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That's it from TMS for the day, and also from us -
the podcast will be available soon.
Sorry it's been a bit of a damp (or should that be dark) squib at the end of the day's play, but it very much looks like this game will be wrapped up at some point tomorrow (weather permitting). Thanks for all your messages - I hope you'll join us again tomorrow morning.
From Alex, Amsterdam, TMS inbox:
"Could someone fast-track Ian Long (below) into the ICC elite umpires panel, please?"
Aggers and Boycs are reviewing the day's play for the podcast. Eyes down...
CLOSE OF PLAY - DAY THREE 1754:
Umpires back on the field - but umpire Steve Davis takes the bails off to indicate that play has been abandoned for the day.
If you're just joining us, I'm afraid we've been off for bad light for nearly half-an-hour, with not much hope of a resumption tonight. Richard (below) may be thinking of
last year's ODI against Australia at Lord's
where Andrew Strauss lost his wicket immediately after the fly-past of a Lancaster Bomber, prompting a batting collapse and a 39-run defeat.
From Richard Markham, Newbury, TMS inbox:
"I was at Lord's not so long ago when a patriotic flypast triggered a collapse but can't remember the details. Perhaps someone can remind me."
From Ian Long, TMS inbox:
"I'm sat in The Oval and it is perfectly playable. Where do I get my money back? Test cricket? No thanks."
Phil Tufnell on TMS:
"If we don't get any more runs I think it's Pakistan's game to lose."
Still no sign of a resumption, the crowd are starting to drift away. But Andy in Birmingham (below) is dead right - never mind all that Hill Street Blues chat we started the day with, Babylon 5 was a superb show.
From Andy, Birmingham, TMS inbox:
"Shadows Stop Play [see 1705] sounds like an episode title from the sci-fi show Babylon 5."
From Rees, TMS inbox:
"It brings a tear to the eye, the sheer patriotism. The fly over, swiftly followed by the batting collapse! Makes you proud to be British!"
The TMS guys aren't optimistic about play resuming tonight, but we'll keep going until anything definite is announced.
From Anonymous, via text:
"Are we sure that is even Kamran Akmal? Maybe he had a secret twin brother in a cupboard somewhere and they brought him instead?"
Simon Mann and Phil Tufnell on TMS:
"An hour and a quarter ago, England were 194-3. They've since lost six wickets for 27 runs."
"That's a good calypso collapso, that."
The Oval crowd give Amir and Ajmal a big ovation as they lead Pakistan off. We technically have another 16.4 overs to bowl tonight, so play can continue until 1830 BST - but if they're not already on the field by 1800, they can't resume after that.
1715 - BAD LIGHT STOPPED PLAY - Eng 221-9 (76.2 overs)
Broad dabs Amir for a single, then the umpires consult... and take the players off for bad light. Crowd not happy at all.
1712 - Eng 220-9 (76 overs)
Ajmal to last man Steven Finn, who looks completely perplexed by the doosra. Ajmal completes a wicket maiden - he has figures of 31-7-71-4. England lead by 145.
1709 - WICKET - Swann b Ajmal 6 - Eng 220-9 (75.2 overs)
It's Friday, it's five o'clock and it's been an absolutely Crackerjack session for Pakistan in the last hour. Swann stands tall and lets a ball pitching outside leg stump hit him, without any fear of being out lbw. But the next ball bowls him as he slashes and misses at an off break!
From Khalid in Bromley, via text:
"Young men like Amir are providing much deserved relief to their nation at the moment. Good luck Pakistan!"
Time for a drinks break, Simon Mann on TMS is concerned by the advance of the shadows across the pitch. I haven't got a "Shadows Stop Play" graphic, though I may be able to dig out an old pic of Hank Marvin.
From BBC Sport website assistant editor Paul Grunill, not in the TMS inbox:
"In 2001, England lost eight wickets in the post-tea session on the final day of the second Test at Old Trafford after Marcus Trescothick had made 117. Not the same scenario because England were batting last - Pakistan won the game by 108 runs - but it's a similar collapse, with pace at one end and spin at the other, Saqlain Mushtaq taking four wickets."
1705 - Eng 220-8 (75 overs)
Broad off-drives Amir for four, then the umpires appear to be conferring about the light. The crowd won't be happy if they go off now, at five o'clock in the middle of August, with the floodlights on! They're staying on for the time being, Kamran appeals for a catch down the leg side but it flicked Broad's pad. Just that boundary from the over.
From Neil Salter, TMS inbox:
"As Kamran Akmal has had a fair amount of time off recently, has he been receiving coaching? He appears to be a completely different keeper!"
1700 - Eng 216-8 (74 overs)
The new ball is available after seven more overs, but Aggers and Vic doubt that Pakistan would take it immediately now that Amir's getting a bit of movement and Ajmal is spinning it round corners. Swann reverse-sweeps at Ajmal (yeah, like a reverse sweep's a really un-risky shot in these circumstances, Swanny) and is hit on the body as he fails to make contact. Ajmal tries something different with his action, the result is a long-hop which Swann helps himself to and belts it for four through the covers. A leg bye and a single for Broad mean he's off the mark and England lead by 141.
From Gareth Preston, TMS inbox:
"Shocking concentration from Trott! He's worked hard all morning building an innings, then has a flash at a wide one! I wouldn't be surprised if he's throwing things around the dressing room right now."
