Right, that's me done for the day. They're not going to get out of this, are they? Ninety-eight overs to bat tomorrow, weather set to be fair, Dennis Lillee's got more chance of getting a knighthood than England have of saving this match... thanks for sharing the agony, maybe see you tomorrow...
"Re: Sally 1710. I'll tell you why Freddie's figures are so poor: he never gets the chance to play against England, that's why!" Kenwyn, NOT enjoying his summer holiday, Cornwall, in the TMS inbox
The answer to BigAl's question (1721) is 'no' - not even for Australia. In 1955, the Aussies scored 758-8 declared against the West Indies at Sabina Park and five players scored centuries (including Richie Benaud's 121 and a double-century from Neil Harvey). Fifth-best score was Keith Miller with 109.
"The bookies will give you 30-1 for Harmison being series top bowler. But, Matt, I'll give you 70-1." Stuart in the TMS inbox
Right, play has officially been called off for the day...
From BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff:
"Total number of people left in the stands: 23. And 18 of them are stewards. If we get more play today it'll involve snorkels and Speedos."
"Well at least it isn't going well for every Aussie cricketer - Shane Warne just got knocked out of the world series of poker! Cost him £10,000."Ben, Kings Lynn, via text on 81111
Just had a look at the forecasts for tomorrow, and as an England fan it's a ruddy nightmare: it's basically going to lash it down non-stop between now and 0700 BST, when it will start clearing up, giving the groundsmen just enough time to clean the place up before kick-off at 11... and then the Houdini act begins...
Raining heavily again in Cardiff, I'm hearing it could be called off in the next few minutes... "I wonder what the current odds are for Harmison ending up leading wicket taker in the series. Might be worth a punt," emails Matt
Big Al in Sydney (see below)... dunno...
"Was Michael Clarke's 83 the highest score for the fifth-highest scorer in a Test innings?" Big Al in Sydney in the TMS inbox
That's nice, at least I'm learning a few things today: someone who goes by the name of calicraig on 606
has just pointed out that A Pub With No Beer is an Australian song originally, sung by Slim Dusty. It makes sense, but I've only ever heard the Dubliners' version. The first Australian single to go gold, apparently...
Our man in Cardiff says it's still raining, not massively, but enough... 300 Welsh folk under the stand where Richie Benaud is seated singing "there's only one Richie Benaud", which he probably just finds a little bit scary... England's women getting turned over as well, they're 95-5 at New Road...
"Flintoff's performances vs the top four ICC-ranked teams (Aus, SA, Ind and SL) are as follows: 51 matches, batting average - 29; bowling - 147 wickets at an average of 35, and has taken five wickets in an innings only once. He is said to be England's best bowler. Why does he not bag wickets like McGrath did? What's missing in Freddie's bowling? Does he lack variation? Does he lack a surprise delivery?"Sally Brunton, Laguna Niguel, California in the TMS inbox
, do you want to know what's sad? I'm reading the sports pages from a copy of the Daily Telegraph from 24 May 1973. I see Andy Ripley scored two for London Counties... couldn't stop his boys drawing with Boland 22-22... good old Boland...
"I'm still with you too! Kids commandeered the TV, so keeping up with things with you in case play should resume! The company cheers me up too! How sad is that?!" Ruth, being driven nuts by four young kids in Shropshire, in the TMS inbox
"Ponting leads from the front with the bat, and history tells you that every Ashes-winning team has a captain that does well. He wants to hurt England after what happened in 2005, that's a real bad scar..."Ian Chappell on TMS
"Not true Ben, we're still with you, but to be fair we're stuck on a gas platform in the Caspian and the other option is work." Baku Viking in the TMS inbox
"Ian Botham has more chance of being voted slimmer of the year than Daily Express Sportsman of the Year at the moment," writes Pat Gibson in the Daily Express... on 11 October 1980. What's most breathtaking about that line is the sheer arrogance of it, as if Beefy was reading it in his kitchen, fixing himself a WeightWatchers shake and saying to himself in a determined tone, "forget next year's Ashes, I'm completely and utterly consumed with winning the Daily Express Sportsman of the Year gong..."
I don't suppose there's anyone there any more, and I don't really blame you. There's nothing so lonesome, so dull or so drear, than to stand in a bar of a pub with no beer. If only the Dubliners were in Cardiff to witness today's play...
