England v Australia: Fifth Test day three as it happened
Fifth Ashes Test, The Oval, day three:
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By Mark Mitchener
AUSTRALIA SECOND INNINGS (victory target 546)
1855: And, just as play finished, we appear to have had more technical problems. Rest assured, the technical guys are on the case and hopefully tomorrow we can bring you an uninterrupted day's play - by which time the destiny of the Ashes may have been decided! Until then, thanks on behalf of Fletch and myself for all your e-mails, and we'll be back tomorrow morning - take care.
Jonathan Agnew on Twitter:
"Fine start by Australia. Amazing that the bounce from the pitch is still so predictable - and playable - for the quicks. Swann has to deliver"
From Adam, professional cynic, Scunthorpe, TMS inbox: "Has everyone who is writing the Aussies off forgotten how England (in any sport) are more than capable of shooting themselves in the foot? I personally won't believe the Ashes are ours until it actually happens!"
1835: Even Jim Maxwell on TMS is calling Australia's task "an improbability", but how many England fans will have sleepless nights tonight? That's it from the TMS crew - 5 live will have all the reaction shortly, while the TMS podcast will be available later.
From Amy, via text on 81111: "I am so excited! My big brother has just booked tomorrow off, I'm getting the beers in, and we are prepared for a very tense day which culminates in an England victory. Touch wood!"
1832 - CLOSE OF PLAY - Aus 80-0 (20 overs) Swann to bowl the last over of the day. Katich gleefully steers a single to deep point off the second ball, leaving Watson to survive the closing moments. Watson declines the opportunity, adding a single of his own off the fourth. And Kat shuts up shop so Australia will be very happy with the start they've been given.
From Richard, TMS inbox: "Albert Trott played for England and Australia. Having destroyed England in 1894/95 he was left out of the 1896 touring team (even though his brother was captain!) so came across himself to play for Middlesex before playing for England later. Looking at the 1901 census, he only has a daughter at that time, but he appears to have come across with a younger brother Frederick. Perhaps Jonathan is descended from him."
1829 - Aus 78-0 (19 overs) Broad continues to probe against Watson in what may be the penultimate over before the close. Only one slip in - surely with more than 400 runs to play with and the ball doing a bit off the pitch, England can spare more than one man for the cordon? "I'd be tempted to give Collingwood a go with his little cutters before the end," notes Phil Tufnell on TMS. It's a rapid maiden over and England will get one more in.
From icba1957 on 606:
"Couldn't understand why Harmison got the nod over Onions in the first place. Can this please be his last game for a while? He's just not good enough."
1825 - Aus 78-0 (18 overs) Swann replaces Harmison, but Katich powerfully square-cuts for four. The left-hander guides a comfortable two off his pads, then he pads up to a straighter ball, the fielders and the crowd shriek for lbw... but Billy B is unmoved. The ball just turned a little rather than holding its line. Kat then edges the last ball but it doesn't carry to Collingwood at slip... agonising for England and their supporters.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "Don't forget the Aussies put on 73, without us taking a wicket in the first innings, and then they fell apart, we just need patients and to not worry to much, yet anyway "
1822 - Aus 72-0 (17 overs) Katich dabs Broad for a single, and the field is rotated for the right-handed Watson, who has to defend as Broad angles the ball in at his stumps. Watson is then rapped on the pad, pretty big shout as the ball nips back but umpire Rauf (rightly) rules it out for height.
1817 - Aus 71-0 (16 overs) Watson ducks a bouncer from Harmison. He sees off a maiden over with little trouble. And if you're the only other person in the world apart from me who doesn't own an Ipod, the Lily Allen/Aggers interview is now available to listen to as a normal, embedded audio piece on the site... give it a manual refresh and it should come up.
From James, an Englishman in London, TMS inbox: "I don't think the Aussies have ANY chance of reaching 300 forget 500....I'll be seeing Strauss and co on that bus very soon...and the Ashes will return to England. I'm finally proud to be English!"
1813 - Aus 71-0 (15 overs) It may be time for another "reign of terror" as Stuart "Goldenarm" Broad replaces Swann. Can he repeat his first-innings heroics? He charges in, urged on by a roaring crowd, and immediately has Katich playing and missing outside off stump! Kat does plenty of "gardening" on the pitch between balls, he's certainly a Constant Gardener in this innings. Broad then finds the edge, but it bounces just in front of and just wide of Strauss at slip (CMJ thinks the keeper and slip are too far back) and sails away for four. Easily the most dangerous over in the last half-hour.
From Derek, via text on 81111: "I admire Geoffrey's spirit or is it amber liquid? But you're gonna be humbled mate! Better start building for the next Ashes now!"
1808 - Aus 67-0 (14 overs) It's still Harmison (why? Answers on a postcard to Mr AJ Strauss, c/o The Oval, London), and Watson gets a lucky two which bounces fortuitously through the slip cordon - but the new Aussie opener then steers a well-timed on-drive for four. A big shout for lbw as Watson is struck on the pad, but he's well down the pitch and was struck outside the line of off stump, playing a forward defensive.
1803 - Aus 61-0 (13 overs) A fierce pull from Watson powers a half-tracker from Swann (who's wearing sunglasses) to the mid-wicket boundary. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior then blots his copybook for the first time in this Test when he misses one down the leg side which shoots through for four byes. Watson guides a single to long leg. Maybe England's cunning plan is to feed Australia 100 runs tonight, to keep them interested...
1800 - Aus 52-0 (12 overs) England bizarrely persist with Harmison, who's offering little threat. Watson works a single down the leg side and it's given as a leg bye. Katich stands tall to whip him through point for four - 50 up for the tourists.
1756 - Aus 47-0 (11 overs) Harmison's introduction has done nothing other than to boost Australia's run rate, but Swann is giving Katich a few problems with turn out of the footmarks, although he works a two to leg.
From Charles, TMS inbox: "Not sure we should be celebrating just yet... Punter and Pup still to come, and 10 fingers still to be raised!"
1753 - Aus 45-0 (10 overs) Harmy continues to bang it in, Katich gets in line and sternly defends, before leaning into a square drive for four. The New South Wales skipper then opens the face to steer a four past gully, before steering a single off his legs. Meanwhile, the Lily Allen interview with Aggers from lunchtime is now
available as a podcast.
From Pete, via text on 81111: "Albert Trott was the first and only man to clear the Lord's pavilion. On 31 July 1899 off of Monty Noble. Problem was he was an Aussie!"
1747 - Aus 36-0 (9 overs) Pace isn't working for England, so finally we get some spin - 14 overs left to bowl tonight and Graeme Swann will have a twirl from the Pavilion End. Watson prods his first ball just wide of Cook at short leg. The second one rips like a beauty, Watson is all smiles but he was playing all around that. A single brings Katich on strike, Swann goes round the wicket to the left-hander but Katich picks him off, guiding a three past mid-on.
From Geoffrey, TMS inbox: "Can you please stop writing off the Aussies. Our fighting spirit will continue till the end, I will be laughing when we win the ashes. You may have won the last two days, but you will never win the series. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!"
