ball flies through the vacant fourth slip region and runs away for four. The crowd, sensing Flintoff's frustration, get a roar on as he comes in to bowl the final ball before tea... but Prince drives into the covers for no run. Enough of your animals dressed of people! I'm giggling too much and David Knight's hamster wearing a top hat and moustache almost sent me over the edge. That's tea - STOP EMAILING!

"The live text stuff really is puerile. Your wikipedia entry refers to your 'Gonzo' style of reporting. The reference is an insult to the memory of Hunter S Thompson. God knows he could be inane but I can't imagine him resorting to publishing pictures of dogs with glasses."
Regards, Robert Carroll in the TMS inbox

1551 - 199-4 Plenty of control from Monty, but very little turn. Flintoff gets one to hoop into Prince but the left-hander's bat is already resembling a garage door. Prince attempts to cut loose, but a sturdy drive is saved by Sidebottom at mid-off. "What England would do for a fourth seamer?" says Simon Mann on TMS. Where has that Stuart Broad gone...? Kallis on 46, Prince on 20.

Dog with side parting
1543 - 198-4 Here's Flintoff's 18th over and his eighth since lunch. It's a manful effort from Freddie, but he's not really causing any problems at the moment and this pair look rock solid at the moment. England could have done without Kallis getting in, because once Jacques is in, he makes you grovel. Rather inevitably, I have now been deluged with pictures of dogs - and cats - wearing monocles. Unfortunately it has been trumped by a picture of a dog with a side parting, and here it is.

1539 - 198-4 Flintoff is back into the attack and Vaughan posts two slips and a gully. That's another probing over from the big man, England could do with another one from him before tea, which incidentally has been delayed until 1555. Just two singles from Monty's subsequent over, one nurdle each from Kallis and Prince. That rain I spoke about a few overs ago, it seems to have gone now.

1534 - 196-4 This is one slow deck they're got up at Edgbaston - Monty drags one in short and Kallis has all the time in the world to rock back and lace him through the covers for four. Two more singles from Kallis and one from Prince and these two batsmen could only look more comfortable against Panesar if they were batting in smoking jackets.

Another dog wearing glasses
1530 - 189-4 Kallis clips Anderson off his legs in front of square for a single. Just one more no-ball from the over and England are looking a little bit fatigued at the moment. Freddie, it might be time to have another blast. Stuart Bloomfield reckons his picture of a dog wearing glasses is funnier than Mark from Reigate's. No more pics of dogs wearing glasses please, although if anyone can find one of a dog wearing a monocle, I might put it up.

1527 - 187-4 Short from Panesar and Prince sways back and twirls him through cover-point for four. Not much turn for Monty, and the rain is sweeping in...

1524 - 183-4 Another slice of luck for Kallis, who mis-times a pull only for the ball to land in no-man's land at mid-wicket. This is good, probing stuff from Anderson - he gets one to spit off a length and startle Kallis, and serves up another jaffer next ball. Kallis looks at the crease and has a little chuckle, he knows it's getting dicey out there.

"Do Wimpey still make benders in a bun?"
Greg Basire in the TMS inbox

1520 - 183-4 Monty is finally called into the attack and his first ball is pushed behind square for a single by Kallis. Panesar at least makes Prince defend the rest of the over, and I can't help thinking he was always going to provide a bigger threat than Collingwood. Odd.

1516 - 182-4 Anderson drops short and Prince rocks back and slaps him through mid-wicket for four. The pressure valve has been released somewhat over the last half an hour, but still Monty waits his turn. Chris Gobby emails in to ask: "Where have all the streakers gone in cricket?" To be honest Chris, I think they're as prevalent as they always were, it's just that the Sky producers like to pretend that they're a little bit above all that, when pretty much everyone else in England thinks there is nothing funnier than a seeing a over-zealous steward rugby tackle a naked man and perhaps end up with a pair of buttocks on his face.

