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Saturday, 16 January 2010

Smith declares 243 in front. England 48-3 and Sidebottom admits: "Rain would be nice!"

SO now we know. England, teetering at 48-3, have to survive for two days with seven wickets standing.
Ryan Sidebottom's solution to their woes at The Wanderers? "Rain would be nice!"
To be fair to the hairy one, what was he supposed to say, having been singled out as the one to talk to the press after day three of the final Test?
He took two wickets but hardly justified his surprise inclusion ahead of the "legend" Graham Onions. Sidebottom, quite rightly, felt: "I maybe deserved a couple more. It would have been nice to get Graeme Smith early but it wasn't to be."
While yesterday's "Knobgate" row goes on, Mark Boucher made the point: "We've been the side that wants it more. And if you play like that the luck tends to go your way."
It sure has. South Africa declared on 423-7, 243 ahead of England's modest first innings total of 180. Pretty shrewd declaration that as England went out, and in... and out again for the light.
Alastair Cook was first back in the pavilion, comfortably caught by Graeme Smith off Morne Morkel for 1. Six balls were all he could manage. And Cook is one of the form batsman.
At the other end Andrew Strauss narrowly avoided being decapitated by Dale Steyn, the world's best Test bowler who took 5-51 in the first innings. An over later he claimed Jonathan Trott with an absolute snorter which flew off the edge to AB De Villiers (diving above) in the cordon.
In the 13th over, after the light meters had intervened, Andrew Strauss joined Trott in the "that's it for this tour" category, lbw to Wayne Parnell despite a review. He managed 22 off 45 balls.
Kevin Pietersen, who came in to perhaps the worst welcome of this tour so far, is on the nervous nine, Paul Collingwood has yet to score after facing three balls and it's 48-3 as play is called off for the day, just as the sun comes out. England need another 199 to make South Africa bat again.
We're down to the last two days of this epic series, with plenty of Highveld storms about. Rain is England's only possible salvation, as Sidebottom sol aptly put it.
He added: "We're disappointed with the way we've performed here but whenever we've been under pressure before on this tour we've come back fighting."
South Africa captain Graeme Smith told us last night: "We'll be looking to push the lead to around 200. That's a good score if the pitch is doing things and the weather continues."
He went a little further than that, grinding England's fading attack into oblivion with wicketkeeper Boucher producing his top Test score at the Wanderers - a fine 96 off 118 balls.
There were calls to axe Boucher - a 33-year-old veteran of 130 Tests - but this series has put him right back on top. He grinned: "I don't play cricket for the critics. They're always going to be there. But I use it. If somebody says something that gets to me, I use it to motivate me."
Ladbrokes rate England an improbable 33-1 to win this one, you can get 50-1 on Betfair. Former England coach David "Bumble" Lloyd twittered that England need 400 to make South Africa chase 160 at the death. That would have been interesting.
It won't happen now - but the odds on a draw remain reasonable, given the likelihood of rain, the worst of which neatly avoided the Wanderers earlier this afternoon.
That really is our only hope. England have been easily cowed in this final showdown. Earlier in this absorbing series, they showed that iron resistance, the stiff-upper-lip we Brits love to see.
But Johannesburg has been different. England went into this Test 1-0 up in the series, but only after hanging on by a wicket to draw in Centurion and Cape Town. In between, we had the best of the conditions in Durban and won by an innings and 98 runs.
Boucher suggested: "I've been on many tours and sometimes you have one foot on the plane by the time you get to the last Test. The pressure does get to you. But England have got a lot of fighters we've still got to get through."
But in truth, as Smith and his men have pointed out so many times, most of the sessions have been won by South Africa in this series. They deserve to draw 1-1 and retain the Basil D'Oliviera trophy they won in England last time they visited our shores.
And they will. England made a couple of early breakthroughs this morning but they failed to capitalise, allowing Boucher and AB De Villiers to shove England off the rails again.
But they needed a fair bit of luck to put on 120 in 30 overs for the sixth wicket at a rate of just over four an over.
Twice Daryl Harper, the television umpire who failed to hear Graeme Smith's snick yesterday (he was on 15 at the time, he went on to get 105, have a look at earlier posts), allowed De Villiers to bat on after being given out by New Zealander Tony Smith.
Harper also turned down Graeme Swann's plea for the wicket of Mark Boucher, LBW. Harper was right each time. But he seems to be England's bogeyman right now, with every decision going South Africa's way, even Strauss's LBW, the last decision of another fascinating day.
England made a good start this morning. First Hashim Amla, looking set for his second century of the series on 75, was out on the tenth ball of day three, caught behind by Matt Prior off a superb ball from Stuart Broad.
Six balls later, Jacques Kallis was gone, brilliantly taken by Jimmy Anderson on the dive off Ryan Sidebottom. Getting Kallis for 7 was a big bonus for England and at 217-4 the tails were up.
After a brief lull, Andrew Strauss turned to Swann, as he has all series, for the breakthrough. And with his first ball - it's becoming a habit - he had JP "Crash Test" Duminy caught by Collingwood and it was 235-5.
Swann then had De Villiers given out twice - on 11 and 24 - by umpire Tony Hill. But De Villiers called for a review both times. The close catch on 11 may or may not have brushed the bat, the lbw on 24 was not out.
But given that shocker yesterday - Harper failed to hear the Smith snick which echoed around the cricket-speaking world - you might expect a bit of help from the man!
De Villiers survived having the ball come to rest against his stumps without removing a bail (much to Collingwood's chagrin) and a clear glove behind to make it through to lunch with 43 off 99 balls. The always-dangerous Mark Boucher went to his fifty just before lunch after surviving Swann's LBW review.
At 324-5 at the break, South Africa were 144 ahead. De Villiers' luck finally ran out on 58, caught by Collingwood, and Broad had his third wicket of the innings. But Boucher carried on and passed his best-ever Test score at the "Bull Ring" - 78 - with debutant Ryan McLaren in support.
Just as the huge gathering here were really getting going, the rain came down, but it didn't last long. The South Africans, all 30,000 of them, were in full voice as Boucher tortured England in a 67-run partnership with debutant McLaren. And it was Swann, with the first ball of his spell yet again, who finally got rid of Boucher, who popped one up to Jonathan Trott. The declaration came soon afterward with McLaren 32 not out on his debut and Dale Steyn on 1.
Meanwhile Harper - backed by the ICC this morning - has turned to Facebook to justify his position.
After yesterday's knob-twiddling sensation he posted these quotes on his site: "The truth about Smith's decision may come out eventually. The host broadcaster didn't provide the appropriate sound to match the picture. The commentator, Matthew Hoggard, told the viewers that there was no sound - so Smith would be given not out.
"Sadly when the technology fails... and that means that some engineer has failed to do his job... they must find a scapegoat, and the umpire is an easy target because we can't fight back... usually.
"Five minutes later, they found a sound and blamed me! Other networks found the sound immediately, but we didn't get their sound feed."
Good defence Daryl, but how about coming to speak to us in the press box. Just a gentle chat. If you can comment on Facebook, surely you can talk to the journalists?

