England v Australia: Fifth Test day two as it happened
Fifth Ashes Test, The Oval, day two:
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By Mark Mitchener
ENGLAND SECOND INNINGS (Lead by 172 on first innings)
1936: An epic day, indeed. Thanks again for all your squillions of e-mails, texts and 606 messages. But there will be no let-up on our part - we'll be back tomorrow morning, battling for space on your web browsers with the football and F1, to bring you day three of this final Test. Until then, from me, Fletch and all the team here, it's good night and see you on the morrow!
From Kiran Surya, San Jose, California, TMS inbox: "This must be the most sensational day's play in a Test match in England during the last 28 years. I cannot remember such a day after Botham's heroics on Day 3 and 4 at Headingley 1981"
From alfie on 606:
"Did I see someone say 'out Bell and Collingwood, both useless' or words to that effect? Without Bell's 72 yesterday we wouldn't be in this position. And without Colly at Cardiff the series would already be done and dusted. I accept both will have to fight for their places over the next few months, but it is a tough job playing Test cricket"
From Anonymous (presumably a Yorkshire fan), via text on 81111: "As good as the bowling has been today, can't help but notice the young lad Rashid ended today on 136 not out against Lancs and took five wickets. Must be in with a shout for Test selection. Surely?"
You may well be right, anonymous presumed Yorkshire fan. And please don't call me Shirley.
1923: TMS are going off air now, but turn over to 5 Live for the reaction to the day's play, where Aggers will be joined by Geoff Boycott and Matthew Hayden - you can hear all of it later as the
1921: Well, I hope you've enjoyed a gripping day of Test cricket as much as we have. All that Twenty20 razzmatazz pales into insignificance when you have a day like today where the game can be totally turned on its head by an inspired spell of bowling like we saw from Stuart Broad this afternoon.
1919 - CLOSE OF PLAY - Eng 58-3 (28 overs) So, Strauss to see off the last over of the day. Katich darts it into the blockhole, Strauss is resolute in defence. Hard to believe this is still only the second day of this Test. Katich once took 6-65 in a Test innings, but can't make the breakthrough tonight as Strauss sees his side through to the close with his side 230 runs ahead.
1917 - Eng 58-3 (27 overs) Strauss steers North away from the prehensile grasp of Punter at silly point, and away for a single through mid-wicket. Trott thrusts his left pad forward and manages to smother the spin - just. He then pads up to one outside off stump... but a half-hearted Aussie shout for lbw is in vain. Last over to come.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "Off to meet the new girlfriend's parents. How am I going to explain staring at my phone until close of play?"
1913 - Eng 57-3 (26 overs) Trott grimaces as he pushes Katich into the covers, but he does well to see off a maiden over. Two overs left, and we should get 'em in.
From blue boy rob on 606:
"Please no more wickets lads. Hopefully Strauss and Trott can put on some runs. If anyone can hit us the runs we need it is Strauss, he has had a superb series"
1910 - Eng 57-3 (25 overs) A Trott single (no nerves from him) brings the skipper back on strike against North with three close fielders in. Plenty of shadows now, but Strauss survives the over.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "We are on the train to London from Bristol with our Ashes tickets for Sunday but beginning to think we may be short-changed!"
1907 - Eng 56-3 (24 overs) Five overs left, and with two spinners on they might just get them in. Strauss tries a slog-sweep against Katich but is lucky to survive as he misses the ball completely and Haddin takes the bails off. "That had top edge written all over it", notes Tuffers on TMS. He then executes the shot much better, and finds the square-leg boundary. The lead is 228.
From Olivia, Northwood, TMS inbox: "I'm still really nervous despite today's bowling performance! England always put us fans through the wringer, but then it wouldn't be England would it?"
1904 - Eng 52-3 (23 overs) North is clearly enjoying his little spell of bowling, which is into its seventh over. Strauss guides the last ball for a single to deep cover.
Christopher Martin-Jenkins on TMS: "It just shows that when people ask 'how can you improve Test cricket', the answer is to get groundsmen not to prepare flat, boring pitches"
1902 - Eng 51-3 (22 overs) Part-time spin from both ends as Simon Katich comes on to bowl his left-arm chinaman. If you're not familiar with his type of spin, it's left-arm wrist-spin - so his stock delivery spins from off to leg, like an off-break from a right-arm bowler. The TMS crew wonder whether Ponting has one eye on the light, as there are long shadows covering much of the ground now. Anyway, Trott brings up the fifty with an assured on-driven two.
1858 - Eng 49-3 (21 overs) Ponting spits on his hands, as is his (gruesome) habit, as North skips in to Strauss, who plays out a maiden with a big grin on his face. Meanwhile, TV replays are showing that the ball that dismissed Collingwood could have been called as a no-ball...
1855 - Eng 49-3 (20 overs) Trott is out of the blocks with a powerful cover-driven four, and as he steers Johnson for a single to leg, CMJ and Vic note that he already looks more comfortable at the crease than Bell and Collingwood did earlier. Johnson goes round the wicket to Strauss, who pulls a single to fine leg. Eight overs remaining if Australia can get them in before 1923 BST (yes, really).
From Imping Along on 606:
"As soon as Colly came out it was pretty painful to watch. Hopelessly predictable and like watching a car crash. Straussy get your head down and play a captain's innings to win England the Ashes."
1851 - Eng 43-3 (19 overs) Suddenly, Cap'n Strauss is leading a rearguard action this evening, while CMJ on TMS notes that if 15 wickets fell in a day in a County Championship match, the ECB pitch inspectors would be summoned... North drops one too short and Strauss ferociously square-cuts for four.
1848 - Eng 39-3 (18 overs) It's a baptism of fire for debutant Jonathan Trott, who did well to make 41 in the first innings but will have to dig in here. One of my colleagues asks if England would consider a nightwatchman at this stage - but there are still 10 overs to bowl in the day after this one. England lead by 211.
1845 - WICKET - Collingwood c Katich b Johnson 1 - Eng 39-3 (17.3 overs) Johnson has a short leg, a man out on the hook and a deep point on the boundary against Strauss, but no third man. Strauss easily turns a single off his hip. The short leg stays in for Collingwood, and there are two slips and two gullies. Johnson pings in a bouncer which sails over Colly's head and is signalled as an aerial wide - but the next one is dug in at Colly's ribs and he pops a bat-pad catch to the grateful Simon Katich, celebrating his 34th birthday with his second catch of the session.
From Pedro, Cymru, TMS inbox: "Come on batsmen! The bowlers have done their job! And to think earlier in the series some people called for Broad to be dropped!"
1840 - Eng 37-2 (17 overs) After a single from Strauss, North gets some prodigious turn against Colly, as one bounces and hits him on the glove.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "Cook has had a terrible series. We've talked about everyone but him. He needs to sort his game out. And get a decent hair cut!"
1837 - Eng 36-2 (16 overs) It's Colly time - and you sense there are a few twists and turns left in this remarkable match. Colly's first ball is fended off at his feet - but the short leg's been removed, so he can scamper through for a run! Strauss adds a single - he has 19, and England lead by 208.
From dyrewolf on 606:
"Uh oh. Looks like the pitch will cause us problems like it did for Australia. Stunning catch though to get Bell."
1834 - WICKET - Bell c Katich b Johnson 4 - Eng 34-2 (15.4 overs) Right, time for Johnson v Bell, Part II. And will the first ball be a bouncer? You betcha. There's a helmeted short leg in attendance - and it's the outstanding Simon Katich, who takes a quite brilliant reaction catch, ankle high, as Bell tries to force the fourth ball of the over off his legs.
1831 - Eng 34-1 (15 overs) North to continue, bowling round the wicket to the left-handed Strauss who plays out a maiden over. And if you can't see the Chris Broad interview or it appears strangely, treat yourself to a manual refresh.