1743 - Aus 32-0 (8 overs) I got the prediction half-right - Flintoff's off but it's Harmison on, not Broad. The Durham paceman is cut uppishly for four over the slips by Katich. Harmy then oversteps to boost the score with a no-ball. Meanwhile, the question is posed in this office, has Watson ever played a long innings? His highest first-class score is
203 not out from 374 minutes for Hampshire against Warwickshire in 2005
- a young South African bloke called Jonathan Trott took 2-65 for the Bears with his medium pace.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "The Ashes are coming home! However that bus parade might have to wait - Strauss and the troops are due in Dublin for an ODI on Tuesday! Makes it all the more important to bash the Aussies in four days and shimmy down Trafalgar Square!"
1737 - Aus 27-0 (7 overs) Not much terror from Anderson, he digs in a short ball and Watson helps himself, pulling a four through mid-wicket. The Aussie pair haven't looked in much danger.
From AstonVilla555 on 606:
"I think even England will be hard pressed to lose from here, as Oz need to get more than 100 more than the best ever total to win, in a match where no innings has reached 400. Still, being England, we'll probably be given a minor scare."
1733 - Aus 23-0 (6 overs) Katich swishes and misses at a lifter from Flintoff, before handsomely cover-driving for four. Flintoff looks like his "mojo" may have been used up in his farewell cameo with the bat earlier. Time for spin, or for Stuart Broad to start another "reign of terror" against the Aussie top order?
From Richard, TMS inbox: "Following the comment about Trott's grandfather teaching 'Anonymous' English, I saw another site saying that Trott's grandfather is the only man to hit a six over the pavilion at Lord's. Any takers for the story?"
I'd read that Jonathan Trott has said that he's related to Albert Trott, the only man to clear the Lord's pavilion, but he's not sure of the exact relationship.
1729 - Aus 19-0 (5 overs) Watson smacks Anderson for four through point, and the TMS crew are already talking about when off-spinner Graeme Swann should come on. (This would be to bowl on the pitch which the Aussie press are claiming has been "doctored", and is so hostile for batsmen that England just scored 373 on).
From Kiran, TMS inbox: "Jonathan Trott scored 160 runs in the match, exactly the number of runs the entire Australian team managed in their first innings. So much for Ricky Ponting's statement that England were desperate in going in for Trott to replace Bopara. Weren't Australia desperate when they replaced Phillip Hughes with Shane Watson after just two Tests?"
1726 - Aus 15-0 (4 overs) Katich steers an easy three through the covers, not that England need to worry too much about a run chase just yet. Some Michael Vaughan-style tinkering with the field brings Alastair Cook in as a helmeted short leg for Watson, who straight-drives Flintoff for a single.
From Kat, in a sunny Essex garden, TMS inbox: "A few wickets tonight and we're laughing all the way to an open top bus parade round London on Monday... pulling a sickie may be called for."
1721 - Aus 11-0 (3 overs) Watson is hit on the pad, big appeal, but he was well down the pitch and Mr Rauf isn't interested. Hawk-Eye agrees, suggesting the ball would have gone way over the stumps. Maiden over.
1716 - Aus 11-0 (2 overs) A huge cheer for Andrew Flintoff, ready to begin his final (bowling) innings as a Test cricketer. Simon Katich prods-and-runs a single, Ian Bell aims at the stumps but misses, a direct hit might have been close... Then Watson pushes a suicidal single of his own, again Bell's throw misses and it goes for four overthrows! There are 19 more overs to be bowled tonight.
Apologies for the technical problems, which appear to have been resolved - please manually refresh so any "missing" text can appear.
1712 - Aus 5-0 (1 over) England's fielders walk out for what they hope will be an historic innings. Jimmy Anderson gets a bit of bounce with his first delivery as Shane Watson fends it off. Australia are under way with a no-ball, before Watson pulls a bouncer for four. And the technical team have told everyone to stop publishing anything while they fix these major problems... but I'll keep writing (unpublished) so that when the system gets fixed, you'll be able to look back and see how events unfolded "as it happened"...
From Hamish, TMS inbox: "Do you think Punter will put his tooth under his pillow tonight? Hoping maybe when he wakes up in the morning for a 150..."
1702: So, the maths is quite simple. Australia need 546 to win - which would utterly smash the Test record for a winning fourth-innings score (currently 418-7 for West Indies v Australia in 2003). Realistically, unless they slow at Boycott/Tavare pace, if they manage to bat out the remaining six-and-a-bit sessions, they will win. But if England can bowl them out, they will regain the Ashes. Get it? Got it. Good.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "Trott may have been born in South Africa, but his grandfather taught me English to A-level, which makes him English enough for me!"
ENGLAND SECOND INNINGS
1658 - WICKET - Trott c North b Clark 119 - Eng 373-9 dec (95 overs) While Matthew Hayden admits his love of "The Jungle Book" and sings the first few bars of "Bear Necessities", Jonathan Trott proves he's the "King of the Swingers" by stepping forward and bashing two consecutive fours through the leg side. Oobie doo, I wanna bat like you. A single allows Anderson to join in the fun, he manages a three over extra cover. Umpire Rauf has a gentle word with the batsmen for running on the pitch. But a tired Trott's defiance is ended when he gropes at a wide delivery and edges to gully, and Andrew Strauss calls them in. England have declared - and Australia need a mammoth 546 to win.
1653 - Eng 361-8 (94 overs) Trott adds a single off Johnson. Aggers hints that TMS's mystery guest tomorrow may possibly have something to do with a well-known series of children's books about a small boy with a scar on his face. (No, not Ricky Ponting).
Matthew Hayden on TMS: "I had a month without shaving when I went up north with Andrew Symonds and I looked nothing short of disgraceful - like Grizzly Adams"
1648 - Eng 360-8 (93 overs) Trott steers Clark for a single, Anderson reaches to guide a two to the mid-wicket sweeper. Australia starting to lose heart?
1643 - Eng 357-8 (92 overs) Trott pushes Johnson (who has been rotated back into the attack for Hilfenhaus) for a single, Anderson smears one past point for a double.
1639 - Eng 354-8 (91 overs) Anderson brings up the 350 with a cover-driven four off Clark, then slashes another boundary over the leaping Watson at point. England on fire here. And when there's fire, there's... Ashes?!
From stev666 on 606:
"Well played Trott - he has done fantastically well to come into this situation and produce the goods, should see him on the plane to South Africa."
1636: And yes, we are fully aware there's been publishing problems with the site and that no updates have published on this, the football live text or any other page for the best part of an hour. I'm more worried by those of you who have been e-mailing in, asking why we "haven't bothered to write anything since tea". As if we would voluntarily stop now!
From Anonymous, TMS inbox: "Very nervous start to the day, first pint started at 10.42. Just started pint number five. I've decided the best cure for a hangover is to wear the best ever present my wifelet has given me i.e. a white floppy sunhat with built in radio that picks up R4 LW in the garden & has the letters TMS proudly emblazoned on the front. Special thanks to ALL on live text - it's always essential when at work & was especially brilliant yesterday afternoon"
1635 - Eng 346-8 (90 overs) Trott defends against Hilfenhaus, he's lucky as the ball drops at his feet and narrowly rolls past his stumps. He steers the ball through the covers, they can only run two so he's on 99... Then he turns one off his hips for two, that's his century! He raises his bat to take the applause as he becomes the 18th player to score a hundred for England on his Test debut. ("And the third born in South Africa", notes Jim Maxwell on TMS). Pressure off, he slashes a four through the vacant fourth slip area. The lead is 518.
