Third Ashes Test, Edgbaston, day five:
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (with 'For Tom Fordyce' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606. (Not all contributions can be used)
ENGLAND DRAW WITH AUSTRALIA
So that's the end of the Birmingham chapter of this Ashes series, time for Leeds. Ben Dirs will be back in the seat on Friday, see you back here for some more willow-based chat then.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting:
"The way we applied ourselves today has been encouraging. A few guys have found some real form."
Clyde (sobbing quietly to himself in Norwich, expecting an angry phone call very soon), TMS inbox:
"I spent a whole day last week convincing an American visitor who has lived in France for 20 years quite how exciting cricket could be, compared to their tawdry national sports (particularly the Ashes series). I was so convincing, he managed to get himself a ticket for today. I am wracked with multi-national guilt."
Second-innings centurion Michael Clarke is named as the man of the match. Disappointingly, no "awwwww look" in his interview with Mike Atherton.
Pack up the bunting, recoil the streamers and put the beersnakes to bed, it's time for the Ashes jamboree to move up the M1 towards Leeds for the fourth Test at Headingley on Friday. With Brett Lee itching for selection, the Australians will feel quietly optimistic about their chances of levelling this series following their performance today. England are not without their selection issues, Stuart Broad's bowling abilities are likely to be called into question with Steve Harmison's arm perennially in the air waiting to answer teacher's question. The squad for Headingley will be announced on Tuesday.
From Charlie, Cornwall, text 81111:
"I hope after his batting yesterday, and being the pick of a lacklustre bowling attack today, Broad won't get a premature axe. He will be vital for England's future once Flintoff goes."
AUSTRALIA DRAW WITH ENGLAND
1751: Aus 375-5
"Happy Edgbaston day" says Ravi Bopara, who sends down a rank long-hop turned around the corner for Michael Clarke's 14th boundary. Well batted that man. And handshakes all round indicate the game is deader than Steve Rouse's lawnmower batteries.
1749: Aus 371-5
For some unfathomable reason, the Aussie batsmen are taking drinks. Utterly pointless, like listening to any Tin Machine album. Following his liquid replenishment, Michael Clarke attempts to mine the remaining runs until his ton and he does so with a tidy flick off his pads through midwicket for three, leaving him one short of his 12th Test ton. But more importantly, he's nicked the strike with the triple.
1745: Aus 367-5
He's got him! No he hasn't! Umpire Rudi Koertzen's arm is extended horizontally to indicate Ravi Bopara's front foot has overstepped the popping crease just as Michael Clarke's thick outside edge is brilliantly snaffled by James Anderson at wide second slip. Clarke, clearly wanting to bring up his three figures as quickly as possible, flails at a ball to straight too flail, but his fortune is in the hands of the South African official.
From Cat in Paisley, TMS inbox:
"Time to head for the hills and leave the live text alone. What a disappointing day."
1739: Aus 366-5
Paul Collingwood's thoughts are momentarily distracted from three-irons and putters with a regulation few overs before the day's end. Clarke, sniffing his 12th Test century, is turning easy singles into tricky twos - a man who clearly wants something out of this meaningless session. A quick single from the final ball of the over sees the New South Welshman move to 96.
1735: Aus 362-5
Strauss stretches his tactical nous by placing two short covers for Manou, only for the batsman to guide the ball past the duo for a single off Bopara. Singles galore. Not a whole lot more.
1732: Aus 358-5
Smash O'Clock from Graham Manou, who rides a short Broad delivery and dispatches the ball through midwicket with an authoritative pull for four. Broad momentarily atones for his earlier gimme with a nasty delivery which spits on a length, forcing Manou to remove his bottom hand to fend the ball to safety. On the flip side, the wicketkeeper then has to keep a pea-roller from busting his toes two balls later.
Charlotte, frustrated at Edgbaston, via text 81111:
"Utterly ridiculous. Here's the scene: boyfriend drags my reluctant self to my first match, yet the match is so dull that the most fun I've had is the Mexican wave. I spend two minutes trying to conduct a witty text to the BBC, meaning that I miss the wicket. Typical."
1728: Aus 354-5
Someone has replaced Ravi Bopara's radar with a garden hose attachment as he flings a wide delivery to Michael Clarke, who can't be bothered to smash it to the boundary. Still another five overs to go before the game can mercifully ended. Stick with me troops.
1724: Aus 350-5
Head on hands for Broad, who bisects the gap between Michael Clarke's front pad and hefty piece of blade, outrageously flirting with his off stump. Judging by the reaction from the players, that ball could well have kissed the stump on its way to Matt Prior. More like a peck on your cheek for your mother rather than a full-on tongue sandwich.
From Rohan Sivajoti, Walton's opening bat, Leeds, TMS inbox:
"RE: North's moo - That would simply be greeted with raucous applause at our club. We were bowled out for 64 last time out falling just short of our target of 244."
1719: Aus 347-5
Mercifully for Ravi Bopara, new man Graham Manou is on strike following his profligate previous over. The South Australia wicketkeeper, who looks set to return for Headingley with Brad Haddin's finger wrapped in cotton wool, plays safe with a straight bat. Maiden over.
From Anonymous, via text 81111:
"I don't want Australia to declare and have England snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."