1656 - Eng 210-8 (73 overs)
New batsman is Stuart Broad, as hope of Sunday play disappears over the horizon. Pakistan appear for a catch behind off Broad's first ball, Hotspot shows it appeared to clip the bottom of his pad as it was going down the leg side. Amir, who has 4-46, is grinning like a Cheshire cat.
1652 - WICKET - Prior c K Akmal b Amir 5 - Eng 210-8 (72.1 overs)
England are really in the cart now as Prior prods at an away-swinger from Amir and Kamran takes his fourth catch of the innings. Who said he couldn't catch?!
1651 - Eng 210-7 (72 overs)
"Swann is being very circumspect by Swann standards," notes Vic on TMS as he plays out a maiden from fellow off-spinner Ajmal. England lead by 135.
From Jim Myton, TMS inbox:
"If Churchill were watching this he might retort 'Never in the field of cricketing conflict have so many runs been owed to so many by so few'."
1648 - Eng 210-7 (71 overs)
Swann works a single off his legs, Amir is hitting 90mph and may be advised to fire in a bit of chin music at the Notts spinner, who isn't at his most comfortable against outright pace.
From Wyn in Nantwich, via text:
"Sure I heard Ricky Ponting shriek with delight down under at the wickets tumbling. Reality time for England. Can't handle pressure. Bell by not playing has got himself on the plane."
1644 - Eng 209-7 (70 overs)
Swann is off the mark with a gentle single against Amir, Prior prods a two but is solid in defence. We reckon Ajmal's been bowling since about noon, his marathon spell has brought him figures of 28-5-66-3. England lead by 134.
From Sam in Watford, TMS inbox:
"Just saw the Spitfire & Hurricane. My Nan always tells the story of the sun glinting off their wings as they fought overhead. A stirring and wonderful sight and sound."
1641 - Eng 206-7 (69 overs)
Suddenly, England are all on the defensive as Prior attempts to adopt Colly's "Brigadier Block" persona against Amir, and plays out a maiden over. Amir has figures of 15-4-45-3.
1637 - Eng 206-7 (68 overs)
Graeme Swann is the new batsman, he may need to curb his natural attacking instincts as England are looking at defeat if they lose another wicket or two tonight. "Deep crisis for England," notes CMJ.
From panchopuskas on 606:
"Does Collingwood get into the side for his fielding? I can't see what else he can do. Bowls a bit, I suppose."
1634 - WICKET - Morgan b Ajmal 5 - Eng 206-6 (67.3 overs)
Single from Morgan, then Prior cover-drives Colly, a good sliding stop turns four into three - but Pakistan are whooping with delight when Morgan follows KP in being bowled through the gate!
From Nick, via text:
"I am happy to go halves with anyone that wants to rustle up a taxi for Trott & Pietersen on the next flight home on South African Airways!"
1631 - Eng 202-6 (67 overs)
Having led England's recovery in the first innings, will it be up to Matty Prior to get them out of the mire this time? The Sussex stumper sees off the rest of the over. England are "net" 127-6.
1628 - WICKET - Collingwood c K Akmal b Amir 3 - Eng 202-6 (66.3 overs)
Amir has to pull up as someone runs behind the bowler's arm... incredibly, it's one of the Pakistan substitutes! But whether Colly was put off or not, he tries to cut the next but one legitimate ball and nicks one to the keeper!
1626 - Eng 202-5 (66 overs)
Colly sweeps and misses, it flies off his shoulder and over the keeper and that's given as a run, although it didn't appear to hit his bat in my view. Morgan bashes the last ball off the short-leg fielder's boot (technically a chance, though he'd need the reactions of Superman to take it) and they run two. And if you're in the vicinity of the Rose Bowl in Southampton tomorrow (Saturday, 21 August), you may wish to pop along for the 2010 British Blind Sport Primary Club National Knockout Cup Final between London Metro and Sussex Sharks.
1622 - Eng 199-5 (65 overs)
Single from Colly, then left-hander Morgan defends against fellow southpaw Amir. Just that one run from the over, England lead by 124.
From hopeforthebest on 606:
"Trott clearly felt he must up the scoring after the departure of Pietersen. How often is it that this happens."
1618 - Eng 198-5 (64 overs)
the prototype Boycott Bingo card on TMS's Flickr stream
has already had more than 12,000 page views. Unfortunately, one Boycottism has come true for England since tea - "add two wickets to the score"... Colly, who's not faced a ball yet, steers Ajmal for a single and then Morgan is beaten through the gate by one which keeps low. Swann may fancy bowling on this pitch in the last innings - it's interesting that Ajmal is having more of an effect bowling round the wicket.
1614 - Eng 197-5 (63 overs)
England suddenly have two new batsmen in as Eoin Morgan pushes a two off his legs.
1612 - WICKET - Trott c Azhar b Amir 36 - Eng 195-5 (62.5 overs)
Paul Collingwood is the new batsman, but it's Jonathan Trott back on the defensive against Mohammad Amir, bowling round the wicket in Wasim Akram mode. He bangs one in which is taken in front of first slip and signalled as a wide. Trott then reaches for another wide one and is pouched by Azhar Ali at gully! That's two wickets lost for one run added since tea - England are "net" 120-5.
