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Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 18:32 UK

England v S Africa: Fourth Test, day four as it happened

FOURTH TEST, The Oval (day four):
South Africa 194 & 318 v England 316 & 0-0

Bad light and rain struck just eight balls into England's run chase on the fourth evening of the final Test, and ended play early with the total 0-0.

England needed 197 to win, and it could have been so much less as South Africa led by just 96 when their seventh wicket fell to Monty Panesar.

But AB de Villiers hit 97 and put on 95 with Paul Harris for the eighth wicket.

That left an intriguing conclusion on the cards, and with a good forecast for Monday, there should be a result.

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

By Mark Mitchener

606: DEBATE
e-mail tms@bbc.co.uk (with 'For Mark Mitchener' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606. (Not all contributions can be used)

CLOSE OF PLAY - BAD LIGHT & RAIN STOPPED PLAY

1754: And they've said that's it for the day. Well, it's set up nicely for the final day - the weather forecast is sunny, England need 197 runs and South Africa need 10 wickets. Simple as that.

As I mentioned, tickets are 15 on the gate - but if you can't make it, or are facing a Monday morning back at work, I hope you'll join us bright and early tomorrow for the live text coverage. Thanks for all your e-mails and texts, and I'll see you on the morrow.

Bill Frindall
"They would have had to have resumed by 1830, as that's the official close of play time - if you're not already playing by then, you can't go on beyond then"
Bill Frindall on TMS

1750: The umpires are out to have a look (the pitch and square are all still fully covered).

"Re: Nick (1516). I totally agree with you about Patel in the ODI team, he is a great player in that format - good batsman, tight bowler and a decent fielder - but he is nowhere near capable of being England's main spin bowler in Test cricket. Everybody seems to have forgotten how well Graeme Swann did over the winter and earlier this summer. Surely if you play two spinners in India (which is a must), he should be the second spinner as he is capable of turning a ball on custard, is a decent lower-middle order batsman and is a safe pair of hands in the slips. Add to this the fact that he has 10 years' worth of bowling experience in the county game (see what it did for Sidebottom) and he is surely the other spinner for India, if not your first choice in all Tests!"
Tom, Notts, in the TMS inbox

1737: Simon Mann on TMS says it's "raining quite heavily" at the moment.

Text in your views on 81111
"I am reliant on live text for coverage as am stuck on a train somewhere near Doncaster. Odds on the skipper being the man to get the winning runs off Gunther with the shot that got him out on 96 in the fourth Test?"
Tom, via text on 81111

1726: While we're waiting, you might want to check out the latest county scores - overlooked for the ODI squad, Phil Mustard hit 82 opening the batting for Durham in today's Pro40 match.
Latest Pro40 and County Championship scores

1718: Tickets are 15 for adults for tomorrow's play, CMJ advises - you can buy them on the gate for cash. The rain has also made its way to us at BBC TV Centre in Shepherd's Bush - it's chucking it down here.

Bad light stops play
1716 - BAD LIGHT STOPPED PLAY - Eng 0-0 (1.2 overs)
Makhaya Ntini takes the second over from the Vauxhall End, but CMJ is worries about the light and has also seen a couple of brollies going up. After Cook digs out a yorker, umpire Steve Davis whips out his light meter, consults with Aleem Dar, offers the light and the batsmen take it. The covers are brought on as there appears to be rain in the air too.

1714 - Eng 0-0 (1 over)
Morne Morkel opens up against Strauss, and he doesn't have to put bat on ball yet on any delivery. A maiden.

Text in your views on 81111
"Anonymous [1645], I guess that Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis isn't taking many wickets? Oh no, he has just beaten the record for the most wickets in a debut Test series"
James, camped up in bed with an ear infection, in Greece, via text on 81111
Report: Mendis sets record as India slump

1709: After South Africa's fielders stand still on the Oval steps for a posed photograph, they walk out in front of England's batsmen Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook. You don't need me to tell you they could both do with a few runs.

SOUTH AFRICA SECOND INNINGS

Wicket falls
1701 - WICKET - Ntini c Collingwood b Broad 2 - SA 318 all out (99.2 overs)
Broad finally ends the innings when he induces an edge from Ntini, and Colly takes a good diving catch at third slip. The target is 197...

And between innings, have a quick look at the live text for the Community Shield, as it has gone to penalties...
Live text - Community Shield, with Paul Fletcher

1659 - SA 317-9 (99 overs)
After a single from Nel, Ntini clubs Monty to Broad at mid-off, who half-stops it and they run two. Monty tosses it up to Ntini - Shaun Pollock feels the ball could either go for six or straight up into the air - but the wait goes on.

1656 - SA 314-9 (98 overs)
Shaun Pollock on TMS reveals that Nel has been looking forward to a good innings after receiving a new bat - can the last pair push the lead over 200? Nel goes for a big hook at Broad, but the ball bounces off his armguard and it falls safely. Another big swipe, but he mistimes it and it dribbles to mid-on for a single. More assured defence from Ntini sees off the over.

1651 - SA 313-9 (97 overs)
Ntini plays an immaculate forward defensive to Monty's last ball.

Wicket falls
1650 - WICKET - de Villiers b Panesar 97 - SA 313-9 (96.5 overs)
An over of 'cat and mouse' as ABDV pads up to Monty bowling over the wicket into the rough. But when ABDV tries to force the pace and comes down the track, he's beaten in the flight and is bowled by the effervescent, high-fiving Montster three short of his century.

1648 - SA 313-8 (96 overs)
A third slip is brought in for new batsman Andre Nel - but wasted as Broad fires the fifth ball down the leg side. Nel is hit on the pad by the final ball, but Dar shakes his head to a plaintive appeal.