"Will someone please take the 'Harry Potter predicts England Ashes victory' off the cricket home page - it's not just hanging him out to dry, it's absolute cruelty." Paul, Beijing, in the TMS inbox
emails in to inform me of his love of Hi De Hi's Ruth Madoc... I'm with you, son, I'm with you... it looks like the world is about to fold in on itself above Cardiff. I'm going to be honest with you, I think it's dusted for the day...
Mat B, thanks for reminding us... I'd take the gentle sparring between the Medfords and Sir Dennis Hodge over a couple of blokes and a couple of girls uttering a variety of rude words and passing wind every day of the week...
"I'd take Terry & June over Two Pints of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps any day." Mat B, quite glad he's stuck at work and not watching the cricket, London, in the TMS inbox
It's officially a rain stopped play scenario now, they should have been out after tea by now, but the brollies are still up...
"ITV might as well give up completely on Sunday evenings now BBC 1 is giving us dear old snooty Penelope Keith in To the Manor Born followed immediately by handsome Trevor Eve in Shoestring..." Miss K Tanner, Guildford, Surrey
I have somehow managed to lay my hands on an old copy of the Daily Express, and here's a taster from the TV letters page to help raise the spirits: "The great thing about the Terry and June series is that even though all the situations they get themselves into are hilariously funny - even ridiculous - most of them could happen in real life. Perhaps that's why Terry and June make such a convincing typical suburban couple." B Hooper, Hythe, Kent. There you go folks, thank your lucky stars you weren't a fan of a rubbish England cricket team on 11 October 1980.
MANUALLY REFRESH! Sorry, it is Ben Dirs now. Aggers says it's raining quite lightly out there now... cosmic...
The Aussies have certainly bared their teeth, you can't doubt that. But it's not been ferocious, like a shark attack. Instead they're being slowly masticated, and that makes for far more brutal viewing
absolutely lobbing it down in Cardiff...
Not Stevo any more, it's Ben Dirs again - manually refresh (if you can be bothered) and you'll see my name at the top and stuff like that...
Steve Harmison takes his fifth wicket for Durham as the Aussies applaud each other off the pitch at Cardiff, and well they might. The covers go on, because it's just started raining. No, wait, it's pouring. I'm gonna get some fresh air - good luck Dirsy, you'll need it, son.
1541 - Eng 20-2
Johnson to Pietersen, it's unbelievably tense now. Last over before tea and KP stretches for one outside off stump, didn't need to do that. Let's be honest, England's mess is of their own making, but Doctrove's decision is a body blow they could well have done without. Having been pilloried on Wednesday, KP is now England's best hope of getting to Lord's 0-0. Along with the wet stuff.
1537 - Eng 18-2
Sorry, but I'm still seething - how in this world Umpire Doctrove can give that after some of the ones he's turned down in this match is astonishing. Kevin Pietersen gets off the mark with a tickle down to fine leg, but England are in an enormous mess.
1535 - WICKET Bopara lbw b Hilfenhaus 1, Eng 15-2
Strauss shows Hilfenhaus the maker's name, before leaving a couple alone outside off stump. OH MY GOD IT'S AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER BOPARA IS OUT!! I'm not joking, that is a terrible, terrible decision - Hilfenhaus bowls a straight one, Bopara misses it but it's way too high, you can't possibly give that - but Billy Doctrove, who has refused to acknowledge the lbw law for the last four days, finally gives one. Wrongly. Rubbish. Heaven help us all.
1531 - Eng 15-1
My word England are in a sticky position right now, as Ravi Bopara joins his captain at the crease. Ten minutes until tea, the deficit is 224.
1527 - WICKET Cook lbw b Johnson 6, Eng 13-1
That's exactly what England did not want, and a pretty ropey dismissal for the young man. Mitchell Johnson bowls one dead straight, pitches on off stump, hitting middle, doesn't swing at all, but Cook tries to play it through mid-wicket and misses completely, it's as plumb as you like. Hammer blow.
"Nothing more satisfying as an Australian than to see the English media and public turning on their team in the face of another formidable Australian batting performance. Funny, the same negativity I really don't miss as a former Englishman myself!"Richard in the TMS inboxFormer? Is that a sick joke?
1525 - Eng 13-0
Hilfenhaus plugs away outside off stump but he's far too wide, Straussy doesn't have to bother with it at all. Peter Siddle will be warming up at this rate. Hilf then strays on to leg stump and Strauss brushes him away behind square for a handy couple of runs.
