Rob Smyth (now) and Adam Collins (later)

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Jul 16

South Africa declare on day three to leave England with target of 474 – as it happened

  • South Africa tighten grip on the second Test
  • England survive last four overs of day without loss in chase of 474

6.38pm BST

A final session where the runs flowed, the wickets came, and the declaration – inevitably, in hindsight – did as well. England got through the four overs to stumps without loss, albeit after Cook was given lbw first ball of the innings, overturned following a shrewd review from the veteran. South Africa’s seamers didn’t miss a beat, making for a pulsating final quarter hour or so.

England, in theory, need 474 to win. In theory, as it would be the highest chase in 140 years of Test cricket, breaking the current record by some 44 runs. The better question is whether they can survive two days. On the available evidence, almost certainly not. But it will be fun to watch either way! So let’s come back tomorrow and do just that. Thanks for your company. G’night!

6.33pm BST

4th over: England 1-0 (Cook 0, Jennings 0). Fantastic captaincy du Plesssis who denies Philander a DRS challenge when pinning Cook back with the first ball of this final over. It looked so close, but Faf said it was going over. He was right. Just. Cook’s edge is found, but again straight to ground. He knows the drill here as well as anyone. Nice straight bat presented to the penultimate ball. “We’ll take this one!” says someone in the cordon before the last ball. They don’t. Its another on Cook’s pad, but no appeal. Brilliant cricket. Cook faced 16 of the balls in that final stanza and is still there. And that’s stumps. Back in a tic after gathering my thoughts.

6.30pm BST

3rd over: England 1-0 (Cook 0, Jennings 0). Cook able to leave the first couple. Not from then, the fourth, which comes off the front pad and heads down to fine leg for a leg-bye to start England’s long mission, if they choose to accept it. Last ball big LBW shout. But not given this time! Good umpiring; looked to be going down. One more? They’ll sneak it in.

6.28pm BST

2nd over: England 0-0 (Cook 0, Jennings 0). Significant innings for Jennings. Hard to be judged on what happens here, but cricket is cruel like that. Philander also has a short leg alongside three slips. I’d have another couple; nothing lost here. He wins the shoulder of the bat second ball, albeit softly guided into the ground. Good batting. He plays nice and late as the over goes on, under the eyes like Chris Rogers. Philander digs into his bag of tricks to bring one back after sending two away. Utter class. Last ball… jags back too, hand off the bat stuff. Inside edge. Short leg nearly into the game. But all told, impressive from Jennings.

Last bit of correspondence for the day, from Graeme Thorn. Thanks for all your emails, as ever. “Just as I was thinking that one of England’s batsmen needs to match the performance of one MA Atherton at the Wanderers in ‘95 (his epic 185*), I looked up the scorecard. It is surprising how close the scores for that match (SA 332 and 345/9d; Eng 200 and 351-5) are to those for this one (SA 335 and 343/9d; Eng 205 and …). So there is
precedent for England to save this (not that they will, mind you).” I enjoy that kind of logic. Cook can bat two days. Evidence exists.

6.22pm BST

1st over: England 0-0 (Cook 0, Jennings 0). After the close call first ball Cook is beaten by a gem second up. Can’t do anything about that. By the penultimate delivery he’s leaving one that’s no more than three inches from that off-stump. These minutes are going to take some surviving.

It sounds as if I’m parodying myself but… why no heavy roller?

6.18pm BST

NOT OUT! Over the top! Just! Oh the cool from Cook to sent that up! Sure, Morkel is 6’8” and gets more bounce than anyone, but the former captain was deep in the crease. Blimey.

6.17pm BST

IS COOK LBW FIRST BALL? HE’S BEEN GIVEN! And promptly referred. Around the wicket but straightening. Stand by… big moment.

6.15pm BST

While we wait for the resumption.

“Good afternoon Adam.” Good afternoon, Kim Thonger. “My dachshund pup, goes by the name of Dakkers, has awoken from post promenade slumber to ask why the obsession with Bigness? Vern etc.” I like this. Do go on.

6.10pm BST

Party time! Until it was over. A drink was ran out to the batsmen between the overs and the message was clear: don’t miss the opportunity, any opportunity, to seek out the rope. To begin: Morkel over mid on, four. Then: Vern slog sweeps huuuuge over midwicket. And: does it again next ball! But then he miscued, returning a catch.

6.05pm BST

103rd over: South Africa 326-8 (Philander 30, Morkel 12). Two from the Dawson over. Nothing to see here.

Robert Wolf Petersen has taken my Peep Show bait from earlier, so I am going to include it. “I’ve just got in from a Russian sauna in the jungle, and noticed the Mark-Corrigan-as-Doctor-Who chat. This seems like an opportune moment to mention that I once sold cheese to Super Hans in a market in Brighton. I forever kick myself for neglecting to tell him that it was ‘very moreish’.” As you should. That was the bad thing.

6.03pm BST

102nd over: South Africa 324-8 (Philander 29, Morkel 11). Morne wants a bit of Moeen. Doesn’t middle the first attempt down the long-off, but enough to hit the rope. But the second is a beaut, right over the spinners’ head. Into double figures. On declaration chat, we have about 20 minutes left and the players – Michael Holding notes – aren’t in their whites on the balcony, So we can safely conclude that they will bat through.

5.59pm BST

101st over: South Africa 314-8 (Philander 29, Morkel 1). Dawson is back. Six from it, four via a big turner back to left-handed Morkel. Collects a pad, runs away. Maharaj will take more from that than anyone else in the game.

Okay, one more Warne. “Big Vern might be playing for the Steve Waughs, the not outs!” Here’s the deal for those who don’t track it closely. Warne was dropped by Waugh in 1999 for their fourth and final West Indies Test. Australia won the Test and the series. Warne has never recovered. Sit through some cringeworthy stuff here from las year, if you can cop it.

5.52pm BST

Maharaj swinging the blade too, Moeen getting his second in an over. Once again he’s been supported by a great catch, Broad moving a long way to his left at long-on then timing a dive to perfection. Can’t doubt England’s commitment to the cause here today.