1716: Aus 347-5
Confirmation, if anyone needed it, that James Anderson is the best fast bowling fielder England have ever had. Broad serves up a cunning, full, slower ball outside Marcus North's off stump and the left-hander goes hard with a kitchen sink front-foot drive, all set for the ton, but the ball hits the footmarks and a thick outside edge is brilliantly taken by Anderson, who dives spectacularly to snaffle a one-handed take with his right hand. Quite, quite brilliant, but way too late. Nevermind.
1712: Aus 346-5 WICKET North ct Anderson b Broad 96
What a catch from Anderson! North's gone.
1711: Aus 346-4
Crackerjack stroke from North, who punches a back-foot drive through mid-on for four with minimal bat flourish off Ravi Bopara, who probably wants to hide somewhere in the deep. Another boundary, this time with a Clive Lloyd one-knee finish after a drive through extra cover. And lo and behold, boundary number three follows with an angled bat through the vacant gully and third man are for four, runs which see North move four shy of his second ton of the series. Oh dear, Bopara gifts the juiciest of long-hops on leg stump to Clarke, who turns the ball off his pads through square leg for boundary number four of the over. "Taaaaaaaxi for Boooooparaaaaaaaah..."
1705: Aus 329-4
Michael Clarke plays a risky push across his pads to a straight delivery from Broad, but manages to find enough willow to push the ball for a single to midwicket. I can see the vet shaking his head and heading for his medicine cabinet here.
From Rich, TMS inbox:
Rich and his mates playing cricket at Glastonbury in 2007
"This full toss at Glastonbury a couple of years ago, on a wicket only slightly damper than Edgbaston, was edged and taken with a spectacular dive at second slip."
1701: Aus 327-4
A huge cheer erupts from the Hollies Stand as Andrew Flintoff collects the ball, all for picking up the ball at long on following a Clarke push for a single. Why can't people do that when I complete mundane tasks? North is hell-bent on three figures as he flails an ugly mow, the kind that would be greeted with a huge chorus of "mooooos" from his team-mates were he playing a village game in Walton-on-the-Naze. Still, he gets four for his efforts.
1658: Aus 320-4
North extends Australia's lead to 202 with a decidedly dodgy aerial front-foot drive past mid-off for a couple. The double also sees Marcus North and Michael Clarke achieve the highest Australian five-wicket stand at Edgbaston. Broad drops short and North tucks in with an aggressive pull which looks set to disturb the boundary ropes, only for Ian Bell to throw himself like a man protecting his last Rolo from the clutches of his ravenous wife to prevent the runs.
1652: Aus 312-4
Lavish cut from North, who creates room for himself on the leg side before scything Swann through backward square for a boundary. He follows that up with a less convincing stroke, albeit with the same result, as he goes aerial over mid-off, taking him to 75. Swann's figures are a brutal 112-1. Ouch.
MattyGaston23, on 606:
"I think if Punter doesn't declare here he is showing he is scared of you English! Australia always play to win, it's in our blood, we don't accept defeat, and even when you do beat us we think it's luck.. by not declaring and giving our bowlers a crack, he is showing he has no confidence in them! I've seen stranger things happen in cricket.. so why not declare?!"
1649: Aus 303-4
Clarke extends his arms, opening the face of the bat to guide Stuart Broad through backward point for his 12th boundary of his innings, tootling along to 81 as well as bringing up the Australia triple ton. Tired attempts at a Mexican Wave from the slightly sozzled Edgbaston faithful are momentarily the most exciting update until Clarke plays an uncharacteristic play and miss to a delivery outside off stump.
1644: Aus 299-4
Fleet foot movement from Clarke sees the Aussie vice-captain create room to leg, allowing him to push a single through cover off Swann. A wristy flourish from North sees the Western Australia skipper collect a leg-side single to keep the total ticking.
1641: Aus 296-4
While most England players' minds are meandering towards the golf course - Paul Collingwood mimed a wedge in the slips pre-tea interval - Stuart Broad has more pressing concerns, namely his selection for Headingley on Friday. He enhances his case for inclusion as North wafts at two successive deliveries outside off stump.
1637: Aus 295-4
Christopher Martin Jenkins has just told us that Matt Prior went through a mock delivery just before Broad's last over. Judging by Graeme Swann's first over, he may get the nod from his captain very soon. The off-spinner drops short and wide outside off stump and Clarke's eyes light up like the MGM Grand, only for deep point to spoil his visions of a boundary.
1634: Aus 294-4
Broad rolls in and sees Clarke grope like a blindfolded teenager outside off stump before playing an airy bottom-edged drive into the gigantic space at point for a single. North opts for a more circumspect approach and sees off the remainder of Broad's over without too much fuss.
Out wander Marcus North and Michael Clarke, stomach lined with nutritious sustenance ideal to bat out the final session of the third Test. Stuart Broad to bowl the first post-tea over...
From Tom, Rotherham, TMS inbox:
"I once went to a literature festival in Cheltenham and Bruce Parry was there, the guy who has done Amazon and Tribe. I congratulated him on his open-mindedness to experiencing different cultures and then I asked him whether he fancied doing a cultural snapshot programme about life in Rotherham. He said that after just returning from Papua New Guinea he wasn't ready to visit another place where outsiders have never ventured. Fair enough."
Lots of emails about the England seamers' collective phobias of razors right now, although Stuart Broad looks as if he will have his first shave at the ripe old age of 58, judging his near-naked bottom jaw. I'm all in favour of stubble as rough as a privet hedge, Graham Onions would look like an insurance salesman who has lost his keys if he didn't sport a healthy five-day growth. Would be brilliant to see Fred with a David Boonesque handlebar moustache for Headingley though.