1630 - Eng 336-8 (89 overs) Siddle's off, even after the departure of his tormentor Swann, and it's Stuart Clark to bowl to Trott. He guides a single off his legs to move to 97. Anderson will shoulder arms to anything he doesn't have to play at, he's happy to see off the over.
From Constantly worried Neil, via text on 81111: "We need at least another 50 from here. We are still England. Defeat from the jaws of victory is never far off."
1625 - Eng 335-8 (88 overs) James Anderson, on a pair (for the first time in his Test career, joins Trott - he's at the non-striker's end as they ran on the catch. Another no-ball from Hilfenhaus, and Trott steers a single to reach 96. Can the tail stay with him? Jimmy survives the over.
From Jollyoldtennis on 606:
"The odds are on an England victory. Has there been a series with so many duds on the likely winning side. The batting from three to five has been a joke and I think I'll include Cook with that lot. So for me Cook, Bell, Bopara, Collingwood are all also rans and should be put out to pasture. Even Flintoff has had a relatively poor series. So, its hats off to Strauss, Trott (a great debut) and the bowlers who as well as some inspired bowling performances (with some dross in there, I accept) have shown up the established higher order."
1622 - WICKET - Swann c Haddin b Hilfenhaus 63 - Eng 333-8 (87.4 overs) Now Swann takes on Hilfenhaus, hoisting another four through the leg side to equal his highest Test score - but it's one Lurid Revelation too many for Dr Comfort as he skies one into the air and the grateful Haddin scampers forward to take the catch. The lead is 505.
From Vishnu, TMS inbox: "At this rate Swann will reach his hundred faster than Trott. Swann is flying."
1620 - Eng 329-7 (87 overs) Swann pulls Siddle for four more, then adds a two and a one. He's really, really loving this. Meanwhile, I'm aware we have publishing problems, but I'll keep going in the hope that you can still follow play when it finally kicks into gear!
1616 - Eng 322-7 (86 overs) Trott steers a Hilfenhaus no-ball for one, Swann flashes at a wide one and the edge sails just over the leaping Ponting at second slip. They run two. Swanny then carves a two through mid-wicket to bring up his third Test fifty. A single brings Trott on strike, on 89, he swipes and misses before a sweet cover-driven two brings him into the nervous nineties. Hilfenhaus keeps bowling wide, but another flashing drive brings him a slightly fortunate four off the edge. 95 for Trottski, the lead is 498.
From Tim in France, via text on 81111: "Playing petanque in Provence. Explaining to my crusty old French adversary that England may win the Ashes. He looks disinterested. I will try harder."
1611 - Eng 309-7 (85 overs) Peter Siddle from the Vauxhall End, but it's more of the same from Trott as another handsome drive takes him to within 12 of his century. Swann stretches for a wide and woolly delivery which is signalled as a wide, then handsomely bashes a four through extra cover. He has 41 from 39 balls. Siddle tries a slower ball but Swann stands and delivers, heaving it over the bowler's head for four. ("I think Swann prefers slower balls", says Vic on TMS). Swann clips two more off his hip, 14 off the over. The lead is 481.
1605 - Eng 295-7 (84 overs) - SECOND NEW BALL TAKEN The shiny new cherry is handed to Ben Hilfenhaus, and Trott has to defend his first ball carefully, the ball bouncing just wide of the stumps. He stabs a quick single to take his score to 84, then Swann off-drives and the ball sails to long leg for a single. A prod past the bowler brings Trott three more - he has 87. Unlucky for Australians, just as well he's South African/English (delete as applicable)
1559: While Punter's boys return to the field (that lost tooth isn't stopping him continuing to chew gum like a latter-day Mark Taylor), I can give you a quick score update from
the Scotland-Ireland ODI in Aberdeen.
In reply to Ireland's 205-9, Scotland are 19-1.
1556: Paul Sheldon tells Aggers that the bidding process is under way for
Pakistan's series against Australia in England next year
- watch this space. He hints that Lord's is likely to get one of the two Tests, while Surrey are hoping to stage one of the Twenty20 internationals at The Oval.
From Ben, via text on 81111: "Taking the missus on the hilliest route possible for this bike ride in Shropshire. She thinks I'm a view addict. Tis just for reception... England declare please by next hill!"
1550: Well, Marcus North is doing his best to stuff my earlier description of him as "a part-time bowler" off down my throat... he's one short of a five-for. Mind you, he only has one previous five-wicket haul in first-class cricket
(6-69 v South Africa President's XI last year).
A second would draw him level with such luminaries as MCJ Nicholas (two five-wicket hauls in first-class cricket, best bowling
6-37 against Somerset in 1989
- one victim was VJ Marks!).
1544: Thanks, Fletch - good session, mate, and good that a fellow Prestonian all-rounder should comment on Freddie's final innings. Aggers has Paul Sheldon, chief executive of Surrey, with him in the TMS box, but I'll be with you for the rest of the day on live text - give it a manual refresh to see the magic name change.
By Paul Fletcher
1542 - Eng 290-7 (83 overs) An all-spin attack as North continues, searching for a five-for. Trott tucks away, then mild drama as Swann shoulders arms but the appeal is somewhat half-hearted. Swann advances down, North sends it down wide and the batsman just connects, profiting to the tune of two runs. The ball is then pulled to the fence, almost crashing into Katich on the way. The final ball of the session sees Swann drive the ball firmly to the ropes for another boundary. Swann has reached 34 off just 35 balls, while Trott has 83 to his name. England lead by 462 runs. This is it from me - no eight-wicket session today but entertaining nonetheless. Let me hand you back to Mitch.
From Kev, Newcastle, TMS inbox: "Twice Punter has brought his boys over here and all he's got to show for it is a scar on his right cheek and one less molar. Ideal I'd say"
1537 - Eng 278-7 (82 overs) Punter makes a compassionate decision and withdraws Johnson from the attack - tossing the ball to Katich. Swann has a look before turning one off his legs. Trott takes a single, then Swann and the scoreboard gently ticks over. The lead moves to 450. Reckon the crowd wants the Aussies to bat - a couple of wickets before the close would be happy days in a big way, from England's point of view.
From John Chilton, TMS inbox: "From my memory, Broad Jr bowled Broad Sr for a duck on an Oakham School Speech Day a few years ago"
1533 - Eng 275-7 (81 overs) Another Trott single takes him to 81 and England's lead to 442. You can extend that figure by four as Swann dances down the track and hoists the ball to the ropes. North continues but the new ball can be taken. The theory is they won't take it because it will further disturb the surface. After a single, Trott plays out the over. Ponting returns to the field.