"Surely old people shaped sweets should be called Jellyatrics?"Mike, Maidstone, in the TMS inbox

1512 - 178-4 Colly gets a working over from Kallis - the Durham all-rounder drags one in short and is whip-cracked through the covers for four and he follows up with a ball on Kallis's legs which the South African great whips through mid-wicket for another boundary. But there's a chance! Actually, not really - Kallis cuts and gets an inside edge, but the deflection is too great and the ball hits Ambrose on the thigh. Not much the little man could have done about that to be honest.

Wise dog
1507 - 174-4 Anderson gets one to swing into Prince, but the left-hander does well to dig it out. But that's another lucky break for South Africa, Prince having a flash at a pitched-up delivery from Anderson and the ball flying past the slips and away for four. Many thanks to Mark from Reigate for his picture of a dog wearing spectacles.

1500 - 166-4 Colly's going to have a go at the South Africans with his dibbly-dobblies. Not sure why Monty hasn't had a go yet. He doesn't look too happy about it either, he's in the outfield picking at his beard and looking like he's just been called in for tea by mum. That's a doozy of a shot from Kallis, easing Colly through wide long-on for four.

"Can you find out how the vet knew what prescription to give Mike Bell's 1970's dog? How did he read aloud the letters chart?"
Matt, still not fixing any submarines in Faslane, in the TMS inbox

1458 - 162-4 Too much width from Anderson and Prince picks up his first four, a back-foot drive through point. Prince only nibbling on loose stuff at the moment, he's otherwise quite content to defend any balls of a good line and length.

"I'm new to this online cricket thing, maybe this has been pointed out before, but your name is Benders!"
Will Brum in the TMS inbox

1450 - 158-4 Prince is off the mark at last, squeezing Sidebottom to square-leg for one. South Africa really riding their luck at the moment - Sidebottom serves up a full, inswinging delivery that Kallis drives at and the ball catches his inside-edge, beats Ambrose and runs away to the boundary. England really in South Africa's face now, this is far better from the hosts.

"We had a dog when we were kids who ended up having to wear spectacles, due to an eye condition which prevented him seeing further than the end of his nose. He was featured on local TV. The vet did say he could have contact lenses fitted, but my Dad wouldn't pay the extra £300 (a lot of money in the 1970s). He was sadly run over, fatally, by a car during the Easter holidays in 1978. The dog that is, not Dad, who is alive and well and aged 85."
Mike Bell, Ashford, in the TMS inbox

1446 - 154-4 That's a ripsnorter from Anderson, the pitch misbehaving quite badly there. The ball spits up off a length, squares Kallis up and squirts down to third-man for a couple. Another fine ball from Anderson and Kallis does well to gouge that out from off his toes and the ball races away to the third-man boundary.

"Why, in any given England Test series, does there always seem to be an opposition batsman that the England attack are unable to dislodge (McKenzie, Chanderpaul etc) but never an English batsman that the opposition cannot seem to bowl to? Where is our Mr Bostik?"
Rob, Cornwall, in the TMS inbox

1441 - 147-4 Kallis drives to mid-off for a single. Sidebottom still nagging away at Prince who blocks out the over and is yet to get off the mark after 17 balls. The chaps on TMS are tucking into jelly 'old people', as opposed to jelly babies. Are they having me on? That doesn't really make sense to me - if old people were to be made into a sweet, surely it would be peanut brittle?

1436 - 147-4 Apologies, Prince isn't off the mark yet, that earlier run was actually a leg-bye. Three slips and two gullys in for Prince, who isn't keen on laying bat on anything, and who can blame him? He does eventually have to clip Flintoff to mid-wicket for no run. Clyde (see below), it is the dog who now resembles Marty Feldman. Although my mother does look a bit like Gene Wilder.