Hello bored cricket fans of Englandshire, much like Stuart Broad, Thomas of Forydcesex has taken a blow so I will be your guide until the point Michael Clarke shakes hands with Andrew Strauss in the very imminent future. So if you wouldn't mind refreshing your page via the magic of F5
or the button at the top of the browser...
Håkon, London and Norway, TMS inbox:
"'This is about as enthralling as a Norwegian literature festival right now???' At least Norwegian literature festivals don't go for five (or four in this case) days, get rained out and then end in an uneventful tie. I'd say that 'it's about as enthralling as the last day of a stock standard, boring Test match right now'."
Touche, Håkon, touche.
1611: TEA Aus 293-4
Swann with the concluder, watched by North - that'll be tea, and with the lead now 180, the draw is a cert.
From Tom, Liverpool, via test 81111:
"Re Onions being married, has anyone checked for Onion Rings?"
1608: Aus 291-4
Broad returns for a last joust before the cucumber sangers. Maiden with minimal threat; Clarke on 73, North on 62.
From Paul, Lancs, TMS inbox:
"I'll have you know that this May's Norsk Litteraturfestival in Lillehammer was a most uplifting event, with this year's focus on 'Truth'. Festival Director Randi Skeie told me that the debate between Mads Gilbert, Bjørn Gabrielsen and Morten Strøksnes was a real highlight. The Latvian festival was a bit dull though."
1603: Aus 291-4
Smash - Clarke dances out to meet Swann's incomer and belts it high back over his head for a relaxed four. Single popped away; square drive from North from a full one for four more. Partnership of 130, lead of 178.
From Cooper, Ilkley, TMS inbox:
"Lily Allen's infatuation should come as no surprise. They do say that women are attracted to men that look a bit like their father and Onions looks like the love child of Keith Allen and Leonard Rossiter."
1600: Aus 282-4
10 minutes to go until the delayed tea break. Maiden from Anderson, and we're meandering towards a reboot at Headingley.
From Tony B, Lewes, via text 81111:
"re: Onions being married, don't even think about it, he'll only make you cry."
1556: Aus 282-4
Super shot from Clarke, advancing to Swann and driving against the spin for four, and then stepping back to the next one to crash it off the back peg for four more. 37 overs left in the day, the lead 169.
Durham coach Geoff Cook says Steve Harmison will be ready to play for England at Headingley on Friday if needed - despite having blisters. Cook said: "His feet are a mess. One big toe has an open wound and it looks nasty. He needs a rest to give it a chance to heal, but if England want him he'll be there."
1552: Aus 272-4
Anderson is rapped on the ankle by a firm straight drive from Marcus North, driving on the up, but the ball ricochets to safety, although Jimmy could've made more of an effect to flick it up with his boot for a truly classy caught and bowled. A little bit of shape back into the left-hander, but Anderson's bananas need a little more bend to threaten North's off stump.
1549: Aus 272-4
Lordy, who'd a thought Lily Allen would make a beeline for the Durham tyro? Would he have the fear? She is a weapon of massive consumption after all. Clarke punishes an overpitched Onions delivery past mid-on for a boundary so beautiful, it will make grown men weep with joy.
From Lilyroseallen, via Twitter:
Is Onions married? Anyone?"
1544: Aus 266-4
Try as he might with minimal seam rotations to the left or right, James Anderson is flinging down deliveries which are refusing to swing. Clarke lazily smears an off-side push to deep point, while North has packed away his fishing gear for the summer, retreating his bat well inside his pad as Anderson probes the off-stump line.
1540: Aus 265-4
Onions, head down, arms pumping like a 1980s inner-city ghettoblaster, steams in and Michael Clarke budges a single backward of point. Meanwhile, Marcus North keeps a tidy vigil outside his off stump before adding a couple through midwicket with a wristy clip. This is about as enthralling as a Norwegian literature festival right now.
1532: Aus 261-4
That's Clarke 50 too, and the 100 partnership to boot off 184 balls. Anderson toiling fruitlessly; Strauss chews his nails as the bowler slings the ball back at Prior with semi-stroppiness.
From anonymous, via text 81111:
"A few years back I worked security at the Oval as a summer job, and the best way of staying awake with a mate on the night-shift was to take to the hallowed turf with a replica autographed bat, signed by the entire 2002 County Championship winning Surrey team no less, and smack a tennis ball across the outfield."
1528: Aus 259-4
Onions has a joust with the cherry. Tickle to leg from North to move to his half-ton, and that's a crackerjack through the covers for four more. Lead to 146, and that last wicket seems an awful long time ago.
1522: Aus 254-4
What's that - you can read these updates again? And you're disheartened to see no wickets have gone down in that time? This is where we are: Clarke on 48, North on 49, the lead 141.
1516: Aus 249-4
If there's one thing more disheartening than this match slowly meandering to a draw, it's that no-one can read me writing about it. Partnership to 88, lead to 136, a minimum of 46 overs left in the day.
From Jon, TMS inbox:
Showing the Romans how to play cricket in the Eternal City
"A couple of years ago my friend Eddie and I educated the bemused residents of the Eternal City by holding an exhibition match in St Peter's Square."