From Rob P, via text on 81111: "We don't need to declare until there are five sessions left! Don't give the Aussies a sniff. They would never declare with over two days left "
1530 - Eng 269-7 (80 overs) Johnson. Bouncer. Ridiculous. Wide. He looks truly awful at times - Aggers suggests his bouncer was like bowling a tennis ball in a sandpit. After a single to Swann, which takes him on to 16, we have a Johnson no-ball, then another. The second was a massive no-ball as well. Johnson eventually bowls a legal delivery, that Trott runs off the face of his bat to backward point.
From eirebilly on 606:
"I find it odd that the Aussies are still letting North bowl while Swann is out there. Surely he is showing Swann exactly where the ball is spinning"
1524 - Eng 264-7 (79 overs) Phil Hughes is on the field as a sub fielder. Heard a lot about him before the series started. A slightly dodgy single off North but Trott makes his ground, bringing the belligerent Swann on strike. A reverse sweep profits his tally by two runs. He then diverts the ball just beyond Katich for a single. Apparently Ponting, who has just left the field, has lost a tooth.
Alison Mitchell on Twitter:
"Aussies hanging out of windows of flats around Oval, draping flags across balcony railings. Team needs all the help it can get"
1520 - Eng 260-7 (78 overs) Johnson continues to toil away. I had a mate visit this week and took him to show the house where Dr Johnson wrote the dictionary. Aren't I boring. A single to Trott is quickly followed by an expansive drive to the cover boundary by Swann. Marvellous stroke. Swann is less impressive with his next boundary, slightly uppish through the point region, but it nonetheless finds the fence. Johnson contributes to the total with a no-ball. England lead by 432.
From Ali Akbar, TMS inbox: "For Luke Pinder, (see 1143) the Irish are to the rescue. There is a pub in the Jakob Street at Stockplatz. You will have to ask nicely but I am sure they will let you watch the game, with an added benefit of being not far from a cold one"
1515 - Eng 250-7 (77 overs) North is in to his 27th over. He is gonna have sore fingers. Wonder if he'll be able to hold the bat. After a Trott single, Swann tries to cream a full toss but makes poor contact. Hilfenhaus obligingly mis-fields at mid-off and Swann is off the mark with a couple. Swann misses with his first attempted reverse sweep but connects with his second attempt.
From alfie on 606:
"OK Freddie didn't get many but he got 'em fast, and he just maybe knocked the remaining stuffing out of the Aussie attack"
1510 - Eng 245-7 (76 overs) Johnson has caused Swann problems in this series. He comes around the wicket to the right hander, who drives one into the turf and sees his effort fielded at second slip. Swann gets bat on ball with a couple of strokes but finds the field and we have a maiden over. I wonder if Trott is doing some wickets remaining/minutes to tea/runs to three wickets type equations.
From PH07, TMS inbox: "Re: Vauxhall End seats . Afraid those are the corporate seats. They don't get served their sit down lunch until 1.30 so some are still in there. It's a hard life"
1507 - Eng 245-7 (75 overs) The batsman crossed so Trott faces the remainder of the over - chopping a cut shot on to Haddin's right leg and away for a couple.
From Gareth John, TMS inbox: "As a Welshman in Singapore I'm very lucky to be surrounded by Australians. Quite happy to be a Pom for the day. I think the only person from the UK not enjoying this is perhaps Ravi Bopara"
1503 - WICKET Broad c Ponting b North 29 - Eng 243-7 (74.2 overs) Broad goes for a big shot but gets underneath the ball and is well caught by Ponting at mid off. North - the part timer - has his fourth wicket. He has only ever had one five-for in his entire first-class career. Wonder what Swann makes of that?
1500 - Eng 243-6 (74 overs) Trott reaches a long way for a short and wide delivery from Johnson. It brings him a single and he is 26 from reaching three figures. A no-ball from Johnson and the match has reached a relatively quiet phase after a thrilling couple of days. Slightly negative bowling, England steadily building their lead. That will all change when the Aussies bat again. A single to Broad off his hip. Ohhhh - check you, Mitchell, who fields off his own bowling then throws the ball at the stumps. The crowd enjoy that one.
1456 - Eng 240-6 (73 overs) North sends down a wide. All freebies gratefully received. A couple more could be called but umpire Rauf opts against. This seems like a deliberate tactic and there is a hint of slow hand clapping.
1454 - Eng 239-6 (72 overs) Johnson charges in, sort of, and the chat on TMS is very much about how Broad's stats at this stage of his Test career are superior to what Freddie's were at the same point (22 Tests). But did he bring home the Ashes in 05? I ask yer. A couple of singles, the second scampered, and the over is complete. Broad is a touch dirty after diving to make his ground. Plenty of dust to dirty your shirt on that track.
From unounos on 606:
"Anybody else realise that Scotland are playing Ireland today in a 50-over ODI? Ireland got 205-9"
1449 - Eng 237-6 (71 overs) North continues - and Broad slaps him back over his head with a wonderful, crisp lofted drive. He really does look the business. England now lead by 401 runs. Another sumptuous lofted drive - make that 405. No, make that 409. Another slog sweep and three of the last four balls have gone to the ropes. The fifth delivery bounces and turns past Broad's outside edge. Broad wisely leaves well alone with the last delivery.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "What a fickle lot us English fans are for talking of a declaration. If our tail lasts long enough for Strauss to even think about a declaration then surely that means the pitch is playing well enough for the Aussies to get the runs. Play on England, still more than two days left"
1442 - Eng 225-6 (70 overs) Quality drive by Broad, well fielded by the heavily involved Ponting. England run a single to the rebound. Broad really does look very capable with willow in his hand. The pitch is showing increasing inconsistencies. A Johnson delivery bounces twice and strikes Haddin in the chest. A bye is taken and Broad, with a slightly wishy washy stroke to a short and wide one, cracks a four from the next ball. Nothing spawny about the next shot, whipped off his legs for three (nobody around me knows what spawny means - what?). Time for drinks.
From Parag, TMS inbox: "Just watched Freddie's innings, with both set of commentators crying 'bring it on'. This match isn't over yet, what's the point of coming in at five down and throwing the bat around like a stupid kid just cos it's your last Test or as if the match is already won? How can a person become bigger than the whole Ashes? Thank heavens for Trott out there playing proper Test cricket"
1438 - Eng 216-6 (69 overs) Flintoff's Test average will stand forever at 31.77, the all-rounder having scored 3,845 runs. North to Trott, who misses one that bounces and goes on to hit Haddin on the bonce. Trott then top edges a cut. The ball eludes Clarke at slip, flying over his head and down to the ropes. Punter shakes his head, as if to say some guys have all the luck.
From ShinyDavidHowell on 606:
"I can't see England failing to win from here, Trott will push on and get some more runs and I think at least one of the tail will wag as well"
1434 - Eng 212-6 (68 overs) All gone a little quiet after Flintoff's (inevitable) departure. A single to Broad takes England's lead to 383 as Johnson continues. Trott is easily now England's best bet to become England second centurion of the series. Cannot see anyone else getting there. Mr Cricket Hussey makes a very good stop in the gully. The number four owes his team a few in the second innings. Trott pushes the ball to the point boundary for a single.