Labels: , , , decapitate,

Thursday, 14 January 2010

England lose four in the first hour... but Collingwood goes to lunch with a six!

ANDREW STRAUSS was out first ball at The Wanderers this morning as the fourth and final Test between England and South Africa got underway amid incredible scenes.

The captain was soon followed by Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook as England found themselves 39-4 after 9.4 overs with Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell required to produce their now-traditional rearguard action within 45 minutes of the start on the opening morning.

South Africa’s opening pair, Morne Morkel (6-1-20-3) and the world’s top ranked Test bowler Dale Steyn (6-0-26-1) were almost unplayable in their opening barrage.

Fortunately, they were replaced by two debutants – Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell – and the resilient Collingwood (44) and Bell (19) began the business of resurrecting England’s innings, going to lunch at 100-4, having added 61 for the fifth wicket.

Thank God for Colly (my old netting partner, see picture) is the cry. The hero of Cardiff, Centurion and Newlands, the man described by coach Andy Flower as “Our typical British Bulldog” is carrying four separate injuries. But he celebrated the end of the first session by slapping Jacques Kallis for six over square leg. Some guy.

But what a opening spell we had. An assault on the senses shared by a crowd of around 8,000 as the press box, packed with former Test stars, went into meltdown.

Steyn got things underway after Strauss – near-perfect with the coin on in this series - had done his usual thing and won the toss. The England captain’s decision to bat is something he will have to live with for the rest of his career.

There was a hushed silence for the opening ball of a Test England only have to draw to clinch the series. Then Strauss turned that first delivery of the day straight into what the stadium commentator instantly described as “the magic hands of Hashim Amla” at short leg. Great catch. Uproar.