5.49pm BST

99th over: South Africa 306-7 (Philander 26, Maharaj 1). Stokes to Maharaj the new man. He’s at his stumps after going upstairs. A couple early in the over. Not much going on here. That declaration chat seems warranted, Faf is pacing about on the balcony.

Shane Warne on in the TV. I usually avoid dropping him in, but sometimes you’ve gotta be livin la vida loca. The topic: Big Vern. Specifically, whether you need to be a certain size to get called “Big Vern” etc. Warne: “Some names just rhyme. It wouldn’t be Big Nasser.” Rhyme.

5.43pm BST

Fantastic diving catch from Ballance as three fielders also converge around the top edge. He keeps his cool and executes well. Moeen in the book with the final ball of the first over from this new spell. Some declaration chat on the TV with the camera panning to Faf. Not crazy. They have loads. Both men swinging, as evidenced by the Morris dismissal, heaving hard across the line. The lead is 434, in case you were wondering. We saw Faf become the first man ever (if I recall correctly) to declare an innings on day one in Adelaide last year due to day-night Test reasons, so don’t doubt his boldness in this regard.

5.39pm BST

97th over: South Africa 301-6 (Philander 24, Morris 11). Another heavy-scoring over, this time off Stokes – unusual given the way he has gone today. He’s too full to Morris, a fraction wide too. The response is a dashing square drive, flogged to the rope. There should be four more via sundries to end the set, but the umpire has declared it a dead ball! Stiff as, bro. That’s a proper glance he has attempted, missed it by an inch or so. Anyway, the 300 is up and they are flying, so it doesn’t matter that much.

5.36pm BST

96th over: South Africa 294-6 (Philander 24, Morris 5). Tempo change here. Three singles taken from Wood’s first three balls, suggesting he has lot the yard he had earlier in the spell. Tiring a tad. Then has one whiz past his feet when Morris connects with a picture-perfect straight drive. Oh that’s lovely. On the up and everything. Still the better part of an hour go to (England won’t bowl their full 90 today on this rate). If they are still hanging around at stumps, the lead will be closer to 500 than 450.

One of those getting on it in the crowd is Alex Hales. Drinking something dark. Good on him. A bit sad he hasn’t made it. Felt like I spent a solid month last year suggesting that he finally looked good to go as a Test opener. Well back in the queue now. One of his mates has a BAGGY GREEN on. Presumably one of those shocking numbers they flog at shops in Australia now. It won’t surprise you to know that then I see someone wearing one of those I immeditely go up to them and ask when they debuted. I’m a shocking bloke sometimes.

5.29pm BST

95th over: South Africa 287-6 (Philander 22, Morris 0). Bairstow hurt. Philander has got an edge off Stokes and it hasn’t carried to the ‘keeper. It has smashed him in the wrist instead. He hasn’t enjoyed the examination given to him by the physio. But a couple of tablets, gloves back on. Gutsy stuff, YJB. Four leg byes earlier in the over, also going past Bairstow after clipping Philander’s pads. He went the wrong way. Messy over for the gloveman all round, really. The crowd have reached that time of the day where they think the Viking Clap is a good idea.

5.21pm BST

94th over: South Africa 282-6 (Philander 21, Morris 0). Wood vs Morris, who hasn’t had much a look yet. But he looks alright here, as the bowler tests him out both full and short. Nice push to cover ending the over, albeit to a fielder. So he’s yet to get off the mark. That will be drinks. 75 minutes into the session. Reflecting the standard extra half hour, as it is every day now in Test cricket.

5.19pm BST

93rd over: South Africa 282-6 (Philander 21, Morris 0). Stokes preferring the short of a length approach, depsite his recent wicket. Philander picks up on that and leans back deep in the crease to thrash the final delivery in front of point. Into the 20s. Much harder shot to execute than Joe Root and David Warner make it look.

WinViz has South Africa at 85% and England 4%. Have to remember that it is a backward looking measure, so don’t go silly yelling at your TV like people did during the World T20. They’re chomping on ice creams in the crowd; very sunny there compared to Guardian HQ. Can’t complain though, it’s been a stonking London summer so far.

5.14pm BST

92nd over: South Africa 278-6 (Philander 17, Morris 0). A relatively controlled steer, that looked a bit edgy live, gets Philander three. The only runs from the Wood over. Smacked a drive earlier in it, but went straight to a fielder. Vern sure is nice to watch, ball or bat.

Before you hit me up with your worst predictions, Martin Gillam has give me for one. Given my last good one was that Augie March would win the 2006 Hottest 100 (two Augie March references in two OBO days for my this match – impressive) I am not sure how this will go. Alas, he asks:

5.08pm BST

91st over: South Africa 275-6 (Philander 14, Morris 0). Stokes straight upstairs to Morris, a bouncer directed at his head. Well avoided. Having a very good day with the ball, now clocking the figures 2-21 from 16.

On the Saj Mahmood v Jimmy bet, Gary Naylor relays to me that he made “doubly spectacular misjudgement from 2012” in this Smyth/Ashdown OBO. Let’s reproduce in full, shall we?

5.04pm BST

Too quick from Stokes, who nearly picked up the captain in identical circumstances after pitching fuller to end his previous set. Kept quite low, enough to convince Paul Reiffel. Faf thinks it might’ve pushed down the legside, so he goes upstairs. But that’s not the case, the decision upheld by the big computer in the sky. “It did keep low and South Africa won’t mind seeing that,” notes Shaun Pollock on the TV.

5.01pm BST

90th over: South Africa 273-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 13). Maiden, Wood to Philander. It’s a good’un, beating the bat twice. The best complete set since the second new ball was taken. He’s pitching it up and swinging it about. That’s the Mark Wood who gets our hearts fluttering.

5.00pm BST

89th over: South Africa 273-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 13). England’s Superman, Ben Stokes, is back. Had a 12-over shift either side of lunch earlier that brought Elgar’s wicket on 80. Banging it in shorter than his colleagues have so far with this new ball. It’s with a fuller delivery he beats Faf to end the over with an inside edge. The crowd are going bananas. I think they’re singing: “Stand up if you’re going nowhere.” Strong.