From Paul, TMS inbox: "Here I am watching the cricket at home. I would pay HUNDREDS to be at the Ashes and see Freddie's last innings. How come there are so many empty green seats at the Vauxhall End?"
1430 - Eng 210-6 (67 overs) Poor drop from North. Broad drives in the air, North jumps and gets two hands to the ball but cannot hold it. The Aussie then bowls a turning peach that does Broad and just misses his off stump. Broad remains relatively unflustered and drives for a single.
1427 - Eng 209-6 (66 overs) Johnson continues as Broad faces for the first time. Chris Broad, if you believe the headlines in certain national newspapers. Broad had a cracking reception as he walked out - the changing of the guard, long live the king etc To prove his point Broad plays a lush stroke off the back foot through the off side to the fence and ends the over with a comfy single.
1422 - Eng 204-6 (65 overs) It might have been crash, bang, wallop from Fred but Trott is doing very good business up the other end, working North to the ropes to move on to 67.
1418 - WICKET Flintoff c Siddle b North 22 - Eng 200-6 (64.1 overs) The first ball of North's over sees Freddie's final shot in Test cricket as he holes out to a decent catch by Siddle at long on. He waves his bat to the crowd as he walks out. Brief and breezy his final knock - perhaps a lot like many of his Test innings.
From Martin in Preston, TMS inbox: "Edging ever closer to the 400 that surely must daunt the Australians. Though Flintoff seems to have decided that slow but sure is not the way for his last Test innings. And in Trott, have we found Pietersen with a brain?"
1417 - Eng 200-5 (64 overs) Johnson did for Fred in the first innings and is brought into the attack for the first time today. He soon does Fred all ends up with a sneaky slower ball that the all-rounder spoons into the air - thankfully for him out of the reach of an Aussie fielder and they run three. England now lead by 372 runs. Trott ducks under a quick bouncer from Johnson but it is far too high. No further alarms. Fred on strike at the start of the next over. Ba-da-boom from him so far.
From "Ricky from Taz", via text on 81111: "Anyone up for a barbie on Monday? Looks like I'm gonna be free"
1412 - Eng 197-5 (63 overs) Single to Trott then a clubbed boundary after a neat little dance down the track from Flintoff. Freddie then drives - straight into Ponting, who now has a helmet on and decides to very much see the funny side of his latest collision with leather. Ha, ha.
From Dan, Ibiza, via text on 81111: "I think I made the right choice ditching lunch on the beach with 10 girlfriends for a peaceful afternoon back at the villa by the pool with the cricket commentary. Vamos Inglaterra!"
1408 - Eng 191-5 (62 overs) Trott works the ball for a single before Fred's final fling reaches tip and run groove. Clever. An open face from Trott and two more to the total. Runs flowing now as Trott pulls for another single. Take that Siddle. The crowd are loving this as Freddie pulls to the ropes. The great Prestonian has 14 off 11 so far. How long will it last?
1404 - Eng 182-5 (61 overs) North gets one to turn and bounce but Freddie displays a wonderfully deft touch, turning the ball around the corner and down to the ropes. Delicious. Not so sublime is the horrid hack to mid on from the next ball. He is not playing games here. More orthodox service resumes with Trott back on strike. Trott sweeps, Fred defends. Over.
From BH, Inverness, via text on 81111: "Don't count the Australians out just yet. I remember a certain Australian telling his brother to bowl underarm to save a match"
1401 - Eng 176-5 (60 overs) Siddle is suddenly hot to trot. He gets one to hold its line just outside the off stump and Trott is done all ends up. He then hits Trott flush on the helmet with a cracking bouncer and the ball rushes to the ropes for four byes. Bang. Trott grins. Hmm, Siddle follows it up with another, somewhat less threatening, bouncer.
From Simon, Reading, TMS inbox: "Listening to TMS bemoaning the fact that England don't have a suitable part-time spinner today. I remember that Beefy used to bowl a bit of off-spin occasionally, so how about getting Super Fred to convert to wrist-spin and extending his Test career?"
1356 - Eng 172-5 (59 overs) Freddie out into the middle. Punter shakes his hand - nice gesture. Growing on me, Punter. Admittedly after 10 years or so of watching him. Fred is on strike and after a sighter crashes North's second delivery through the on side to the ropes. Half an hour or so of this would be t.drawer. He plays out the rest of the over.
1352 - WICKET Prior run out (Katich) 4 - Eng 168-5 (58 overs) Trott pushes a single before Prior leans into one outside his off stump and gloriously thrashes the soft and aging ball though the off side and to the ropes. Undeterred, Siddle continues to charge in - plenty of ticker this lad - and beats the bat with one that keeps low. That will interest a few of the England lads. Siddle grins. Why? You're getting done over. Oh, hold on. WICKET. Prior takes a crazy run after pushing the ball to Katich at short extra cover and is run our by a direct hit. Brilliant throw. Stupid run.
From Martin, TMS inbox: "Strauss has been noted for his conservative approach to declarations. I wonder how much of a 'carrot' he would be willing to dangle in front of the Aussie batsmen. Not wanting to be the pessimist (thinking back to Chennai 2008) but Australia appear three times in the top 10 record run chases - achieved. England appear three times as the losing side! Hopefully the pitch will have some say in the matter! Fingers crossed "
1347 - Eng 163-4 (57 overs) England lead by 334 runs as North comes in to bowl. Trott is on strike and plays patiently before tucking the fifth delivery off his hip for a single. Prior faces the final delivery, driving to mid on but there is not run and he is yet to get off the mark. Very comfy so far.
From "Tony Greig", via text on 81111: "Come on Prior, Come on Trott, Come on South Africa! Err... England"
1343 - Eng 162-4 (56 overs) Siddle starts after lunch, Trott comfortably cutting him away for a couple. Very much a loosener. A tidy looking flick through the on side from a fuller one yields another couple to Trott. To the manor born this fella. Which makes me think of Penelope Keith. Cast that thought aside. A push to deep point and five easy runs off the first over after lunch.
1339: Punter leads the Aussies back out after lunch. The good news is that all the facial damage has been cleared and the Aussie skipper is able to chew his beloved gum. Blessed relief. A close-up does reveal a slight patch-up job on the upper and lower lip to the left-hand side of his mouth.
1338: CMJ on Lily Allen - and what a nice girl.
1337: Anyone listening to Aggers interview with Lily Allen? I'm sensing that different worlds are colliding somewhat. Aggers gentle chiding of bad girl Lily for swearing too often on her records is just about as far from an NME interview as you are ever likely to encounter. I would like to hear the TMS team interview alternative pop stars every lunch time. Next time Aggers meets the Wonder Stuff...."Now Miles, what exactly is an eight-legged groove machine?"
From Alie, TMS inbox: "It's beginning to look like the selectors may have known what they were doing when they called up Trott instead of Ramps or Key - he's showing surprisingly good temperament and he looks like a solid Test player."
1330: Not long now until play resumes. I have been particularly impressed with Trott so far, who looks to have an excellent temperament. Steady, sure, confident - qualities that I am not sure can be ascribed to some of his team-mates this summer.