England’s stunned Barmy Army, who had their traditional chorus of Jerusalem drowned out by the sound system at the “Bull Ring”, were immediately silenced. Strauss had become the 28th person dismissed on the first ball of a Test, a fate which befell the great Sunil Gavaskar three times. Last time this happened to England? Stan Worthington in Brisbane against the Australians. You won’t remember Stan. He did that back in 1936.

Ball two from Steyn flew inches wide of Jonathan Trott’s off-stump and reports of a bowlers’ paradise had been confirmed in a matter of seconds.

Groundsman Steve Scott was told to prepare a result wicket by South Africa coach Mickey Stewart, whose side need to win here to square the series at 1-1 and retain the Basil D’Oliviera trophy. It worked like a charm, but only because Strauss chose to bat. And he knew all about the South African scheming.

The first over ended with England 3-1, nerves still jangling. Back in 1999, when the Wanderers hosted the first Test between these two sides, the carnage went on all day as England were skittled for 122 and went on to lose by an innings and 21 runs. Yesterday, out on the balcony overlooking this huge arena, I talked to then-captain Nasser Hussain about that epic morning a decade ago. Surely Straussie would have been told about it? Surely he must have known what it can be like here on the first morning?

Morkel’s first over from the other end was equally worrying. His third ball was edged by Trott for four. His second beat the bat completely. The sixth did for him, plumb LBW, England 7-2. Trott, who had swung at everything he could see, almost walked. A bizarre five-run, eight-ball innings of swishes and hopeful prods. What was he thinking?

Pietersen emerged to a reasonable reception given he spent his formative years in South Africa - and he appeared to have settled, hitting the first genuine four of the morning off Morkel as he settled in with Alastair Cook at the other end.

But three balls later, on seven runs from 16 balls, he did what he has been doing all tour. Made a rash decision just as he was beginning to look good. He went for the big pull, didn’t quite make it and Wayne Parnell took a sharp catch at mid-on. England were 32-3. It was all so fast, the poor bloke, making his debut, even thought about a shy at the stumps after taking the catch.

Cook, somehow keeping his sanity at the other end as three South Africa-born English batsmen perished, was next, Morkel’s third victim. His LBW decision went for review and though it looked like a no-ball, the decision stood. England coach Andy Flower went to the match referee to complain, but by then it was too late. Far too late. Cook was gone for 21 off 31 balls and England were past shock and into intensive care at 39-4.

Collingwood and Bell survived the last of the Steyn-Morkel onslaught and they relaxed visibly when two debutants – Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell – were handed their first overs in Test cricket. But already this entire 20-day Test series has swung South Africa’s way.

Thing is, Arthur finally has his dream attack here. Right from the start of the series, there was a feeling Makhaya Ntini was past it, but they had to pick him for Centurion and Durban, where he won his 100th and 101st caps but took just two wickets for plenty.

Friedel De Wet, the Johannesburg-based paceman who replace him in Cape Town, is 29 and apparently the choice of head of selectors Mike Procter. He did his back in after just five overs at Newlands.

So here, by default, Arthur has Steyn and Morkel on top form plus Parnell – described by Kent team-mate Robert Key as “the new Wasim Akram” – making his debut in place of De Wet and all-rounders McLaren and fit-again Jacques Kallis.

It’s some attack that. And if they want a spinner, they can always turn to JP Duminy, who turns it more than their specialist spinner Paul Harris, axed for McLaren this morning.

England are in trouble here – and they must survive without their best batsman. Yes, Graham Onions, the world’s greatest No11, is out. The legend is no more. Replaced by Ryan Sidebottom, who can swing it a bit. He’ll have to swing it a lot to turn this one around.

Labels: , basil d'oliveira trophy, , England in Johannesburg, , fourth test decider, , , result wicket, the wanderers

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Matt adds gloss but it's too hot for cricket. Too hot for England.