“I thought Mad as a…. came from Mad as a Hatter,” says Andrew Benton. “It says here might be reference to mercury poisoning of hat makers two centuries ago – Mad as a hatter.” We’re learning things here today. Thank you, Andy.

4.55pm BST

88th over: South Africa 272-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 12). Righto, it’s Mark Wood replacing Broad. His radar was a bit off there, so not completely surprised. A maiden to Faf. He’s straight to begin, then outside the off-stump. Decent bounce. Good signs, as he’s blown hot and cold in this Test. And I want to see Toby Roland-Jones debut next week and can’t pretend otherwise. TRJ for Brisbane. And not as an Aussie because I want to see him melt. I just reckon he’s pretty good at cricket and will be well suited to the conditions. I probably said the same thing about Saj Mahmood. Two mates of mine, both TV reporters back home who know their cricket, had a bet in 2006-07 that revolved around who would take more Test scalps: Saj or Jimmy. Needless to say, this comes up often.

4.50pm BST

87th over: South Africa 272-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 12). Jimmy pushing hard, but not the same lateral movement that he had yesterday morning with the second newie. Couple to Vern keeps it ticking over.

David Manby has some Box of Frogs intel. I’m grateful for it. Basically he’s just pointing me to a band who went by the name. “Great band destined to crash as egos – sorry musical differences – met head to head!”

4.44pm BST

86th over: South Africa 270-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 10). Disregard what I said about Vern looking a nick-off candidate. He’s just hit the shot of the day, far as I have seen anyway, taking Broad on the up through cover with supreme form. That’s proper all-rounder stuff. Oops, edges the next one, but along the carpet more or less. Four more. Another single to midwicket keeps him the strike and ensures a very good over, the lead to 400 with that final run of the set. The magic fourth innings figure.

4.42pm BST

85th over: South Africa 261-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 1). Philander off the mark, tucking Jimmy Square. Comes the ball after he’s beaten outside the off-stump. Looks ripe for an edge behind, but he’s still there. du Plessis doing it easy in defence when he’s up the business end.

4.40pm BST

84th over: South Africa 260-5 (du Plessis 62, Philander 0). Oh yes, du Plessis leaning into a stunning cover drive off Broad. Not a bad effort given the way he had them spitting around in his previous set. He’s able to leave and duck through the rest of the over. Back on the timber next time, Stu.

Three of ten for Root on the review. “Total confusion out there” says Nasser. He runs through the four stinkers in this game. “There is no set procedure at all.” They show the edge from today that wasn’t given. He suggests that you take the bowler out of the equation, more or less. “Because of emotion. I repeat: the best was Strauss, who went to Prior, who advised Strauss.” Good bantz from Nas. Amla was 25 when that blunder occured this morning. Maybe not a different game entirely if they get that right, but certainly a different day.

4.32pm BST

83rd over: South Africa 256-5 (du Plessis 58, Philander 0). “If they go beyond a 450 lead they have an outstanding chance of winning,” says Michael Holding. Yeah, reckon you’re right. To lose from there it would only be the highest successful run chase in 140 years of Test cricket. Jimmy trying to keep it well below that through a pacey over of outswing to Philander. Gets one to hit the handle, beating the edge earlier in the set.

“Strange you didn’t know ‘mad as a box of frogs’,” writes Johnny Starbuck. “I always thought it was Australians who originated the ‘mad as a’ phrase, with ‘mad as a cut snake’. These days, we have some really strange ones: mad as a box of spanners, mad as a badger, mad as cheese and so on. They don’t have to make any sense.” Definitely enjoy a “mad as a…” but this is new to me. Promise. Box full of spanners I’ll thieve too. Cheers.

4.27pm BST

NOT OUT! Ordinary review. Broad gave it his patened celebappeal all the way down, leaving Root obliged to go up. He didn’t need much convincing, making the T-sign before he’d even finished appealing himself, before consulting anyone. It’s hit so high, maybe it was an inside edge he was sure of? He looks a bit of a dill after the fact.

Dear Joe. Stop taking Stuey’s cues. He is not a realiable narrator on these matters. Regards, Everyone.

4.24pm BST


4.19pm BST

81st over: South Africa 254-5 (du Plessis 57, Philander 0). Some healthy swing away from du Plessis first up, but it is short. He gets off-strike, which is a good result for England, getting a look at the new man ball one delivery old. Philander was superb in the first dig, mind. Will be forgotten that it was looking like England’s opening day before his intervention. He’s untroubled by the remainder of Jimmy’s over, as he cranks the machine up for this important spell.

“I think this has been the best day for batting” says Bumble on TV. He was in great nick earlier describing Derek Randall as being “mad as a box of frogs.” I hadn’t heard that before, but plan to use it quite a lot.

4.14pm BST

80th over: South Africa 253-5 (du Plessis 51, Philander 0). 383 is the lead, the partnership was 37. Can Jimmy race through the tail like he did yesterday? As the TV reminds hs, Root has been trying to get rid of this old ball for some time. Probably the very last half-chance England will get in this Test coming up right now.

4.13pm BST

Dear oh dear, what a nothing dismissal. Two balls before the new ball is due, Bavuma dances and miscues to Root at mid-off. Moeen is in the book. Bavuma has thrown away a decent start. We’re told on the telly he averages 20 against spin, so maybe that was always on the cards.

4.11pm BST

79th over: South Africa 248-4 (du Plessis 51, Bavuma 15). Not so funky from Dawson. Not very Rainbow Rhythms at all. Bavuma happy to plonk on the front foot. Barely adjusts his defensive posture throughout.

4.09pm BST

78th over: South Africa 247-4 (du Plessis 50, Bavuma 15). Runs flowing here, they’ve collected plenty of them either side of the tea break. Five this time off Moeen, Bavuma down the ground, Faf sweeping once again, there’s a clip to midwicket there too and finally, to end the over, a lash through cover to bring up du Plessis’ half-century. 99 balls, seven boundaries, never bothered. Should the captain bring himself on for a cheeky before the new ball is due? Let’s get funky.