From Nodd, unable to think about anything else in Camden, via text on 81111: "I like the positivity, but remember, this is the England cricket team, this is the Ashes, we are playing the Aussies - there is definitely enough time for us to screw this up! Don't count the chickens just yet, now we are 'winning' it has just made me more scared."
1323: I have heard a couple of Aussies talking about how you just never know in cricket. Thinking back 24 hours and I was extremely concerned for the England team - and then that magical afternoon session happened. Reckon this afternoon session will be a touch more sedate - but then again, with Prior at the crease and Fred in next....
From Andy, Swindon, via text on 81111: "The Aussies claiming that the pitch has been doctored should be ashamed of themselves. Strauss' innings today has proved that they were just awful with the bat and Broad was brilliant with the ball."
1316: Lots of speculation at the moment on 606, TMS and the text about a possible declaration. I would definitely like to see some Aussies at the crease at some point today - I just have a feeling that Punter might take some removing. He must very much be in Tasmanian Devil mode at the moment, what with his team behind the game and his mouth a deep red. Honestly - how many people saw this turnaround coming? Punter must have thought his team had delivered a decisive blow at Headingley.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "At a festival, sat in a field playing an Ashes drinking game. Please could you refrain from all this chat about North, every time he's mentioned it costs me two fingers."
North, North, North, North, North, North, North, North, North, North - get drinking.
1312: I have just been reliably informed that the highest fourth innings totals by Australia to win an Ashes Test is 404-3. That came at Headingley in 1948 and was achieved by a side that included a certain Donald Bradman.
1308: Mitch is off for lunch and so to see all the glorious changes that happen now I'm holding the fort, don't forget to refresh. I actually feel a touch sorry for Punter, who must never have imagined that his lunch would come courtesy of a punchy Prior drive. Nails, old Punter. But he may well be going home a loser, again.
1305: For years and years I've heard time and again from various Aussie mates all about how their teams keep the foot on the throat, never release the pressure. And the frustrating thing is, they have undoubtedly been right and it has often made for painful viewing. I would respectfully suggest that losing one wicket during the morning session indicates England have done the same over the previous couple of hours.
By Mark Mitchener
1302: England's morning, despite the late loss of Strauss. "It will take a Herculean effort for Australia to retain those Ashes," predicts Vic Marks. And keep your ears on TMS - after the county scores, Aggers will be speaking to Lily Allen. And I'm going to leave you in the hands of Paul Fletcher, who oversaw the dramatic afternoon session yesterday. Here's hoping for a repeat and that Fletch has a super afternoon.
1300 - Eng 157-4 (55 overs) We have a new vote for you on the website, if you take a look at the right of the page. Prior defends his first ball, then plays the next one off the back foot and it spits up and hits him on the thigh. And the last ball of the over is smacked straight into the chops of Ricky Ponting at silly point! That's got to hurt! And it was the last ball before lunch, so the grimacing "Punter" may have to take his lunch through a straw.
1256: Well, it's all over for the skipper as he nudges the off-spinner to the solitary slip. But that's a terrific innings to put England firmly in the driving seat. Matt Prior is the new batsman - England eschewing any suggestion that they could send in a "lunch watchman".
1255 - WICKET - Strauss c Clarke b North 75 - Eng 157-4 (54.3 overs)
1255 - Eng 157-3 (54 overs) Trott belts Clarke for four through mid-wicket, then guides a wider delivery down to fine leg for two. Another half-tracker is punched towards cow corner for four - Jonathan Trott's batting may not be as totally aesthetically pleasing as that of a David Gower (for example), but that's his debut half century which earns him a standing ovation. Well batted, sir.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "I've decided that as the English don't remember Ashes series played away from home I shall do the same for series played away from Australia"
1252 - Eng 147-3 (53 overs) After a single from Trott, Strauss's first moment of danger this morning as he offers no stroke to North, there's a big shout... not out. And Hawk-Eye agrees. The lead is 319.
From Lisa, Watford, TMS inbox: "Recently had a crate of Aussie beers delivered from a friend in Sydney .chilling some down now to raise a toast to Strauss! A true captain's innings and perfect Saturday viewing."
1249 - Eng 146-3 (52 overs) A full toss from Clarke is smacked over his head by Strauss, he doesn't quite connect and they run one to mid-on. Trott steers one past point. With New Zealand beating Australia at rugby union this morning, Vic Marks on TMS is trying to think of a sport in which Australia are doing well at the moment... and suggests Aussie Rules football.
1245 - Eng 144-3 (51 overs) Marcus North returns, can he stem the flow of runs? Trott chops a two through point, that's the only scoring stroke, so a qualified "yes" for now.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "We are sitting in a boat on the Tay with more chance of winning the Ashes than catching a fish. That's not something you can say every day."
1242 - Eng 142-3 (50 overs) It looks like Clark's been hit out of the attack, as his near-namesake Michael Clarke (with an "e") is introduced at the Pavilion End to bowl his orthodox slow left-arm spin. Strauss tries a paddle-sweep to his first ball, it flicks his pad and bounces into the air. But the next ball is confidently despatched to the boundary as Strauss goes for the same stroke and connects fully. "Only connect", as EM Forster might put it, being the difference between the two deliveries. A single brings up the century stand, Trott adds another and England are looking on cruise control. Strauss completes a profitable over with a well-run two to Watson on the mid-wicket boundary.
From Reaper of Souls on 606:
"Looking at the way the pitch is playing; it will need a great batting performance from the Aussies (or incredibly inept bowling performance from England) for Australia to win this one. Of course Strauss deserves the man of the match for the decisive performance, winning the toss. Good to see England preparing a pitch to suit their needs though - even if it might've been reported as unfit in county cricket."
1237 - Eng 134-3 (49 overs) The TMS team are troubled by a wasp while Trott smashes Hilfenhaus for three more through the covers. Strauss adds a single, and Trott-ski has the Aussie fielders chasing their tails once more as he adds another three through mid-wicket to take his score to 35. A leg bye extends England's lead to 306.
From Mark, TMS inbox: "How on earth are we going to end up winning this series? We haven't batted half as well as the Australians, we've scored one century, we've chopped and changed the batting order, our best player is injured, Flintoff is no way near 100%, and until yesterday Swann and Broad had both bowled poorly. How many of our player would actually get in the Australian team?"
1233 - Eng 126-3 (48 overs) Strauss comes down the wicket to Clark and punches a well-timed cover drive, which bisects the two short cover fieldsmen and sails away for four. Next ball, same shot, same result, and the crowd go wild! Haddin has to stand up to the stumps for the last ball, just to keep the England skipper in his crease...
From unounos on 606:
"If only Onions were a good batsman... then it could be England are trotting on and running rings around Australia"
1228 - Eng 118-3 (47 overs) Ben Hilfenhaus is finally summoned into the attack, sporting his Steve Harmison-esque stubble-threatening-to-become-a-goatee look. But his first ball is a wide half-volley which Trott crashes through third man for four. A diving stop by Mike Hussey at gully prevents another likely boundary, but Trott soon picks up three more through the covers, and a single takes Strauss to 58.