Wicket falls
1645 - WICKET - Harris c Flintoff b Broad 34 - SA 313-8 (95.4 overs)
De Villiers facing Broad, on 96. Aggers now feels they have the field they should have had in place 16 overs ago when the second new ball was taken - we finally have two slips and a gully in. Shaun Pollock has spotted heavy clouds and people putting their jumpers on - after a single to leg takes ABDV to 97, Harris edges a four through the slips but then his brave innings (and a stand of 95) is over when he edges to Freddie at second slip. SA are "net" 191-8.

Text in your views on 81111
"On the subject of Monty, finger spinners are not getting a huge amount of Test wickets these days. Even Dan Vettori struggles"
Anonymous, via text on 81111

1641 - SA 308-7 (95 overs)
Monty takes an Ashley Giles-style line of attack, bowling over the wicket into the rough at ABDV, who can pad away anything pitching outside leg stump. Off the last ball, he guides a single to mid-wicket to reach 96.

1639 - SA 307-7 (94 overs)
KP seems to like his "double changes" - as Broad replaces Flintoff at the Pavilion End. ABDV knocks him to deep mid-on for a single, then Harris is fortunate when he digs one out, the ball flies off an edge and just over Bell at cover. They run two.

"Please would you explain what you mean by 'Monty's long barrier' [1539]?"
SS, London, in the TMS inbox
[The "long barrier" is when you get down on one knee to field the ball, with your back leg forming a second line of defence. Check out the "Skills" section of the BBC Sport website's cricket index - MM]Cricket skills: Forming a long barrier

1634 - SA 304-7 (93 overs)
Time for another Monty spell - can he make the breakthrough? ABDV nudges a single to bring the score to 300. Monty hits Harris on the pad as he misses a sweep, ump Steve Davis shakes his head. Harris, encouraged, advances down the track and belts it through mid-on for four. Given that captaincy is relatively straightforward when the ball's swinging around corners or your batsmen are on song, it's times like this when KP's captaincy will truly be tested...

1630 - SA 299-7 (92 overs)
With five men on the boundary, ABDV knocks Anderson for a comfortable single to mid-on. The singles flow freely for both men, and the crowd are getting frustrated here. A lovely cover-drive brings ABDV four, taking his score to 92 - then a single retains the strike.

Text in your views on 81111
"Why all these bouncers to Harris? Why don't we actually try and get him out rather than hurting him? Stupid cricket from England"
Anton, Bristol, via text on 81111

1626 - SA 290-7 (91 overs)
After a single from ABDV, Freddie hits Harris on the pad, there's a medium-sized shout but it's correctly turned down for height. Harris knocks a couple to fine leg, he has 22 now.

Simon Mann
"I wonder whether the horse is currently cantering over Clapham Common, as it's certainly bolted. Surely when you take the new ball, you try to get both batsmen out, not just one?"
Simon Mann on TMS

1622 - SA 287-7 (90 overs)
After bowling a couple of overs of complete tripe since tea, Harmy's off and Anderson returns. ABDV tries to late-cut, it gets an inside edge down to fine leg and Monty uses his soccer skills to stop the ball with his feet and turn four into three. With his beloved Luton Town starting on minus 30 points and losing yesterday, it could be a long season for Monty's team. SA are "net" 165-7.

"Just a thought, Grant in Dulwich [1520]. Might not Ntini's lauding of Vaughan have been a rather nifty dose of psychology? Graeme Smith has hardly stopped mentioning him this week. Perhaps their thinking is to fool our selectors into re-selecting someone who they know will give his own team more headaches than theirs!"
Allison, Essex, in the TMS inbox

1617 - SA 284-7 (89 overs)
The crowd find their voice to roar on Flintoff as he forces Harris to duck a couple of bouncers. He then gets some bat on one and they run two to KP at deep mid-on.

"Why do people insist on quoting commentators' or analysts 'own figures when criticising their opinions (see 1504 and 1529)? Surely Selvey has greater merit as a cricket writer and commentator than he did as a Test player and his opinions on Monty belong to the realm of the former rather than the latter"
Sam, Edinburgh, in the TMS inbox
[Good point - MM (zero first-class appearances/runs/wickets)]

1613 - SA 282-7 (88 overs)
ABDV swings and misses against Harmison - "that could have gone anywhere", says CMJ on TMS, while Tuffers urges England to "stay patient and not get carried away with wild field settings". Harmy bangs one in which goes for four wides (and could have been called wide in at least two dimensions). The next delivery is also loose, and ABDV gloves it to fine leg for four.

"Re Richard Knight [1529] - Mike Selvey did not call for Panesar to be dropped - what he said was that Monty's form - in respect of his bowling, fielding, batting - has not been up to scratch and that it is always healthy for a Test team to have competition for places. It is not good if a person's place is guaranteed regardless of form because there is no one challenging them. Mind you, elsewhere in the team, even if there are people challenging we seem to carry on regardless"
Pippa - wishing the Beeb hadn't abandoned cricket on TV but still loving TMS and the instant updates online - in the TMS inbox

1608 - SA 273-7 (87 overs)
Flintoff is more accurate that Harmy, with ABDV unable to get him away until he guides an easy single past square leg off the fifth ball. The last ball wide outside off stump, no trouble for Harris to avoid.

"In reply to Nick [1516]: I am bored of people criticising Monty! We finally get a Test-class spin bowler, the first for 20 years and people are trying to oust him. Monty has eight five-wicket hauls in 32 games versus two in 69 for Flintoff! Have you actually seen Samit Patel bowl? Great batting prospect but as a bowler he is Ian Blackwell or Grant Flower - one day all-rounder, never a Test bowler"
Chris in the TMS inbox

1604 - SA 272-7 (86 overs)
ABDV gets South Africa back under way with a comfortable single, then Harris leg-glances a four to bring up the fifty stand. Harmy's radar is off as another legside delivery is guided by Harris for two to fine leg as he comes across his stumps.