4.04pm BST

77th over: South Africa 241-4 (du Plessis 44, Bavuma 13). Gentle start. Dawson slips at the end of the set, with Faf having enough time to shovel a shoulder delivery over leg-slip for a couple, then taking a fuller one through square leg for two more. In perfect Grade Cricketer style, Roger properly Alpha-ing Cilic in his speech: “It’s cruel sometimes… you did as good as you could.”

3.59pm BST

Players are back on the field at Nottingham. I might just watch Roger’s speech at the same time, though. Forgive me.

3.56pm BST

ROGER WON AND HE’S CRYING. I’m tipping you already know that. Didn’t drop a set. What scenes.

3.54pm BST

Corro. Curse those spinners ruining my flow towards the end there. Let’s plough through some of it.

“Highest ever chase here is 284/6 by English against NZ in 2004,” I am informed by Anoop Menon. “Any chance of this team breaking that?”

3.47pm BST

FED LEADS 5-3 IN THE THIRD. Two sets up. Put that on. How considerate of him to win it during the tea break? He’ll have a little weep, then we can follow.

3.42pm BST

This will be the last one before tea, no urgency to suggest they’re going to rip through a 90-second set. Flipping to around the wicket to Bavuma, he’s missed his length full, and the punchy South African drives fluently to the cover boundary. His second four in two overs and the third in a row for the team. Nice way to go to the breather. “That’s tea, gentleman” says umpire Fry. Back in a tic.

3.40pm BST

3.40pm BST

75th over: South Africa 230-4 (du Plessis 41, Bavuma 7). Bavuma’s turn to go to the rope, making no mistake when Dawson drops short. Deep in the crease, nice weight transfer, crunch. His first boundary. Feels as though these two have got through the hard part. Probably one more over to see off before a cup of herbal. Might fetch myself one, too.

3.38pm BST

74th over: South Africa 226-4 (du Plessis 41, Bavuma 3). Pressure valve release. Classy sweep from South Africa’s captain. A shot he plays without risk at all. Races to the square leg rope.

“A brilliant reverse jinx in the 66th over, saying there was no way Amla wouldn’t get three figures,” observes Jonny Starbuck. Not wrong. I’m pretty much the reason Mitch Marsh is out of the Australian Test side. Have burned him after good starts through plenty of mediums: twitter OBO, radio commentary.

3.35pm BST

73rd over: South Africa 221-4 (du Plessis 37, Bavuma 2). Nasser is talking with Botham about the players “grundies” being on display. I think a reference to Ben Stokes? I must have missed it. Either way, they’ve said “grundies” about eight times in 30 seconds. The modern age. Bavuma off the mark with a sweep. du Plessis gives the strike right back pushing straight of extra cover. Bavuma pushed back then forward. Nice early interrogation.

3.33pm BST

72nd over: South Africa 218-4 (du Plessis 36, Bavuma 0).
Yes, Mo. Both spinners asking the right kinds of questions. Second over in a row du Plessis is pinned down. He’s at ease, of course. But not for nothing that they’re taking it on with aggressive spin, belatedly. YJB behind the stumps giving it the “only the bowlers to come after this!” big ones. I like that too. Maiden.

3.29pm BST

71st over: South Africa 218-4 (du Plessis 36, Bavuma 0). Tandem spinners means less emails. But we have tea in a quarter hour, I’ll catch up then. I have a corker from Robert Wilson. I didn’t reply to him the other day when he dropped me a lovely note about not-cricket, so I feel a bit bad like you do when someone writes you a text and you haven’t yet replied to their previous one.

Dawson’s giving it a chance to spin to du Plessis. Can’t fault him here. If England are any chance to be chasing less than 400, in this crazy old world where 400+ chases are sort of a thing, then the twirlers are going to have get busy. No point throwing darts.

3.25pm BST

70th over: South Africa 217-4 (du Plessis 35, Bavuma 0). With his spin-twin claiming the breakthrough, Moeen is right on it to begin, spinning hard back towards du Plessis with an extra man stationed close to the bat. I think it is Keaton Jennings, as I can hear his South African accent through the effects mic. Sorry, remember I’m Australian so I have to pick those bits up. One to mid-on from the skip gets Bavuma on strike for the first time. Watchful in defence to begin.

3.21pm BST

Yes, you are reading that correctly! Given not on the field, but reviewed by an insistent Dawson. Correctly. Moments after being taken long over the top by Amla, it looked ominous for the tweaker. But his review was true, the ball straightening a treat with Amla missing his flick. Against all expectations the masterful South African is gone.

3.18pm BST

68th over: South Africa 212-3 (Amla 83, du Plessis 34). Moeen again. David Gower on the telly makes the observation on matters of balls that “they will change shape when they are being banged into the pitch six times an over. Sometimes more when there are no-balls.” Droll. Two singles here. Like a Tinder date. See what I did there? Super Like if you did.

3.16pm BST

67th over: South Africa 210-3 (Amla 82, du Plessis 33). Gorgreous from Amla. A clip through the legside to begin the over and take him into the 80s that will be at the front of his highlights package tonight. Broad back and forth from well outside the off-stump then onto the pads. Might be tiring a bit. Chat at the end of the over between Root and the officials. He wants to change the ball again, the cheeky fella. Litigates the case for a good 30 seconds, the ball-circle-thingo is taken out and it passes through. In turn, the captain’s claim is denied.

3.10pm BST

66th over: South Africa 204-3 (Amla 77, du Plessis 32). The 50 partnership and South Africa’s 200 both brought up in the over. The latter came first, via a deft little paddle from Amla. There’s just no way he isn’t getting three figures here. A polite shove to deep cover keeps him the strike.