From the Parsons Green Ghostbuster, via text on 81111 (who ya gonna text?): "In the front row dressed as a Ghostbuster. Got tickets for Monday to but if England want to wrap the Ashes up today I would not complain. Would save me an unconvincing 'sick day' phonecall."
1222 - Eng 110-3 (46 overs) Clark moves the helmeted Katich - who took an absolute blinder at bat-pad on his birthday yesterday - from short leg to silly point for Strauss. He keeps it tight until the last ball is smashed through long leg for four. The lead is 282.
1218 - Eng 106-3 (45 overs) Aggers reveals that
TMS's lunchtime guest
has arrived, having travelled overnight from Amsterdam by bus. "Is it Dennis Bergkamp? He doesn't fly, does he?" wonders Phil Tufnell. With four close fielders posted in, North gets a bit of lift as one spits out of the rough and hits Trott on the glove, but it falls safely. But the next ball is looser and is helped down past Haddin for four leg byes.
From 22notout on 606:
"England fans couldn't have asked more of these two this morning. This is world-class batting under this kind of enormous pressure. Strauss and Trott. Stick in there boys, battle away. Run after run. Look for the 50 partnership. 264 lead. No-one has scored more to win an Ashes Test here. These two could be winning the Ashes for us. "
1214 - Eng 102-3 (44 overs) Strauss late-cuts Clark for two to third man, and Aussie captain Ricky Ponting must be racking his brains as to where the next wicket could conceivably come from.
From Anonymous, via text on 81111: "If we go on to win the Ashes back and no-one else scores a ton for us, it'll be nice to reflect that we only needed to score one to beat them this time."
1211 - Eng 100-3 (43 overs) Trott brings up three figures for England with a single from his favoured "flick-off-his-legs" shot against North. Strauss adds a single to stretch the lead to 272.
From Nathan, presumably an Aussie, remaining optimistic in Crawley, TMS inbox: "If we lose this, the only Aussie names you'll see next time round are (Michael) Clarke, Siddle and maybe Hilfenhaus. You can forget you ever knew the rest. Oh, and give Ponting a rest, he may be ugly but he's been the most successful captain in the world for a LONG time."
1207 - Eng 98-3 (42 overs) There's a new vote available for website users if you give it the old "manual refresh" routine... Clark resumes by switching his angle of attack to bowl round the wicket to the left-handed Strauss, who bunts one past the slips for two and that's his fifty - his 17th Test half century. And it's worth pointing out his very impressive conversion rate - he now has 17 fifties and 18 centuries. (Ian Bell's conversion rate, oft-mentioned by his critics, is less good - 20 fifties but only eight centuries).
1200 - Eng 96-3 (41 overs) My gaffer today is Paul Grunill, who's rather astonished at the absence of Ben Hilfenhaus from the attack today, as North guides another single off his legs. Strauss steers a comfortable three through mid-wicket, taking him to 48. The players are rewarded with a drinks break, R4 LW listeners have to make do with the Shipping Forecast.
1156 - Eng 92-3 (40 overs) Strauss continues his "leave anything just outside off stump" tactic against Clark, while Haydos on TMS expresses his admiration for the superhuman feats of sprinter Usain Bolt (and his celebration with Berlino the mascot). Apparently his hero is fellow Jamaican, Courtney Walsh. The ball looks rather roughed up, but not much sign of any swing (conventional, reverse or otherwise) for the accurate Clark, who completes another maiden over.
From James, via text on 81111: "Does anyone else think that Marcus North looks like a Gerry Anderson puppet? Glass eyes!"
1152 - Eng 92-3 (39 overs) Our first sight of spin this morning as part-time off-spinner Marcus North is introduced to the attack. Trott swats him off his legs for four to bring up the fifty stand, before driving two more through the covers. The lead is 264.
From Sarah sitting patiently at work in London, TMS inbox: "Does anyone know whether Ponting ate his supper last night? or was he full up on fingernails?"
1148 - Eng 86-3 (38 overs) Clark sends up a bit of dust as he sends the ball down into the footholes outside Strauss's off stump, but the England skipper shoulders arms at anything too wide before eventually tipping-and-running a quick single into the covers. Trott nicks the strike with another single.
From devonFRATTONiser on 606:
"It's taken over half an hour for Australia to bowl six overs this morning. With a necessity to bowl at 15 overs/hour to complete the allotted overs by the scheduled close, isn't it about time to enforce penalty runs for slow over-rates?"
1143 - Eng 84-3 (37 overs) Trott guides Siddle for a gentle single off his legs, Strauss chops a single to backward point. A few people are in fancy dress at the ground - astronauts and Thunderbirds puppets to name a couple - but I hope I'm not jinxing Trott when I say he's looked pretty convincing in his debut performance dressed up as a Test batsman. Touch wood.
From Luke Pinder, TMS inbox: "Enjoying the commentary here in sunny Newton Heath, Manchester whilst packing my bag for my flight to Germany tonight. If anyone knows of anywhere in Trier Germany showing the cricket it would be much appreciated! If not we'll have to find a way of listening to TMS so we can get the info on these important closing days of the series."
1139 - Eng 82-3 (36 overs) Vic has set CMJ a poser on TMS - which hymn contains three test players in the first line? Richard Seeckts in the TMS inbox is as fast out of the blocks as Usain Bolt, offering up "The King Of Love My Shepherd Is". Psalm 23, apparently. Nice one, Rich. "Plenty of Shepherds in New Zealand", quips Matthew Hayden on TMS. Now then Haydos, careful with the trans-Tasman banter. Meanwhile, Clark bowls an uneventful maiden to Strauss, but it's nowhere near as good as the TMS banter.
From John in bed in Plymerff, via text on 81111: "Lying in bed with a massive hangover and wondering which live text to post to - F1 or The Ashes?! Funny that - predictive text comes up as 'Cries' when you try and key 'Ashes'. Well hopefully it'll be Punter crying into his drink come Sunday. COME ON ENGLAND! Bring it home!"
1135 - Eng 82-3 (35 overs) Strauss slides Siddle for two off his legs to take his score to 40 and England's lead past 250. A firm on-drive brings him three as Ben Hilfenhaus, who runs rather like Andre Nel, cuts off the boundary. Meanwhile, no doubt every Yorkshireman around will be muttering about how Adil Rashid has just reached 150 at Headingley.
Former Somerset and England off-spinner Vic Marks on TMS: "With his moustache, Merv Hughes would make a very good General Melchett until he had to open his mouth for dialogue"
1131 - Eng 77-3 (34 overs) An early change of bowling as Johnson is whipped out of the attack after two overs and the immaculately-groomed Stuart Clark takes over. Strauss carries on from here he left off last over, tucking a single off his legs down towards Merv Hughes' "posse" of Aussie fans in green and gold down at long leg. Trott carefully leg-glances for four, it's given as leg byes but England won't mind.
From kenposs on 606:
"The stage is set perfectly for Freddie today, he can be the hero once again for us if he can get at least 40-50. A couple of sixes thrown in there as well to get the crowd hyped up! I can picture it now, come on England today is THE day!"