"Just for clarification, is it the dog who now resembles Marty Feldman, or your mother?"
Clyde, working hard as usual, in the TMS inbox

1432 - 145-4 Whoa! Kallis opening up with a trademark square-drive for four. Lip-smackingly good. Monty gets a rather patronising cheer simply for throwing the ball back to Ambrose behind the stumps. That's like your boss ruffling your hair and giving you the thumbs up after seeing you log on at your desk in the morning. One more for Kallis with a clip off his legs.

1428 - 137-4 New man Prince is off the mark with a clip to fine-leg for one. Prince, who's in seriously good nick, blocks out the over. Here's a stat I just copied and pasted from cricinfo: "Flintoff's got the fewest five-wicket hauls of any bowler to get 200 wickets, with two. The next two closest bowlers are Kallis (4) and Courtney Walsh (5)."

1424 - 135-4 Freddie's dragged England right back into this match now, there's a bit of a buzz about the place now. That's good nagging bowling from Sidebottom, who forces Kallis to play at the first five balls. Kallis lets the sixth go by, but the Notts man keeps the pressure up. Oh, a couple of people have asked what happened to my mum's dog, which is nice. Both eyes were popped back in, but, alas, one of them doesn't work any more so she looks a bit like Marty Feldman.

Wicket falls
1417 - WICKET - McKenzie lbw b Flintoff 72, 135-4
Kallis's appearance in the middle has caused Flintoff to slip up a gear. The ball really thudding into Ambrose's gloves now, the little keeper takes a couple around shoulder height. Too full from Flintoff and McKenzie flips him through mid-wicket for four. Another tremendous stroke from McKenzie, easing Freddie through the covers for another boundary... BUT FREDDIE'S GOT HIS MAN! Flintoff gets one to shape into McKenzie, McKenzie misses it and Umpire Dar has no hesitation in raising his finger. Cometh the hour, and that's Flintoff's 200th Test wicket.. if you include that farce of a rest of the world match against Australia a couple of years back...

1415 - 127-3 One leg-bye and Kallis is back on strike. A slow starter Kallis and Alec Stewart reckons the best way to root him out early is by bowling full and straight or via a run out. Kallis is a bit leaden-footed, asserts Alec. Kallis blocks out the over.

"Peter Purves should be allowed to take the dog to the vets to get it neutered. Then he could say, 'here's one I spayed earlier'."
Rob (bored at work), London, in the TMS inbox

1410 - 127-3 That's a snorter of a delivery from Flintoff and Kallis very nearly has a nibble outside off-stump. Freddie drifts onto middle and leg and Kallis clips him to mid-wicket for two. Monty again the man who hauls the ball in, showing all the litheness and flexibility of one of the Smash robots. Two more easy runs for Kallis courtesy of a paddle to long-leg.

"Re. the Shitzu eye problem: as an ex veterinary nurse I can tell you that the correct procedure post eye pop-out is to pop damp cotton pads over the eyes whilst you seek veterinary assistance. Alternatively get a less ridiculously designed dog."
Kate in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1400 - WICKET - Amla c & b Anderson 9, SA 117-3
Anderson may be bowling like a drain today, but that's a magnificent snaffle off his own bowling - Amla looks to play into the leg-side, clips the ball onto his pad, the ball balloons up into the off-side and Anderson sticks out a telescopic arm and plucks a low catch out of the air. Well played son, England needed that. Kallis in next and he's off the mark with a single. Big Jacques may average 56 in Tests, but he's been poor so far this series. An England optimist would see that as a good thing, a pessimist might deduce that he's due big runs. Short from Anderson and McKenzie swivels, rolls his wrists and the ball races away for four.

1359 - 117-2 A drop! Flintoff locates the edge of McKenzie's bat and Collingwood shells a pretty straightforward catch at second slip. That pretty much sums things up for England, even our one outstanding fielder can't make anything stick. Freddie strays onto McKenzie's pads and is clipped away for a few. Monty hunts the ball down at deep mid-wicket, but even he's not drawing too many cheers today. Three more for Amla courtesy of a fend to mid-wicket.