1607 - WICKET - Pietersen b Ajmal 23 - Eng 194-4 (62 overs)
Ajmal to Trott as we begin the evening session with 32 overs still to bowl in the day. Trott and KP look like a run-out waiting to happen. Ajmal wheels away in delight as KP lunges forward, is that bowled or caught behind? It's a perfect off break, bowled him through the gate! So Pakistan strike straight after tea. Amjad (below), thanks for your email. If you look back on the live text, I have been mentioning the overall lead every few overs - hope that helps.
From Amjad, hard at work in Saudi Arabia, TMS inbox:
"Mark, I think it was a good idea to put the lead as part of your coverage. Maybe just put the lead as it stands at lunch, tea, drinks break etc. Saves you the headache AND the abuse."
From Adrian from Bristol, via text:
"I have to thank Mr V Marks, when I was a small 10-year-old watching Somerset he was always the first out of the pavilion to sign autographs, followed by Denning, Rose, Richards, Botham and Garner. All very polite and friendly."
I can't win with you lot. Some of you complain "why are you still showing England trailing on first innings when they're now ahead overall", so I change it to explain how England trailed (past tense) but are now ahead, and others of you complain that I'm insulting your intelligence/education by explaining how to calculate the overall lead. So, manually refresh your page and you'll find it removed altogether...
1539 - Eng 194-3 (60 overs)
Probably time for two more overs before tea. Ajmal hits Trott on the pad, keeper Kamran yells but the bowler doesn't really appeal. Trott jabs a single into the covers, Riaz can't field cleanly and the overall lead is now 115. KP despatches a rank full toss to the mid-wicket boundary for four, England are cooking with gas even if the Cook himself has departed.
From Chuck Norris Beard on 606:
"Trott's innings today is that of a seasoned pro. It won't win any beauty awards, but this approach will more often than not prove the most effective."
1535 - Eng 189-3 (59 overs)
KP smears Asif down the leg side for a couple of leg byes, then Asif strays with a no-ball (again, marginal) which Pietersen powerfully off-drives for four on the half-volley. But then KP tries to force Asif to leg, gets a leading edge and it sails through the vacant second slip area for four. Captain Salman Butt is rather following the ball, only now bringing in a second slip... An expensive over concludes as KP smacks his third four of the over, despite a despairing dive by Mohammad Yousuf on the boundary.
1531 - Eng 174-3 (58 overs)
Ajmal goes round the wicket to KP, who looks a little tentative against the spinner - he and Trott take a run apiece.
1527 - Eng 172-3 (57 overs)
Asif replaces Riaz, Pakistan will hope he can redeem himself after literally gifting Alastair Cook his century. Kamran is up to the stumps to keep KP in his crease as a maiden over is completed - and Aggers reveals that he will be joined at tea by his former Leicestershire team-mate Peter "Screaming Lord" Such, now working for the ECB and charged with discovering the next generation of spinners.
1523 - Eng 172-3 (56 overs)
I can't believe for one moment that Trott has TMS piped into his helmet, but he appears to have heard that last comment from Vic Marks, as he hits Ajmal for successive fours! The first is edged past slip, the second is a more orthodox sweep shot.
Former Somerset and England off-spinner Vic Marks on TMS:
"Jonathan Trott is in danger of being like Geoffrey Boycott - dropped for slow scoring!"
From Nick, Cardiff, TMS inbox:
"Re: Simon Boughey  - It was only on the creation of the ECB [then known as the TCCB] that England toured as England rather than the MCC, so for half the year England didn't wear the three lions on their jumpers at all, they wore the rather dashing colours of the MCC instead."
1519 - Eng 164-3 (55 overs)
Riaz overpitches and KP belts him through the covers for his first boundary. Just over 20 minutes until tea.
From Halftime Del, Barnet, via text:
"Commentator's curse for Riaz Mr M. You said he'd been nowhere near as effective today! Bring back Dirs."
1515 - Eng 160-3 (54 overs)
Ajmal into his 20th consecutive over, and again Trott is leaving himself exposed by backing up too far. KP doubles his score with a single, so Trott marks his guard out once more. Can't imagine he has too many fans on the ground staff who have to repair the large trenches he digs in every wicket he plays on.
1512 - Eng 159-3 (53 overs)
Single from Trott, then Riaz angles the ball in to KP, who wafts across the line at a full toss and is lucky not to be out lbw. He's eventually off the mark with a single to mid-off.
From Pondlife on 606:
"So one decent innings and everyone forgives the uselessness for months? So if he performs in one innings of the 10 in the Ashes that'll count as successful?"
1509 - Eng 157-3 (52 overs)
KP looks a little jerky and nervous against Ajmal - he prods the ball towards mid-wicket, sets off for a run before realising it's gone straight to a fielder. Trott is virtually halfway down the pitch, and has to get back very quickly to avoid a comical run-out. Maiden over - England are "net" 82-3.
1505 - Eng 157-3 (51 overs)
New batsman is Kevin Pietersen, his record at The Oval isn't bad... he flicks his first ball down the leg side for a leg bye.
From Anonymous, via text:
"The Force is not with Andrew Summer . Anon [a different one] was referring to Cook making a ton, as 'Chef' is his nickname."
1459 - WICKET - Cook c K Akmal b Riaz 110 - Eng 156-3 (50.1 overs)
A tame end to a gritty innings as Cook feathers a catch down the leg side to the keeper. Not the first time he's done that this summer, but at least he made 110 before doing so this time.
1458 - Eng 156-2 (50 overs)
Ajmal's deep-set field again allows Trott a free single to long-on - then it's heart-in-mouth time for Cook as he nearly plays on, trying to cut Ajmal.
