13th over: South Africa 33-0 (Malan 16, Elgar 17) Shot of the morning, Elgar lashing Wood’s first ball through cover point. Not a lot of footwork but he nailed the timing. An encouraging start from a man who could really do with a Leo Sayer. Oh, hold that positive thought: he’s beaten wafting outside the off-stump to finish.
“Surely the most famous exact average is G. F. Grace’s 0.0,” notes Richard O’Hagan. “A pair on debut, fell ill during the game and died a fortnight later. It wasn’t his best month.”
Cripes. Oh, that gives me an excuse to relay something I found the other day! I’m sure somebody else has written about it before but, well, I’m happy with it. It relates to Wilfred Rhodes. We all know that he was playing Test cricket when he was nearly 53 years old. But how about this. His first Test Match in 1899 was WG Grace’s final outing, at Nottingham against the touring Australians. His last Test, in 1930, was the match where Andrew Sandham made the first triple ton (325) in Test cricket, against the West Indies in Jamaica. Isn’t that cool?
12th over: South Africa 29-0 (Malan 16, Elgar 13) Edge, four! Malan went at the cut with hard hands, angling his bat so the ball went over the cordon. Earlier in the over, he had to get through a shout for leg before from Woakes who jagged back at him off the seam, but it made contact outside the line. A bit more going on now.
11th over: South Africa 25-0 (Malan 12, Elgar 13) Wood is sure he has Elgar caught around the corner but it is turned dow! Technology confirms that there is no bat involved, it’s all hip/thigh pad. Root, once again, is right not to review. He’s already consistently beyond 90mph, building with each delivery. This’ll be fun.
“Morning Adam.” Hello, Chris Dew. “So you like right angles? The hotel 70 degrees in Colwyn Bay was anything but at right angles. Gone now, but I had many lovely afternoon teas there. At least Colwyn Bay still hosts the biannual thrashing of Glamorgan by Lancashire.”
We spent a weekend staying in Colwyn Bay (albeit in an Airbnb) just before Christmas, a Babymoon of sorts. Absolutely loved the two brewries and Snowdonia Ale at the Pen y Bryn. Looped around to Conwy, Llandudno, Snowdonia (albeit, without climbing), Angelsey and Denbigh – where many of my family are from. Indeed, that’s where my grandad, the old scallywag, evaded courtmartial after the war and met my nan. In short, can’t wait to get back!
10th over: South Africa 25-0 (Malan 12, Elgar 13) Chris Woakes bowled magnificently in the first innings for limited returns, especially when the game was there to be won on that second afternoon. He’s into the attack now, replacing Sam Curran. He’s right on the button here too. Nice start.
“Daniel Vettori has the most number of runs for a test batsman with an ‘exact’ average,” reports Ian Forth. “His is exactly 30.00. I made another slightly pedantic point to someone on a Guardian forum the other day and the reply came ‘You’re old, impotent and out of touch. Comes to us all eventually. There’s always steam trains and writing letters to the local paper. Now I’m going to make cheese scones with my daughter’. I was chortling so much I didn’t even bother reporting her for personal abuse.” Great stat… even better sledge!
9th over: South Africa 24-0 (Malan 12, Elgar 12) Mark Wood it is, to replace Stuart Broad. What a joy he has been to watch bowl, bat and talk over the last couple of weeks. Elgar gets one to begin the spell, out to cover, Malan forced to get out the way of a quick bouncer soon enough. He’s stroking them well this morning though, able to time the quick down the ground for a couple to finish his over.
8th over: South Africa 21-0 (Malan 10, Elgar 11) A productive start to the Curran over, Malan pushing a couple through cover then pushing one to midwicket. Elgar is in on the act too, clipping the third ball in front of the square leg umpire for four. Lovely timing. I suspect we’ll be seeing Mark Wood very soon.