1510: Aus 245-4
With the new ball due in an over, Strauss calls Jimmy in for a loosener. No-one can hear me, can they? Technical woes have left the website un-updated for hours, and I'm being smashed all over the place on the emails as a result. Lead 132.
From John Mitchell, TMS inbox:
"I didn't have any fellow cricket-loving friends when growing up so in my garden I would bowl my own balls, employing pea rollers to allow myself time to get to the stumps and collect the bat, to then slog it into the flower bed, then drop the bat to chase the ball, remembering to come back for the bat to complete a couple of runs before collecting the ball and returning to the stumps for another delivery."
1500: Aus 236-4
Swann again - big appeal as the ball flies off Clarke's boot and is caught by a tumbling Prior - nope, says Rudi K, quite correctly. Lead is 123, and even with tea not due until 1610 the punters are starting to head for the refresco stands.
1454: Aus 231-4
North angles Bopara behind point, using the pace of the ball to run it away for four. Lead of 118, and Edgbaston has gone awfully quiet.
1450: Aus 226-4
Clarke cruising now. He slap-sweeps Swann for four through square leg, and the lead is now 113. To rub salt in the wounds, I'm told none of these updates are going through. Boooo.
From Dan, London, TMS inbox:
Dan and his mate inspect the pitch - a spinner's paradise - in Nepal
"Here's one from the wicket at the Ngozumpa glacier, Nepal (5000m). We did a 17-day trek, equipped with cricket kit all the way to Everest base camp. I suspect England would quite like some cracks like those
1447: Aus 221-4
Bopara it is - short, pulled by Clarke - DROPPED! Strauss the guilty man, stationed at midwicket - it was travelling at pace, but that was a real chance. Bopara has his hands on his head, and most of Edgbaston mimics him. Was the moment?
From Daniel Read, TMS inbox:
"We found ourselves at the Isle of Wight music festival a few years ago now with bat, ball and a gang of keen would-be players but without the necessary wicket. A deckchair was soon hunted down but the stumps were rather too far apart to aim at thus negating their use until the tallest member of our party did the decent thing- dropped his trousers, sat down on the chair with his skinny legs along with can of cider clutched between knees as the stumps."
1442: Aus 219-4
Hmm. North refuses the bait outside off, Swann twirling into the footholds hopefully, and when the bowler tries a straighter one North sweeps mightily for four to midwicket. Is that Ravi Bopara loosening up?
From BBC Sport's Oliver Brett, via Twitter:
"I put the hex on Hussey... So how's this? Clarke moving smoothly through the gears, Aussies looking pretty safe, Swann disappointing..."
1438: Aus 215-4From anonymous, via text 81111:"When I was in Iraq, we played with a gaffer tape ball and a stick. Players were dressed in combats, body armour and helmet (as protection against rockets not the ball). play was interrupted by the occasional attack. This is one for the statto. Has play ever been interrupted due to indirect fire attack?"
Fred's throwing all his chips into the pan, but there's nothing frying for him today. Clarke looks like a man enjoying a net, and the lead creeps up to 102.
1432: Aus 212-4
A man dressed as Richard the Lionheart puts binoculars to his eyes as if he's been using them all his life. Fred thunders in; no joy outside off. Clarke to 37, North to 19, the lead 99 and 56 overs left in the day.
1432: Aus 212-4From Jon, Preston, text 81111:"As a policeman on nights we played cricket under a lamp post with a truncheon and a ping pong ball. Great fun and the public in Preston could sleep peacefully knowing the streets were safe."
A man dressed as Richard the Lionheart puts binoculars to his eyes as if he's been using them all his life. Fred thunders in; no joy outside off. Clarke to 37, North to 19, the lead 99 and 56 overs left in the day.
1427: Aus 211-4
Fred wanders off to field with a grimace, but I think he's okay - he gives the nod to Strauss that he's good to go again. Of course he is. Swann jogs in, but there are singles left and right - the lead to 98, and England will be wondering where the next wicket is coming from.
From Jon, at work in sunny Slough, text 81111:
"Ramprakash currently 271no for Surrey - the guy is a machine and literally scoring runs for fun! Ridiculous! What good reason was there to not select him two years ago...persuade him out of retirement...even to be 12th man. What personal issues do the selectors have with him?"
1423: Aus 209-4
Fred decides to go round the wicket to Leftie North. One is angled down leg and Fred hits the deck - he looks in trouble here, and here's why: his left ankle twisted horribly on the loose footholds as he game in to bowl. He winces as he's helped to his feet by a sympathetic Collywobble.
From Jon Moore, TMS inbox:
"After finding our company was going under, myself and Aussie and Pakistani colleagues set up a left-handed tri-nation series. Most notable shots I produced were 10 runs for a slog that turned on the kettle and eight runs for a classy cover drive that set off the Hoover."
1419: Aus 208-4
Swann twirls, Clarke using his feet like Astaire to get to the pitch and mop out any tweak. Lead to 95.
From anonymous, text 81111:
"Barney the Labrador mongrel was a regular feature in Tests between my brother and I. An athletic fielder if something of a show-off as he insisted on being chased around the ground when he took a catch and refused to give the ball back."
1415: Aus 207-4
Yup, Fred it is, to the delight of the refreshed patrons packing out the Brumstands. Nothing going on off the track, and no zip in the air either, and Clarke is happy to defend. Fed gets one to come in at pace but Clarke controls an edge away through what would be fourth slip for four more. Lead to 94 - if this pair put on another 30-40, England will feel the win slipping through their sweaty fingers.