"I can't believe all the people rounding on Andrew Strauss. He isn't to blame for poor bowling figures of other people. I don't remember all of these people being so vocal when he was selected to captain, and as the other candidate played a dreadful, selfish, arrogant stroke to get himself out in the first innings, surely there aren't many rivals for the post? Hopefully Strauss can shut some of these experts up by saving the match now."jmb on 606
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1521 - Eng 11-0
Boo to you lot, I'm going for a draw big time in this one - England will have to play appallingly even by their standards to lose 10 cheap wickets on this dead track. Mitchell Johnson's started slowly again, if that's possible at around 91mph.
"I have a feeling the pitch is suddenly going to look like a minefield now the Aussies are bowling again. I'm predicting we lose two or three wickets before close of play (providing there's no rain). Final Match Prediction: England all out for around 250-300, leaving the Aussies a fairly simple run chase after lunch tomorrow (again, assuming no rain)."dyrewolfe on 606
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1516 - Eng 7-0
Ben Hilfenhaus rocks up and Cookie rocks back, pulling him through mid-wicket for four, though it wasn't far away from Marcus North's left hand at short-mid-wicket. England only trail by 232 now.
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce on Twitter:
"Australia declare, England come in. This is when the ball suddenly starts swinging, and the pitch suddenly becomes nightmarish to bat on."
1512 - Eng 3-0
Andrew Strauss counts the fielders and we're under way. Mitchell Johnson must've been watching the England boys as he sends down a bouncer off the strip and is wided, before Straussy clips a single off his pads to get off the mark. Cookie follows suit with a quick hit and run into the offside.
"There's nothing wrong with losing. It's the capitulation that is so embarrassing."Michael F Watts in the TMS inbox
Ooh, this should be a fun little session. Expect Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle/Ben Hilfenhaus to come out all guns blazing against Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook. The rain is definitely on its way, maybe just after England lose their first wicket?
From BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff:
"A heavy sense of doom hanging around the ground. If there are people here who think England will bat this out in untroubled fashion, they've gone shopping down Queen Street."
"Yet again England produce another incompetent display. Flower and Strauss are a recipe for mediocrity. An absolute disgrace."Disgusted England fan, via text on 81111
"I so hope we get England in next year's World Cup draw. Then we can smash you in cricket and in football!"Nick, Syd, in the TMS inboxFootball?? Are you joking? Do you lot even play it? (Yawn, 2003...) Also, the draw's this year, Bruce.
AUSTRALIA DECLARE ON 674-6, A LEAD OF 239
1455 - WICKET Haddin c Bopara b Collingwood 121, Aus 674-5
Haddin clops one from Colly over mid-wicket and it reaches the fence on the bounce for four. I can't even remember a time when I last had the will to live. North nudges a single to third man and these boys have now put on 200 for the sixth wicket, Aussies are 239 ahead. But that's that, Haddin tries to launch Colly into the Taff and Bopara takes the catch on the mid-wicket boundary. Ricky calls his boys in.
"I think it's less that we underestimated the Aussies, and more that we overestimated (wildly) the quality in the England side. There's no question that this Australian team is the weakest England have faced for more than 20 years. Trouble is, England have gone backwards a heck of a lot further."Toronto on 606
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1450 - Aus 666-5
Ramshackle, that's what England are. The bowling's inconsistent, the fielding's careless and the captaincy, well... Swanny, who might have to start piping down a bit off the field after this display, is cut away behind square by Haddin for a couple, before Haddo launches the ball down the long-on for a single, one bounce to Pietersen. When teams pass 600 in Test cricket, should they play one hand, one bounce? All the sixes on the scoreboard.
"It couldn't have gone much worse for England today. Maybe the fact that the rain hasn't come has thrown them off a bit, but the runs have come in floods. They've looked so lacklustre in the last hour."Vic Marks on TMS
"When the biggest cheers of the day are reserved for the trumpeter in the crowd, you know you're witnessing something spectacularly dreadful. At least our women's team is demonstrating that this country can play cricket..." Phil, Ellesmere Port, in the TMS inbox
1441 - Aus 662-5
It might be like watching a little part of you die, but well done Brad Haddin, who brings up his first Ashes century with a clip off his legs for a single from a frankly pathetic ball from Collingwood. It's the first time the Aussies have ever had four centurions in an Ashes Test, and Mitchell Johnson's still to come. Haddin thwacks Colly away for four through wide mid-on before clubbing him mercilessly down the ground for six enormous runs. The psychological impact of these blows could be telling.