ENGLAND were finally dismissed for 273 on a burning-hot day three of the third Test in Cape Town this morning. South Africa will bat with a lead of 18 but the far greater advantage will be the 40-plus temperatures at Newlands as this series comes neatly to the boil.
Matt Prior ensured a brave last stand which lasted six overs this morning, ending with 76 not out off 118 balls and adding a couple of lusty blows to close the gap after England had resumed on 241-7 this morning.
It could have been a lot worse as Morne Morkel struck twice in the first over of the morning to register a magnificent five-fer. Graeme Swann lasted just three balls and Jimmy Anderson popped out and got a first baller. First golden duck of his Test career. Clearly he wasn't wearing sun-cream. The excellent Titans seamer Morkel, more at home at high altitude, had gone from three wickets to a magnificent five in four balls.
And England, just like South Africa on day two, have proved this strip is lethal in the early overs, even without the "table cloth" of cloud rolling over neighbouring Table Mountain.
Clouds? Not a sign of them today. We are talking 40-plus temperatures and it's not even 11am here. Serious sun-stroke territory.
And England, thanks to Swann and Anderson, have sentenced themselves to a long day in the sun here as they attempt to defend their 1-0 lead in this four-match series.
To be fair, Morkel has been bowling well all series. He deserves all the accolades. The ball that got Swann was unplayable, steepling off a length, catching a glove and flying to captain Graeme Smith at slip.
Anderson, who avoided a duck for 49 innings as a tail-ender and nightwatchman, got something very similar and Smith gleefully took his second catch in as many balls.
It was left to Prior and Graham Onions, who survived nine balls for four runs, to push England closer to the South African total of 291. This low-scoring match is headed for a result, and it may not be the one England were hoping for.
Still there are consolations. The two South African batsman pictured above by my faithful photographer (A Mrs Tracy Collins) will soon be with us.
Ashwell Prince (or the batsman formerly known as Prince) and JP Duminy (also known as Crash Test Duminy), both local lads, will have the heat on them today after a poor start to this series with the bat. They spent a considerable time in the nets yesterday.
But for England, this could well prove to be the endless day. Watching them warm-up (yes, warm-up in this heat!) several are carrying strapping and bandages.
Anderson's knee, Onions' calf, Paul Collingwood's back and finger, Stuart Broad's shoulder, Alastair Cook's leg... and we saw Kevin Pietersen getting treatment on has back in the middle on day one here.
These are worrying signs for a side about to face endless heat on a vital day.
And we could well end it with South Africa moving towards a result which will tie-up this series at 1-1 and send the sides to the Wanderers for a fourth Test decider on January 14.

Labels: england in cape town, golden duck, , jimmy anderson, ,

Monday, 4 January 2010

Cook provides the vital ingredient, Bell left with a ding-dong battle

ALASTAIR COOK proved his match-changing century in Durban was no flash in the pan as he produced another unflashy but vital 65 for England in Cape Town today.

The Essex opener kept his head on an incredible morning when the sound of wickets falling echoed constantly off the dramatic cliffs of neighbouring Table Mountain. With England 1-0 up in the four-match series, the second Test is now back in the balance as we approach the end of a sizzling day two with day three threatening temperatures of over 40 degrees.

Cook, generally regarded as a future England captain, survived the loss of current leader Andrew Strauss, the fiddling Jonathan Trott and the reckless Kevin Pietersen before losing a fourth partner in Paul Collingwood with the score a wobbly 73-4.

But Cookie didn’t crumble and when he was joined by Ian Bell, another centurion in Durban, the South African attack hit the wall. Cook needed 14 balls before he scored his first runs – a four off Morne Morkel – and he produced his second scoring shot off his 37th ball. Hardly sparkling stuff.

But they survived a torrid session before tea to frustrate the South Africans, who were skittled for 291 this morning. Cook was finally out – Morkel’s third victim – caught by Ashwell Prince off a weak pull shot after 136 balls and nearly four hours of resistance.

Bell (38), who had added 60 off 26 overs with Cook for the fifth wicket, was left to lead the resistance with wicketkeeper Matt Prior (6) at 133-5 and they had taken the score on to 154-5 without further loss midway through the final session.

But at least they had returned this Test to some sort of sanity. At the start of day two, South Africa lost four wickets in the first 17 balls for 12 runs to slump from 279-6 to 291 all out. Incredible. If all Tests went the way of this morning’s first four overs we’d see all four innings completed by lunch-time on day one with just over 100 runs on the board.

But Jimmy Anderson’s five wicket haul was soon forgotten as captain Strauss fell first over to Morkel for two. Trott stayed for 36 balls before he was bowled by Dale Steyn – the world’s top ranked bowler who doesn’t even open for South Africa any more – for 20.