1411: Aus 203-4
The Swanny bowl-me eyes have worked - he's on for a twirl. Two slips in, forward short leg, silly point - resolute from North, smothering and stopping. Are we readying for Fred?
From S Ashfield, TMS inbox:
"Here is a picture of my Korean friend Alex after we introduced him to cricket whilst in Australia. He doesn't like it much."
1406: Aus 198-4
Hmmm. That little hint of post-lunch swing has disappeared again. Swann bends back his fingers at gully and looks meaningfully at Skipper Strauss at slip. Four dabbed through gully from North, and the lead is 86. Wicket required.
From anonymous, text 81111:
"Whilst working in the produce department of our local supermarket, we used to play cricket with a marrow and an onion in the cold store room. We were caught one day by a trainee manager, but keen to be one of the lads he asked to join in. Attempting to hoik the first ball straight down the ground for six, the by now condensated marrow flew from his hands and put a sizeable hole in the polystyrene roof tiles. We never saw marrow or manager again."
1402: Aus 193-4
Broad brushes a clump of blond hair off his perspiring forehead as he turns at the end of his run, and then serves up a short one that Clarke paddle-pulls for one. Two sent across leftie North's knees. and the lead is 80.
From Luke Wilkins, presenter, Kerrang Radio, TMS inbox:
"After a rather messy night we decided to use what ever we could to play - top marks for pads and bat and gloves - rubber chickens though don't swing much."
1359: Aus 191-4
Not much joy for Onions since lunch, and voices around me call for Swanny. North dabs to leg for an urgent single; Clarke dead-bats a short one and then pulls nicely for two to Cook at deep square leg. Aaghh - in-dipper that Clarke leaves alone as it whistles past the top off off.
From Jonathan Sing, TMS inbox:
"We recently had an impromptu forecourt "Ashes" match whilst broken down at a service station in France in the middle of the night, four Englishman vs 45 assorted southern hemisphere types using a two Euro bouncy ball and a stick
.we learned two things that night, the French don't understand "our ball is in your car" shouted with an Aussie twang and whisky bottles are rubbish at slip."
1355: Aus 188-4
Broad stalks back to his mark. Watery sunshine overhead, and that's a decent ball - angled in, defended off the inside edge. Broad goes for the same, and this time Clarke drives straight back past the bowler's toes for four more. That's Clarke's 1,000th run against England, in the 50th Test of his career.
From Tom Little, TMS inbox:
"Here we are playing cricket with an orange and a giant ruler during a Geography field trip to Wales circa 1994. The outfield was much drier than Edgbaston's although it did need a bit of a mow."
1351: Aus 183-4
Oh, that's peachy from Clarke - drive through the covers of the 'dd' of the middle, and the same again between mid-off and the non-striker. Short from Onions, ducked under by Clarke. The lead to 70.
1347: Aus 172-4
Broad to resume, Clarke waiting in his short-sleeved shirt and sleeveless jumper. Steerer through backward point for one, left alone by North as he loses his bearings.
From Andy Wood, Essex, TMS inbox:
"Going back to the mid 90s and my sixth form school days we used a couple of free periods to transform our common room into a makeshift cricket pitch. I can remember from my position of wicket keeper fully equipped with a pencil case as glove my mate bowled a tennis ball down towards umbrella yielding batsman, he connected Flintoff-like and smashed it into a can vending machine subsequently hitting the 'Lilt' option and this dispensing a can, much to the dismay of the girl who had just put her 40p in and was about to select Sunkist."
1343: Aus 172-4
Once more unto the breach, and it's Onions to rumble in from the Pavilion Ed. A few more clouds overhead now, and the first ball of the afternoon session shapes into North - missing leg, and a strangled appeal. Sliders across, and that's a decent start.
Thomas Skidmore, TMS inbox:
"Here's a picture of my mate playing cricket at a German music festival. He's cunningly using a tent pole to bat. There'd just be a hurricane, so the locals were very bemused by our high spirits."
From Anon, text 81111:
"As a student in Cardiff we regularly played Test matches in the street against 30-40 children from the local Bangladeshi community. These were a abandoned after waking up on the couch to find one boy playing the commodore 64 and another in the kitchen making them a cup of tea. They had called to resume play and found the front door open with four unconscious students in residence."
From Mike Martin, Dubai, TMS inbox:
"A team of journalists producing a daily newspaper at a convention in the United States would give a lift to long days by breaking off for cricket in the newsroom (taped paper ball, document tube and wastebin, etc). After days of coaxing a diminutive American lady colleague to join in, she reluctantly agreed. Clutching her bat more baseball than Boycott, she missed the first ball, but connected in devastating fashion with the second. It flew 20 yards and demolished the screen of the editor's laptop. She was awarded Man of the Match."
From Anonymous judge, text 81111:
"I am due to hear a case in Cardiff county court shortly. The defending brief looks a real numpty, the sort who concentrates on his Blackberry rather than client, so should have that lowlife off the streets pretty sharpish. Are they still doing brandy and a King Edward for a fiver in the Walkabout?"
On TMS at the lunch break, we have a panel of Her Majesty's finest pressmen to discuss the series so far and what lies in store in the remaining two Tests.