1828 - Eng 34-1 (14 overs) Is Punter listening to TMS via a secret, tiny earpiece? Or is he just sharper than a serpent's tooth? For he's taken up Matthew Hayden's suggestion and turned to Mitchell Johnson straight away. Strauss confidently steers the left-arm quick for a two off his legs. A leg bye ensures the skipper keeps the strike. And if you missed Aggers' chat with Chris Broad earlier, you can have a listen on the BBC Sport website.
From IanBellftw on 606:
"There's no way England will get anywhere near 300. I think 200 should be good enough, leaving the Aussies 360 to chase. Well bowled Broad, whom I thought shouldn't have been playing, and Swann for coping with all the pressure."
1823 - Eng 31-1 (13 overs) As Jim Maxwell joins Haydos for an Aussie-fest on TMS, Ian Bell ambles to the crease. As noted earlier, not even his 72 in the first innings seems to stop "The Bell Debate" from raging among you on the e-mails and 606... he cuts his first ball from North assuredly for four. Haydos wonders whether Ponting will send for Mitchell Johnson, who gave Bell a few problems with the short ball in the first innings.
From Stanley, TMS inbox: "As a Scot living in France, I still can't believe England will win. How about they are all out for about 120, and Australia make the runs with two wickets down."
1819 - WICKET - Cook c Clarke b North 9 - Eng 27-1 (12.3 overs) And the unheralded North makes the breakthrough - Cook is pinned back on his crease and prods to slip. Necessity's sharp pinch!
1817 - Eng 27-0 (12 overs) Siddle continues to Strauss, who guides a pleasant drive through the off side and they come back for two. CMJ quotes the "as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods" line from "King Lear" - that takes me back 16 years to my A-Levels...
1813 - Eng 25-0 (11 overs) Punter looks to break this burgeoning partnership by turning to spin. Except he forgot to pick a spinner, so part-time off-tweaker Marcus North is introduced for the 11th over of a Test innings. (An admission he should have picked Hauritz, postulates CMJ on TMS). Strauss immediately turns him away for a single and Cook guides a two off his legs, while Matthew Hayden on TMS notes that North is close to being no-balled for touching the return crease with his back foot - Umpire Rauf has a discreet word.
1810 - Eng 22-0 (10 overs) Strauss guides Siddle off his legs for three, and Matthew Hayden on TMS points out how still Strauss's eyes are as he waits at the crease. I almost daren't say how assured the two southpaws look, for fear of commentator's-cursing them...
From lenny66goteam on 606:
"Strauss and Cook look comfortable enough, so it seems that the match was won because of the quality of England's bowling rather than the quality of the pitch. Australia should stick North at one end and Katich at the other."
1806 - Eng 19-0 (9 overs) Hilfenhaus slings down another no-ball, and it seems there's a bit of a lull in play as the day's play heads towards its final hour. England are content to play themselves in, Ponting is on his umpteenth stick of chewing gum and Australia look like the heart has gone out of them. Strauss off-drives for a single off the last ball.
From Tony, TMS inbox: "I could live with Cook tipping-and-running singles for 30 overs, while a couple of his more in-form mates (or even just Strauss) push up the run rate."
1802 - Eng 17-0 (8 overs) An accurate over from Siddle to Cook, but the Essex opener is equal to anything to anything the Victorian seamer can bowl at him - and also shows care for TMS's Radio 4 Long Wave listeners by not scoring any runs for the duration of the Shipping Forecast - so they don't miss anything when they return. Maiden over.
1758 - Eng 17-0 (7 overs) Punter rings the changes in the field - Hilfenhaus switches his angle of attack to bowl round the wicket to the two England left-handers, but boosts the score with a no-ball. Apparently we can play on until 1853 tonight (because of the rain delay), PLUS an extra half-hour if 90 overs haven't been bowled.
1753 - Eng 16-0 (6 overs) Cook looks calmness personified against the scowling Siddle, who still has both lips covered in thick white zinc cream - leading one e-mailer earlier today to compare him to Papa Lazarou from "The League of Gentlemen". Play is briefly held up by a chap in the Surrey pavilion walking around behind the bowler's arm - he's two seats away from the former Prime Minister, Sir John Major. Undaunted, Cook adds two more off his legs.
From Andrew, happy GP in Basingstoke, TMS inbox: "I've been updating my patients on the score as they have come in to see me - the Aussie collapse has cured more ailments today than any clever medicine I have offered!"
1748 - Eng 14-0 (5 overs) Cook tips-and-runs a quick single, Strauss handsomely straight-drives Hilfenhaus for four, earning himself a huge roar of appreciation from the Oval crowd.
From Errol, London, via text on 81111: "Had a bit of an emotional rollercoaster of a day. My job ends next week, I won a pair of tickets for the fifth day at The Oval, then Broad puts in a storming performance that puts my fifth-day windfall in jeopardy. Yet I am all smiles!"
1745 - Eng 9-0 (4 overs) While Tuffers on TMS tries to remember who Susan Boyle is - oh, the brevity of fame in the world of reality TV - Cook takes guard against Siddle for the first time and keeps pushing the singles. Strauss finds the boundary for the first time with a square-driven four. Meanwhile, give this page a manual refresh if you want to take part in our latest vote.
From Andy, High Wycombe, via text on 81111: "Just noticed Australia lost all their wickets for 87 runs - isn't that an unlucky number for them? Perhaps an omen."
1741 - Eng 4-0 (3 overs) Hilfenhaus bustles in to Cook, while a fan dressed as Captain Jack (Sparrow, not Harkness) looks on from the stands. Punter adds a third slip to the cordon as his opening bowler finds a bit of movement, and Cook is beaten by one which skims past his back-foot defensive stroke. A flick to leg brings Cook his third single, and Strauss has to be careful against one that pings through.
From ppmuss on 606:
"The key here is that there's no hurry. The longer England can stay at the crease the more horrific the pitch will get. They should give themselves at least four whole sessions and bat really patiently. I'd like to see them get 200 plus. I'd say with time and this pitch, patience and a lead of 400 by lunch on Sunday would be the best approach."
From Chris, TMS inbox: "I recall a message from Alex in the TMS inbox at 1159 this morning commenting on the 'cock-eyed optimism of the English fans' and to 'Stick to throwing darts and drinking warm ale.' Well Alex that warm beer is gonna taste soooooo good in about 10 minutes when I leave work and watch England add to a winning lead"
1736 - Eng 3-0 (2 overs) Alastair Cook turns his first ball off his pads for a single - England are 1-0, and are "net" 173-0 in a one-innings match. Billy Bowden gives bowler Peter Siddle a gentle reminder not to run on the wicket, and Strauss is off the mark with a single of his own. Cook nudges another one off his legs.
Jonathan Agnew on TMS: "With the pitch disintegrating, it's in England's interests for their second innings to last a long time, as the pitch will get worse. But not too long, as they need time to bowl Australia out"
1732 - Eng 0-0 (1 over) As my colleague Paul Fletcher points out Stuart Broad's all-round skills by noting that he scored 37 and conceded just 37 runs, Ben Hilfenhaus takes the new ball against Andrew Strauss and his first ball cuts back prodigiously as the England captain shoulders arms. Another puff of dust as one seams away, then the last ball swings back in... I wouldn't like to be batting on that one!
From Zac, Norfolk, via text on 81111: "We are currently at a wedding reception but when the question was asked - does anyone know of any lawful impediment - a scream came from the back of the church. Thankfully it was confirmed the Aussies were now 109-6. The Australian bride had no comment."
1727: Tuffers on TMS is wondering whether Ponting will regret not picking a spinner in these conditions, as the grim-faced Aussie skipper gathers his troops for an on-field huddle.
From Howard, Leeds, via text on 81111: "Dale, if it helps, technically it was GB who beat you at the Olympics."
From Chad, TMS inbox: "Re: Paul regarding the dodgy decisions. Where you even watching yesterday? The umpires have obviously decided that they would tweak the laws of the game to even things up a bit after allowing Australia to legally bowl from 21 yards during England's first innings!"