“So, Adam, there’s a Donald Trump in the crowd,” observes John from Ithica NY. He relies on the OBO for the geoblock prevents other coverage. “Well … two consecutive Tests dominated by men with long beards: That and the pleasure it has given is answer enough to Trump’s prejudices. Can you imagine it happening in baseball?”

3.05pm BST

65th over: South Africa 199-3 (Amla 72, du Plessis 32). Slow clap is up and about through Broad’s over here. It goes for one, Amla dealing neatly with a bumper late in the set down around the corner. The approach, on the whole, has shifted from the previous Broad over, primarily hanging well outside the off-stump. Not the worst plan when trying to at least get them thinking about it. The lead 329, anything is worth a crack. Roggie is up a set and 4-1 in the second, by the way. Bewdiful.

3.02pm BST

64th over: South Africa 198-3 (Amla 71, du Plessis 32). Moeen Ali! As I live and breathe! The bloke who picked up ten last week has bowled three of 63 in the second dig here, reflected by a legitimate Bronx Cheer from the Trent Bridge crowd. Not sure the new skipper will like that in his second start. I understand where Moeen was coming from with his “I’m a bat who bowls” messaging after Lord’s. He wants r.e.s.p.e.c.t with the willow most of all. But still, this is all a bit odd. He’s giving it a nice rip here to begin, turning bit at Amla who knocks away to the legside. Faf tries to sweep but doesn’t make contact. “Keep squeezing hard!” yells YJB from behind the stumps.

On the email, Colin has got me off the mark for the afternoon. “Can we have some real talk on England’s batting, please?” We bloody can. I like Rob’s Pakistan comparison earlier. Anyway, your turn. “Since Mark Ramprakash took over as England batting coach, we’ve topped 650 runs for a match just 10 times. Thru this period, a feature of the batting has been low value placed on wickets, style over substance, and constant collapses. We’ve seen few of the “daddy hundreds” of the Gooch coaching era. I hate to kick a good man like Ramps, but we seem to be batting in his image. Pretty, but weak. Surely it is time for Bayliss to take a grip of this problem, and send a clear message to squad that they need to bat to their potential in terms of runs scored, and not just style?”

2.56pm BST

63rd over: South Africa 197-3 (Amla 70, du Plessis 32). Broad allows Faf to let a couple go before bringing back at him to play each of the other deliveries. Nothing especially wrong about his apporoach, but the South African skipper at complete ease. Maiden.

2.52pm BST

62nd over: South Africa 197-3 (Amla 70, du Plessis 32). Is it just me, or has Mark Wood been a bit rubbish? I’m into anyone who crawls around under people’s cricket kits. I’m into anyone who bowls 90mph. Anyway, Faf profits from two overpitched deliveries, both square driven to the rope. The second less convincing than the first. Result the same.

2.46pm BST

Afternoon, comrades.

As always, a privilege to be handed the OBO baton from Rob Smyth. We had a lot of fun on day one talking about, oh I dunno, The Wonder Years and whether it is okay to wear a white belt? Let’s bring similar enthusiasm to it today, despite the increasingly dire match situation.

2.42pm BST

61st over: South Africa 188-3 (Amla 70, du Plessis 23) “Afternoon Rob,” says Dave Adams. “A fair whiff of 1990s-style futility to this. How many hours have we all spent watching England in this situation? Third innings, already further behind than any realistic run chase, and a lot of hard yards in the field to look forward to. For the players, mental disintegration ((c) SR Waugh) will now be developing nicely. For me, it’s oddly relaxing, this loss of all hope. It’s the latter, after all, that causes all the angst.”

It’ll never be worse than Brisbane 2006. Never. Look at the target Ponting set England: 648! The OBO was fun that night. Anyhow, that’s it from me. Adam Collins will be with you for the rest of the day. You can contact him on or @collinsadam. Bye!

2.37pm BST

60th over: South Africa 186-3 (Amla 69, du Plessis 22) This has been Wood’s fastest spell of the match, though it’s probably too late to save his place for the next Test. He is bowling some rough stuff from around the wicket to the right-handed Amla and du Plessis, who pay it no heed. Amla has put away the pull in this innings, having been dismissed that way in the first innings.

“Whoever said during this match that Amla was pretty much past it needs a good slap,” says Robert Wilson. “It smacked of all the dirty talk about the clapped-out Warne in 2005. Statisticians and general soothsayers all cringe when cricket folk start this stuff. A half decent student of probability will give you a good formula for your odds of ending up looking like an arse. There is no more predictable outcome in all of human endeavour. And none that comes with more of an ouch. Ton now a certainty.”

2.33pm BST

59th over: South Africa 185-3 (Amla 67, du Plessis 22) Broad replaces Stokes, du Plessis rifles four through mid-off. It’s all just detail; South Africa have won this match.

2.27pm BST

58th over: South Africa 181-3 (Amla 67, du Plessis 18) After a bit of excitement either side of lunch, when Ben Stokes endeavoured to raise hell, it has gone quiet again at Trent Bridge. Wood drops short to du Plessis, who carves decisively through extra cover for four. South Africa lead by 311. England know it’s over, still they cling; they don’t know where else they can go.

2.24pm BST

57th over: South Africa 175-3 (Amla 67, du Plessis 13) It’s an honourable stalemate between Stokes and Amla in this innings: 36 balls, four runs, no wickets. Stokes deserves a rest after an admirable spell of 12-3-17-1.

2.19pm BST

56th over: South Africa 173-3 (Amla 66, du Plessis 12) A better, sharper over from Wood, culminating in a good yorker that is dug out by Amla. A maiden.

2.15pm BST

55th over: South Africa 173-3 (Amla 66, du Plessis 12) du Plessis is too early on an attempted pull off Stokes, and drags the ball down into his body. Two from the over, which might be Stokes’s last: he’s bowled 11 off the reel either side of lunch.

“The most probable thing that happens today is that SA declare with a massive lead, and then England are two or three down with not much on the board with a whole load of time to play, despite the wicket still behaving more or less okay,” says Martin Peters. “So why the predicted collapse? Would it be psychological or due to tiredness while fielding, or both, or what?”