From Andy Wood, Essex, TMS inbox:
"Me and my mate Pete used to go to see Essex play and collect the autographs of all the stewards and groundstaff, We would approach Gooch ask him if he worked there and then blank him and walk off - my best autograph was Gommo Harris the programme seller - never seen a man so happy to sign his name. Goochie's moustache never turned up again after that day!"
1300: LUNCH Aus 172-4
Broad to Clarke for the last joust before the break - oooh, edged along the ground to gully. The crowd are clapping and chanting, the volume rising as Broad comes in - defended, and that's lunch. Australia the equivalent of 59-4, with 69 overs remaining. Fancy it?
From Road_of_Bones, Sheffield, TMS inbox:
"My Dad used to work in a nuclear power station, and he told me they used to play 'reactor room cricket' during night shifts, using a ball made of yellow gaffer tape. The room was covered with green rubber tiles that showed up ball impacts quite nicely. He noticed with amusement one day during an inspection that some of the more lusty strikes were still visible, out of reach of the cleaning sprays."
1256: Aus 172-4
The mood is such now that Edgbaston could be re-named EdgeOfSeats. Jimmy probes outside off, and North is sorely tempted - sliders across, shapers back in. North grits his teeth and keeps his blade in its scabbard.
From Anon, text 81111:
"A mate 'representing' West Indies and I 'representing' England played a three-Test series a couple of weeks ago at a hockey festival with a golf ball and a hockey stick. Play was suspended after the first Test when the West Indies were called home by the missus to do the washing up."
1252: Aus 171-4
Marcus North waits as Broad bobs his way in - juicy one on off-peg, driven with elbow up for four to get off the quacker. We'll have two more before the sangers.
From Sue Panda, TMS inbox:
"So far your Traffic Light Oracle seems to be working, I'm impressed. I'm 13 weeks pregnant. Can you tell if it's a boy or a girl as well?"
It'll be one or the other, Panda. Unlikely to be a girl as well as a boy, I'd say - although there's a first for everything.
From Jamie Goldthorp, TMS inbox:
"We used to play on a farm, with a large plastic shovel as a bat and a cube of wood for a ball. Full toss was very much de rigeur
, due to the unpredictability of the bounce (possibly due to all those vertices). The highlight was smashing it into a field of Friesians for six, quite literally into cow corner (and, unfortunately, also cowpat corner). Very soon after that particular landing the match, and ball, were abandoned."
1247: Aus 163-4
It was a straightish one that just held its own, right in the Corridor of Errr, and Hussey couldn't help himself - little fence, the tiniest of nicks through to the 'keeper. Australia in effect 50-4, and England can sniff something special cooking in the Edgbaston oven.
1242: WICKET Hussey c Prior b Broad 64, Aus 161-4
Broad goes round the wicket - straightener, Hussey pokes - GONE!
From Anon, text 81111:
"Rich in Cardiff, tempted by that Leo Sayer. Can I ask if you're the accused or a lawyer? You'll forgive me not wanting to spend a day drinking with a lawyer."
1239: Aus 160-3
Clarke, the top button of his shirt done up like a man about to don a tie, watches on with blinking eyes as Anderson skates three skiddy ones across Hussey from over the wicket. Maiden as tight as you like.
From Rob in Harrogate, TMS inbox:
"We used to play halibut cricket in a previous job. 20lb frozen fish for a bat and lemons or potatoes for balls. Had to abandon the practice after bowler slipped on wet tile floor and broke his elbow. Made interesting reading in the accident book."
1235: Aus 160-3
Yup, Broaders, and that's not the start he wanted - half-volley outside off, smashed away by Hussar for four. Another loose one wide is slashed away for one to the sweeper on the fence, a sub fielder who looks like an exact halfway house between Ant and Dec. The lead to 47.
From Anon, text 81111:
"My mates and I often played on a pebbly beach. It's safe to say the bounce was inconsistent and spin bowling had some interesting results. A mate of mine got one off spinner to turn at least two feet thanks to a rogue piece of shale."
1231: Aus 155-3
Groans of disbelief from the rammed Edgbaston stands as Anderson does Clarke all ends up with a beautiful snaker - hands on heads round the slips. Matt Prior standing behind the timbers with jaw hanging slack. Swanny popping off the field - is this a pre-lunch joust for Stuart Broad?
From Rich in Cardiff, text 81111:
"I'm due in court in the next half-an-hour but have ended up in the Walkabout on St Marys St for what has all the hallmarks of a textbook 'Leo Sayer' (all-dayer). Anyone care to join?"
1225: Aus 155-3
Swanny really giving it some loopy flight, and Hussey steps into a full one to drive past a tumbling Anderson at mid-off. Monsieur Crickette then spots a shorter one and cracks it off the back peg for four more to move to 59, his highest score of the year in Test cricket.
From Chris, South Wales, TMS inbox:
"I've just come back from refereeing a football tournament in Norway where we played cricket using three boxes piled on top of each other for stumps, a roll of toilet paper held together by duct tape as a ball and three legs of a camp bed strapped together as a bat. My batting wasn't my highlight, but the two hat tricks in my over and a half bowling spell certainly hit the spot."
1222: Aus 146-3
Anderson again, Colly working furiously at the ball between deliveries. Buff buff buff, lick lick lick, polish polish polish. Surprise shorter one as Hussar expects the full swinger, and the pull is kept down well as Bell waits in the deep for the mis-hit. Still 78 overs possible in the day.