1732: Those England bowling figures are worth mentioning. Broad is the Victor Ludorum with 12-1-37-5, while Graeme Swann is mentioned in dispatches with 14-3-38-4. Flintoff picked up the last wicket to finish with 13.5-4-35-1, Anderson was tight early on with 9-3-29-0 and Harmison was pretty much the fifth wheel with 4-1-15-0. (And a manual refresh for the change of innings at the top of the page, if you please)
AUSTRALIA FIRST INNINGS
1719 - WICKET - Hilfenhaus b Flintoff 6 - Aus 160 all out (52.5 overs) Siddle pokes Flintoff off his legs for a single which takes him to 26, Hilfenhaus steps back and swings and it sails off an inside edge for four. Still, as I would venture as a fellow number 11 batsman, a run's a run. (Even the time my team-mate's dad was umpiring and failed to signal leg-bye to one I blatantly didn't get my bat anywhere near). But Freddie wraps it up in style as Hilfenhaus is clean bowled! England lead by 172 runs.
1716 - Aus 155-9 (52 overs) Siddle has an old-fashioned tail-end slog against Swann, hoisting him over mid-on for four. A full toss is helped to backward square leg for a single, Aussies trail by 177.
From Gemma, via text on 81111: "Is it slightly unprofessional of me to congratulate my Aussie client on exchanging contracts but then to laugh at him about the cricket? All is fair in love and law."
1713 - Aus 150-9 (51 overs) Flintoff has a half-hearted lbw appeal against Hilfenhaus, who is showing admirable defensive qualities for a number 11. Mind you, his Test batting average is 11.60, bumped up by a few not-outs, while he only averages 9.63 in first-class cricket. The last ball hits him on the pad again, but umpire Billy Bowden is unmoved, it looked to be heading down leg. Hawk-Eye thinks it would have just clipped leg stump...
From Paul, TMS inbox: "England have bowled very well today however the umpiring decisions have been terrible. The worst was Stuart Clark's dismissal - he missed it by miles and only the umpire thought it was out. Well, if England keep getting decisions like that they will regain the Ashes."
1709 - Aus 150-9 (50 overs) Swann shows a bit of variation against Hilfenhaus, who brings the 150 up with a single.
Christopher Martin-Jenkins on TMS: "Graeme Swann's shirt-sleeves are buttoned at the wrist in the best Sonny Ramadhin tradition"
1706 - Aus 149-9 (49 overs) Siddle jabs a single, Hilfenhaus defends well against Flintoff before guiding a single off his legs. CMJ and Vic Marks on TMS discuss a bridge-style "bidding" system for matches like these where the toss is so important - whereby the captains, before the toss, would put in sealed envelopes how many runs they'd be prepared to concede for the privilege of batting first. Highest bid bats first. Siddle nudges a four between second slip and gully - every run is crucial here.
From Dale, TMS inbox: "I've been in London for six years and in that time England has beaten us in the Rugby World Cup twice, the Ashes in 05 and the Olympics last year. I think I'm cursed. I need either rain or a one-way ticket back to Brisbane"
1701 - Aus 143-9 (48 overs) Last man Ben Hilfenhaus defends his first three balls, and that Clark decision gets worse and worse every time you see it.
1700 - WICKET - Clark c Cook b Swann 6 - Aus 143-9 (47.3 overs) Clark paddle-sweeps Swann and picks up four runs in unorthodox manner. But it's a shocking dismissal for the lanky seamer when he plays forward, the ball hits his thigh and Umpire Rauf gives him out caught at short leg! Clark has a few words to say as he departs, which might earn him a visit to the match referee later, but he really was sawn off there.
From Irfa, Bolton, via text on 81111: "Respects to Rusty (1457) - I laughed at his song but didn't really think it would be true when he said [at 83-1] we'll be bowling to Siddle come tea!! Can I get the lottery numbers please?"
1658 - Aus 139-8 (47 overs) Now then, Stuart Broad takes a rest with figures of 12-1-37-5 - some bloke called Flintoff replaces him at the Vauxhall End. Siddle, in a sleeveless sweater, dead-bats his first ball before pushing one off his legs for four when Fred strays down the leg side. Siddle then has to defend one which stings his hand, despite hitting his bat. (If you know what I mean).
From Andy in London, via text on 81111: "Aussies in our office are mysteriously quiet. A lead of 350 should be enough to bring the little fella home"
1653 - Aus 135-8 (46 overs) Graeme Swann to resume, with three men on the boundary - expecting slog-out-or-get-out tactics from Australia. Stuart Clark prods a single, Siddle pushes one through mid-wicket. Clark then executes an ugly tail-ender's swipe, the ball deflects off his thigh and just misses the stumps.
From Whitters of London, TMS inbox: "I've just been offered four tickets for Sunday by an Australian colleague who - for some unthinkable reason - now doesn't want to attend. I wonder what Langer would have to say about that sort of mental disintegration?"
1649: It's time to resume - with Australia 332-8, a mere 199 runs behind England and the follow-on (just) averted.
From Andy from Blackheath, via text on 81111: "Does anyone have a radio for the cricket on the 4.30 from Paddington to Taunton? I'm in the England shirt and keep cheering. People are giving me funny looks so I'd like to joined by fellow people who shout when they're excited"
Chris Broad on TMS: "Even if England win this game, I will still have bragging rights over Stuart as I played in a team that won the Ashes in Australia. Seriously though, I will be the proudest father there's ever been"
1639: Stuart Broad's dad Chris (ex-England opener, now an ICC match referee) is talking to Aggers on TMS. You can tell just from listening that he's a proud father beaming from ear to ear. A great day for the Broad family - Stuart's sister Gemma is now the England team's analyst, having previously performed that role for the all-conquering England women's team.
From Bradders, in the London office of a German bank, surrounded by Aussies, TMS inbox: "All the Aussie talk before this game was about a fragile middle order. They've certainly outdone us on that front"
1634: Wow. Couldn't have put it better myself, Aggers (see below). Tremendous performance from England, and a pretty tremendous (and long!) session from Fletch - who takes a much-deserved break. Do give yourself a manual refresh for the name at the top to change - and I'm fully aware that unless England knock the last two Aussie wickets over promptly after tea, I will be held responsible by the majority of you for the lack of wickets...
Jonathan Agnew on TMS: "I've seen some collapses over the years, and most of them have been English, but that ranks with the best of them"
By Paul Fletcher
1631 - Aus 133-8 (45 overs) Broad again. Relentless. Last over before tea unless a wicket falls - in which we have another half hour. Siddle digs out a fuller one - then runs a single, bringing Stuart Clark on strike. A single ensures Australia avoid the follow-on. They now trail by just 199. Bizarre. What a sensational session it has been. Just incredible. That is it from me - back over to the very capable hands of Mark Mitchener.
From Joe in Leeds, via text on 81111: "It's my wife's 30th on Sunday and our first wedding anniversary on Monday. Please tell her that I love her and look forward to giving her my undivided attention during lunch breaks, drinks intervals and shipping forecasts"
1624 - WICKET - Johnson c Prior b Swann 11 Aus 131-8 (43.5 overs) Swan to clubber Johnson, who shapes to mash the ball but checks and settles for a single. Punter biting his nails in the away dressing room. Cannot be a lot left to go at. Siddle inside edges for a single. AND ANOTHER WICKET GOES DOWN. The increasingly expansive Johnson tries to drive a tossed up delivery and edges. Matt Prior does the rest. Australia have lost seven wickets for 80 runs since lunch. Dreamlike.
From Dougie, Preston, via text on 81111: "Is this the fabled Aussie mental toughness I've heard about?"