"I did honestly believe that Andrew Strauss was an excellent choice as captain. However, after this totally inept performance at extracting the best from the best players at hand, I have to admit that I was utterly wrong."Tengullenhat on 606
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1436 - Aus 648-5
Third top ball of the day as Swanny sneaks one through the bat and pad of Haddin, who survives and then nicks a single to go to 98. Um, I'm not sure how to tell you this, but
a Mr S J Harmison has taken 4-50 for Durham against Yorkshire,
and he's probably not finished yet. Haddin wafts away another single and he's on 99...
From BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff:
"Anyone fancy a bowl? Doesn't matter if you're a bit rusty, or you're not international standard, or if you've never done it before. Can't be any worse than what's going on out in front of us."
1432 - Aus 645-5
Simon Jones, sat in the stands in Cardiff, gets a decent hand from the crowd, and the trumpeter gets going again. Colly sends down an over of nothingness and there's a single off the over. I might start typing with my toes...
1428 - Aus 644-5
Haddin tries to launch Swanny over long-off but doesn't get all of it and is lucky that the ball plops in no-man's land in the outfield. I'm embarrassed by how long each England ball is taking, I wish they'd get on with it. Does anyone remember what the wicket graphic looks like?
"Surely the whole point of the first Ashes Test being at Cardiff was to provide a flat batting track (succeeded) and high probability of rain (I switched on 10 minutes ago to the devastating sight of play happily going on) thereby maximising the chances of a draw and avoiding the whitewash that the current difference in class between the sides suggests?"Yours hopelessly, Realistic Pom in the TMS inbox
1424 - Aus 639-5
So in 1930, England batted first and scored 425, Australia then made 729-6, England were all out for 375 and the Aussies knocked them off for three. Back in the present, Colly comes on and wobbles a few around, but the lead's up over 200. North nicks one, but there's no slip and he gets a couple. That's just rubbing it in.
"If you could get your team to not look like they are beaten it would help. These guys would be lousy at poker let alone cricket. They are English cricketers, about time they acted like some - get Beefy and Boycott down there to give 'em all a kick up the ****. The game and the series are not over, we want a fight not a capitulation."Johnny Rocket, in the TMS inbox
1418 - Aus 633-5
Swanny's turn and Haddin dinks a couple behind square on the off side before he tries a reverse sweep - Swanny and Prior appeal for lbw but no way. Swanny indulges in some chit-chat with Haddo, who is now on 90. Mark Webber's pole has flabbergasted further an already demoralised office.
1414 - Aus 628-5
Monty continues to wheel away and Haddin merrily dances down the pitch to take two to long-on. Monts is bowling outside leg stump, it's defensive stuff from England, but Haddin just gives himself some room and blazes Monty over long-on for six, fabulous shot. These two have put on 154 from 219 balls. I feel like I've been lobotomised.
1410 - Aus 618-5
Apparently the Aussies' highest score in the Ashes is 729-6 at Lord's in 1930, some dude called Bradman scoring 254. North paddles a couple more off Swanny before guiding another one away to third man and picking up three. Aussies rubbing it in? Mark Webber takes pole for the German Grand Prix. For the love of...
Live - German Grand Prix qualifying
1406 - Aus 610-5
Monty's on at the other end and Haddin's having a pop at everything now as the Aussies in the crowd celebrate Monty's century coming up - the fifth England bowler to reach a ton. North joins in the revelry by launching Monty over mid-wicket for four.
"How can anyone who loves Test match cricket not be looking forward firstly to Australia accelerating their score along and then secondly to watching one of the world's best collapsing cricket teams trying to prove that they are not just that, against a fired up Australia? This is gripping stuff."nigeweir on 606
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1402 - Aus 603-5
Graeme Swann, who has been surprisingly woeful, comes on for Flintoff. Haddin promptly gets down on one knee and swats the ball away with the spin over mid-wicket for six big ones. England appeal for a leg-side dismissal next ball, but nothing doing there. Good God, they've gone past 600.