1352 - 111-2 Anderson makes Amla play three times in a row, which consitutes a minor miracle in my book. Amla picks up a couple with a force into the covers. My father has always been a fan of strolling round his house, bold as brass, as if he was Lord God Almighty. He once opened the door to one of my brother's mates, leading to the immortal line: "Donny Dirs - au naturel..."

"My new neighbour knocked on my door a week or two before he (and his wife) moved in. It was just a fews days after I'd got married and I greeted him wearing nothing but a very loosely-fastened dressing gown. Mind you, we're still friends."
Martin Jourdain in the TMS inbox

1349 - 109-2 Flintoff to continue. McKenzie opens the face and glides him for four through third-man. The groundstaff gather beyond the boundary rope, it looks like there's a touch of drizzle in the Edgbaston air. That Peter Purves story below: what constitutes a 'handsome dog'? Certainly not my mum's shitszu. She went to the vet once, started kicking off and in the ensuing struggle both her eyes popped out. According to my mum, it looked like she was wearing a pair of those joke shop spectacles with eyes on the end of springs.


"TV presenter Peter Purves has been taken to hospital in Norwich after being bitten at a dog show. Lynn Morris from Nottcutts, the garden centre where the show was being staged, said he was having to have the wound stitched. He was judging a handsome dogs competition when a cross West Highland white terrier struck." BBC Norwich

1339: Before the cricket restarts, a rather distressing story has just dropped on the wires I'm afraid and my bosses have instructed me to step away from the Test for a couple of minutes in order to relay the news to you... please bear with me a couple of minutes.

"I don't know what's considered twee in Broken Britain, but it is very English of you to be worried about the consequences of knocking on your new neighbours' door. Go on, take a risk, to heck with the fallout."
Chris, Cape Town, in the TMS inbox

"New Neighbours: Please knock on their door and ask them a) how they managed to sell their previous house b) how they managed to get a mortgage c) how much they had to drop and d) how cheeky was their accepted offer in relation to the asking price."
Linda, Devon, in the TMS inbox

1332: Yes Mike Wayne, grow up. (Between you and me, it was Phil Tufnell, 6-25 against West Indies at The Oval in 1991. Truly spellbinding.)

"I know you boys are all really fed up the last two days' events - me too, but think we can happily do without the Mike Wayne comments, last webite entry - really, how old is this guy, know it's the school holidays, maybe that explains it. Have some lunch, call your mum, anything rather then these banal comments..."
Sally in the TMS inbox

"Ben, please tell Gina from Glos (see 1114 BST entry) that I started growing my beard at 1115 but to be honest I might not have the full ZZ look by start of play tomorrow. Or for the start of the Ashes come to think of it. I could probably manage a Robert Palmer look by the lunch interval if she's interested."
Graham via TEXT 81111

"In the days before tv replays - and still in schoolboy cricket today - if a fielder said they were uncertain of a catch the batsman was always given not out. Surely the 'catch' by Strauss should have been turned down then?
Revd Andrew Dotchin, Ipswich on TEXT 81111

"I heard a rumour that you were so engrossed in a Test match on TV once that you decided to forego a trip to 'the trumbie' and simply let your underwear take the impact whilst in-situ on the sofa. Confirmation of this apparent, super-human loyalty to the sport would be appreciated."
Mike Wayne in the TMS inbox

"Just emailing to inform you that I will not be emailing at all for 40 mins."
Ben, Clapham, in the TMS inbox

1301 - 104-2 A no-ball from England and Amla picks up a couple, Vaughan ambling after the ball, presumably to tempt Amla back onto strike. Flintoff serves up a bumper which Amla ducks underneath and that's lunch - it hasn't been a great first session for England. Some fairly mediocre bowling, not much luck and the visitors will have themselves a hearty old lunch. STOP EMAILING FOR 40 MINUTES! I'M DROWNING! By the way, we had new neighbours move in the other day - do people still knock and say hello, or is that considered a little bit twee and intrusive in 'Broken Britain'?