1559: We're in business again, and it's looking increasingly likely we'll be back tomorrow, whatever happens.

TEA INTERVAL

1542 - SA 265-7 (85 overs)
Monty on for the semi-obligatory "spinner on for last over before tea" trundle, which yields a single to mid-on for ABDV. But not even a phalanx of close fielders can prevent Harris from seeing the over off for tea - although there's a huge appeal from close fielder Cook (but not from Ambrose or Monty) for a stumping off the final ball. That's tea, ladies and gentlemen - SA are "net" 143-7.

"I'm surprised that the umpires let England keep a diving bell [1457] at short leg. Handy for the heavy rain, though!"
Andy, South Wales, in the TMS inbox

1539 - SA 264-7 (84 overs)
Not long until tea now - two more overs? Fourth umpire Richard Illingworth slips something into Aleem Dar's pocket - possibly a light meter. ABDV steers a single to the cover sweeper - Harmy has three slips, a gully and a short leg for Harris but it's Tiny Tim behind the timbers that makes an impressive leg-side take from a wide one. Harris guides Harmy away for two, and needs an England fielder to tie his shoelace for him. But he's then able to run three to the virtually deserted leg-side field. The last ball is short, ABDV paddle-hooks it to fine leg and Monty's long barrier ensures they only take a single. This stand is now worth 46 - the second highest of the innings.

1535 - SA 257-7 (83 overs)
A member of the SA support staff runs on to give what Aggers thinks is a headache tablet to Harris (after he was hit on the head earlier), and Support Man also appears to check the tall left-arm tweaker's blond highlights for him. They're all in order, but both batsmen continue to plunder a single apiece off Anderson, who then has Harris rolling onto his backside with a bouncer - he's lucky not to hit his wicket.

"I think English spinners need to look abroad for inspiration and coaching, from the likes of Warne, Murali, Kumble and Singh et al. We simply don't have any top-flight (pun intended) ex-England spinners in this country that can help to develop undoubted talents like Monty in the direction they need to go if we want them to be matchwinners for us. We had the great Allan Donald in to inspire our quick bowlers - can't we get Warney in to do something similar for our tweakers?"
Richard in the TMS inbox

1529 - SA 255-7 (82 overs)
Harmison to share the new ball, ABDV accepts the proffered single to take the score to 250. Aggers fears there could be some rain on the way, possibly. Harris turns a single off his pads to Monty at fine leg. ABDV carves a boundary past the sprawling Anderson at third man.

"This page is slowly becoming the 'drop anyone who looks half decent' page. Last week people wanted KP (current captain and centurion who is the reason we have a chance of winning this Test) dropped and now some guy with six Test wickets at 58 is calling for Monty Panesar's head... yes, let's have Swann or Yardy in, 20 overs of complete dross but they might get seven runs and stop a four"
Richard Knight in the TMS inbox

1525 - SECOND NEW BALL TAKEN - SA 249-7 (81 overs)
New ball taken straight away. Harris gets a fortunate edge for a single, then ABDV takes up the attack and it sails between the solitary slip and gully for four. An attempted yorker is nudged away for a leg bye, then Harris pushes a quick single through the covers. ABDV steers the fifth ball past gully, but declines a second run to keep the strike. SA are now "net" 127-7.

1520 - SA 241-7 (80 overs)
ABDV fluently sweeps Monty for four. He has one or two problems against the turning ball, but a half-tracker gets the treatment it deserves and is despatched to the mid-wicket fence.

"Picking up from the tributes to Vaughan over lunch, I spoke to Ntini while it was raining yesterday; the two batsmen he would chose to 'bat to save his life' are Vaughan and Tendulkar, that's a tribute if ever I heard one"
Grant, Dulwich, London, in the TMS inbox

1516 - SA 233-7 (79 overs)
With two overs until the second new ball is available, Flintoff keeps it tight against Harris, then hits him on the back of the helmet as he tries to duck into a lifting delivery. A maiden over.

"I'm really bored with people always going on about Adil Rashid, most of whom have never seen him play. His batting average is only just over 31.1 while his bowling is 35.11 - is this really something that special to be meriting an England place? Nobody talks about Samit Patel, also a young prospect at 23, who averages 46.07 with the bat and 33.93 with the ball. By comparison, in first-class cricket, Monty averages 7.72 with the bat and 30.95 with the ball. I'm flying the Samit Patel flag and hope he gets his ODI chance that can take him into the Test squad in place of Panesar"
Nick in the TMS inbox

1513 - SA 233-7 (78 overs)
ABDV's regulation single takes him to 54, then Monty gets some turn against Harris, who sweeps and misses. Four close catchers surround Harris, who gets an edge between slip and gully for a single. ABDV gets an inside edge onto his boot, but it lands safely.

1510 - SA 231-7 (77 overs)
ABDV off-drives for a single, Harris steers Flintoff for a couple to mid-wicket and then has to duck a bouncer.

"Why is it that first Fletcher and now Moores seem to ignore the evidence that every ex-England Test star finds compelling - Foster has been, consistently, the best pair of gloves in the country for at least this season, and has performed well with the bat - at the very very least no worse than the palpably weaker keepers Prior, Ambrose, Mustard et al... As with the ludicrous length of Geraint Jones' tenure, the questions must be asked about the coaches' MCG-sized blind spot!"
Tim, London, in the TMS inbox

1506 - SA 228-7 (76 overs)
A rapid maiden from Monty, which has Harris groping as he gives it a bit of air.

That's 50
1504 - SA 228-7 (75 overs)
The field drops back as Flintoff bowls to ABDV. "Go on, have a single", is the implication. ABDV accedes, then there's a big shout against Harris and they run through for a leg bye. ABDV wafts at a misdirected bouncer, which evades the tumbling Ambrose and disappears for four, while a lucky inside edge brings another boundary to the same area - and a half century for Abraham (to use his correct first name).