2.10pm BST

54th over: South Africa 171-3 (Amla 65, du Plessis 11) Wood replaces Anderson and is hooked for a single by du Plessis. South Africa are still in no hurry. They seem happy to suck the last bit of life out of England’s quicks before going on the attack against the spinners.

“Presumably Sky’s statistical analysis of the excellent Amla recorded that ball this morning from Broad as “played and (Ultra) edged” rather than “played and missed” – a fine distinction,” says Brian Withington.

2.05pm BST

53rd over: South Africa 170-3 (Amla 65, du Plessis 10) This is admirable stuff from Anderson and especially Stokes, even more so because of its probable futility. As Sir Ian Botham says on Sky, Stokes has bowled away his red-ball rust in this game and looks really good now. I suspect England will use his as an enforcer in the third Test, with Toby Roland-Jones doing the donkey work.

2.00pm BST

52nd over: South Africa 169-3 (Amla 65, du Plessis 9) Anderson tries to pick a fight with the non-striker du Plessis, who ignores him. His mood isn’t improved any when Amla flicks a straight one off the thigh for four, or when a storming delivery snaps off the seam and beats Amla’s outside edge.

1.58pm BST

51st over: South Africa 164-3 (Amla 61, du Plessis 8) Amla defends another maiden from Stokes. He has constructed his innings smartly, attacking some loose stuff from Wood, Moeen and Dawson (44 from 46 balls) and respecting some high-class bowling from Anderson, Broad and Stokes (17 from 74 balls).

1.53pm BST

50th over: South Africa 164-3 (Amla 61, du Plessis 8) du Plessis tries a lusty back-foot force off Anderson and is beaten. Apparently that play-and-miss in the previous over was Amla’s first of the innings, from his 113th ball. That’s seriously impressive. England’s bowling since lunch has been pretty good too, with Anderson making it back-to-back maidens.

1.49pm BST

49th over: South Africa 164-3 (Amla 61, du Plessis 8) Stokes was excellent before lunch, bowling with such intensity that every ball felt like an event. He picks up where left off with a fine maiden, during which Amla is beaten by a stunning outswinger. Stokes isn’t always economical but he has great figures here: 10-3-13-1.

1.45pm BST

48th over: South Africa 164-3 (Amla 61, du Plessis 8) The future Sir James Anderson opens the bowling after lunch. He has seven wickets in the match, taking his Trent Bridge total to 60. That’s 19 more than anyone else in the history of this thing of ours. Faf du Plessis edges a good delivery wide of gully for four, prompting not entirely pre-watershed advice from Anderson.

This, you won’t be surprised to hear, is deserving of your time. Sky have done some brilliant features in the last 12-18 months.

Enjoyed making this with @jackson_al about a hero of the English game

1.38pm BST

In other news

I was only 4 yrs old when #StayinAlive released. @GibbBarry your songs have always struck a chord with me!

1.36pm BST

“Morning Rob,” says Adam Roberts. “Not sure why I got up early on a Sunday for this. I think you’re right about Has; I have always felt that one of the reasons Graeme Hick’s Test career was not the stellar one predicted was 1) he was hailed as the saviour of English cricket at least a year before selected and 2) he was shoehorned into the team as soon as eligible when his form simply didn’t warrant it. If a batsman is struggling in domestic cricket, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect them to do it in the publicity glare and pressure of Test match standards.”

Was Hick’s form bad in 1991? I don’t remember that. Starting his Test career against an affronted Curtly Ambrose was on a different planet to ideal. I think the biggest mistake England made with Hick, even though I understand why it happened, was dropping him in 1996. The impact of Mike Atherton declaring when he was on 98 against Australia is overplayed.

1.02pm BST

47th over: South Africa 160-3 (Amla 61, du Plessis 4) Stokes continues to bowl as the fate of mankind depends on him taking a wicket in this over. He almost saves the world when Amla offers no stroke to a delivery that whistles past off stump. It was ultimately a good leave from Amla. A maiden to finish the session.

It was South Africa’s morning; they lead by 290 despite a strong burst from Stokes and Anderson just before lunch. See you in half an hour for the afternoon session. I’ll leave you with this from Gary Naylor. “If (okay, when) the Root Out campaign starts in earnest, I think we can all picture The Sun’s back page.”

12.59pm BST

46th over: South Africa 160-3 (Amla 61, du Plessis 4) Amla is one of the great fire-dousing batsmen of his generation, and he carries on calmly as if nothing has happened at the other end. He works Anderson off the hip for a single, and du Plessis plays out the rest of the over. There will be time for one more over before lunch.

12.54pm BST

45th over: South Africa 159-3 (Amla 60, du Plessis 4) Stokes is bowling furiously, and has completely changed the mood of the match – even if the new optimism around Trent Bridge is based on ignoring the scorecard and running with the mood of the last 15 minutes. The David Lynch approach. The frustrating thing about Stokes is that he doesn’t summon this kind of spell more often, because when he does he is irresistible.

“Very early days of course and I’m not starting a Root Out campaign in the least (this isn’t, thankfully, football),” says Paddy Sturdee, “but more than a tad alarming England seem to be going through the motions on just Root’s seventh day of being England captain.”

12.51pm BST

44th over: South Africa 158-3 (Amla 59, du Plessis 4) That was lovely bowling from Anderson, an old maestro reminding a young genius that Test cricket isn’t all hits and giggles.

“You feel Buttler deserves an extended run in the test side despite his modest first-class record,” says Bernard Walsh. “As a Lancashire member who has barely seen him play any red ball cricket in the last few years, I disagree. When he has played the odd championship match he’s invariably batted more like a lucky competition winner than a first class cricketer. Buttler really would be better announcing his retirement from red (and pink) ball cricket and channeling all his prodigious talent into white ball cricket, which is something he happens to be outstanding at. The days of three format international batsmen are coming to an end.”