That's 50
1255 - 100-2 Amla doubles his score with a flick round the corner for one. There's McKenzie's 15th Test fifty courtesy of an easy drive through extra-cover for three. He's a limpet this lad - now that he's in, the England bowlers might need a claw hammer to prise him out. Amla flays at a wide one from Sidebottom and doesn't middle it - not much footwork there, hope for the England bowlers.

"Rick Wakeman in the attack could be useful, he's about seven feet tall and might get some bounce. Though his bowling arm would probably get tangled in his cape."
Stuart, Oxford, in the TMS inbox

1252 - 96-2 Not particularly convincing from McKenzie, who moves to 48 with a skewed drive to point. Amla on strike and he can expect a bit of chin music from Flintoff. Too straight from Flintoff and Amla is off the mark with a nurdle to leg

Wicket falls
1246 - WICKET - Harris c Cook b Sidebottom 19, SA 94-2
Sidebottom makes the breakthrough, Cook pouching the catch at third slip. Shaun Pollock has a point, however: if Harris can stick around for that long, what might Kallis and his mates do? That's an absolute peach from Sidebottom, the ball pitching and leaving Amla but just missing his outside edge.

Shaun Pollock
"If Harris the nightwatchman looks so comfortable, then what are the proper South African batsmen going to do?"
Shaun Pollock on TMS

1243 - 94-1 Freddie's back on from the Pavilion End. Things are getting really weird now, Monty's in at leg-slip. That's a plum from Freddie, right into the batsman's ribs and Harris lobbing the ball between Panesar and Bell on the leg-side. Harris picks up a single before Flintoff drops short and Harris paddles him to long-leg for four. Thick outside edge from McKenzie and that's two more.

1239 - 86-1 Another mediocre over from Anderson, although he does make Mckenzie play at least with his final two deliveries. Almost a chance - Harris shuffles back and chips to the leg-side, but the ball falls just short of Bell at square-leg. Sidebottom gets one past Harris's outside edge, but the nightwatchman is still there on 18.

"Looking at the body language in the England team, surely they need someone like Gunther in the team to gee them up a bit. Simon Jones would be the perfect person, just look what he did for England when he squared up to Hayden in the last Ashes!"
Ben Lygo in the TMS inbox

1230 - 85-1 This is all getting a bit desperate from England. Ambrose and Strauss appeal for lbw against McKenzie when the ball hits the middle of his bat. McKenzie bats one back to Sidebottom and the Notts man shows signs of frustration, almost flinging the ball over wicketkeeper Ambrose's head. It's all very hollow out there at the moment, and there's not much chat in the stands either.

1226 - 85-1 A festival bowling attack of Richard Stilgoe, Rick Wakeman and Piers Morgan would have more mongrel than this. Short and wide from Anderson and McKenzie piles into it, crashing the ball through backward-point for four.

1220 - 80-1 Sidebottom is on for Flintoff. Some controversy about that Strauss 'catch' - from the replays I saw, I thought it definitely bounced into Strauss's hands, but the chaps on TMS seem pretty convinced that he got his fingers underneath. Another streaky boundary, Harris driving and the ball racing through the slips. Not liking this England body language, Vaughan has the haunted expression of a man who has just been told his house is being repossessed.

1215 - 75-1 Anderson, striving for the inswinger, sends one down Harris's leg-side and that's four leg-byes. I didn't think this was possible, but play so far today has been even more dispiriting than yesterday - Anderson strays down leg again and that's four more leg-byes. "Don't you love farce? My fault I fear. I thought that you'd want what I want. Sorry, my dear. But where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother, they're here..."