Mike Selvey
"Maybe Mr Selvey should have a long hard look at his own illustrious three-Test career before he starts tearing apart Monty's!"
Ed in Cyprus in the TMS inbox
INTERNET LINK: Mike Selvey's career figures on Cricinfo

1459 - SA 218-7 (74 overs)
New batsman Paul Harris defends his stumps for the final two deliveries.

Wicket falls
1457 - WICKET - Morkel c Bell b Panesar 10 - SA 218-7 (73.4 overs)
Morkel sweeps and misses against Monty, then there's a big appeal as he's hit on the pad right up in the blockhole, but umpire Dar isn't playing ball. However, Morkel's stay at the crease is ended when he prods forward, the ball loops up to the diving Bell at short leg, and Mr Dar eventually raises his finger. TV replays show it brushed his glove and credit to Morkel, he shows no dissent.

1454 - SA 218-6 (73 overs)
KP rotates his bowlers as the bearded Flintoff replaces Anderson. A single takes Morkel into double figures.

1450 - SA 217-6 (72 overs)
ABDV rotates the strike again, there's a big "gasp" when Morkel is beaten in the flight but it flies off his pad to short leg. Morkel steers a single to another sub fielder, Jason Roy ("whose boots could be cleaner", says CMJ). ABDV comes down the track, aiming an almighty mow to cow corner but misses.

"All this talk about if we should drop the Montster is barking mad as is Ambrose (granted Foster is having an exceptional year), we've just lost our most successful captain ever, replaced him with an exceptionally gifted, if somewhat arrogant talisman and in less then 12 months have to face the best team in the world, if not in recent history. If England are going to be able to compete, you need stability and the right balance and to win we need five bowlers, five batsman and a solid wicketkeeper. It may seem basic but the England selectors just seem to complicate everything"
Pete, Herford, Germany, in the TMS inbox

Geoffrey Boycott
Jonathan Agnew
1444 - SA 215-6 (71 overs)
The field is set back, offering ABDV a single against Anderson, but some quick running allows him two - thanks to a wild throw by sub fielder Jahid Ahmed, who's on for another stint. A single brings Morkel on strike, the field completely changes but Morkel pulls Jimmy away for a first-bounce four to mid-wicket! Unfortunately, Aggers fails to lure Boycs in with his "strike-rate" comparison [see 1423]... "I wouldn't make a judgement on figures alone", says Boycs. The TMS crew enjoy a few chuckles while the players take a drinks break.

1439 - SA 208-6 (70 overs)
A single by ABDV brings Morkel on strike and brings the fielders in. Shaun Pollock on TMS enjoys watching these two run between the wickets, with Morkel about 6'7" and ABDV about 5'10". Panesar bowls over the wicket to the left-handed Morkel, who nudges him away for a leg bye, then after an ABDV single, Monty has an lbw appeal against Morkel but umpire Aleem Dar not only shakes his head, but has a little word with Monty.

1435 - SA 205-6 (69 overs)
New batsman is Morne Morkel, and he's had a few problems with the Montster in the past, but first he has to defend some serious "chin music" from Anderson - the first ball darts past his helmet. Morkel then fends one off to KP at leg gully, the skipper throws the stumps down and they run an overthrow on the ricochet. Another two rounds off the over.

"Re: Mike Selvey's comments [1246]. I think he's right to criticise Monty now. 2-90 in the second innings at Edgbaston wasn't good enough. He should have been the match winner there to keep us in the series and he failed. The fielding, batting, running, catching etc of Panesar is not up to Test standard or county cricket either. Monty needs to pull his socks up"
Stella Keel in the TMS inbox

Wicket falls
1430 - WICKET - Boucher c Collingwood b Anderson 12 - SA 201-6 (68.1 overs)
KP's brief spell is over, as Anderson has changed ends - and his first ball back at the Vauxhall End lifts off the shoulder of the bat and spoons up beautifully for Colly at cover point! SA are "net" 79-6.

1428 - SA 201-5 (68 overs)
Monty's changed ends and will have a go from the Pavilion End. Just a single from Boucher is the only blemish. Meanwhile, if you haven't got Setanta and want to keep track of the Community Shield (it'll always be the Charity Shield to those of us over 30), have a look at Paul Fletcher's live text coverage on the BBC Sport website.
Live text - Community Shield, with Paul Fletcher

Kevin Pietersen
1425 - SA 200-5 (67 overs)
A quick bowling change as Monty is off after one over, and Captain KP brings himself on! It's the first time he's turned to his own right-arm off-spin since he's been captain. Boucher nudges a single to fine leg to bring up the tourists' 200, then KP gets a serious bit of turn that has ABDV playing and missing.

1423 - SA 199-5 (66 overs)
Aggers is preparing for some revenge on Boycs (who is always bemoaning Aggers' batting) - he's been sent some statistics by cricket fan and friend to TMS, actor Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter). These are stats about batting strike-rates in ODIs - he's going to show him two strike-rates (Aggers' is 66.66, Boycs' is 53.36) and ask him whose strike-rate is better? Far less interestingly, Anderson is off-driven for four by ABDV.

1419 - SA 195-5 (65 overs)
Monty into the attack from the Vauxhall End, but Boucher hoists him through mid-wicket for four. That puts the Proteas 73 ahead, have they decided to go on the attack? Boucher then has to send ABDV scurrying back when he was looking for a quick single.