1621 - Aus 129-7 (43 overs) Broad comes in for his 11th off the reel. Well, the cynics might say it is about time he did the bizzo. Siddle connects - as does the ball with Bell in short. Don't think the next cab off the rank enjoyed that one. Broad does Siddle with two crackers - one over the stumps and one that leaves the hapless batsman. He then drops short - which he hasn't done too often today - and Siddle very competently pulls him to the ropes.
From Robert Keeves, TMS inbox: "Unbelievable scenes in the office! It's been a while since there has been this amount of buzz on a Friday afternoon! Everybody is captivated apart from Sue, who can only muster a sarcastic 'woo hoo' every time a wicket falls!"
1618 - Aus 125-7 (42 overs) I think we have reached slog o'clock as Johnson clubs Swann to the ropes. The Aussie backs away and tries to cut but misses. He connects with the next one - high and hard and just short of a maximum.
1614 - Aus 117-7 (41 overs) Broad continues - I imagine trying to prise the ball from his hand would like trying to extract a meat and potato pie from the grasp of a Wigan Athletic supporter. Johnson takes a single. Siddle survives a massive shout for caught behind from a leg side delivery and then backs away from a short delivery that he somehow steers past a despairing dive at gully. Siddle grins. Why? Must be nervous energy.
1610 - Aus 112-7 (40 overs) Swann to Johnson, who is done all ends up by a cracker that turns and bounces. More gremlins than a Hollywood move in the track now. Johnson, however, does advance the total with a drive down the ground.
From Chris, Berkshire, TMS inbox: "This is unbelievable! Unemployment has few upsides but witnessing this is definitely one! Worth enforcing the follow-on?"
1607 - Aus 111-7 (39 overs) Peter Siddle walks out as the crowd chant 'You're not signing anymore'. The Aussie, who himself bowled very well, sees out the over. The follow-on is at 133.
1604 - WICKET Haddin b Broad 1 - Aus 111-7 (38.4 overs) Broad continues - this has been a long, long spell. Haddin gets off the mark with a risky single - had Trott's strike hit it would have been curtains for the keeper. Johnson just about gets some wood on a leg-stump yorker that swings through the air. WICKET. A full delivery from Broad cleans up Haddin. It swings a little and that is more trouble for the Aussies, who are 111-7. At one point they were 73-0. Breathless. Buzzing.
From Conrad at work in Winchester, via text on 81111: "Have finally decided I like Matthew Hayden. I never used to when he played, for obvious reasons. But must say I like his astute commentary on TMS"
1600 - Aus 109-6 (38 overs) Mitchell Johnson on strike, Strauss clapping at his charges like the cat who got the cream. A wicket maiden for Swann. England made 332 earlier in the day, the Aussies, needing to avoid defeat to retain the Ashes, are in all sorts.
1556 - WICKET Katich c Cook b Swann 50 -Aus 109-6 (37.1 overs) GONE, GONE, GONE. The first delivery of Swann's over and the spinner strikes again, removing the otherwise excellent Katich, who inside edges a ball that strikes his pad and balloons up to Cook in short.
From Conrad at work in Winchester, via text on 81111: "Have finally decided I like Matthew Hayden. I never used to when he played, for obvious reasons. But must say I like his astute commentary on TMS"
1556 - Aus 109-5 (37 overs) Aussie wickets might have been tumbling left, right and centre but the serene Katich continues on his merry way, reaches a very solid 50. The single brings Haddin on strike, facing NFB (new Fred Broad) for the first time. The Aussie plays and misses at one outside the off stump.
1551 - Aus 108-5 (36 overs) Brad Haddin plays out the rest of the over. I have to say North was massively unlucky but took the decision extraordinarily well - a rueful smile on his face as he walked off. Australia are 224 runs behind.
1549 - WICKET - North lbw b Swann 8 - Aus 108-5 (35.3 overs) Shots of the Aussie dressing room show Watson and Clarke looking less then thrilled with the recent turn of events. Swann replaces Anderson - good move I reckon. He has two left handers at the wicket and certainly turned a few before lunch. North is done all ends up by one that pitches then turns and bounces viciously. Next ball North pushes forward but fails to make contact. Massive shout and the decision is given - though replays show a sizeable inside edge. Unfortunate for the more than capable Aussie.
From Joel in Chancery Lane, via text on 81111: "So Broad can bat and bowl, but how many pints can he down? Likely still a few short of Fred"
1544 - Aus 108-4 (35 overs) Man of the moment Broad charges in. Katich steers the ball through the gully region and moves on to 49 off not all that bad a delivery. Katich drives a full toss into the ground and Anderson catches at short mid-wicket. Slightly truncated yelps of delight from several of the crowd suggest business has been brisk at the bars.
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"Broad just went from a bloke who maybe shouldn't be in the team to one of the most eligible bachelors in England in the space of 30 minutes"
1541 - Aus 104-4 (34 overs) Not quite happening for the Burnley Express, who might be expected to swing the ball given the cloudy overhead conditions. Too many deliveries slightly short of a length and North looks solid in defence. Still, the last couple of balls are pitched up and slanted across North, who leaves well alone. A maiden.
From Mark, Beziers, via text on 81111: "Lying in 35 degree heat by the pool in Languedoc trying to follow the cricket on my phone. Every time I get in the pool, there's a wicket... What an incentive!"
1537 - Aus 104-4 (33 overs) Broad - England's man of the hour - continues. North is on strike and crisply drives a full delivery through the off side to the ropes - a strike that takes the Aussies to three figures. Prior then fails to stop a delivery that bounces twice before it reaches him, duly conceding his first bye of the innings. By recent standards, a relatively uneventful over. Swann time?
1529 - Aus 99-4 (32 overs) Anderson continues and North works the ball off his hip for three. The Aussie has looked very solid and had an impressive series. TV shot of Haddin chewing furiously. Wonder if we will see him before tea? Anderson is not really getting the ball to swing, disappointingly for him, and Katich works him through the on-side for a couple. Drinks come on to the field - we are still one hour from a delayed tea interval. England on top.
1524 - Aus 94-4 (31 overs) North off the mark with a single - but it would have been a boundary but for a great diving stop. The Aussies have lost four wickets for 33 runs in this session.
1521 - WICKET - Clarke c Trott b Broad 3 - Aus 93-4 (30.2 overs) Clarke pushes at a length delivery from Broad, attempting to drive. The ball stops on him and he spoons it to Trott at short extra cover, who takes a good catch low down. Broad now has 4-15 - and North is out in the middle. Could, just could, England push on from here?
From Dan Partridge, TMS inbox: "Could Stuart Broad be our answer to replacing the legend that is Freddie Flintoff, has scored some decent runs and not done too bad with the ball!"
1518 - Aus 93-3 (30 overs) With hints of swing for Broad, Anderson replaces Fred. The Aussies start the over 243 behind - a figure reduced by one when Katich works a single. Clarke is on strike - seriously taking his time studying the pitch before taking his guard. Punter might be a massive wicket but, for mine, Clarke has been awesome this series. If England were to nip him out cheap you would have to think we are in a massive game-on situation. Clarke moves off the mark with a drive for three. A full delivery that starts to swing causes Katich a few problems but the dogged opener digs out.
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"Broad's a scrapper, and I like scrappers. Except for Scrappy-Doo, who single-handedly destroyed one of the greatest cartoons ever"
1512 - Aus 89-3 (29 overs) Michael Clarke takes an age to ready himself - then Broad wangs a shocker down leg side. The in-form Aussie comfortably plays out the remainder of the over. We have drama, folks.
1509 - WICKET - Hussey lbw b Broad 0 - Aus 89-3 (28.3 overs) Mike 'where is my off stump?' Hussey leaves the opening delivery of Broad's over. With the third ball of the over he fails to connect with a delivery of full length that swings back into his pads. Plumb - and gone. Broad - never doubted him, did we?
From Paul, Sevenoaks, TMS inbox: "The Fred we need right now is Fred Dibnah, bless his soul. Some of his demolition skills right now would be just the ticket"
1507 - Aus 89-2 (28 overs) Drama at the other end but Katich looks relatively serene. Until, that is, I see a close up - reckon he looks nervous. Fred continues. He has been very accurate today but is put away after over-pitching - Trott just failing with a desperate dive.