The eternally disappointing Pietersen lasted just two balls before Steyn completed a neat caught-and-bowled duck. And when Morkel finally got rid of Collingwood, lbw, for 19 off 44 balls, England were in deep trouble at 73-4.

Cook showed them how to do it, refusing to nibble outside the off-stump and relying largely on the odd flick around the corner to add to his tally.

Just twice in 136 balls he actually played with any force on the off-side, and he had to wait until the arrival of non-spinning Paul Harris to slap two fours and raise the tempo with Bell often becalmed at the other end.

Labels: , collapse, england in cape town, , , newslands

Day Two: Seven South Africans fall. One Englishman. And this is a friendly track.

THERE have been very few days like this in Test cricket. Newlands echoed to the clatter of seven South African wickets before lunch and one Englishman after the break. And this, the experts assured us this morning, is a good batting track.

Day two of the third Test began with the last four South Africans dismissed for 12 runs in 17 balls. Three further South African-born Englishmen, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, fell as the tourists attempted to make headway on a supposedly friendly 22-yard-strip which has turned fiendish overnight (but the fans love it, see lunchtime picture).

Incredible. If all Tests went the way of this morning’s first four overs (five wickets, 23 balls, 14 runs), we’d see all four innings completed by lunch-time on day one with just over 100 runs on the board.

As it is, a semblance of normality has returned to this wonderful ground, nestled beneath the cliffs of Table Mountain. Alastair Cook’s on 31 and Ian Bell has just arrived at the crease. England are 74-4, still 217 behind, after losing Johannesburg-born opener Andrew Strauss for two, Cape Town-born fiddler Jonathan Trott for 20 and Pietermaritzburg-born waster Kevin Pietersen, brilliantly caught and bowled by Dale Steyn for a duck.

Paul Collingwood, batting with the left index finger he dislocated during the triumphant second Test in Durban, became the first English-born player to fall today, plumb lbw to Morne Morkel for 19 off 44 balls just after lunch.

England captain Strauss became the fifth victim of the day off the final ball of the first over of England’s innings, bowled by the excellent Morkel. It was a dreadful, flat-footed attempt at a drive which deviated firmly into the gloves of Mark Boucher.

But the real fireworks had already come and gone with the real South Africans.

Jacques Kallis? Gone to his first ball of the day on his overnight 108. Dale Steyn? He shuffled off cricket's mortal coil at the start of the next over. Morne Morkel lasted three balls, Friedel De Wet four. South Africa were all out for 291, 17 balls after resuming with their overnight 279-6. Incredible stuff.

South Africans were talking about their side getting to 350 with chanceless centurion Kallis and promoted paceman Steyn looking solid for 17 overs and 64 runs last night.

But this morning they were confounded on a day which, surprisingly, dawned bright and clear, without the usual 'table-cloth' of cloud rolling over Table Mountain.

After Steyn's opening leg bye off Graham Onions' first ball of the day, Kallis, the 34-year-old man mountain of South African batting who averages nearly 70 at his old home ground, may have been hoping to move close to a double century here.

But he received an unplayable snorter from the Durham seamer, got the edge to one that nipped away off a length, and Matt Prior took the catch amid much jubilation - 280-7. Big, big wicket.

Then came Jimmy Anderson's first ball of the morning from the other end. Kerpow! Steyn was gone, brilliantly caught in the slips by Jonathan Trott, playing on his old home ground.

The eighth ball of the day saw the demise of Morne Morkel, who was supposed to be able to bat a bit, again sensationally caught, this time at second slip by Graeme Swann, who dropped South African captain Graeme Smith so badly yesterday.

And we only had a wasteful Onions over to wait before last man Friedel De Wet went lbw to complete Anderson's five-wicket haul - even a last-gasp review couldn't save him.

Anderson ended with 5-63 after a fairy-tale morning which offered a return of seven balls, three wickets for one run. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Labels: , , , , neal collins at Newlands, second Test

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Second Test, final day: Two down, two to go. All over by lunch. Surely?