12.47pm BST

Quinton de Kock has gone! Jimmy Anderson returns to the attack and finds the outside edge with a lovely delivery that moves away just enough off the pitch. Bairstow does the rest. England are suddenly on a bit of a roll, and if South Africa weren’t already nearly 300 ahead we’d have reason to be excited!

12.43pm BST

43rd over: South Africa 154-2 (Amla 59, de Kock 1) Stokes greets de Kock with another storming bouncer that hits the glove and loops not far wide of leg gully. Great bowling, and it has changed the mood around Trent Bridge.

12.40pm BST

That’s excellent from Ben Stokes. He worked Elgar over and dismissed him with a nasty short ball that was flapped tamely to Anderson at leg gully.

12.39pm BST

42nd over: South Africa 153-1 (Elgar 80, Amla 59) Amla continues to kill Dawson softly, stroking him down the ground for four and then six. The second stroke brings up his second half-century of the match. He had one moment of fortune when England didn’t review a caught-behind; otherwise he has played superbly. Another four through midwicket makes it 14 from the over.

In decades to come, historians will push themselves to the brink of a nervous breakdown and waste billions of pounds of public funding trying to find a satisfactory answer to the following question: why did Liam Dawson play Test cricket?

12.30pm BST

41st over: South Africa 139-1 (Elgar 80, Amla 45) Stokes switches ends to replace the disappointing Mark Wood, and Amla, who is cruising, works him for a single. He likes batting in this country, does Amla. He is also – as he showed in a couple of famous Tests in 2012, one of them at Lord’s – very good at setting up victory in the third innings.

“This England team seems to have its fair share of players who endure disappointing troughs of form before managing to dodge the executioner’s noose in the last minute through an inspired match-winning performance that buys them some breathing space before their form drops off again and the vultures begin circling once more,” says Tom van der Gucht.

12.25pm BST

40th over: South Africa 138-1 (Elgar 80, Amla 44) Joe Root brings on Liam Dawson to replace Ben Stokes. All England captains need the ability to rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic. Amla launches the fourth ball back over Dawson’s head for four, a stroke of almost offensive ease. South Africa lead by 268.

“Has anyone,” says Gary Naylor, “checked under the lid that it’s not Gary Kirsten wearing a Dean Elgar mask?”

12.21pm BST

39th over: South Africa 132-1 (Elgar 79, Amla 39) Elgar continues to pepper the third-man boundary, steering Wood deliberately between slip and gully. There’s no way Wood will play in the third Test, so I assume Toby Roland-Jones will make his debut.


12.16pm BST

38th over: South Africa 126-1 (Elgar 74, Amla 38) Elgar clouts a short ball from Stokes to the midwicket boundary. England are really flat now. I’ve been slightly surprised by the lack of intensity in the field this morning; I thought they would have been foaming at the mouth after such a bad day yesterday.

Oh go on then.

12.13pm BST

37th over: South Africa 122-1 (Elgar 70, Amla 38) Wood continues, and Elgar pushes a single to bring up a fine century partnership. South Africa’s tactics this morning have been spot on; they knew the only way they could lose this match was if Anderson and Broad got into them this morning, so they adapated their approach accordingly. The run-rate will increase as the day progresses.

Meanwhile, take a moment to consider this preposterous fartknocker.

A friend of a friend of mine works in the White House and said Trump is extremely unhappy with this photo of himself. Do NOT retweet this!

12.05pm BST

36th over: South Africa 114-1 (Elgar 67, Amla 33) England have gone to Plan B for Bodyline, with Stokes bowling some rough stuff to Amla from around the wicket. Amla does well to evade one ribtickler, and then Elgar edges short of the cordon. That’s drinks.

“I think the team is in limbo, to paraphrase the play, ‘Waiting for Woakes’,” says Chris Evans. “He adds more consistency that Wood and Stokes as the third seamer and more batting depth. Decision to keep out Has was wrong IMO. He just looked so much like a Test batter. YJB, if batting No5 needs to turn 40s and 50s into big hundreds more frequently, I think he bats like a No7 whose runs are a bonus rather than being a vital part of the engine.”

12.00pm BST

35th over: South Africa 113-1 (Elgar 67, Amla 32) Elgar tries to leave a ball from Wood that rushes onto the face of the bat before going to gully on the bounce. The problem for Wood and Stokes is not a dearth of good balls; it’s a surfeit of fourballs. Elgar steers another to the third-man boundary.

11.58am BST

11.56am BST

34th over: South Africa 108-1 (Elgar 63, Amla 31) A double bowling change, with Ben Stokes replacing Broad. South Africa battled hard to survive the first 50 overs and now they should get a few balls to hit. There’s one from Stokes, on the pads and flicked through midwicket for four. South Africa lead by 238 runs and – breaking news – are going to win this Test match.

“Mark Wood is one of the few to concentrate on one aspect of his play, even if it hasn’t come off in this game, so far,” says John Starbuck. “When he takes a splendid catch or scores a few it’s treated as a handy bonus. Broad used to be like that, at the start and he was talked up as a possible number 7; then his batting fell apart, for reasons we all know, and only lately has he hinted at regaining that. Anderson’s batting record was really odd, the tail-ender who never got out for a duck and the perennial nightwatchman. That no longer obtains, it seems. So much for the present side, but who would you pick as replacements for batting, bowling and all-rounding?”

11.50am BST

33rd over: South Africa 104-1 (Elgar 59, Amla 31) Mark Wood replaces Jimmy Anderson. He needs a wicket, having taken only one in the series. Given his fitness record, England might think of resting him in the next Test at the Oval before bringing him back for the final Test on what should be a fast pitch at Old Trafford. Wood starts well, beating Elgar twice, but then drifts onto the pad and is clipped for three.

“I’ve not missed her, but despair is back at the bar, making eyes at us,” says Guy Hornsby. “She’s been away, perhaps on an extended holiday in the West Indies. It’s funny really, to have such an exciting Test side with such talent, yet such a fragile batting line-up, and key positions (2&3) not in bedrock. Oh, for Haseeb to have made hay this spring. Thing is, it’s always one appalling session that does us, so all we’re left with is a myriad of ways to get a hiding, all of them only highlighting our selection quandaries. It’s times like this I remember the 90s: what would Mark Ealham do?”