From Johnny Radish, via text on 81111: "Were Watson and Lee Ryan of pop combo Blue separated at birth? Intriguingly I have never seen them in the same room, so do I sense something mysterious?"
1502 - WICKET - Ponting b Broad 8 - Aus 85-2 (27 overs) Punter pushes at a delivery outside the off stump from Broad. He misses, much to the bowler's disgust. Broad is often too straight and Punter works an easy single, before Katich does likewise with a leg-stump delivery. AND THEN PUNTER IS GONE, GONE, GONE, GONE. He is on his toes playing a short of a length delivery outside his off stump and chops on with an inside edge.
1457 - Aus 83-1 (26 overs) Massive shout from Fred as Punter dangerously shoulders arms. It would have missed the stumps but not playing a stroke is asking for trouble. Punter works a straight one for a comfortable single and Katich, organised, compact, diligent, solid, pushes another single off the penultimate delivery. Punter then nudges a quick single and the buzz of the crowd is not quite what it was.
From Rusty, Essex, via text on 81111: "As the Aussies return to the middle, England currently play second fiddle, But look forward to tea, 'Cos by quarter past three, I've no doubt we'll be bowling at Siddle"
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"Just bumped into an old mate who's now Blowers' next door neighbour. Blowers has him over to fix his broadband, he's like his Man Friday"
1452 - Aus 80-1 (25 overs) Katich works a single off the first ball of Broad's over - bringing Punter back on strike. Bell was so deep at point it was pretty much a gimmee. Short and wide from Broad but Punter's fluky inside edge flies to the ropes. The young paceman then gets one to lift and bounce and it does Punter all ends up, flying past the outside edge. Mandatory stare completes the piece. Too straight with the next one and Punter is up the other end. A disappointing, wasteful bouncer ends the over - though it does mean Punter will be facing Fred.
From philthegreen on 606:
"I feel the need to point out that I play cricket in the same team as Fred's cousin Carl Flintoff. The fact that this is for Menheniot 2nd XI in Division Five (East) of the Cornwall Cricket League probably gives away the fact that Carl's cricketing talent is (I hope he won't mind me saying) modest in comparison. He (Carl) is a fairly decent footballer though!"
1447 - Aus 74-1 (24 overs) Kids - refresh and then look at the new vote. The wicket ended the over so Freddie is in to Katich. Testing, probing. Katich works a single to the off side - bringing Punter on strike. A discussion about the field ensues. The crowd is buzzing as Fred charges in. Oops - leg side nonsense. Punter plays out the over. The Aussies trail by 258 runs.
1441 - WICKET - Watson lbw b Broad 34 - Aus 73-1 (23 overs) Swann whipped out of the attack and the ball is thrown to Broad. Hmm, Broad, a man who could really do with a performance. Starts by slanting one down leg side. The next ball is driven to the ropes. Katich works the ball off his hip for a couple and then picks up a single...all too easy. England reached a meagre 332 this morning. Which tells me they could do with a wicket. Oh hold on - a full delivery to Watson ends the over. The opener misses, England go up and the umpire obliges.
From Chris Nikitik, TMS inbox: "Thinking of outstanding football teams from Lincolnshire - I once went to a game at Scunthorpe where conditions were foggy and they had to use an orange ball due to the poor visibility. The pea-souper worsened during the match which was finally abandoned when it became apparent that two separate matches were being played, a fact which the beleaguered referee only became aware of when two opposing players ran past each other, both with a ball at their feet!"
1436 - Aus 66-0 (22 overs) Freddie starts from the Pavilion End - now is the moment for him to lift the team, the nation and everyone else feeling a touch down. Katich works a single and moves on to 27. Watson then clips a fullish, straightish delivery through mid-wicket to the ropes. Hmm. The Queenslander sees out the rest of the over without trouble.
From Diego, London, TMS inbox: "How about this for your first ten Tests: 0, 0, 6, 31, 54, 20, 0, 91*, 55, 2, 42*, 2, 2, 1, 43, at an average of 27. Should we had given him the boot? (It's Graham Gooch of course). The argument is not about current scores but whether Bopara can become an England Test batsman or not, Bell has tried and failed. We need to invest a bit of time and effort in nurturing some good younger blokes through or we will be having the same debate in four years' time"
1431 - Aus 61-0 (21 overs) Four deliveries left of Swann's over, Watson facing. Crucial, crucial hour or so. The Aussie is beaten by a turner from Swann as he tries to drive. Promising.
From Diego, London, TMS inbox: "After listening to Stephen Fry telling Tuffers that he sometimes does "a spot of umpiring", I can only hope he umpires in character as General Melchett."
1426: With play set to resume I must take a moment to shout out a massive thanks to everyone who sent in a limerick. I wish I had time to paste more of them, particularly some of the mind-bendingly awful ones that would have ashamed children of average intelligence in Infant One. Out come England..........
1421: In fact, they're going to resume at 1430 BST.
1418: The umpires are having a look at the pitch. I think play will resume very soon indeed.
From Paul, Swindon, TMS inbox: "I am only the only one who does not feel like bowing down to the church of Freddie? He's a good lad, always gives his all, but I do think his contribution to the cause isn't all it's cracked up to be. The Aussies probably chuckle behind their dressing room door about our obsession with him. They just play him out of the attack and then get him out cheaply."
Probably - I think he's great, but then again, being from Preston I'm massively biased. I saw him getting a right old dressing down from fearsome dad Colin about 20 years ago. His older bro Chris was the best player in the league I played in - smack you all over the park he would.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "Once went to a match at Grimsby. Missed the first half by getting off at Grimsby Station instead of Cleethorpes where they actually play. Poured down - but the Grimsby midfield dynamos, Waters and Brolly, carried them to victory... "
1409: Looking at TV pictures of Strauss looking down at the square, somewhat longingly. Must be a pretty anxious town for the skipper given that this is the most important day of the series since the last one bar none. If England do not make some serious inroads in the Aussies by stumps he can forget all about that bus parade, appearance on Sports Personality of the Year and the chance to water the PM's garden.
From Adam, Chipstead, TMS inbox: "Whilst Fletch and Mitch set the scene, We all sit, hooked to our screen, No work gets done, Then my wife looks glum, As the P45 I bring home was not foreseen."
1405: Sun is shining over The Oval. The weather is sweet yeah. Makes you wanna move your dancing feet.
From kinkster, via text on 81111: "On the subject of Half Man Half Biscuit they opened a recent set with one of their more famous songs about Fred Titmus. I think we could make good use of his skills right now."
Former Somerset and England off-spinner Vic Marks on TMS: "I was playing for Somerset once at Taunton, where we weren't happy with the condition of the ball and wanted it changed. So I was put on to bowl and lob it up in the hope that the ball would be hit for six into the river and we would get a replacement ball"
1401: Inspection at 1420. And I'm not talking the cleanliness of the dressing room in the Freddie Flintoff zone which apparently resembles a bombsite.
From Daniel, TMS inbox: "I can imagine the England boys sitting there, hoping they remembered to wind the windows up on their lovely cars, psyching themselves up by imagining the next central contract balance in their accounts.....pathetic England, as usual."
Ouch, check you. Browsing through the texts, TMS and 606 messages I have been amazed by the stark divide. This Ashes series has polarised people. Camp A is very much, this lot are rubbish, why do we bother, the sooner it is over the better and I can start focusing again on the inadequacies of the strikeforce at Grimsby Town, which is much more fun even if it always rains and the wind tears in from the North Sea. Camp B has not been worn down by the series and is fully focused on Team England wiping that ever so slightly smug grin permanently off the face of teapot Punter and sending him back home a beaten man - again (even if England don't really deserve anything). Even Napoleon could only take so many heavy-duty beatings.