1455 - Eng 154-2 (49 overs)
Riaz replaces Amir, the former has been nowhere near as effective as he was in the first innings and opens up with a no-ball. A single takes Cook to 109, Trott nicks the strike as he moves to 24, and Cap'n Salman Butt, who had sneaked off the field for an over, comes back on.
1449 - Eng 151-2 (48 overs)
Off-spinner Ajmal gets one to turn and spit like a cobra against Trott, who fends it off and almost thinks about a suicidal single to third man. Trott looks all at sea against a doosra which flies past his edge. And the e-mails continue to flood in from all around the galaxy; I fear that Andrew Sumner (below) may be a Dark Lord of the Sith...
From Andrew Sumner, TMS inbox:
"Re: Anonymous at 1412 - erm, KP isn't actually batting yet and hopefully won't be until well into tomorrow
Are you wishing Cook and Trott to fail so Pietersen can prove himself? To coin a phrase, 'I find your lack of faith disturbing'
1443 - Eng 151-2 (47 overs)
Beautiful cover-driven four by Cook, he doesn't even need to run and that has the crowd on their feet with warm applause. A two takes him to 108 and pushes England past 150. Time for a drinks break.
From Paul Martin, TMS inbox:
"Just to join in the debate about 'whites', I really do think the new kit looks dreadful. I'm perfectly happy with wearing pyjamas for limited-overs cricket, but when it comes to Test cricket, England look like they have succumbed to an ill-advised marketing ploy by wearing a cheap, synthetic-looking white strip. I am something of a traditionalist, but even Lily Allen made the point last year that the Aussies looked far better in their cream outfits with knitted sweaters and woolly 'baggies'."
1439 - Eng 145-2 (46 overs)
Never mind the naughty corner, Asif has left the field! Ajmal has a slip and a short leg in for Cook, who adds a single to the score - England's overall lead is 70.
From Adam in Ireland, TMS inbox:
"Poor Michael Carberry, he had his bags packed ready to go for the Fourth Test. Tip of the cap to you Mr Cook."
1436 - Eng 144-2 (45 overs)
Asif has been taken off, and made to field down in the "naughty corner" at third man in front of the new stand. His replacement is Amir, and the long-haired youngster bowls round the wicket, in the manner of Wasim Akram, to Trott who is digging in for bed and breakfast. Maiden over, England lead by 69.
1431 - Eng 144-2 (44 overs)
Trott nudges Ajmal to fine leg, where our friend Asif gets a huge cheer from the Oval crowd when he throws the ball back successfully into the keeper's gloves. The TMS crew are still chuckling - they think they've found their "Champagne Moment" for this Test.
From FleetJackHobbs on 606:
"Seems a bit pedestrian at the moment, but that's OK. Patience will win. Nevertheless a few pre-tea fireworks would be welcome, as long as they're let off safely."
1428 - Eng 143-2 (43 overs)
Trott finally breaks his 25-ball runless sequence with a steer off his legs for one, bringing Cook on strike against Asif. But then Cook reaches his hundred in bizarre circumstances when he defends the ball, Asif utterly needlessly
throws the ball at the stumps and it sails over Cook's head, over the keeper's head and down to the boundary for four overthrows! Cook doesn't know whether to laugh or celebrate - one for Tuffers to remember in case it comes up on Question of Sport's "What Happened Next?" round.
From Simon Boughey, TMS inbox:
"Re: Jack, Herne Hill 1347 - I particularly miss the old England cable jumpers with the three lions and crown down the front. Wearing that was part of what playing for England is all about and its abandonment robs the game of a vital part of its traditional iconography. I find it difficult to imagine that Australia, which venerates the history of its game and the great players of the past, would do the same."
1423 - Eng 138-2 (42 overs)
This is like watching two different games - while Trott is on the defensive against Asif at one end, Cook is trying to attack Ajmal but can't penetrate the inner ring of fielders until he steps back and powerfully square-cuts for four - he's up to 93. Another forceful shot through third man, and that's four more. Cook on 97. Cross your fingers, ladies and gentlemen...
1419 - Eng 130-2 (41 overs)
Asif v Trott again; like two heavyweight boxers circling each other in the 10th round, neither is able to land a knock-out blow. The bell rings for the end of the round and that's another maiden over.
From Big Eddie, TMS inbox:
"As a gentleman of the fuller figure (6'6" and 22 stone), I would just like to state that the new kits with their 'figure hugging' are definitely not better than the older more kinder cuts and styles!"
1415 - Eng 130-2 (40 overs)
Cook clips Ajmal off his legs and calls Trott for a risky two, a direct hit from Riaz would probably have run Trott out, he's not the quickest and he dawdled at the start of the second run.
From Anonymous, via text:
"My car's battery/alternator combination is as reliable as KP's batting. Having the radio on is always a gamble. However I will risk being stranded just to hear the Chef prove his doubters wrong with a lovely ton."
1412 - Eng 128-2 (39 overs)
Asif v Trott again; the Pakistan paceman is getting a hint of inswing, and it's gloomy enough that the umpires have asked for the floodlights to be switched on. Trott plays defensively, the ball pops up and nearly rebounds onto his stumps - for a moment, it looked like he was thinking about flicking it away with his glove, which would have seen him out "handled the ball"...