"Maybe Michael Vaughan should take a leaf out of Terence Trent D'Arby's book and look for a new spirit, a new will and a new identity. Or a new, wider bat"
Simon Hill in the TMS inbox

1212 - 67-1 Flintoff gets Harris flinching with a spot of rib music, the nightwatchman shovelling to mid-wicket for one. But the rest of the over's not much cop, the big man's already showing signs of fatigue. Richard Ambler, I know what it looks like, but I promise you I didn't steal your joke. Maybe we're just very alike - fancy meeting up? Do you like owl sanctuaries?

1208 - 66-1 Anderson drops short and wide and McKenzie flogs him straight through Collingwood's hands at gully. Collingwood didn't seem to pick that up, and it was travelling like a tracer bullet. Anderson gets one to come back at Harris, but the South Africa spinner got a decent stride in and picks up a leg-bye.

1200 - 60-1 Harris gets off strike with a nurdle to leg before Flintoff thinks he's got McKenzie caught at first slip. Strauss falls forward and appears to take the catch, but the third umpire rules it was actually grassed. To be fair to Strauss, he actually admitted he wasn't sure about that one, and Flintoff seemed to realise straightaway that it wasn't out.

"Ben, I think I've come up with a theory on why this Test series has been such a disaster - perhaps South Africa are actually quite good? Just a thought, them being second in the rankings and all..."
Gareth, Bucks, in the TMS inbox

1155 - 58-1 Anderson drops short and is short-arm jabbed over mid-wicket for four by McKenzie. Another horrible over from Anderson, most deliveries about two feet outside off. The Lancashire paceman has had less fire and brimstone than a Church of England sermon so far this morning. Sadie has sent in something else to make us chuckle. The first ball from Gladstone makes Harmison's in the last Ashes series look positively probing.

1152 - 53-1 Flintoff gets one past Harris's outside edge before Harris gets runs with a nudge straight down the ground. Freddie then serves up a brute of a delivery that has Harris jerking underneath, before Harris is beaten twice more outside the off-stump. Flintoff bowling well, but Harris is proving to be a little bit annoying for England.

1146 - 51-1 Jimmy Anderson is going to have a go, only one over from Sidebottom. But that's a pretty woeful over from the Lancashire paceman, every ball wide outside McKenzie's off-peg and the South African opener doesn't have to play at one. Mindless. If England did enter the fray accompanied by the Benny Hill theme tune, Ambrose would work well as the little bald chap and everyone else could slap him on the head. Personally, I think Send In The Clowns would be an improvement on Jerusalem.

1143 - 51-1 We're back out and Harris shuffles across his stumps and defends Flintoff's first two deliveries. He does the same to the third, and that's the third completed over of the day - a maiden.

Geoffrey Boycott
"Don't send Vaughan him back to Yorkshire, he doesn't get any runs... please England, pick him for the one-dayers..."
Sir Geoffrey Boycott on TMS

"As England take the field at the start of the day's play should the loudspeaker belt out the theme music from the Benny Hill show instead of Jerusalem?
Alan, Essex on TEXT 81111

"Terence Trent D'Arby’s new name is Sananda Maitreya. When he was asked by the press as to why he chose such a name, he said: 'After intense pain I meditated for a new spirit, a new will, a new identity.' Fair enough."
Simon, Trowbridge, in the TMS inbox

Rain delay
1132: The outside covers are coming off at least, but it still looks pretty murky out there. Still getting plenty of flack about this auto-refresh. Now I know how Dylan felt when he plugged in at the Albert Hall in '66... but in reverse...

1124 - 51-1 One of my chiefs has just asked me to hammer home the fact that I'm not lazy, and that we were only ever trialling auto-refresh yesterday. Brollies unfurl like mushrooms in a dewy field and the covers come on and the players make for the dressing room... Nothing major, but the umpires, after hanging about for a couple of minutes, eventually follow the players in. Peter Berlyn just sent an email in containing a link and the words: "If this doesn't cheer you up I don't know what will." I laughed and laughed and laughed. Hope my housemate's not reading this, I might play that trick on him.