1125 - Eng 72-3 (33 overs) Siddle has two slips and a gully in for Trott - a full-length delivery pings off his pads for a leg bye. Strauss works a two off his legs to a ripple of applause from the Oval crowd, before guiding a single to square leg.
From James (no longer working furiously), Edinburgh, TMS inbox: "The Aussies can whinge all they want about the pitch, everyone has to use the same one. End of the day, Broad bowled a tremendous spell, akin to Fred here at The Oval in 2005 to ensure an Aussie collapse. Australia should whinge about their cricket team, unable to beat an England team that have underperformed. Hats off to our lads though, they haven't played well at times, but they are now on the verge of winning back the Ashes and making a Punter look a mug."
1120 - Eng 68-3 (32 overs) The increasingly assured Trott jabs a single, while Vic Marks on TMS is surprised that with Australia needing to win (as the draw is an increasingly unlikely scenario), they only have one slip in for Johnson's bowling. Strauss works a no-ball away for a single, while a firm drive takes Trott's score to 12. The Cape Town native is already looking like he's booked his ticket "home" for the South Africa tour this winter. Haddin half-heartedly appeals for a catch behind against Strauss - nothing doing. The lead is 240.
1115 - Eng 64-3 (31 overs) Aggers hears "a rumble of an aeroplane above, as we're on the flight path for Heathrow" as Strauss is watchful against Siddle. Maiden over.
From Guy Lewis, Berkhamsted, TMS inbox: "After that first ball, I immediately spilt my milk and cornflakes all down my sublime white T-shirt. Heart really was in mouth."
1111 - Eng 64-3 (30 overs) Mitchell Johnson keeps it pretty tight against Trott, who eventually guides a single off his legs. Cap'n Strauss garners his first run of the day with a prod to third man.
From Thom, Preston, via text on 81111: "My girlfriend was relieved to see Jimmy go for a duck yesterday, she'd agreed to name our first-born son Jimmy if he was still duckless when the child arrived!"
1105 - Eng 62-3 (29 overs) We finished with part-time spin from both ends last night, but Peter Siddle's opening up today. The first ball of the day has Jonathan Trott playing forward, the Aussies are all leaping up and down for a catch behind, but umpire Asad Rauf remains unmoved! The Aussies can't believe it, but a replay shows it flicked Trott's trousers on the way through, not his bat. Mr Rauf may have dropped a ricket or two yesterday, but he was spot on there. Trott, reprieved, gets off strike with a single, while Siddle slings in a wide and they run a couple.
From David, TMS inbox: "Just been leafing through some of the Aussie press and there seems to be some premature sour grapes. They seem to be a bit upset about the old playing surface. Can't see the problem myself! I thought it was us Poms supposed to whinge. Long way to go yet, going to be some important stints today. More nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!"
1055: To be honest (and when am I ever less than honest?), I've been trying not to think too hard about the actual cricket this morning. Probably because of a lifetime watching England mess up from apparently strong positions. Here we go...
From Paul at Ampthill CC, via text on 81111: "At my son's club for Saturday morning coaching. All the dads keep checking their watches and it's all getting nervy!"
1052: And if you're musically inclined, don't forget that today's the much-anticipated day when Aggers will be joined at lunchtime by pop-songstress-turned-cricket-aficionado Lily Allen.
From Anthony, Kent, via text on 81111: "Strauss has been such a leader in this series, he has bottle and a cool head, I'm predicting a good knock from him today."
From pollyowls on 606:
"Bat sensibly until tea - should have a lead of 400 by then, then take it from there (if any wickets left) and give the Aussies an hour to bat tonight chasing 450. As for Broad, I hope he (and the management) realise now that he is not an out and out fast bowler. Let him concentrate on line and length, with a touch of seam movement and he will be consistently successful. Good luck today guys - let's finish the job!"
1042: And if you're looking for some Surrey-related trivia for The Oval today, it would have been former Surrey captain
Percy Fender's birthday
today - born on 22 August 1892, he died in June 1985, just after the broadcast of the notorious Australian-produced "Bodyline" mini-series, where he was portrayed as a ukulele-playing eccentric.
From Manny, Cheltenham, TMS inbox: "Today is the day that the Ashes come home. I fancy Strauss and the Trotts to get more runs than a coach full of gap year students in Delhi. We must demoralise the Aussies beyond belief on a pitch they know will favour us in a two-day deluge of English bowling prowess."
1040: TMS will be up and running at 1045, so give yourself a little manual refresh and the video scorecard will ping into the top of the page.
From Tom, Will, Carl and Nick, via text on 81111: "Please resolve our in-car argument as we travel down from Manchester to Bath for a mate's stag do (selfish sod). Australia and England have been playing Test cricket for roughly the same time but the cap numbers displayed upon England's shirts are around 200/300 higher than Australia's. Why? Thanks!"
Gentlemen, I believe you can put it down to Australia's consistency of selection compared to England's. They tend to identify talented young players and stick with them (witness Michael Clarke's early struggles before he established himself fully in the side) - whereas England have many more one-Test wonders (see Amjad Khan, Darren Pattinson, Jon Lewis, Ian Blackwell, Kabir Ali and Gavin Hamilton - and that's just the last 10 years!)
From Paul, Sheffield, via text on 81111: "Cricket! Cricket! Cricket! How can anybody be watching/listening to anything but this?"
1025: Shame on me - I accidentally linked Anna's Twitter comment to
Alison Mitchell's page.
The correct link to follow Anna
Go on, you know you want to.
1015: If you give the page a manual refresh, you can take a look at our latest vote - how many will Andrew Flintoff score in his final Test innings? And a quick parish notice - if you're texting in to us today on 81111, then please - this is vital - include "CRICKET" as the first word. We share the text inbox with football and Formula 1, both of which will have long-running text commentaries today
(Chris Whyatt's F1 chat has already started)
and your comments will not get noticed if you don't flag them up as being cricket-related. Thanks in advance.
From Sean, LHR T3, TMS inbox: "Can't wait for this to get under way. I reckon England have their noses in front but we mustn't write the Aussies off. We need a lead of 350 minimum really. On a different note, I'd love to hear Glenn McGrath's opinion on this, bearing in mind he boringly predicted a 5-0 whitewash"
1008: And if you were heading for the pub as soon as play finished yesterday, you may have missed out on some other goodies which I can point you to -
Ben Dirs' blog
about Stuart Broad's coming of age,
Jonathan Agnew's verdict
on day two, and
the TMS podcast
featuring Aggers and Geoff Boycott.
1000: Morning, everyone. We had an absolute crackerjack of a day yesterday (well, it was Friday, Aussies were nine wickets down by five o'clock, so it was crackerjack) - so I hope you're both physically and mentally prepared for day three of the deciding Ashes Test at The Oval.
The match situation is that England are 58-3 in their second innings, but with an overall lead of 230. Captain Andrew Strauss has 32, debutant Jonathan Trott has eight. We've made one change to our line-up - and not a fake blood capsule in sight. Ben Dirs, who's been
Twittering from The Oval
for the first two days, is off at a wedding, so we've despatched
the lovely Anna Thompson
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