From Paul Wileman, TMS inbox:
"Re: Jack in Herne Hill : the new whiter than white looks a lot better than the old off-white kits, they looked like someone had left a rogue sock in the washing. Now a cable knit whiter than white sweater would surely be the sweater of kings!"
1408 - Eng 128-2 (38 overs)
Cook rocks back and pulls Ajmal for his 13th four, Pakistan look like they're starting to lose heart a little. England are "net" 53-2.
From laughingdevil on 606:
"If we can just get through this session with these two in then this game will start swinging back England's way, at the moment it's still very much in the balance."
1405 - Eng 124-2 (37 overs)
CMJ reports "thick cloud cover" as Asif and Trott continue their war of attrition. Maiden over, nowt much to write home about.
From David from Scarborough, via text:
"In an Under-11s game I once played in, the batsman had made such a large guard mark that a middle stump yorker deviated wide of the stumps like a slip catching cradle. I'm still outraged 20 years later!"
1400 - Eng 124-2 (36 overs)
Cook tickles Ajmal for a two off his legs down to Wahab Riaz at fine leg. England lead by 49.
1357 - Eng 122-2 (35 overs)
Asif raps Trott on the pad, big appeal for lbw... but it's a no-ball. And, as the replay reveals, only just a no-ball. Hawk-Eye thinks it might have hit leg stump, but it's another "umpire's call" one. So we'll never know whether Umpire Davis thought it was out or not... Trott and Cook plunder a single apiece, and Trott push-drives a four through the covers - it's not Asif's day so far.
From Michael West, TMS inbox:
"I issued a written warning to a member of staff about half an hour ago for continuous use of Facebook. The same member of staff has just clocked me reading the text commentary. Probably not smartest move I've made since becoming a manager!"
1351 - Eng 115-2 (34 overs)
Vic Marks and Simon Mann on TMS think Pakistan have erred by sticking a man out at long-on for Trott, who's not once looked like trying to hit Ajmal over the top, and having no mid-on just presents him with an easy single, which he takes. Cook comfortably steers a two, he's up to 80 and has dominated this stand of 75, with Trott contributing 16.
From Andi Kidd, TMS inbox:
"Re: Stuart and the Flintoff twins [see 1251]: Actually they were triplets. One could bat but not drink, one could bowl but not bat and one could party but not bowl. Unfortunately England seemed to muddle them up on several occasions!"
1347 - Eng 112-2 (33 overs)
After that experimentation with spin before lunch, Pakistan turn back to pace with Mohammad Asif, who has Cap'n Butt in at silly mid-off for Cook, who works a two off his legs. Jack (below), I can't speak for general opinion but I'm firmly in the "old-school cable knit sweaters" camp, as sported by Pakistan, in preference to England's kit.
From Jack in Herne Hill, TMS inbox:
"I am interested to know what the general opinion is regarding the 'new' whiter than white England kit? Personally I miss the off-white colour, knitted jumpers and baggies."
Here come England's batsmen. Mike (below), you're clearly a kindred spirit to my dad, who's a bit younger than you but still cites Derek Shackleton as his boyhood sporting hero.
From Mike Haller, TMS inbox:
"In this game, which I liken to three-dimensional chess, concentration is a must. Not just in batting, as Geoffrey knows, but in the delivery of the ball. Being 70-odd and coming from Southampton, I used to watch a fella called Shackleton, and modelled my bowling on his style; straight up and down and on the stumps. If the batsman missed, Shackleton didn't. He was a man who taught me, from the edge of the 'stage', to concentrate. I didn't play for anyone important, but whoever I played against, played each ball."
Some cracking "fighting talk" from Boycs on TMS - you may not be aware that you can listen to the entire day's play on TMS for a week afterwards by checking out
the "Cricket" page on the BBCiPlayer
if you're in the UK. Pakistan, who appear to be big fans of the "huddle" at the start of each innings/session, are nearly ready to resume.
From Charlie, TMS inbox:
"Just wanted to point out, apropos of absolutely nothing, that Jon Trott's England average is currently exactly 50. He may be dull and South African, but he gets the job done for England."
Former Yorkshire and England opener Geoff Boycott on TMS:
"Being captain of Pakistan is probably the most difficult job in cricket - it's a nightmare as you've got ex-players pulling the strings and politicians trying to get involved."
From Stuart in Manchester, via text:
"Why not mark three short white lines across the popping crease to mark the position of the stumps to avoid batsmen's need to take guard and then scratching the wicket to bits marking it?"
From Colin, should be working in Cheltenham, TMS inbox:
"Re: Merv Hughes , in '92 my girlfriend & I were on the shuttle bus from the domestic to the international terminals at Sydney airport, with the Australia team bound for the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes. After encouragement from team-mate Paul Reiffel, Merv kept the whole bus entertained telling jokes & funny stories for the 20 minute trip, without drawing breath."
Right, while I grab a sandwich, keep an ear on TMS for the lunchtime "legends" discussion panel with Messrs Boycott, Vaughan and Raja. You can get in touch with them by e-mailing email@example.com
, sending a tweet to @aggerscricket
, calling 0800 092 6030
(free from landlines), or texting 84040
1303 - Eng 110-2 (32 overs)
Cap'n Butt brings in a silly mid-off for Cook just before lunch, but the opener moves to 76 with a single, and Trott - characteristically - blocks the last ball before the interval, before marking his guard out once more as the umpires troop off for lunch. England lead by 35, a good session for them with only nightwatchman Anderson perishing.