1121 - 51-1 McKenzie flips Sidebottom to square-leg for a couple before deflecting a poorly-directed ball from the Notts seamer to the long-leg fence. And there's another four for the right-handed opener courtesy of an edge through the slips - guided downwards, all along the ground.

"Terence Trent D'Arby is still knocking about making music but he's not called Terence any more - he changed it to some hippy trippy name that I can't remember. Good marketing that."
Angie, Yorks, in the TMS inbox

1114 - 41-1 Freddie's going to have first go with the ball, and he looks ruddy annoyed. If England's seamers can't move the ball about in these conditions, England are pretty much stuffed because the track is as flat as a bottle of Rola Cola. Mckenzie leaves the first couple of balls before Freddie gets one to swing in and rap McKenzie on the pads. Strangled appeal, but that was going miles down leg. McKenzie picks up the first runs of the day with a skewed drive into the off-side and he keep the strike with a clip to square-leg. Good first over from Flintoff.

"Ben - Your despair and anger was almost palpable yesterday for us. I hope that the boys can lift your clearly lagging spirits. On a completely different matter - as my friends and I are going as 'ZZ TOP video girls' tomorrow, is there anyone out there also going tomorrow who would be willing to go as the band - long beards, hats and all?! Wouldn't that be fun!"
Gina, Gloucestershire, in the TMS inbox

1110: In the latest of our 'Where Are They Now' series, I give you Terence Trent D'Arby. Where the ruddy heck has he gone? He was destined for such great things, but in hindsight, Terry is a name for cabdrivers from Poplar, not pop music behemoths. Here's Jerusalem, the umpires are on their way and we'll have play in a minute.

"Re: Some technical chit-chat: I'm finding looking at the cricket on the internet a bit of a nightmare - can you write it down and send me a letter?"
Pete Addington in the TMS inbox

1105: The news that auto-refresh has been pulled for today's play has been met with a furious response. Anyone would think I'd turned my back on technology altogether and started living in a house made of mung beans.

"You're a lazy madman Mr Dirs, the auto-refresh was superb. The fact that it is 'a bit of a nightmare' for you is a shame, but the human race must, inevitably, move forward. Please re-instate it. Now."
M. Webster, London, in the TMS inbox

"Bring back auto-update! If Dirs the technophobe can't hack it, it's time to get the next generation in. BBC on-line commentary shouldn't be a cosy old-boys club!"
Ryan G, London, in the TMS inbox

1100: A bit of early morning rain means we are due to start at 1115, so only a 15 minute delay. Apparently we're in for dry settled weather over the first few hours before a band of rain moves in - once that's hit, the lady from the BBC weather centre reckons we might in for a washout.

1055: Looks like we're going to start on time, but it's overcast and billowy up in Birmingham, so we could be in for rain. It has been raining this morning but the covers are coming off. The England team have been spotted this morning, seemingly getting the hairdryer from Freddie Flintoff. That pyjama party round Vaughany's last night must have got a bit out of hand. Collingwood was standing there looking sheepish as though he'd vomited in Freddie's slippers.

"We won the toss and it was a good deck, so it was disappointing. The guys have worked very hard, they're not complacent in any way. It's a tough game, and when the guys are down on their confidence it makes it even tougher. It was a frustrating day, but the game's not out of our grasp."
England batting coach Andy Flower

"Raining in Solihull about four miles from Edgbaston with clouds heading that way."
Nigel Prideaux in the TMS inbox

1040: Some technical chit-chat: we were trialling our new auto-refresh system yesterday with the Olympics in mind. It worked - a lot of you liked it and some didn't - but it was a bit of a nightmare for me so it's on the backburner until Beijing.

1035: Things can only get better. Surely. Last night, I staggered into the night air like a man escaping from the house of a serial killer. What a horrible, horrible day's cricket from an England point of view.

see also
South Africa in England in 2008
28 Jul 08 |  Cricket

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