From Cameron E, TMS inbox:
"I used to play in my living-room with one of those cardboard tubes you used to get posters in, till one day I tried to lash one over cow corner and smashed my parents' light-fitting. Glass everywhere, the pitch unplayable and I was in more trouble than Phil Hughes' Twitter account."
1219: Aus 146-3
Lovely over from Swanny. There's bite, late dip and that flatter, quicker one that nearly has Hussar slapped in front. 40 minutes to lunch, and England know they need another.
From Tina Paddock, TMS inbox:
"If I were to have a million pound bet that this game will be a draw, you can guarantee England will win the match, because I am never lucky when I bet. So does anyone want to chip in to make up the million?"
1215: Aus 145-3
Jimmy sprints in with that compact style of his - whooah, vicious spitter that Clarke tries to leave late but inadvertently deflects just past third. More shape and wobble on the remainder, and Clarke breathes a sigh of relief as an in-dipper whistles past his exposed castle. The lead is 32.
1212: Aus 141-2
Watson, who had looked set for some of Edgbaston's finest bed and breakfast hospitality, attempts to drive a full delivery, but his front foot is not even close to the pitch of the ball as his loose drive finds only the finest of edges into the pea-green mitts of Matt Prior. Cue manic celebrations from well-oiled spectators and men in white alike. Swann continues and sees Hussey nurdle his half century, but the Notts man beats the left-hander with a ripper which spits and turns alarmingly out of the rough outside off stump. Something in the air here...
1208: Aus 137-3 - WICKET Watson ct Prior b Anderson 53
Time for Freddie to chew the cud at second slip as James Anderson steams in from the Pavilion End, only for Hussey to smear a short second delivery through midwicket for a confident boundary. No hoop for Jimmy so far, a twinge of possible concern for the sun-hatted Strauss. AND HE'S GOT HIM! Watson nicks an edge to Prior!
From Karl Carrigan, TMS inbox:
"Re 10:57 - many years ago whilst on a night shift, I used to get the 'brown packing paper ball' to swing rotten, Once got my mates team, who were batting with an upside down crutch all out for nine."
1201: Aus 132-2
That's too full from Swanny - driven away with wristy delight by Watson to go to 49. another full bunger - four more, driven through cover, and that's Watson's second half-century of the match. Good knock. Australia lead by 19, and that's drinks.
From Dave Kempshall, Shrewsbury, TMS inbox:
"To defend myself; arriving into work on a Monday to be immediately blindfolded by your boss and told to hold his 'permanent marker' is enough to affect anyone's performance."
1158: Aus 124-2
Frenzied clapping from the packed stands as Fred tears in. Three slips stand with hands on bent knees - yelps of disbelief as Watson inside-edges off his front pad from a dipper that had ell bee written all over it. Watson defends with doughty resolve.
From Aidan, TMS inbox:
"The excess adrenalin caused by such an important first session is causing my legs to bounce incessantly, this has the unfortunate effect of making my desk shake slightly causing the admittedly very pretty girls that sit around me at work to look at me in a very suspicious manner. Also I may throw up at any point . So all in all making a very good impression on afore mentioned young ladies."
1153: Aus 123-2
Swann tip-toes in - a touch short, and Watson strokes it off the back foot for three deep into the covers. Hussey is beaten by the arm-ball to yells from the close fielders. The lead creeps up to 10. Will Fred have one more?
From ex-Australia opener Matthew Hayden on TMS:
"That was a hefty blow - you can see a circle of blood under the skin where the ball made its impact. When a ball doesn't get up as much as you expect, it leaves you in a precarious position at the crease."
1149: Aus 120-2
Fred rumbling in at pace now, and Watson's not enjoying this - ow-wow-wow! Watson wears a rapid one on the elbow, and that's gotta hurt. Another short one into the rib-cage follows before a scamperer of a single. Freddie's best spell of the match, this.
From Dan in Cardiff, TMS inbox:
"I'm sat in Cardiff County Court listening to the end of the case before mine. The judge has just clocked me playing with the Blackberry and clearly knows I'm checking the cricket. I am certain the Defendant won't turn up. I wonder if the judge fancies some pre-lunch cricket watching in Walkabout on St Mary's St instead?"
1145: Aus 118-2
Cunning from Swanny - two shortish floaters outside off to Hussey, and then the quicker, fuller arm-ball. Hussey, however, cuts the first for four and then jabs down late to prevent the last from troubling his timbers. Australia lead by five...
1141: Aus 113-2
This is nice from Fred - there's lift, angle and zip, but there's also the single that brings the scores level. Strauss nibbles his nails at slip.
From ex-Australia opener Matthew Hayden on TMS:
"We have seen the ball has swung from the 30-over mark in this match. But it hasn't so far for England today."
1137: Aus 112-2
Yup - Swanny it is, with a slip, short leg and silly mid-off all waiting. Super line from the off, and there's bite there too - good change from Skipper Strauss.
From Chris Baynes, TMS inbox:
"Fair play to NCW's mate (10.57) getting the new apple to swing. At a housewarming early Sunday morning we ended up bowling with a big red spacehopper. It wouldn't swing in the darkness, but lifted nicely of a length."
1135: Aus 112-2
What's left in the Fred tank? Short attempted lifter, crashed through midwicket on the pull from Hussey for four. Oh, he's done him with that one - shaper away, and Hussar pokes at disturbed air. Aussies just one run behind.