From Matt, TMS inbox: "(See 1324) I'd imagine that when you were looking for the correct spelling of 'Leaden' the reason Half man Half Biscuit came up was because of the classic album of theirs called 'This Leaden Pall'. In my opinion their finest work."
1353: The covers are coming off. The rain has stopped. Hopefully play will resume shortly and England, after regrouping during lunch, will allay all my worst fears with a display of disciplined bowling. But I doubt it.
From Darren Smith, TMS inbox: "Saw Gower, Holding, Bowden and Rauf in the Lahore Kebab house last night tucking into a good curry. Wasn't sure it was Bowden at first, but the way the finger curled round that fork is unmistakeable. Good bloke Gower is too. My friend spoke to him, to see if he was able to get me to reveal a secret she's dying to know. Despite offering me some of Bowden's dessert (chocolate cake and ice cream) I didn't break"
1343: Oh dear. It is very definitely raining at The Oval at the moment. No immediate prospect of play. The weather seems to be coming from the west. Now, I am in the west and the sun is shining now.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "Limerick: Harmy runs in taking aim. A critical time in the game. So quick and so tall. He lets go of the ball. As photographers widen their frame."
For my money, limerick of the day so far. How do you reckon Harmy psyches himself up in the dressing room for an afternoon of terrifying fast bowling? Eating bananas. Reading the latest on Newcastle United. Pulling comic faces into a mirror.
From Andrew (working from home), TMS inbox: "(See 1324) There's a Half Man Half Biscuit song which rhymes Lech Walesa with Marks & Spencer. Mike Gatting looks at bit like Lech."
1336: Not raining at The Oval at the moment but it looks very dark and the covers are still on. Not sure we'll be starting on time.
From Prozac, TMS inbox: "Re the limerick. How about 'but it was 4 years ago, so get over it already'."
1340: I wonder what is going on in the England dressing room right now. When I played league cricket in Yorkshire the key criteria always involved tucking away as much lunch as possible, reminding my colleagues once again why Lancashire is better than Yorkshire and explaining that not everyone from t'other side of the Pennines fails to trouble the scorers every week. I imagine the England lads are busying tweeting while having a nice rub down.
From Jonathan, TMS inbox: "Re 12:43 - 'There was a big bear they called Freddy, Who started before he was ready, But come zero-five, He ate Aussies alive... and now he's crocked & unsteady'."
1324: Looking left out of the office window I'm looking at some seriously leaden skies. I double checked the spelling of leaden with a colleague and he started talking about Half Man, Half Biscuit. At first I thought he was on about Mike Gatting.
From Sean (bored at work),TMS inbox: "A couple of lines to finish off the limerick - 'There was a big bear they called Freddy, Who started before he was ready, But come zero-five, He ate Aussies alive... Leaving poor Ricky in tears before downing a couple of beers'."
Reckon you need to do a bit of work on that one Sean. The last line reads a touch long.
From Mike, via text on 81111: "Re 1243 - Optimistically: 'And again in oh-nine - to his credit'?"
1316: There have been times during this series when Australia have started poorly in the field but they have generally been able to pull it back, bowling with discipline and fielding pretty well. England now really need to step it up after lunch - but will they or will they live up to Justin Langer's suggestion that they disappear when the going gets tough?
1311: Don't you forget to refresh the page manually - necessary to see all the new and crucially important subtle changes that confirm Mitch has gone for lunch.
From Ramesh, via text on 81111: "Flintoff limerick - then went off into sea on his pedy. (Pedalo)."
1309: Raining at The Oval. And Australia somewhat raining on England's parade at the moment. The thought did occur to me this morning then when you look at the leading wicket takers in this series and then consider the relative tally of century makers, only one team really deserves to win. Of course, I soon cast that to one side.
By Mark Mitchener
1306: And thanks for your company so far - while you're listening to Aggers and John Holder, I'll hand you over to Paul Fletcher who will be your genial guide for the afternoon session.
1302: Right, with Australia 61-0 at lunch in reply to England's 332, it's time to Challenge the Umpire on TMS - Aggers is joined by distinguished umpire John Holder to answer all your umpiring queries. E-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org (with "Umpiring Question" or similar in the subject line).
From Stephan, via text on 81111: "How about for the limerick at 1243, 'But now his knee makes him unsteady'."
1259: The covers are on, but Watson and Katich have looked pretty assured so far. Meanwhile, those of you with any petrolhead tendencies may wish to have a look at
Sam Lyon's live text commentary on Formula One
- the second practice session for the European Grand Prix is about to start. UK users can even watch live video of proceedings.
1257 - RAIN STOPS PLAY - Aus 61-0 (20.2 overs) Watson guides Swann for four off his legs... then the umpires decide the rain's too heavy to continue and they'll take an early lunch.
1256 - Aus 57-0 (20 overs) Watson ducks a short ball from Harmison, then eventually takes the bait and pulls a short ball down to Broad at fine leg and they run a single, while a Katich singleton brings up the fifty stand. Big Merv Hughes is sat with some Aussie fans, his prodigious moustache now greying somewhat. Watson keeps the score ticking, then Katich forces one through the off-side field which just about reaches the boundary. Umbrellas going up.
From Sarah, via text on 81111: "How's this for the end of the limerick [see 1243]? 'And finished it off with a bevvy'!"
1251 - Aus 48-0 (19 overs) Ian Bell dons the biggest pair of shin pads I've ever seen to come in as a helmeted silly point, with Alastair Cook already "suited up" at short leg. Watson works Swann for a single to leg, Katich adds a couple more and the Aussie pair are bedding in for lunch.
1246 - Aus 45-0 (18 overs) While the TMS crew prepare to fight over an enormous chocolate brownie brought in by Jim Maxwell, Watson steers Harmy for a single to take his score to 23, and the Durham paceman sends down the first no-ball of the innings. Katich is still looking in pretty good nick. It's now raining here at TV Centre in Shepherd's Bush, and the clouds are encroaching on The Oval...
1243 - Aus 43-0 (17 overs) Oohs and aahs as Swann gets plenty of turn against Watson, who works a single before Katich guides a looser delivery through fine leg for four..
From NCW, TMS inbox: "I need a last line for my Flintoff limerick, help! There was a big bear they called Freddy, Who started before he was ready, But come zero-five, He ate Aussies alive..."
How about "In the manner of old Bishen Bedi" ?!
1240 - Aus 38-0 (16 overs) Katich lets a lifter from Harmison hit him, getting his gloves out of the way in the way that Ian Bell doesn't. The left-hander looks hesitant for the first time as he fishes and misses outside off stump. Maiden over. It's raining in Brentford.
From Perones on 606:
"We could really do with a wicket before lunch... get Ponting in for an awkward couple of overs... then he'll have to start again after lunch"
1236 - Aus 38-0 (15 overs) Katich notices someone moving behind the bowler's arm... and is then beaten by a beauty from Swann which turns and bounces. Prior, like any chirpy keeper, can't resist whipping the bails off, even though Katich's back foot had never left the crease. Kat then gets a thick edge down to third man and picks up three after a sprawling boundary stop by the pursuing Flintoff. Meanwhile, your texts tell us that the rain has arrived in Heathrow, Neasden and Fulham...
From Malcolm, TMS inbox: "Would you mind reporting wickets even if they haven't fallen? It would help with the mood, and by the time I learn the truth it'll at least be the weekend."
After all that business with fake Blue Peter cat names and competitions, I'd probably be out on my ear for reporting ficticious wickets, Malcolm...
1232 - Aus 35-0 (14 overs) A double change as Steve Harmison replaces Flintoff - can he bang it in and extract some bounce from the pitch? He's urged on by the crowd... and his first ball is horrendous, a bouncer outside leg stump which Watson smacks down to long leg for four. "Get him off", urges my usually mild-mannered "gaffer" Alistair Watkins. Harmy is hitting 86 mph, but largely unthreatening and Watson is largely untroubled.