"I am convinced my four-year-old son - who incidentally currently struggles to differentiate between golf and cricket (poor lad, I blame his mother) - could come up with more imaginative bowling/fielding plans than Andrew Strauss."Andrew Stanyard, in the TMS inbox
1358 - Aus 595-5
Jimmy tries to york Haddin, but the glovesman shoves his stick down in time to dig it out. Oh goody, a rank long-hop outside off stump which Haddin gleefully carts to the cover-point boundary for four. Haddin chops the next one, gets a nick, it drops just in front of Matt Prior and skips away to the ropes for four more. Haddin then flicks a leg-stump half-volley over mid-wicket for four. Humbling - that's what this is. Sun's out too, ish.
1353 - Aus 582-5
Keep those missives coming - don't make me have to watch the cricket. Freddie finds a bit of swing too, but he can't direct it properly - he beats Haddin's outside edge instead with a dead straight one. He looks beat, the big man - good job we are playing back-to-back Tests...
1348 - Aus 579-5
North clips a cheeky single off his hips before Jimmy swings one in to Haddo's pads - that moved a bit. Every trick the ball/pitch plays from now on will be manna from heaven for Ricky and his boys. Strauss takes another time out to chat to his bowler, more delaying tactics. Jimmy then brings one back into North's pads - that's the second decent delivery of the day after Monty bowled a good 'un earlier. He ends down leg side.
A weary-looking England team trots back out on to the field, Strauss and Cookie deep in discussion. Here come Marcus North and Brad Haddin, too. Dirsy walks back into the office looking like he's just swallowed a wasp. Everyone having fun? It'll be Jimmy A to crank it up first...
So Straussy, who's it gonna be? Freddie and Jimmy? Broady and - oh, does anyone even care anymore? Aussies to bat until just before tea, lead of 250-odd, then tear into England this evening. Unless it rains. I don't want rain - if we're so rubbish we're gonna lose, let us lose. Seemed to work four years ago. Ah, four years ago. Now where did I leave that DVD...
"Stevo, if we can't stop almost a third of the Australians from getting centuries, what's the point of life?"Asif Hussain in the TMS inbox
"It should be a draw from here, but based on some of England's past displays I can see the Aussies 700-6 declared and England bowled out for 180 before tea on the last day, barring rain. PS Oh to be a optimist."confirmme on 606
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"We're very fortunate that when we play for Glamorgan it's like playing for your country every time, it's like playing for Wales. Then when we play for England it's a bit like playing for the British and Irish Lions at rugby, I guess."Robert Croft on TMS
"Hi. I don't normally shout at the telly, but when I ever had the new ball in my hand I tried to pitch it up - A) To try and swing it and B) To make the most of the new seam. Why did England bowl three overs short of a length with the new cherry just before lunch? I'm baffled."Tim, Co. Wexford, Ireland, in the TMS inboxBecause they're utterly useless. They have been today, anyway
They're talking about
the women's Ashes at the moment on TMS
- I wonder how long it'll be before one of the girls starts to threaten for a place in the men's team. Oh by the way, give yourself a little manual refresh, cos this is Stevo, not Dirsy - as if you didn't know already.
Dirsy, you're about as effective as Stuart Broad, take a breather son. Poor fella, he's just walking round the office in a daze, he looks like someone's just slapped him in the face with a wet fish. I don't know about you lot, but I can hardly wait for Broady to take the first over after lunch...
1302 - 577-5
Quick single to cover from Haddin, and Billy Doctrove goes upstairs after Collingwood hits... but he was at least three feet in, and that's Haddin's third Test fifty. Nuggety knock from the Aussie gloveman, from 90 balls, including six fours. That's lunch, deflation pie all round for the England players... Jonathan Stevenson
taking over in a second, be nice to him, he's very depressed...
1257 - 575-5
North moves to 96 with a dab off his pads for two... he repeats the shot for two more... Anderson with a short one and North steers him to third-man for the two he needs for his second Test ton, in just his third Test - 206 balls, 12 fours, a rock-solid knock.
"Re. 1247: So when David Gower does a flyover he gets roasted, but for the Red Arrows it's OK?" Steve, Kiel, in the TMS inbox
1252 - 569-5
North looks to jag his bat out of the way, but doesn't do it quick enough and the ball races through imaginary third slip and away for four. Wide from Freddie and North moves to 94 with a carve through point. WICKET! Katherine Brunt has reduced Australia to 288-8 at New Road. Haddin backs away and upper-cuts Flintoff to the third-man boundary...