ENGLAND now need two more wickets on the final day of the second Test at Kingsmead. The county team-mates Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann have once more tied the home side up in Notts on the final day of the second Test, taken a wicket each.
Both now have four, South Africa are 118-8 still needing 112 to make England bat again.
South Africa needed another 155 when they finished on 76/6 last night - the umpires revised the score after play.
There was a bogus overthrow. The South African journalists in the box are calling, jokingly, for a replay. One precious run has been taken from Ian Bell's 141. One of unwanted single has been taken from Makhaya Ntini's bowling analysis of 29-4-115-0.
It won't make a difference. Graeme Swann has just got Morne Morkel plumb LBW, 86-7. Then, on review, Broad got Mark Boucher, clearly caught off the glove by Prior for 29 to make it 108-8.
This will be over by lunchtime and then it can rain as much as it likes and the umpires can wave their light meters about all they like.
Begone all those who said last night: "We can't lose from here." Of course we can't! It was always a win. Sure, Dale Steyn and JP Duminy turned the Boxing Day Test against Australian in Melbourne last year from a surefire defeat into an epic victory.
But not here, not now. England are made of sterner stuff.
Boucher and Morkel walked out to resume the partnership they began when their nation was teetering on the brink at 50-6 with the captain Graeme Smith shuffling back to the pavilion last night.
They added 36. As Graeme Swann began the second over of the morning, it was overcast but bright. England had a short leg, a gully, slip and a silly point. One squeezed through the gap. Agony. But then escstasy, Morkel goes, bang in front. Swann always takes a wicket in his first over on this tour. As Ian Bell said last night: "He can always make things happen, he's proved it again and again." In fact, Swann has struck four times in his first over and we're only two Tests in.
Boucher was next, gloving to Prior off the superb Broad (pictured above, asking unpicked Adil Rashid for a drink this morning) who is consistently beating the bat.
Paul Collingwood, who dislocated his left index finger in the warm-up yesterday, is apparently going to be fit for the New Year Test but Luke Wright is on for him. I've just seen him watching, powerless to intervene, from the dressing room.
Don't worry Colly. England are heading to Cape Town 1-0 up in the series. Fact.

Labels: , dramatic win, , , , , , neal collins in durban, second Test, sensational collapse, , worst day

Monday, 28 December 2009

Trott strolls off, few tears shed... and the Natal Mercury picks up my blog

JONATHAN TROTT, fast gaining a reputation as the slowest batsman in Test cricket, added just a single before he shuffled off cricket's mortal coil on the third morning of the second Test in Durban today.
Even the Barmy Army will shed few tears for the controversial Cape Town-born England batsman (right), who fell in the excellent Morne Morkel's first over after England had added just one run to their overnight 103-1, chasing South Africa's 343.
With the sun out in Durban after yesterday's gloom - the entire day was played under floodlights - Trott was caught behind for 18 off 31 balls by Mark Boucher and he departs with this second Test on a knife-edge.
And who better for England to call on than Pietermaritzburg-born "local" Kevin Pietersen, who immediately dispatched the half-fit Jacques Kallis for four at his old provincial ground. Alastair Cook, taking an age to find his form on this tour, remains stubbornly at the other end.

Trott, who took guard three of four times this morning and scratched a hole in the crease deep enough to replace some of the inland gold mines, had been the subject of some debate overnight.

South African batsman AB De Villiers said his team have had just about enough of the time-consuming fidgeting at the crease. And the crowd were growing angry about it too.

Team-mate Graeme Swann grinned: "It's not something he's been working on. I can understand South Africa's frustrations. I've called him all sorts of names for Nottinghamshire over the years. He's done it every year against me when I've played against him. It's nice to see somebody else getting angry about it!

"It's just Trotty; it's how he bats, how he goes about things. He's got a very organised and very clear gameplan. It's part of cricket. Not everyone bats at the same tempo. The crowd have noticed it but I think it may be something to do with where he was born as well."

De Villiers said: "Our captain Graeme Smith is dealing with it, and the umpires are aware of that. All our bowlers have got little rhythms in their run-ups and it's frustrating to them.

"Graeme is talking to the umpires and to Trotty as well. He's listening, but I think it's a tactic. We'll try and use it to our advantage tomorrow.

"It's a tactic that might get him into trouble soon if he carries on doing it."

With Pietersen batting at a reasonable rate... and finding the boundary, few tears will be shed for Trott's demise this morning.

And at that juncture of the east and south stands here, the Barmy Army are settling in with Jimmy Saville - real name Vic Flower - apparently fully recovered from the Boxing Day assault mentioned here yesterday. The Natal Mercury, the local morning paper I worked for from 1980 to 1983 - were on the phone three times yesterday about the story and ran it on their front page today.

Who needs newspapers when you've got my blog! That said, I'm off to the beach. It's hot!

Labels: ab de villiers, frustration, , , , , slow