From SJGD43 on 606:
"I don't think the pitch was prepared with five days in mind. True there has been very little rain the last week or so in London but this surface has been allowed to go very dry and crumbly. Now if Warne were playing we would be dead and buried though if that were so we would be 4-0 down already. Panesar should have played even if he is bowling rubbish at the moment. Even North got it to turn so Swann could be a key in this Test. I predict that this pitch will have collapsed by lunch on the fourth day if the game is still alive by then. A target of 150 to win will be very hard indeed."
1227 - Aus 31-0 (13 overs) Change of bowling - and it's off-spinner Graeme Swann into the attack, with a slip, a short leg and Cap'n Strauss in the position I like to call Reasonably Short Extra Cover (shorter than "short extra cover", but not short enough to be called "silly"). Katich looks in control, and plays out a maiden from Swanny.
From Oscar, Yorkshire, TMS inbox: "This cricket is all that is keeping me alive in my little brother's mad birthday party. Imagine 10 kids running around like Siddle when he gets a wicket. Flintoff help me."
1224 - Aus 31-0 (12 overs) Flintoff, in his sixth over, looks like he's tiring slightly as Katich gets on the front foot and steers a quick single into the covers. Watson ducks a bouncer. And according to various texts, it's raining in Maidenhead, Reading and High Wycombe...
Christopher Martin-Jenkins on TMS: "Jonathan Trott's running in the field reminds me of someone wading through water in flippers"
1220 - Aus 30-0 (11 overs) Still a hint of movement from Anderson, while Watson flicks a four through mid-wicket off his pads, and is applauded by a section of Aussie fans all wearing identical yellow caps. ("Canary yellow? That's Australian gold my friend, and don't you forget it").
1216 - Aus 26-0 (10 overs) Katich taps the pitch between every ball he receives from Flintoff, clearly he doesn't trust the surface which is becoming more and more unpredictable. Fred goes round the wicket, but to no avail - another maiden over. Time for Harmy?
Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden on TMS: "I don't think this game is going to go into a fifth day, it's going to move along rapidly through the day"
1211 - Aus 26-0 (9 overs) Anderson gets one to swing back into Watson's pads, which are making contact with the ball a lot more than his bat at the moment, but it hit him outside the line and he was playing a shot so he can't be lbw. He finally makes contact when he carves the last ball through point for four.
From Johnsy, via text on 81111: "Harmy's bowling needs to be as aggressive as Dennis Wise, but not as short"
1207 - Aus 22-0 (8 overs) Flintoff digs in a bouncer to the fortunate Watson, it hits him high on the rib cage, bounces out of the reach of Prior and away for four leg byes. He's then hit on the pad shuffling across his stumps, but it's only a half-hearted shout compared to the last over. "I think I had a mullet once, although it wasn't called a mullet at the time", confesses Aggers on TMS. Watson guides the last ball for a single.
From Laurence, Sheffield, almost within earshot, Vauxhall, via text on 81111: "An ode to Flintoff - The big, burly pie man with oversized feet. The lads at The Oval are in for a treat! Its been a long wait, now 2009. Come on Freddie Flintoff, it's your turn to shine."
1202 - Aus 17-0 (7 overs) Katich nonchalantly clips Anderson through mid-wicket for four, then leg-glances another which races to the fine leg boundary.
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"Some seriously uneven bounce out in the middle, the surface of this Oval deck beginning to come apart like the top of a creme brulee"
1159 - Aus 9-0 (6 overs) Katich is finally off the mark with an inside edge down to fine leg as they run one. Steve Harmison is loping around the outfield, blue England cap at a very jaunty angle like a man dressing up as a public schoolboy on a School Disco night. Then, there's another big lbw shout against Watson, Flintoff implores umpire Asad Rauf to give him out... but it's too high again. Mr Rauf appears to have had a haircut recently as his shaggy mane is shorter and tidier than usual, while he also has a nose covered in white sun cream, looking as if he'd been bobbing for apples in a vat of cream cake. Another lbw appeal, that's even closer, it hits him below the knee roll - but Mr Rauf is still unmoved! Hawk-Eye had it hitting near the top of middle and leg. The reprieved Watson guides the last ball for four off his legs.
From Alex, TMS inbox: "I love the cock-eyed optimism from the English fans... 'if we get three early wickets and everyone bowls well and the pitch does a bit and the Aussies crumble psychologically from the mere mention of Fred's name, we'll win for sure'. It ain't gonna happen lads. Stick to throwing darts and drinking warm ale."
1153 - Aus 4-0 (5 overs) Watson tries an ambitious cut shot at Anderson, but bumps it into the ground and Swann takes it at first gully on the bounce. Then, he's nearly caught behind as he swishes and misses on the back foot, and there's a big shout as he's trapped back on his stumps by the next ball... "you've seen them given", notes Tuffers on TMS, but umpire Billy Bowden says "not out", presumably ruling it out for height. It did hit him just above the knee-roll, but there wasn't much in it.
From Matt, Stockton-on-Tees, TMS inbox: "This bowling needs to be as ruthless as Simon Cowell and as tight as his trousers."
1150 - Aus 4-0 (4 overs) Flintoff's knee seems to be holding up so far (touch wood), but can he make an early breakthrough? Katich shoulders arms like an old pro to each of the first four deliveries of the over, defends the fifth and then leaves the sixth. Another maiden for the Fredster.
From AusCricketFan on 606:
"I think the Aussies will try to bat with as little risk as possible knowing that the outfield is lighting and eventually the runs will come. They will just try and bat for at least two days."
1146 - Aus 4-0 (3 overs) Jimmy beats Watson with a good ball that swerves past his outside edge, but the Aussies are under way with one that gets a thick edge between the slips and gullies down to third man for four.
From MagpieSean on 606:
"I think England have an excellent chance here - A couple of early wickets and Swann *hopefully* bowling well, and we could shoot the Aussies out for 200 odd. If we have a lead of 300 after our second innings I doubt the Aussies will be able to chase it..."
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"Hasn't Watson looked in good nick? Very, very good nick. I don't think I've ever seen a man in better nick. Not sure how we'll get him out"
1138 - Aus 0-0 (1 over) Watson shoulders arms to James Anderson's first ball, and there's already a smidgen of movement for the "Burnley Express". Two slips and two gullies in for Watson, while new man Jonathan Trott is fielding at a fairly short mid-wicket. A maiden over, and it's Freddie time!
1133: So, having failed with the bat yesterday, can Andrew Flintoff give us one last hurrah with the ball today? He and the other England fielders are already out there - Shane Watson and Simon Katich opening up for Australia in right-hand/left-hand combo mode. Watson is possibly the first right-handed Aussie opener since Michael Slater...
From Kathy, Cornwall, TMS inbox: "Please wish Rebecca well in her upcoming nuptials. I hope her marriage lasts longer than an England innings. Perhaps she needs an England loss to remind her that in life, in cricket, even in marriage, nothing is ever quite perfect."
1132: Right, it's manual refresh time, please - not only will you get the words "Australia First Innings" above, but you can also vote on how many runs you think Australia will score.
From Paul, almost within earshot, Vauxhall, via text on 81111: "The end of Anderson's duckless run seems darkly ominous to me. Let's hope it serves to annoy him and he bowls like a demon."
Christopher Martin-Jenkins and Vic Marks share a joke on TMS: "What cheese do you hide a horse with?" "Marscapone"
ENGLAND FIRST INNINGS
1124 - WICKET - Broad c Ponting b Hilfenhaus 38 - Eng 332 all out (90.5 overs) Broad pulls Hilfenhaus, safely, and the crowd are loving this. But the entertaining cameo is ended when he swipes at another one and gives a routine catch to second slip.