Kevin Pietersen
1416 - SA 191-5 (64 overs)
Harmy is left to concentrate on his fielding as Anderson returns to the attack. He appears to lose his run-up as he tries to deliver his first ball, but soon has ABDV shouldering arms as before. Simon Mann on TMS has noticed Cap'n KP being "far more demonstrative" in the field today. ABDV turns another single to leg, and KP is really going for it now, shouting and clapping his hands. Boucher tips-and-runs a single, Anderson follows through and his throw breaks the stumps but ABDV was home and dry (or home and dusty, judging by the large plume of dust coming up from the crease).
Download our masks of Pietersen and other cricket stars

"As well as Pietersen is doing as captain at the moment, would it not be of great concern that Stuart Broad, supposedly a bowler, has a better [batting] average the Flintoff, supposedly an all-rounder. And yet Flintoff can still be found at number six!"
Simon Diffey in the TMS inbox

1411 - SA 189-5 (63 overs)
ABDV nibbles at one outside off stump from Broad, but no contact is made. KP sprints across the field to have a couple of words with Monty, who is patrolling at mid-on at the moment. ABDV nudges a single to long leg, while Boucher clips one off his toes to the same area. Harmy's a ball-magnet at long leg at the moment, and a misfield nearly hands ABDV a second run when he has to field the ball for the third time this over.

1406 - SA 186-5 (62 overs)
Boucher and ABDV exchange singles as Harmy looks around for inspiration. A pretty tame spell of cricket at the moment.

"Why do people still have a go at Monty? He bowled really well at New Zealand, and while he's not done much this series another wet summer isn't exactly conducive to spin is it? Who cares if he can't bat, you would hope your number 11 isn't really needed to score many runs. Why does it matter if a bowler can't bat? How many batsmen can bowl? A bowler is picked for taking wickets"
Nick Hassey in the TMS inbox

1402 - SA 184-5 (61 overs)
ABDV skilfully taps Broad off his toes for a couple through midwicket, then picks up another brace with a nudge to fine leg. A wide half-volley is handsomely cover-driven to take his score to 29.

1358 - SA 176-5 (60 overs)
ABDV powerfully square-cuts Harmison for four - his second boundary - then after he takes a single, Boucher stoutly defends a couple on a fuller length.

Bob the Builder
"Chris [1241], sympathies. The reverse in our house - I have it, everyone else fine. Keeping up with live text as Bob the Builder is on the telly, and sister-in-law painting the spare room listening to 'garage' using the only radio that gets TMS"
Nigel, Coventry, in the TMS inbox

1355 - SA 171-5 (59 overs)
Broad has an energetic lbw appeal against de Villiers, hair flapping in his eyes as he leaps up and down - ABDV survives, although Hawk-Eye suggests it may have clipped the very top of off stump. ABDV breaks the sequence of maidens with an off-driven single just past mid-off.

1351 - SA 170-5 (58 overs)
Harmison is still shaping the ball away from the right-handed Boucher, who shoulders arms whenever he can. Worryingly, a few umbrellas are hoisted aloft in the crowd. Maiden again - the lead is still 48.

"South Africa are putting up the shutters - not their natural game. Had they gone after it, and set England 250-300 to chase, a clean sweep would have been possible. Only the weather can save South Africa now. Full credit to England's bowlers though"
Mike Davies in Manila, swatting mosquitos, in the TMS inbox

1348 - SA 170-5 (57 overs)
A double bowling change as Panesar is replaced by Broad. ABDV, bat horizontal in his stance (albeit with a little vertical wobble), is not tempted by a couple of wide ones. A maiden over.

"The TMS crew are talking about Adil Rashid not improving this year. Has anybody pointed out his 7-107 bowling figures against Hampshire a few days ago?"
Leon Hubert in the TMS inbox
[Wickets against Hampshire are not always an accurate measure of Test potential. I remember seeing Northants left-arm seamer Paul Taylor run through them at Bournemouth, taking 7-23 which got him in the England squad - he was a two-Test wonder! MM]

1344 - SA 170-5 (56 overs)
Harmison replaces Flintoff, and is ready to let it rip against Boucher. He plays and misses a couple of times, but works Harmy away for a couple.

A sandwich
An Imperial Star Destroyer
"Couldn't help noticing that your sandwich icon bears an uncanny resemblance to an Imperial Star Destroyer (see picture). A case of the Phantom Lettuce perhaps?"
Nick, London, in the TMS inbox

1337: Right, we've had the Vaughan debate - we'll be back under way shortly.

LUNCH INTERVAL

"Alex [1236] could be onto something with his double matches. Two grounds next to each other, 14-man instead of 12-man squads. When you are out on ground A, you replace the fielder on ground B who's up next. Some feared bowlers would get huge batting scores, in an effort to keep them from bowling"
Ian in Aylesbury in the TMS inbox

Text in your views on 81111
"If KP put in some practice, how about him as second spinner in India?"
Anonymous, via text on 81111

"In reply to Mike Selvey's comment about Panesar - is he talking about the same Monty Panesar? He's a number 11 batter for several VERY good reasons, but he is our second biggest wicket-taker this series. Should we drop him based on that?"
Bob from Durham in the TMS inbox

"Sorry to carry on the wicketkeeper debate, but the argument that James Foster's batting isn't strong enough no longer holds water as an average of 40 in this season's Twenty20 cup proves. Not only did he score heavily, he did so by playing proper cricket shots as opposed to slogging. What more does he need to do to get a look in?"
David, Germany, in the TMS inbox
[I was at the Rose Bowl for T20 finals day - and Foster's wicketkeeping was outstanding - MM]

An Imperial Star Destroyer
1304: Right, South Africa are "net" 46-5 at the interval. Keep listening to TMS, as they're going to have an in-depth look back at the Michael Vaughan era - I'm disappearing for a sandwich but will be back in a short while.

1302 - SA 168-5 (55 overs)
He may not have impressed Mike Selvey recently, but can the Montster make a breakthrough before lunch? Not with his first ball, which sits up to be hit and ABDV confidently carves him to the cover boundary for four. KP inserts a leg slip, as a fourth close catcher, and Ambrose calls out "lovely, Mont" as ABDV defends, and that's lunch.