"Tell Alison Mitchell (re 1224 on Twitter) that there are some things that Australians aren't good at - playing football for Norwich seems to be one of them."Mark Roberts in the TMS inbox
1247 - 559-5
North moves to 89 with a steer into the off-side before Haddin waits on one and carves Monty into the covers for a single. Leg before appeal from Panesar, but that struck North outside off-stump. The Red Arrows fly overhead, still no sign of this rain. England take the third new-ball...
"Please tell Chris, Melbourne, Australia, that at least England haven't started bowling underarm yet."Patrick, Cork, in the TMS inbox
1244 - 555-5
Swann short and wide and North slathers him through point for four. Flight from Swann and North flashes him through the covers for one. All the fives on the scoreboard... as an England fan, this is about as accessible as Dizzy Gillespie's Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods.
1240 - 550-5
North and Haddin exchange singles... scrap that, Haddin picks up three for his shot, no idea how, very sloppy from England... Panesar, wading in to bowl like a man trying to keep his wallet dry above his head in some surf, is prodded to cover for an easy single.
From BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff:
"It's a meteorological miracle for Australia, a climatological catastrophe for England. It's been grey enough to rain for at least the last hour, but so far it's drier than Burke and Wills' flip-flops."
1236 - 545-5
Swann getting plenty of turn, but I can't help feeling this is all happening about eight hours too late. Sharp turn there, the ball ripping back at Haddin, who just gets an inside edge on it. Short from Swann, no slip, and Haddin dabs him delightfully to the third-man fence. Swann running through his overs like Joel Garner here, and I have to agree with Chris from Melbourne (see below), this is bordering on cheating from Strauss. GET ON WITH IT MAN! New ball due...
1232 - 541-5
North plays across his pads and is beaten by one that jags back in. North sweeps for a couple, as news reaches me that Swann is off the pitch... but he's back on again, probably just needed to point Percy...
1228 - 537-5
Swanny with a mood-lifter - first he has an lbw shout turned down by Umpire Dar (it struck Haddin outside the line), before Haddin gets an inside edge that loops upwards off his pad... but falls in no man's land... still, it gave the crowd a much-needed jab in the ribs...
1225 - 536-5
The hundred lead comes up courtesy of a North single. Haddin thinks about giving Monty the charge, but thinks again, and he sees off the rest of the over. Samuel Barber... Adagio for Strings... I can't shift it now...
"There I was, looking forward to watching some serious Ashes cricket for the first time this summer... what a let down. England already seem like they are bowing to the Aussie superiority. Endless stoppages between overs, no Freddie, a soporific crowd. Thank goodness I didn't pay the astronomical ticket prices expected for this series. I suppose the trumpeter is quite good, tho..."glawsteruk1 on 606
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"What is with the disgraceful 'go slow' tactics from England, and why aren't the umpires doing anything about it? The so-called 'drinks break' was a sham. This is bordering on cheating, but from the country that gave us Bodyline, should we be surprised?"Chris, Melbourne, Australia, in the TMS inbox
1221 - 534-5
Spin from both ends now. Swann, who was very disappointing yesterday, has a chance to redeem himself. Plenty of flight from Swann and North pushes into the off-side for one. Leg before appeal against Haddin, but that was drifting down leg. Better from Swann, teasing Haddin outside off and fizzing the ball inside an airy drive. Haddin steers Swann to mid-on for one...
1216 - 532-5
Monty gets one to grip and spit across the face of Haddin's bat, and that's perhaps the first genuinely menacing ball of the day. Haddin backs away and late-cuts the final ball of the over to third-man for one.
1213 - 530-5
Concern here for Flintoff, he's into his 32nd over now and he's got another Test starting on Thursday. Right, I didn't want to say it, but I'm going to say it: it's been an anti-climax, a thoroughly soporific affair, a chloroform-dowsed handkerchief over the face. Full length from Flintoff and Haddin squeezes it to mid-on for one - he's on 30. North moves onto 74 with a chip to mid-wicket.
"Broad's got to be able to do the third seamer's job, block things up at one end - Trevor Bailey was good at it, Mike Hendrick was brilliant at it, but this lot don't seem to be able to do it." Sir Geoffrey Boycott on TMS
"Try Chris Cairns for a comparison - CC, 33.53 with the bat and 29.40 with the ball. England's best cricketer in 25 years - AF 31.69 with the bat and 32.07 with the ball. Overrated... I don't know. Rated behind Chris Cairns... yes." Aaron Brown in the TMS inbox
1203 - 526-5
The Home and Away theme now, but the Home and Away theme as played by a homeless jazz musician on a street corner in New Orleans. Too easy for Haddin, working to mid-on for one, and North adds a single to move to 73. Panesar spears one in at 70mph, but North punches it into the off-side for one. Drinks, make mine a strychnine...