From Ollie, Brighton, TMS inbox:
"In response to Patrick at 1225, surely if you could only have one man batting to save a Test this winter it would be Graham Onions, the fella was a rock in SA!"
1259 - Eng 109-2 (31 overs)
Single to Cook as England continue to help themselves to some free runs while Farhat's buffet bowling enters its third over. They're going to get one more in before lunch.
1257 - Eng 108-2 (30 overs)
Ajmal sends down a quicker ball, but fortune continues to favour Cook as he inside-edges past the stumps for two. A single takes the Bedford School alumnus to 74.
1254 - Eng 105-2 (29 overs)
The stocky yet unthreatening Farhat gets a second over, Trott nudges a single and Farhat goes round the wicket to Cook, who pulls a single to Asif on the mid-wicket boundary. England lead by 30.
From John Smith, TMS inbox:
"If the Kojak comment  is from the actual Owais Shah, in an attempt to further turn the tide against Cook and so open the door for his own Test return, I suggest he uses a cleverer disguise - rather than changing the first letter of his first name."
1251 - Eng 103-2 (28 overs)
Maiden from Ajmal to Cook. At least having two spinners on will improve the over-rate.
From Stuart in Manchester, via text:
"Perhaps identical twins should be the England development tactic. Get one who can bowl and put him on when whilst we are fielding whilst the one who can bat hides in Aggers' cupboard until we go out to bat when they swap places. Or have I just given away the Flintoff twins' secret?"
1249 - Eng 103-2 (27 overs)
Pakistan turn to a part-time bowler in the run-up to lunch - it's opening batsman Imran Farhat's rarely-seen (three Test wickets in 37 Tests - although his first was Rahul Dravid) leg-spin. Trott helps himself to a single first ball, Cook knocks a full toss to mid-on to rotate the strike and Trott pokes another single to bring up three figures for England. Cook carves a two and a single off his legs, so that's six off the over.
1245 - Eng 97-2 (26 overs)
The scoring rate calms down a bit, but Trott steers Ajmal for three by picking out the ponderous Yousuf in the field again.
From 4fabregas on 606:
"Sign of a class player to deliver such an innings when under such intense pressure both from himself and from the media, not helped at all by his captain throwing his wicket away last night. Take a bow Mr Cook."
1241 - Eng 94-2 (25 overs)
Riaz replaces fellow left-armer Amir, but it's more of the same from Cook, smashing the debutant for a couple of boundaries and a two like there's no tomorrow. These two have already added 51 - Cook's contribution is 42, with Trott having scuttled his way to eight. The frustrated Riaz bowls a no-ball, and Cook tickles a single to fine leg. Trott ends a long - and expensive - over with a single. Lunch in just under 20 minutes.
From Nathan in Birmingham, via text:
"As was the case in 1770, Captain Cook has discovered the way to Australia. Great stuff."
1236 - Eng 81-2 (24 overs)
The increasingly confident Cook clubs Ajmal for another four through mid-off - Tuffers notes that the ball hasn't swung today, despite apparently favourable conditions. He's still hogging the strike, a single takes him to 55.
1233 - Eng 76-2 (23 overs)
Cook, on 49, steers a single to mid-on for his 23rd Test fifty, which has come from 77 balls. You can see the relief etched on his face.
From James, TMS inbox:
"On the subject of cricketing twins, I used to captain a pair of identical twins in my colts captaining days. One could bat but not bowl, and the other bowled but didn't bat. I once brought the wrong one on to bowl and only realised as the ball started disappearing to the boundary at regular intervals!"
1230 - Eng 75-2 (22 overs)
Cook dabs Ajmal for a quick single to draw the scores level - he has 49, and at this stage, England are effectively (or as I sometimes say, "net") 0-2 in a one-innings game. Meanwhile, for the TMS lunchtime "legends" discussion with Geoff Boycott, Michael Vaughan and Ramiz Raja, as well as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or sending a tweet to @aggerscricket
you can call 0800 092 6030
for free, or text 84040
1225 - Eng 74-2 (21 overs)
A single from Trott takes him to eight, but Cook looks happy to dominate the strike as he crashes another boundary through the covers. Cook tries to force Amir through mid-wicket, where Asif reacts like a 1950s fast bowler by stopping the ball with his foot, but England run a single that takes them to within one run of Pakistan's total.
From Patrick, on a train from St Pancras, via text:
"I swear that if I hear someone question Paul Collingwood's place in the England team again, I'll scream! The man has saved us practically single-handedly in THREE Tests in the last year! Can anyone seriously think of a player you'd rather have in a sticky situation at 2-2 on the fifth day at Sydney, with England seeking to bat the day out to retain the Ashes?"
1221 - Eng 68-2 (20 overs)
Cook still hanging in there, now he flicks Ajmal past short leg for two. Pakistan lead by a single run - now then, please send in your emails to the TMS team (email@example.com
- or send a tweet to Aggers @aggerscricket
) for the lunchtime discussion, when you can put your questions to Geoff Boycott, Michael Vaughan and others.
1218 - Eng 66-2 (19 overs)
Another delay while a bloke in a maroon shirt takes ages to take his seat next to the sightscreen. Cook isn't worried though, he steps forward to Amir and forces him for four through the covers. Captain Salman Butt despatches Riaz to the point boundary. A single ensures Cook keeps the strike.