From Ben Cooper, TMS inbox:
"I took Stephen Ansell's guidance and set up the double blind peg test, using pens into a box in the office. All it told me is when blindfolded, Dave Kempshall couldn't hit a cow's backside with a banjo and has no future in circus knife-throwing."
1131: Aus 108-2
Batman and Bananaman in the crowd there, the latter clutching a large inflatable totem in his slightly-too-large yellow gloves. Nice and straight from Onions, but the ball's doing almost nothing out there. Could be time to try Swanny or Anderson...
From Xander, London, TMS inbox:
"What a great ground to watch cricket at! Highlights from yesterday was Swann baffling Punting and destroying the stumps; followed by a super-slow motion replay of Punting's face as he realised he'd been bowled on the big screen. The second best moment of the day was Darth Vader fending off the stewards with his lightsabre after they disrupted his stormtrooper conga."
1126: Aus 105-2
This round-the-wicket angle from Fred is looking useful. Hints of Gillie '05 as he brings a short one in towards the nose and then gets one to hold its line and draw the fence. He switches to over the wicket and Hussey tucks in, reaching out to drive elegantly through cover for four. England need that wicket...
From ShinyDavidHowell on 606:
"I still see this coming down to a T20 run chase, and I still stand by my comments (see yesterday's live text) that Flintoff should open the batting for such a chase. He won't get too many singles, but he can just try and hit every bad ball for four - he certainly seemed to in the first innings."
1120: Aus 101-2
Sunshine fades in and out as clouds slide across the sky. Full toss from Onions as he strives for the yorker, drilled back onto the non-striker's stumps by Watson. Ooof - waft outside off at one that just nibbles off the seam, beaten all ends up. Singles scampered, and Australia now trail by just 12.
1116: Aus 99-2
Now we're cooking - Fred races one past Hussey's outside edge with the batsman's feet nowhere. Next up Hussey finds the middle to drill a drive through the covers, but he's done like a kipper by the next one - fencing outside off and failing to nick the skinny by the width of a Lilliputian's eyelash.
1112: Aus 95-2
Onions to Watson - the ball zips past the bat, there's a fattish sound and the slips and 'keeper go up - bat on pad, that one. Watson clambers into a short one and cuts it through backward point for four. The worrying news for England: no sign of swing so far.
1107: Aus 91-2
Three slips, gully, point, square leg. Watson tickles one down to long leg before Hussar gardens busily with the bottom of his blade. Nice angle from Fred across the leftie, and then he switches to round the wicket - vicious in-snagger that crushes Hussey in his most secret place. Early crowd-pleaser, that one.
1103: Aus 89-2
They're packing out the stands as Graham Onions glides in to Mike Hussey. Straight as a die from the off, Hussar driving at one and Bell diving at cover to prevent the run. There's a tap of the hip for two, and then the cheers swell around the ground - it's time for Freddington!
Here come the England players - and now Shane Watson and The Hussar. Deep breaths from all concerned...
From Stephen Ansell, TMS inbox:
"Chucking pegs into a basket is hardly scientific, what you should have done is to get someone else to do it without telling her why.... and make it a double blind test by blindfolding her as well."
From NCW, TMS inbox:
"On Saturday me and my sister's fella (representing South Africa) played cricket on the path between our two allotments using an apple and a spade. I had him first ball, clean bowled, then I smacked it for six before getting trapped lbw by an in-swinger. He got the new apple to move quite dangerously. Then beer stopped play."
Should England win - no mockers either way - there'll almost certainly be a party. Will it be as good as the one that generated this photo? Oh, to be in that niteclub when this was going on...
Quick quote from Graeme Swann
for you: "Edgbaston is always the loudest of the grounds to play at. It's nice that they're here because it's like having a 12th man. Certainly from outside off stump there's some turn for me."
From M in Ipswich, TMS inbox:
"I thought it was only me that made up traffic light/other odd sport-related scenarios. I'm clearly not as mad as I thought. This weekend I played the game of how many clothes pegs can I throw into basket when getting the washing in. The clothes pegs predicted an England victory by six wickets."
From Driver of the White Van, TMS inbox:
"Drive to the stadium was pretty mundane; to spice things up thought I if could mow down the cyclist ahead, England would do the same to Aussies. Darn - missed by a whisker..."
The forecast? Nerves, grinding tension, inability to do anything else but watch. What's that - you meant the weather? Decent. Only a 20% chance of rain; some cloud cover, a touch of occasional sunshine.
Maybe the van driver was on the blower to his bookie. If he had been, the odds he'd have been quoted would be draw 1/4, England win 11/4, Aussie win 50/1.
From BBC Sport's Oliver Brett at Edgbaston:
"Blue skies earlier in the morning have quickly given away to a generous helping of cloud cover that might help create those swing conditions that worked so well for England on the second morning. My hunch, though, is that it might need to get a bit warmer for the ball to really hoop about."
On the cycle in this morning, I played a quick game of Traffic Light Oracle. You know the one - as you approach a green light, you give yourself a scenario; if the light is still green when you get to it, that scenario will come true. On the basis of that journey, I can confirm that the following will happen today: Australia will be all out for a lead of 120, England will have 20 overs to knock them off and that bloke in the white van wants to get off his mobile phone and look where he's going.