1258 - SA 164-5 (54 overs)
Probably the penultimate over before lunch... Flintoff is banging it in short to ABDV again, but ABDV's not taking the bait. Cap'n KP shuffles his field - apparently not trusting Monty to catch a top-edged pull, the safe hands of Jimmy Anderson are despatched to fine leg. Monty's still smiling though. ABDV clips Freddie off his legs to Broad at deep square leg and they run one. Boucher half-heartedly drives, Fred appeals for a catch behind but there's nothing doing.

"Surely we can't let the world's greatest living Yorkshireman (Geoffrey Boycott) get off that easily with his support of Man Utd? We should hound him until he starts to support a proper Yorkshire team - like former North Riding side Middlesbrough for instance!"
Max in the TMS inbox

1255 - SA 163-5 (53 overs)
Monty has three close catchers for Boucher, who is resolutely defensive, with lunch in the offing. An optimistic lbw shout from Monty (which appears to hit bat and pad together) is bizarrely supported from short leg and silly point, but umpire Steve Davis shakes his head and it's a rapid maiden.

Graham Gooch
"Re: Dave at 1212... Congrats on 17 years. I've survived 16 years. I had a radio hidden in my top hat so that I could listen to Gooch score his century against Pakistan. I turned it off during the ceremony ... thought it wise"
Simon in the TMS inbox

1252 - SA 163-5 (52 overs)
New batsman Mark Boucher's first ball is a no-ball from Flintoff, then he's off the mark with a single to fine leg. TMS scorer Bill Frindall fears he may have "put the mockers" on Monty by putting him on the cover of this year's Playfair Cricket Annual - and plans to put Ricky Ponting on the cover of next year's, to jinx the Aussie skipper in time for the Ashes!

Wicket falls
1246 - WICKET - Prince c Strauss b Flintoff 24 - SA 161-5 (51.2 overs)
Prince loses patience and edges a regulation catch to first slip. SA are "net" 39-5.

Mike Selvey
"No place in the England side ought to be a sinecure, and it's a real shame that no-one's pushing for Monty's place. His batting's dreadful, his running between the wickets is dreadful and his fielding's dreadful. He's had a very modest series, and his endearing antics are becoming tiresome for umpires. Somebody should tell him the story of the 'boy who cried wolf'"
Former Middlesex and England seamer Mike Selvey on TMS

Monty Panesar
1245 - SA 161-4 (51 overs)
After some urging from Graham Gooch, it's time for Monty Panesar to have a twirl before lunch. Monty hasn't been in the game much - he took 2-4 from 17 balls in the first SA innings, was run out without facing a ball while batting, and has just sent down one maiden over so far in this innings. ABDV knocks him off his legs for a couple, then a quick single beats Strauss's throw from cover. Prince sweeps for a single to retain the strike.

1241 - SA 157-4 (50 overs)
Flintoff, back over the wicket to the right-handed ABDV, bangs in a couple of short ones to see if he's still up to the challenge after being hit earlier. ABDV tries to weave away from another lifter and is struck on the shoulder-blades (although the ball deflects for four leg byes - "shoulder-blade byes"?). He keeps the strike with a leg-bye off the final delivery.

Text in your views on 81111
"My wife and both my young children are throwing up, in between mopping up the sick and changing children's clothes I'm keeping up to speed via live text on my mobile. No chance of watching or listening today!"
Chris in Coventry, via text on 81111
How to get BBC Sport on your mobile

1236 - SA 152-4 (49 overs)
ABDV nudges a single to Harmy, who's fielding at fine leg in front of a new scoreboard which has impressed Aggers. Broad goes round the wicket to Prince, and an attempted staight-drive bounces agonisingly in front of Cook at gully.

"With all the talk of including Twenty20 in future Olympics, isn't there a case to be made for the inclusion of Test cricket? They might have to start a few days before the opening ceremony, and maybe teams could play two matches at once? As long as they were batting in one and fielding in the other..."
Alex, Newcastle, in the TMS inbox

1233 - SA 151-4 (48 overs)
Flintoff goes round the wicket to the left-handed Prince, and surprisingly Prince chases a very wide one but can't even reach it! (Would have been a one-day wide, easily). There's a curious field, featuring two slips, a fourth slip and a gully, but Prince sees off another maiden.

"England's best strategy to up their firepower and protect Freddie's long-term fitness is to play five bowlers therefore weakening the batting. The top order are struggling and is a big area for concern, and logically England have to play their best batsman/keeper (not the other way around). Ambrose seems a tidy keeper but he has a technical problem outside off-stump (same applies to Strauss). I don't see much county cricket but Prior seems a good choice on current form"
John in Dubai in the TMS inbox

1228 - SA 151-4 (47 overs)
Aggers inquires why "iconic Yorkshireman" Geoff Boycott supports Manchester United - apparently it's all because he grew up idolising Denis Law. That'll go down well at Headingley... A misfield allows Prince a single, then Broad gets a bit of away-swing against ABDV, who shoulders arms well.

1224 - SA 150-4 (46 overs)
ABDV has to take evasive action from a short ball from Freddie, and it seems to clip the bottom of the grille of his helmet as he takes his eye off it. He then guides a two to fine leg, which brings up the 150 for the tourists. Flintoff gets a pat on the back from Ambrose after a good, aggressive over.

"For Salif [1137] - You and me both, mate. And don't get me started on the costs"
Mick in Tunbridge Wells in the TMS inbox

1220 - SA 148-4 (45 overs)
Prince and ABDV exchange singles as the lead creeps up to 22, while play is held up as the field is forced to swap over twice in succession. Broad then gets a lovely delivery to fizz past Prince's outside edge, and it's well taken by Ambrose. Prince cover-drives a looser delivery, with no footwork, but picks up four.