From Believable Jeff in Bristol, TMS inbox:
"I reckon Cook would get on better with a new helmet. He looks like he is off to ride a horse."
1214 - Eng 61-2 (18 overs)
Asif off, Ajmal back again, can the spinner do the trick for Pakistan? He's already succeeded with the Graeme Swann-style "wicket in first over" gambit today. Kamran screams an appeal for a catch behind, but once again, they don't call for the DRS so they can't have been totally convinced. A single takes Cook to 36.
From Pete, Rugby, TMS inbox:
"Never mind KP in Hill Street Blues, how about Ryan Sidebottom as Dr Emmett Brown in Back to the Future?"
1210 - Eng 60-2 (17 overs)
After a longish drinks break, Jonathan Trott is back doing what he does best - taking absolutely ages to take a fresh guard. It won't do much for Pakistan's over-rate, which isn't great in any case (just over 12 overs bowled in the first hour). Trott on-drives, and luckily for England, the fielder is the lumbering Mohammad Yousuf - a quicker fielder may have cut that off, but that's four, and Pakistan's lead down to 15.
From John, Barnard Castle, County Durham, TMS inbox:
"Re: Andrew in Belfast , I couldn't agree more - if they ever bring back The Generation Game, I would have thought that Tuffers would be the perfect host."
1203 - Eng 56-2 (16 overs)
Pakistan keeper Kamran Akmal (who's wearing an armguard to keep wicket, I hadn't noticed that) gets a quick massage between overs from the physio, before Trott guides a three off his legs, it would have been four if not for some nifty work on the boundary by Mohammad Amir. Time for a simultaneous Shipping Forecast and drinks break.
From Jonny, TMS inbox:
"On the subjest of great police dramas, a special episode of 'Ashes to Ashes', to get us in the mood for the Ashes series down under, with a guest appearance by Merv Hughes playing the no-nonsense Gene Hunt, would be an absolute treat!"
1158 - Eng 53-2 (15 overs)
Cook square-cuts, doesn't quite get hold of it but the outfield is fast and it beats the pursuing fielder to the boundary. That's the fifty up for England - and the Pakistan lead diminishes once more as Riaz sends down a no-ball. Cook's hit on the pad, umpire Steve Davis shakes his head and Pakistan - with only one review left in this innings - take an age to decide, but eventually opt against a review. Hawk-Eye thinks it might possibly have clipped leg stump - but only just, so the "umpire's call" would have stood, and Cook would have been not out. (Confusingly, as Vic Marks points out on TMS, if Cook had been given out and asked for a review, the "umpire's call" would have seen him given out!). The reprieved "Chef" (as his team-mates call him) works a two off his legs, he's up to 35. Pakistan lead by 22.
From Andrew in Belfast, TMS inbox:
"Does anyone else think Tuffers' photo on the BBC website makes him look like a younger Bruce Forsyth, minus the goofy tache of course?"
1153 - Eng 46-2 (14 overs)
Having made the breakthrough, Ajmal's off and Asif is back. "Trott's never played a Test at The Oval without making a century," mischievously notes CMJ on TMS. The Warwickshire man confidently plays out a maiden over. If England need to bat all day, he could be 'yer man'...
1148 - Eng 46-2 (13 overs)
Cook fences at Riaz... and takes his life in his hands as the ball sails just over the heads of the two slips, neither of whom raise a hand to "go for it". That's four, and a colleague remarks to me that Cook can't say he hasn't had his fair slice of luck this morning... A two off the last ball takes him to 29. His previous highest Test score this summer is... 29, against Bangladesh at Old Trafford.
1143 - Eng 40-2 (12 overs)
New batsman is Jonathan Trott, and he's a great gift to text commentary as he takes so long to take guard and fidget around, that you have plenty of time to catch up after a wicket falls. The Trottster blocks out the rest of the over. John (below), you need to check out
yesterday's live text commentary,
in between all the pirate gags, for Boycott Bingo, which was mentioned at 1751. Briefly, you get a point any time he mentions Geoffreyisms such as corridors of uncertainty, Yorkshire, uncovered pitches, Brian Close, "me mum could have caught that in her pinny" etc in the podcast.
From John, TMS inbox:
"Please remind us of the rules for Boycott Bingo! Is it a matter of hearing the Great Man saying phrases such as 'corridor of uncertainty'?"
1139 - WICKET - Anderson c K Akmal b Ajmal 12 - Eng 40-2 (11.1 overs)
In fact, it's a double change in the bowling as Asif is replaced by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who has a mean doosra up his sleeve (as it were) as Pakistan look to dislodge nightwatchman Anderson. Which he does first ball, as Jimmy nudges a darting off break behind to keeper Kamran Akmal. Only the faintest of edges, but Jimmy walks.
From Chris, hoping for bright sunshine, TMS inbox:
"What kind of lead do people think we will need to establish? I'll be happy with anything over 250, but I think it will be closer to 200!"
1137 - Eng 40-1 (11 overs)
Change of bowling as debutant Wahab Riaz, who picked up a five-for in the first innings, replaces fellow left-arm seamer Amir. The increasingly confident Cook (I'm saying no more than that for fears of "commentator's curse" allegations) pulls him for a powerful four to take his score to 23.
From Awais Shah, Thailand, TMS inbox:
"Think all Cook needs is someone to say 'who loves ya, baby?' and then give him a lollipop to stop crying when he gets out (Kojak)."