Meanwhile, we talked about Lily Allen a lot yesterday, but another apparent cricket convert is Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, who has commented in an interview: "At the race, there are people around who are always watching - the cricket is always on. It's easy when I'm away, I can use my blackberry, I can go online if I'm not watching it on TV and I often keep in touch with Kevin Pietersen, even though he's not playing"
Lewis, if you're reading this, do send us an e-mail...
From Rebecca, TMS inbox: "I am being a positive England supporter today. I got engaged on Wednesday night, celebrated with a day at the cricket yesterday, a day off today to recover and then my fiancé and I are both going to the Oval tomorrow. What a week, I just need an England win to make it perfect!"
1121 - Eng 328-9 (90 overs) It's breezy enough for several Aussies to be wearing sleeveless sweaters, but clearly sweaty enough for Broad to demand a change of gloves. The freshly-gauntleted Notts youth steers another single to take his score to 33, Siddle bangs in a short ball at Harmy, who plays and misses, and keeper Brad Haddin does well to take the rising delivery. Harmy then pulls off the best shot of the day, nudging Siddle off his legs through mid-wicket - and it was a no-ball to boot. An on-drive brings four more and has the crowd on their feet. Meanwhile, Aggers reveals that distinguished umpire John Holder, author of the "You are the Umpire" book (he used to play for Hampshire too) will be on TMS at lunchtime - so send in your umpiring queries to email@example.com and mark it up as "umpiring question" or similar.
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"400+ still on: Harmison's played six Tests at The Oval and averages 119... unsheath the long handle, Harmy, and get grievous..."
1115 - Eng 318-9 (89 overs) Having run one on the dropped catch last over (for which Siddle looked mightily upset at missing out on a five-for, Broad is happy to keep pushing ones and twos, while Harmy swipes a four through the slips.
From Tom, TMS inbox: "Can you wish Roger a happy last day at work before he moves to Australia? He wants an English victory more than most as if not he will be subject to years of poor post-Ashes Aussie banter on his arrival down under. Many many thanks."
Happy last day at work, Roger...
1111 - DROPPED CATCH - Eng 311-9 (88 overs) So, Jimmy's duckless run sees him end up fourth on the "most Test innings before a duck" list - AB de Villiers is top with 78. Right, if Steve Harmison bats in his usual fashion, this innings shouldn't last much longer. But first, it's Siddle versus Broad, and the left-hander carves a single to the point boundary. Harmy is hit on the pad, Siddle howls in frustration as the ball was going down leg. Harmy then helps a wide one down to fine leg for a leg bye, then Broad has a hook, the ball skies towards Mitchell Johnson at long leg as wicketkeeper Haddin gives chase - and he drops it!
From Jon, nervously biting his nails in Devon, via text on 81111: "Re 1012 comment. Why not leave the guy alone. So he doesn't go on to a big score, so what. He's performed better at three this series than Bopara, and besides wouldn't you rather have someone that averages over 40 at number three and scores fifties consistently, than someone who only scores single figures or hundreds against weak opposition! No brainer if you ask me."
1105 - WICKET - Anderson lbw b Hilfenhaus 0 - Eng 308-9 (87 overs) Ben Hilfenhaus to continue from his favoured Vauxhall End with the second new ball, which was only taken at the beginning of the 84th over. Broad gets England under way today with a firmly-driven single. But then Anderson is trapped in front - and loses his Test record of 54 innings without being out for a duck!
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs on Twitter:
"I have no idea what these weather forecasters are on. Absolute spangler of a day ay the moment, although little fluffy clouds overhead"
1101 - Eng 307-8 (86 overs) As explained, Peter Siddle needs to bowl three balls to complete his over from last night. Anderson is stout in defence.
From Kev, TMS inbox: "Well, here we go. Hoping for a quick 25-30 runs and then the most spectacular of Australian batting collapses ever seen."
1058: The Aussie fielders saunter out, joined by Stuart Broad (26 not out overnight) and more surprisingly, James Anderson. Given there's no approaching interval for him to be night/lunch/tea/drinks break-watchman, is this a sign that he's been permanently promoted above Steve Harmison?
From PrisonKid69 on 606:
"Time for Grievous Bodily Harmison to start launching the cavalier smashes for six that he made his own individual cameo contribution to the score in 2005 that boosted his confidence and dented Aussie morale and momentum!"
1056: As "Jerusalem" starts up on the outfield, it's nearly time for the action.
From Guy, Swindon, TMS inbox: "Enough of the doom. Had England reached 550, we would know the pitch was dead, Australia would have got the same and we would be heading for a bore draw. Now, some doubt about the pitch, which will force a result. Far better to have a chance of winning than the inevitability of shaking hands at 5.30 on Monday with Punter smiling from ear to ear. Is he Ian Hislop's twin?"
1049: Good question, Kathy (see below). It's the player's England number - Jonathan Trott has 645 as he was the 645th player to play in a Test for England. Colly is 622, for instance. You can find
a full list here on Cricinfo.
Anyone think Amjad Khan will add to his one Test appearance?
From Kathy, TMS inbox: "Mark, your webpage keeps us informed of the cricket progress while at work. Really enjoy it. Question for you, please could you explain the significance of the numbers underneath the England logo on the players' shirts?"
From Mike Sutton on 606:
"I'd have thought 400 minimum was a par score on the pitch in reality. I suspect Bell's comments that thereis something in this pitch and that it is more like a 2nd or 3rd day pitch than the normal Oval pitch are in reality spin (of the political type)"
1038: TMS will be on air at 1045, but if you give this page a manual refresh, the video scorecard will appear at the top, limbering up for the day's action...
1033: Meteorological update from
Aggers on Twitter
- "Heathrow expecting heavy showers from midday". You can find Aggers' favoured weather site
or the BBC forecast for Kennington
- hey, you can't say we don't offer you options.
1028: Rachel (see below) and others -
was also among those bemoaning the Montster's absence yesterday - wonder how the pitch will turn for Swanny today? And given Australia's lousy over-rate yesterday, I'd have thought there would be no point in England's tail-enders blocking this morning - I reckon they should hit out for a quick 20 or 30 or so, but not waste too much time at the crease.
From Rachel, "hard at work", TMS inbox: "Right... I'm all set for another hard day pretending to work! Why oh why can't we have a radio in the office? Watching the highlights on TV last night I was amazed at how much the pitch was cutting up. Should we have played Monty after all?"
1022: Interesting report in the Daily Telegraph this morning which claims that Andrew Flintoff will have major knee surgery after the final Test which will keep him sidelined for nine months (despite having been named in the ODI and T20 squads to face Ireland and Australia after the Ashes series concludes). An ECB spokesman is quoted as saying: "We are making no further comment on his medical condition. We are leaving him to concentrate on the task at hand, which is on the field. As we have said previously an operation remains an option at the end of the series. He will be reassessed at the end of this current match." If the surgery report is true, I'd have thought Freddie would be hoping to be back sooner than nine months - after all, the Indian Premier League starts on 12 March next year...
From Jenks, via text on 81111: "Ben Dirs said it all. Australia only have to bowl line and length to get England all out. It's like 'Brian Lara Cricket' [presumably a computer game], eventually you find a spot that if you always bowl at a certain place, you will get a wicket"
1017: Rounding up a couple of other things you may have missed from yesterday evening if you were dashing home after a hard day in front of your keyboard, there's the
for Aggers and Geoff Boycott's verdict, plus you can also listen to Tuffers' chat with Stephen Fry on the BBC Sport website.
1012: I'm not sure whether you've read
Ben Dirs' blog from day one at The Oval
- it seems "The Bell Debate" is raging as much as it ever has in the past couple of years. Does Bell deserve praise for scoring 72, or is it a disappointment that once more, he hasn't gone on to make a really big score?
1005: Morning, everyone. It's eyes down for day two of the fifth, final, climactic, deciding, epic (insert adjective of choice) Test at The Oval. Match situation is that England are 307-8, having lost a wicket in the last over of play yesterday, so we'll have half an over from Peter Siddle when play starts at 1100 BST.
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