"There are five of us sat at home recovering from last night, making a hangover-busting breakfast. It is my girlfriend's birthday, today. We are all in agreement that the 'no ODI on 10 August' stat is perhaps the greatest cricketing stat ever. Great stuff! Oh, and come on England!"
Kerry Davies in the TMS inbox

1216 - SA 142-4 (44 overs)
After a good morning spell of 8-5-12-2, Harmy takes a well-deserved break and Andrew Flintoff takes the ball. He gets a couple to ghost away from ABDV, while my "gaffer" Oliver Brett is feeling the cold once again (see Friday's live text), puts my fleece on. The Brettmeister General, still absurdly coat-less after Friday, describes it as "quality warmth". A maiden for Flintoff.

BBC Sport
"A few spots of rain in the air unfortunately and then the sun's back out. The weather's gone mad here!"
BBC Sport's Ian Westbrook at The Oval - clearly angling for a transfer from Sport to the BBC Weather Centre

1212 - SA 142-4 (43 overs)
Broad's taking a leaf out of Anderson's book as he's getting it to move both ways here. Ambrose doesn't look entirely comfortable behind the stumps - which makes you think, if a suspected broken finger doesn't stop a wicketkeeper keeping, what would? Prince dabs a single to leg, then ABDV is off the mark as a very good diving stop by Colly to a square drive scoops the ball back and prevents a boundary, but they run three.

Phil Tufnell
"It's my wedding anniversary today - 17 years of bliss naturally - it's also 17 years to the day since Tuffers took 6-25 against the West Indies - I remember watching the highlights of the day's play back in my hotel room on my wedding night, while my wife flounced around the room in her dress necking champagne - happy days"
Dave in the TMS inbox

1207 - SA 138-4 (42 overs)
Harmy doesn't make de Villiers play at his first couple of deliveries, then a good stop by Harmy's Durham mate Colly at third slip keeps ABDV on nought. This is a good spell from Harmy, and another maiden over.

1203 - SA 138-4 (41 overs)
New batsman is AB de Villiers, but with nearly an hour played, the players take a drinks interval. Stuart Broad replaces Anderson, and has Prince shouldering arms as he sends down a maiden over.

Wicket falls
1157 - WICKET - Kallis c Collingwood b Harmison 9 - SA 138-4 (40 overs)
Harmison has Kallis pinned down - when Kallis plays forward and takes a step out of his ground, Harmy follows through and hurls the ball at the stumps, Andre Nel-style. Kallis then gets a let-off when he drives to short mid-off but Captain KP (on one knee) puts the catch down. But the very next delivery, Harmy finds the edge and Colly takes a good low catch at third slip! KP, I think you owe Colly a pint!

"I was just wondering why Steve Harmison did not reach his 50, when he crossed with Monty?
Katie, St Andrews, in the TMS inbox[It only counts as a completed run if both batsmen make their ground! MM]

1152 - SA 138-3 (39 overs)
Kallis finally tries to get after Anderson, but plays and misses - he has taken 50 balls to score eight. Anderson pauses to carve some mud off the bottom of his boot, then Kallis guides a single to fine leg. (The fine leg being Monty, who has to make a long trip to the other side of The Oval because of the left-hand/right-hand combo). Prince is very, very fortunate when he gets an inside edge to a ball outside off stump and it runs just past the stumps and down for four. Anderson's face is a picture of frustration.

Shaun Pollock
"Anderson is swinging the ball both ways, but Harmison is bowling back-of-a-length, so it's testing for the batters"
Former South Africa captain Shaun Pollock on TMS

1148 - SA 133-3 (38 overs)
Prince cuts Harmy over gully for four - Cap'n KP dashes all the way up from leg gully to speak to his pace bowler, and they agree to shift Paul Collingwood from third slip to second gully. So we have two slips, two gullies, a short leg and a leg gully. Prince jabs one off his hips, safely, to leg gully. KP calls for a second fielding helmet, which is brought on by Essex youngster Jahid Ahmed (today's 12th man).

1142 - SA 129-3 (37 overs)
Prince flicks Jimmy off his legs and it beats Monty to the fine leg boundary for four. Harmy isn't happy with Monty. Prince works a three to deep midwicket, so SA lead by seven. Effectively, they're "net" 7-3 in a one-innings match. And the TMS inbox has produced some contrasting opinions on Tim Ambrose... the keepers' union are out in force!

"I can't believe the hassle Ambrose is getting about that inside edge drop yesterday, as a wicketkeeper myself I know that he would have done fantastically well to take that catch, as he would have already been moving in the other direction. Four runs stopped rather than a dropped catch. Leave the man alone" (Mark Collier)
"Great wicketkeepers take half chances Mr Moores... and score runs occasionally. Our guy does neither" (Ste Pritchard, Warrington)

1137 - SA 122-3 (36 overs)
Kallis beats out a yorker from Harmy, and Bell is quickly round at square leg to prevent a single. Harmy looks very sweaty already as he trudges back to his mark, while Kallis has hardly broken sweat at all (and he's wearing a sleeveless sweater too). Three successive maidens from Harmy, and just three runs from the last six overs. I hope you're not all flicking over to watch the judo.

"Is it just me or does anyone else hate the Olympics with a passion? Stick with cricket guys!"
Salif Beg in the TMS inbox

1133 - SA 122-3 (35 overs)
Kallis's obduracy is frustrating my colleague Oliver Brett, but he finally rotates the strike with a single to bring the scores level. Prince is up on his toes as Anderson finally gets some swing.

