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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
TMS Edgbaston diary: Day one
England v South Africa, 1st Test, Thursday 24 July 2003
Edgbaston, Birmingham

Surrey are on the wane - or at least that's Andy Lloyd's verdict, chairman of Warwickshire's cricket committee.

Lloyd watched his team take a thumping in the Twenty20 final at Trent Bridge, but remains optimistic that Surrey are beatable, and soon.

After their easy win in the Twenty20 no team is capable of stopping Surrey
Jon Powell
"Surrey are obviously the team to beat, they're a really good outfit, but it will be the last season we'll see them at their absolute peak," Lloyd predicted.

"Players like Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe, Mark Butcher and Saqlain Mushtaq are getting on and they're not getting better."

As for the Twenty20 final, Lloyd was honest in his appraisal.

"The pitch did some strange things, we didn't perform and Jimmy Ormond put in an extra special performance and really hit his straps in a great spell."

It's not all bad news for Surrey then - quite yet.


If any team is set to pounce on any perceived weakness in the Surrey ranks this season, Sussex could be a good bet.

It's great to see Darren Gough back in the side - he's a talisman, a great performer
A philisophical Kirtley
James Kirtley missed out on an England debut for the third time this season, but has the consolation of joining up with his county colleagues who are in the hunt for Sussex's first championship title.

They lie five points behind Surrey and have a top-of-the-table clash with their county neighbours next week.

"We beat them at Hove last year and there's no reason we can't get the same result again this season," Kirtley said, before leaving Edgbaston for Sussex's next assignment at Trent Bridge.

"We're exceeding every expectation and proving a few doubters wrong, but our elevated position has come earlier than anticipated," he added.

"We'll be at our strongest in two years time."

And like Lloyd, he had a warning for Surrey.

"Woe betide the side that catches us when we're all firing," aware of the fact that some players have not played to their potential yet this season.


Sitting at the back of the box during a quiet session of Test cricket, a text message can help pass the time.

And Jonathan Agnew needed no second invitation to tap out a short missive to Graham Gooch as the Leicestershire score at Southend passed 550.

"I think it's time to bring on Ronni Irani," Aggers, a former Fox, tapped with a mischevous smile to the Essex coach.

Gooch, who had seen his team "chase leather" on his birthday on the first day of the match, was slow to respond, but put up a doughty defence when he broke cover.

"We had no experience in a young attack, it was harrowing," he said.

"Southend, an outground with a bumpy outfield where a gumshield could be a good piece of equipment, is a decent fast-scoring pitch and we're going to have to bat well in a key match."


A disturbing revelation from the England camp at the toss.

England captain Nasser Hussain
Hussain ponders another decision
After seeing the coin fall on the wrong side from his perspective, England captain Nasser Hussain revealed that, like South African skipper Graeme Smith, he may have opted to bat.

But then again he may have fielded. "I'm never 100% certain what I'm doing," Hussain declared.

Not exactly a rallying cry of intent to breed confidence, but then maybe Hussain's been leafing the history books of recent Tests at Edgbaston.

In the last three years, the team winning the toss has also won the match by an innings.

Hussain won only one of those tosses, but the records don't reveal whether he knew what he was doing on that occasion, when he opted to send Sri Lanka in in 2002. There in lies another story.

In the last four Tests, the team batting first has lost.

I would love a South African victory but our first change bowling is a concern
John-Mark Jones
Perhaps it was Smith who didn't know what he was doing instead, particularly as it's a remarkable 21 years since a side won the toss, batted and won the the match at Edgbaston.

Whether the stats support him or not, Smith found support for his decision from Allan Donald, a man who knows a few things about Edgbaston.

"Graeme was careful and he would have been silly to stick England in," the former Warwickshire and Proteas paceman said.

"It's a flat pitch and England will have to show patience with the ball."


Henry Blofeld is back in Britain broadcasting loud and clear from Birmingham after a short sojourn to snowy Iceland.

And his foray into the frozen north was all in the name of cricket.

"It was terrific fun" said Blowers of his days away umpiring, and of course commentating, on cricket.

"We had great fun playing three games and the cricket's quite genuine out there.

For the second match, with thermals on and ear muffs in place - "we looked like snowmen" - the hardy teams travelled three hours by truck and snowmobile to the Langjokull glacier

"We played on a rubber pitch. I faced one ball, which I drove beautifully to the cover boundary, before it was cut off by a passing snowdrift."





Links to more Test Match Special stories


 

VOTE RESULTS
What will happen at the Edgbaston Test match?
England win
 37.34% 
South Africa win
 29.49% 
Draw
 33.17% 
11316 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion



SEE ALSO
Live: England v S Africa
24 Jul 03  |  Cricket
Slow start for England
24 Jul 03  |  Cricket


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