1131 - Eng 35-1 (10 overs)
While Tuffers on TMS struggles to grasp the concept of the difference between identical and non-identical twins (such as the identical Bedsers compared to the non-identical Waughs), Anderson fends off a lifter from Asif, who has removed the short leg and short mid-on but still has three slips and a gully in - then Anderson unleashes an immaculate cover-driven four, as if he momentarily thinks he's David Gower. A single takes him to 12, while Cook dabs a single to fine leg to reduce the deficit to 40.
From Biggus Mickus in Newcastle, via text:
"Re: Mark in Glasgow  - Cook will score exactly enough runs to keep his place as Collingwood has been doing for years. I forecast a painstaking 103."
1126 - Eng 29-1 (9 overs)
Single from Anderson, Cook is resolute in defence against Amir, while Umar Akmal saves a likely four with a flying leap at gully. Amir strays with his line again, and Cook emphatically clips a four off his toes through mid-wicket.
From Patrick, London (also not at the game), TMS inbox:
"Mark - so you're not actually at the game!? This is a travesty. If you want us to start a petition to set up a 'Live Text' booth next to the TMS box, just say the word."
1122 - Eng 24-1 (8 overs)
Still very overcast as Cook gets forward well to defend against Asif, then he gets an edge... it doesn't carry for a catch, but it squirms between second and third slip for four. Then, unbelievably, he does the very same thing from the very next ball. Inattentive TV viewers may think it was an action replay, it was so similar.
From Stewart in Worcs, via text:
"Continuing the Hill Street Blues theme, perhaps get Ian Blackwell in the side to play the rotund maverick and best character ever - Norman Buntz."
1117 - Eng 16-1 (7 overs)
Amir to Anderson, a thick outside edge past gully brings the "Burnley Express" a four. A colleague here in the office tells me Anderson averages 14.25 at number three for England... He ducks a couple of bouncers, while after Aggers' "I hid in the cupboard" admission yesterday, Tuffers on TMS recalls various methods of avoiding being made nightwatchman by Mike Gatting at Middlesex...
From Mark, Bristol, TMS inbox:
"I'm surprised that Anderson faced so many balls yesterday evening, I thought that it was the job of the lesser batsmen to face more balls to protect the better batsmen that are more likely to score runs in the morning, so surely Cook should have been protecting Anderson?"
1112 - Eng 12-1 (6 overs)
National selector Geoff Miller looks on from the stand as Cook plays and misses at Asif... if he'd nicked that one, does Miller have Michael Carberry on speed dial? Maiden over - England trail by 63.
From PakistKhan Supporter, TMS inbox:
"Come on Pakistan! Where are all the Pakistani supporters? Have they lost faith after the first two embarrassing Test matches or just not interested in Test cricket?"
1108 - Eng 12-1 (5 overs)
Mohammad Amir takes the second over of the day, left-arm over the wicket, but his first ball is meat and drink for Cook to force through mid-wicket for four. The Essex man prods a quick single, he's up to six.
From Mark in Glasgow, via text:
"I wonder what the odds would be of Anderson outscoring Cook? My money on Cook to score 23 before a flash to gully."
1103 - Eng 7-1 (4 overs)
It's still overcast, Mohammad Asif charges in from the Vauxhall End and Cook pushes the second ball of the day for a single through extra cover to get off the mark. For nightwatchman Anderson, Asif has three slips, a gully, short leg, short mid-on and a short cover - "a bit like the end of a game in club cricket", notes Simon Mann on TMS. Jimmy survives the over.
Former Middlesex and England spinner Phil Tufnell on TMS:
"England have got to be careful not to get 'rock and rolled' here."
From Andy, Birmingham (trying to he hopeful), TMS inbox:
"Re: Hill St Blues. Equally relevant is the second desk sergeant's line 'Let's do it to them before they do it to us!' The 'it' of course being to score copious quantities of runs."
The five-minute bell sounds, Pakistan should have a spring in their step given the match situation. England's not-out batsmen, by the way, are the aforementioned Alastair Cook, who's yet to score although he only faced two balls last night - largely because of the excellent strike-hogging nightwatchman work done by James Anderson, who's two not out. If he can bat half as well as fellow nightwatchman Wahab Riaz, who held England up for a good hour yesterday morning, the home side should be pleased.
From Len, TMS inbox:
"With early reference to Hill Street Blues, the best cop show ever to grace our screens (before The Wire) - KP to play the part of Captain Furillo?"
From Neil on 606:
"The remainder of this game really will tell us how far the England team have come. Pakistan were not at the party in the previous Tests, so with the pressure on will the England team fold like the proverbial pack of cards, or come out fighting and show some character? Character that will surely be put to the test on 25 November in Brisbane."
Morning, everyone. We had a cracking day's cricket yesterday, with a couple of attractive innings by Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf and Azhar Ali (along with an entertaining knock by nightwatchman Wahab Riaz) - which gave Pakistan a first-innings lead of 75. England then lost skipper Andrew Strauss cheaply - so all eyes have turned to his opening partner Alastair Cook, desperately in need of the sort of big innings I watched
Strauss compile against New Zealand in Napier in 2008
- when, with his Test place seriously on the line, he hit 177 and hasn't looked back since. Weather conditions? When my train went past The Oval, it was decidedly overcast. Pakistan's swing bowlers may relish this one. So, as the bloke used to say at the beginning of Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there."