1200 - 523-5
Short from Freddie and Haddin paddles him away for one. Loose stroke from North, flailing at one outside off, and he's beaten. Time for some Panesar...
1154 - 521-5
Still Broad, and Haddin flips him off his hip for one. Broad wide and over-pitched and North piles into that, moving onto 66 with a full-blooded cover-drive for four. Bit of I Should Be So Lucky now from Trumpet Boy - Billy Cooper I think he's called - and it gets the biggest cheer of the morning. That's finger-licking from North, opening the face and gliding Broad to the third-man fence. Come on Strauss, surely time to get your walking stick out...
TMS's Alison Mitchell on Twitter:
"Just popped into Five Live box - Alec Stewart and Dizzy Gillespie gonna be on air from 12 - can pass on any Qs you have for them..."
"Sorry, does 'not as good as Botham' equal 'rubbish' now then? Freddie may not be as good as Beefy, but he's the best cricketer England has produced in the last 25 years, by a distance. He's not overrated, it's just that he and KP are carrying the whole country's hopes, and consequently will both get it in the neck if we don't win the Ashes." Tom in the TMS inbox
1150 - 510-5
A rather half-hearted cheer goes up as Flintoff is tossed the ball. People keep sending me emails and Twitters about rain nearby, but the TMS boys report that the clouds are high over the ground and it's pretty toasty. Freddie over-pitches and Haddin drives sweetly through wide long-off for four. One more for Haddin with a clip off his pads.
1145 - 505-5
You'd think there'd be plenty of swing in these overcast conditions, but the last time I saw anyone bowl as gun barrel straight, the cherry was a ball bearing and the bowler was about 10cm high and had a green tube attached to his arm. Haddin clips Broad to leg for one, North untroubled for the rest of the over.
1141 - 502-5
No idea what's happened to that ball from Anderson, I can only imagine he tried to rip his fingers across the seam and the ball drifted about three feet outside North's off-stump. Width and North punches Anderson into the covers for two to move to 62. The trumpeter in the crowd with a burst of the theme from Neighbours, but it's strangely subdued, like when Todd Landers cashed in his chips...
1137 - 502-5
"They're killing the Ashes," comes a strangled cry from behind me... "if this was us batting, we'd all be wallowing in it like pigs in porridge," replies some other bloke I don't really know... Broad still on, no idea why, it's like watching a prisoner trying to tunnel through his cell wall with a sharpened lolly stick... six balls outside off, Haddin smothers the lot...
From BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff:
"Terrifying grey clouds about a minute away. Get those ponchos out sharpish. And the inflatable dinghies."
1133 - 502-5
Short from Anderson and North inside edges into his thigh with an attempted pull. Anderson getting the ball to angle across the left-handed North, and North has a nibble at the sixth ball of the over and is beaten.
"Overrated? Flintoff 75 Tests, five wicket innings, two - yes, two! Botham 102 Tests, five wicket innings 27. As someone said in the paper this week, all Freddie has to do is take a five-for in 25 out of his next 27 Tests and we can talk about him in the same breath as Sir Ian (who I seem to remember was a rather better batsman as well
)" Pete, Lutterworth, in the TMS inbox
1127 - 502-5
Broad to continue... no slip, no third-man, a short mid-on... you can see the rain clouds off in the distance now, creeping in as if in a Hammer Horror movie. Haddin drives uppishly, the ball sticking in the turf, and that's a maiden over.
1124 - 502-5
All sorts of fancy dressers in today, and I'm not talking about Jeff Thomson, who, as ever, looks like he's walked off the set of Neighbours circa 1986. Dennis Lillees, Spidermen... can't really get excited about it, Australia have got out jaffas in a vice and they're tightening the grip - tight enough over from Anderson, until the final ball when he drops short and North short-arm jabs him to the mid-wicket boundary.... that's the Aussie 500...