11.44am BST

32nd over: South Africa 101-1 (Elgar 56, Amla 31) This is turning into an episode of Grumpy Old Men, starring Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson. Hard to blame them, as Nasser says on Sky, because they’ve done almost everything right this morning. They dismissed Amla but didn’t review, and could have got Elgar on a number of occasions.

“Hi Rob,” says Felix Wood. “Yesterday you opined that England’s problem is too many all-rounders. While I agree that seems to be the case at the moment, it needn’t be in the future, even with the same players. I’m sure KP, Steve Smith, Stuart Broad and the like have no problem with deciding to stick to one discipline. Isn’t the problem that short form cricket needs more all round type players, so youngsters spend their time training 50/50? Stokes should pick batting and be good for picking up overs, not be first change. Even Flintoff accepted that being an amazing bowler who would occasionally contribute with the bat was better than someone who could do a little bit of both.”

11.39am BST

31st over: South Africa 99-1 (Elgar 55, Amla 30) Amla scorches a poor delivery from Anderson through the covers for four. We’re entering Angry Anderson territory, with Jimmy kicking the ground in disgust.

“Where does this England team fit in the general scheme of things?” asks Phil Withall. “The majority of the time it seems they need two or three players to perform above their expected level to get a result. If the team as a whole perfoms at their expected level they seem to struggle. On a lighter note. I went shopping today and it totaled $22.22, I laughed, Richie probably laughed, no one else got it.”

11.35am BST

30th over: South Africa 94-1 (Elgar 55, Amla 25) And another one goes by: Edgar flashes at Broad and edges high to the left of gully, where Anderson drops a very difficult chance. He could only get his fingertip to it. It would have been a blinding catch, even by his standards. Broad and Anderson have bowled beautifully this morning.

Should have used your L’Oreal review Stuart.

11.30am BST

29th over: South Africa 94-1 (Elgar 54, Amla 25) That was a bad moment for England’s DRS Squad. They hardly seemed to consider a review, yet replays confirm there was a definite outside edge from Amla. There was a crap, desperate review last night, which means they have only one left; that probably played a part in the decision not to review this time. Also, for some reason, most of the players – including the bowler Broad – seemed to have no idea whether he had nicked it or not.

11.27am BST

28th over: South Africa 91-1 (Elgar 52, Amla 25) It’s easy to forget, it being Sunday, that this is only day three of the game. South Africa have all the time in the world to do the shim sham shimmy on England’s throat. The first part of that is to see off this spell from England’s champions.

Amla in particular has been almost strokeless, and has just been involved in a bizarre incident. He edged Broad to Bairstow, who took a good tumbling catch. Broad didn’t appeal, Simon Fry said not out, and England decided not to review. I am sure he edged that.

11.21am BST

27th over: South Africa 89-1 (Elgar 51, Amla 24) In this match, Anderson and Broad have combined figures of nine for 184. The other England bowlers have taken <Richie voice> two for 222 between them </Richie voice>. Elgar, meanwhile, thick-edges Anderson for two to reach a determined half-century. And a rapid one by his standards: it’s come from 79 balls.

11.17am BST

26th over: South Africa 85-1 (Elgar 47, Amla 24) Broad demonstratively puts two men out for the hook against Amla. It’s a double bluff, for the time being at least; everything is on a good length or fuller and Amla is content to play out a maiden.

11.12am BST

25th over: South Africa 85-1 (Elgar 47, Amla 24) England are again trying to get the ball changed, as they did so successfully yesterday morning. No dice this time. Anderson and Broad have been excellent so far, with Anderson again beating Elgar outside off stump in that over, but there’s only so much they can do if the ball isn’t swinging.

11.08am BST

24th over: South Africa 84-1 (Elgar 47, Amla 23) Stuart Broad starts to Dean Elgar, bowling full and straight and prompting a couple of awkward defensive strokes. After a few sighters, Elgar drives confidently through mid-off for four. Broad turns him round with the next delivery, finding a thick edge that scuttles past second slip for four more. That was a very good over from Broad, and it went for eight.

11.03am BST

23rd over: South Africa 76-1 (Elgar 39, Amla 23) Jimmy Anderson starts the day with an anti-loosener, slipping a fine delivery past Edgar’s outside edge. It’s a challenging first over, a typically immaculate start from Anderson.

This is the sort of precedent England can use for inspiration – when South Africa started day three effectively on 184 for nought in their second innings, and eventually lost a classic. Liam Dawson plays Michael Bevan, Gary Ballance is Mark Waugh.

10.58am BST

Weather watch, with Gary Naylor

“It’s as sultry as a 1970s Lamb’s Navy Rum billboard at Trent Bridge this morning, so we could be in for a lunchtime scoreboard that reads 200-7 (Quinton de Kock 97), but even if it reads 125 all out, I think South Africa have enough… if Big Vern is fit enough to bowl his share.”

10.24am BST

Pre-play reading

Related: Jimmy Anderson frustrated by England’s batting display against South Africa

Related: England collapse as Faf du Plessis pulls strings for South Africa

Related: Joe Root fights fire with fire but Gary Ballance burns latest England chance | Ali Martin

Related: Captain Heather Knight stars as England women defeat West Indies

12.40am BST

Morning folks. Today, England are naughty schoolboys, made to stand in the corner, face to the wall, thinking about what they’ve done. They are likely to endure a day of impotent frustration at Trent Bridge, watching South Africa bat them out of the game while they try to work out how what the hell has happened since Lord’s.

The main reason for this surprisingly one-sided match is that South Africa, led quite brilliantly by Faf du Plessis, have produced an admirable performance full of skill, intelligence, nerve and good old-fashioned manliness. That’s not to say England are blameless. There has been plenty of criticism of their reckless batting yesterday. I’m not sure, on reflection, that their approach was so bad; most of them were dismissed playing defensive strokes. The issue was aptitude, not attitude.

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