BBC Sport
"Worrying grey clouds over the ground at the moment and quite a few empty seats still"
BBC Sport's Ian Westbrook at The Oval
[How fortunate of Ian to have the day off. Now remind me, who does our department's rota? MM]

1129 - SA 121-3 (34 overs)
The skies are cloudy but it's still quite bright as Prince sees off a maiden from Harmy. Meanwhile, in Colombo, India are two down in their second innings and still trail Sri Lanka.
Live scorecard: Sri Lanka v India (day 3)

1125 - SA 121-3 (33 overs)
Aggers takes the microphone on TMS - he feels either side could still win this game, and reveals that today (10 August) is the only day of the year on which a one-day international has never been played. Prince's first ball sees him rapped on the pad by Anderson - but it pitched outside leg and was probably going down leg anyway. Prince is off the mark with a single - then off the last ball, Monty throws the ball in from mid-off and nearly takes Bell's head off at cover!

1121 - SA 120-3 (32 overs)
Ambrose adjusts a pile of sawdust next to his left foot as Kallis ducks under a bouncer from Harmy, and carefully negotiates the rest of the over.

"Morning - thanks for all your work, could you tell me what happened to the video scorecard please, I miss it"
Mark Bull in the TMS inbox
[As I've had to explain on previous days, unfortunately all the interactive video streams have been nabbed by the Olympics, so we can't offer a video scorecard for this Test. Apologies - MM]

1117 - SA 120-3 (31 overs)
As new batsman Ashwell Prince watches from the non-striker's end, Kallis is on the defensive against Anderson. He finally flicks the last ball to Cook at deep square leg for a single, so Prince is still yet to face a ball.

Text in your views on 81111
"Hi Mark. I always like to read your first sentence in the mornings. So very 'Richie Benaud'!"
Doug in Suburbiton (sic), via text on 81111

Wicket falls
1112 - WICKET - Amla c Ambrose b Harmison 76 - SA 119-3 (30 overs)
Amla flicks Harmy for a couple down to Monty Panesar (wearing a sunhat on top of his patka today) at long leg. The Proteas now trail by just five. He then picks up another two with a slightly unconvincing prod to leg. But it's all over for Amla when he gets an edge, Ambrose thrusts out his right hand and - just - manages to hang on to it.

1109 - SA 115-2 (29 overs)
Broad takes a rest after that taxing spell of exactly one delivery, and Anderson takes over - his radar was a bit off yesterday. CMJ and Tuffers on TMS query England's use of a fielder on the cover boundary (considering they're still eight runs ahead) and the lack of one at third man (where so many runs appear to leak these days). Just a single from the over.

Robin Hood, as played by Jonas Armstrong
"Watching the Olympic archery at the moment, it made me realise how skilled Robin Hood was. He didn't need carbon fibre bow with stabilizers, oh no. He'd just tie a piece of string to a stray branch and then would proceed to take out a wood pigeon from half a mile... blindfolded too"
Cen in the TMS inbox

1103 - SA 114-2 (28 overs)
Kallis edges Steve Harmison's first ball past gully, and it shoots straight down to third man for four. Harmy then gets some fierce bounce and Kallis has to fend one off just in front of his face. As the over ends, England physio Kirk Russell is straight out onto the pitch to apply some more strapping to Tiny Tim's damaged finger. "Couldn't he have sorted it out before he came on the field?" asks CMJ on TMS.

1059 - SA 110-2 (27 overs)
We've started a minute or two early, and Stuart Broad has one ball left to complete his over from before lunch yesterday. Amla uncharacteristically flashes outside off stump but it's straight through to Ambrose.

"Working on a Sunday, with the worst hangover I've had in months. But, at least I have the BBC to keep me up to date on the cricket. Speaking of which, can SA win this? I reckon, if they can bat for as long as possible, and put up a nice total, they could deny England a decent amount of time to put some runs down. So I think SA will win if they play it safe. The question is - can they play it safe?"
Darryn, Bristol, in the TMS inbox

1057: England's fielders are already out there, and they're joined by the not-out batsmen - the bearded Hashim Amla and the burly Jacques Kallis.

Graham Gooch
"I don't believe anyone who says they don't read the papers"
Former England captain Graham Gooch on TMS
[Well said, Goochie! MM]

Get involved on 606
"I always think England chasing is a recipe for disaster, our batsmen don't fill me with confidence. That's why we need early wickets"
Englandmad666 on 606
Join the debate on 606

"Hopefully the ball will swing around a bit this morning - if we can bowl well and get it in the right areas, we'll put them under pressure"
England coach Peter Moores on TMS

1050: A couple of other items of note - while the rain was chucking it down yesterday, England coach Peter Moores revealed that keeper Tim Ambrose is playing on despite a suspected broken finger, while Moores has also leapt to the defence of his fellow member of the Former Sussex Keepers' Union by insisting that yesterday's dropped catch (when Ambrose dived really well to get a hand to an inside edge from Amla, but couldn't hold on to the catch) was no more than a half or a "third" chance. That's told us, then.
Report: England admit Ambrose injury fear

Meanwhile, TMS producer Adam Mountford has revealed that today's lunch interval on TMS will contain a special look back at Michael Vaughan's era as captain - when we'll hear from Duncan Fletcher, Alec Stewart and Ashley Giles amongst others.
TMS Blog: Ainsley's bacon butties, and Vaughan's era examined

Olympics
1042: And GB have struck gold at the Olympics, with Nicole Cooke winning the women's road race. Caroline Cheese is once more your guide on the live text with all the news and views from Beijing, while Tom Fordyce is battling to avoid an apocalyptic storm while watching the archery.
Live text - Olympics, with Caroline Cheese

1035: Morning, everyone. We're all ready for day four of the fourth and final Test - after just 17.5 overs were possible yesterday because of persistent rain.

The match situation is that South Africa are 110-2 in their second innings, just 12 runs behind England, and Hashim Amla is going great guns - he's 71 not out, and 56 of those runs have come in boundaries...


see also
England set for tricky run chase
10 Aug 08 |  England
Pietersen ton puts England ahead
08 Aug 08 |  England
New era begins well for England
07 Aug 08 |  England
England v South Africa photos
10 Aug 08 |  England
South Africa in England in 2008
02 Aug 08 |  Cricket


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