"Poor Michael! If he sends his bank details and $500.00 administration and bank fees then we will gladly help. Paul in Lancs, good to see you are about, Sarahs, where are you?"Miss Ruby, Perth, in the TMS inbox
1119 - 498-5
Broad is called for a wide... tennis ball bounce, the ball looped about two feet above Haddin's lid. Over-pitched from Broad and Haddin laces him through the covers for four. Haddin picks up a single with a carve to point, before Broad goes round the wicket to North. North clips to mid-wicket for one, Australia disappearing serenely into the distance like a ruddy great ocean liner...
"Sorry to disappoint you folks, but Freddie isn't fit to polish Beefy's boots. Lord Botham could sink 20 pints, steer a pedalo through Sydney Harbour in peak hour and still rip into any of our finest 11 with results. That's why we respect Beefy, he's a proper cricketer, a sneering laughable rogue, worthy of an Aussie passport."Johnny Rocket in the TMS inbox
1115 - 490-5
Short from Anderson and North rocks backs and tugs him away for a single, before Haddin drops into the off-side for one.
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Cardiff:
"The best-selling item outside the ground this morning? Ponchos - plastic ones, not the Peruvian alpaca sort. It might not be raining now, but the locals know a downpour when it's brewing."
"With the money involved in sport nowadays, I wonder if it would be feasible to use 'rain-prevention technology', as in, firing those rockets up to disperse the rainclouds. Even if it's only for big matches such as these."Sir_Blitzo on 606
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1110 - 488-5
Broad to bowl from the Cathedral Road End... come on Broady, got to be better than yesterday... leg-side delivery flicked away for four by Haddin... bouncer top-edged for four by Haddin... Broad's frustration gets the better of him, as he shies for the stumps with Haddin rooted in his crease. Haddin snaps his gum and narrows his eyes... "little boys," you can almost hear him thinking, "little boys..."
1104 - 480-5
England skipper Strauss has a big grin on his face as he bounds down the pavilion steps, and it's Jimmy Anderson to bowl first. Too straight, and Haddin flicks his first ball away for a single. North may be a new name to many, but he's been around for some time now - 130 first-class matches, 9,247 runs, averages 44.67. Tidy opening over, North playing it cool.
Broad could do with a couple more wickets today, he really hasn't dazzled so far. A yard or two short, he's been well and truly sorted out by the Aussie batsmen, and we could well see Harmison and Onions coming in at Lord's. It's Haddin and North at the crease this morning, and here they come, as Blowers struggles to make himself heard over an ear-quivering Jerusalem.
The early Pub Pontification chat in my office centres on whether Andrew Flintoff is overrated or not. The man next to me thinks he's a marvellous cricketer, but that the hubbub surrounding him whenever he's thrown the ball or he comes out to bat seems a bit out of proportion. The man opposite reckons he's not fit to light Botham's panatella. Obviously, I have no opinion on the matter.
"If and when England learn to pitch the ball up and only use the short one as a surprise they might get somewhere. It isn't rocket science - look what happened to Katich and Hussey when Anderson pitched it up."rhiannan05 on 606
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Michael... have you been fibbing? If you email in and can prove to me what these "other valuable things" were, then I'll wire you the money. As for the cricket, it's pretty difficult to know what to talk about to be honest - if we were going to get a full day's play in, then we'd surely be chatting about how long the Aussies should bat for, but the weather forecast is so dirty, I'm not sure how relevant that chat's going to be.
"Interestingly, Michael, who needs a loan, was at a seminar here in Holland yesterday, according to an email I received. Poor lad lost his wallet two days on the trot?"Alex, hoping the rain stays away from his home ground in Leiden, the Netherlands, in the TMS inbox
The video scorecard has just been inserted at the top of the page, but you'll have to manually refresh the page to see it...
The weather forecast from Cardiff couldn't really be much worse:
the BBC reckon it's going to be an out and out wash-out, although they've already got it wrong to be fair - they were predicting drizzle from 1000 BST, and we haven't seen any yet. Anyone got $2,500 they can lend Michael
? I've got his email address in case you're worried about him not paying it back.
"Hello. How are you doing? I am sorry that i didn't inform you about my traveling to England for a Seminar. I need a favor from you as soon as you recieve this e-mail because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money,and other valuable things were kept, i will like you to assist me with a loan urgently. I will be needing the sum of $2,500 to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home. Your reply will be greatly appreciated."Michael in the TMS inbox
Hello. It looks as if we'll be starting on time, which might be a surprise to many of you. However, after lunch Fish and his mob reckon it's going to rain and rain and rain...