“Morning Adam, morning everyone.” Good morning to you, Robert Ellson. “Have to say I have mixed feelings about Jerusalem. I was at the Galle Test last winter, where Billy the Trumpet played it from the top of the Fort, and the overall effect was both dodgily colonial and thrillingly magnificent. But I’m not sure he should go to his retirement without someone mentioning that he plays the wonderful solo at the end of this beautiful Divine Comedy song.”
Yep, it’s contested space, that’s for sure. Every major political party has used it at one time or another. In fairness to the Barmy Army (I’m sometimes a little nasty about them on twitter) the did start the Jerusalem thing. Per the piece I posted, it was their idea back in 1998, which the ECB picked up in 2003. The marketing boss at the time had been to watch some professional wrestling and decided the England team needed some walk-on music. And there it was born for home Tests.
7th over: South Africa 13-0 (Malan 7, Elgar 6) Sure enough, Broad beats Elgar with his first delivery, around the wicket in at the left-hander, tailing away in the manner he did so magnificently and repeatedly to David Warner during the Ashes. But the opener keeps his cool, pushing one from the next delivery to give Malan the strike. Broad is up for leg before to the right-hander with a ball that slips past the edge and hits the back pad from wide of the crease but it hits him well outside the line and is missing the off-stump. Root was wise not to entertain a review.
6th over: South Africa 11-0 (Malan 6, Elgar 5) Ooh, Curran finds Elgar’s inside edge when cutting and it was nearly all over for the opener – not far away from the woodwork. He’s off strike later in the over to backward point, which will now give Stuart Broad a chance at the left-hander for the first time in this innings.
5th over: South Africa 10-0 (Malan 6, Elgar 4) That’s a lovely cover drive from Malan, getting well forward to Broad and stroking him through the line out to the boundary. Earlier in the over the England cordon were up for leg before when he missed a flick but it was going to miss leg stump. The series might be over for South Africa but there’s plenty of time here for Malan to leave a lasting mark.
4th over: South Africa 6-0 (Malan 2, Elgar 4) Curran beats Elgar to begin with a delivery moving away both in the air and off the seam. He has another little victory later in the over when finding his leading edge, which spits out through the cordon for four. We talked a lot about Denly and Butter’s need of runs yesterday and the same applies to Elgar. His decline is getting problematic.
“Morning Adam.” Hello, Michael Anderson. “On the topic of Philander’s pleasingly rounded stats, a score of 56 not out or 81 out in this innings would leave him with an overall test average of exactly 25. Unlikely perhaps but would be nice.”
That’d be a thing of beauty – 5000 runs conceded; averaging 25 when batting. I’m one of those aforementioned weirdos who likes/craves/needs even/round numbers. And right angles, much to the enduring annoyance of my partner.
3rd over: South Africa 2-0 (Malan 2, Elgar 0) South Africa are off the mark via Malan, who tucks a couple off Broad through midwicket. It’s a less probing over than his first, the opener able to shoulder arms for the most part.
I spent some time in the pub after the second day of this Test with Daniel Norcross and Andy Zaltzman trying to work out how many wickets Stuart Broad will finish with. We landed on 560. The assumptions: he’ll play every Test in England over the next two years but only every other in India/Australia during the winter. And I can’t imagine why they would take him to Sri Lanka in March – let him rest.
2nd over: South Africa 0-0 (Malan 0, Elgar 0) Slammin’ Sammy Curran has the new ball from the other end, as he has throughout the second half of this series. He’s generating some nice shape away from Elgar from the get-go, the opener defending when he has to and leaving the rest outside the off stump. Nice.
An old/discontinued email address of mine was featuring at the top of the page earlier today, which is fixed now. Hit refresh for it to automatically correct on your browster. If you want to get in touch at any stage, this is how you do it.
1st over: South Africa 0-0 (Malan 0, Elgar 0) Nice and full from Broad to begin, which is always encouraging. He beats Malan’s inside edge to finish, whacking into his back pad. There’s half an appeal but it is going well over the top. Nice start.
There is a lot of love for Jerusalem as Billy the Trumpeter enjoys his final rendition before ‘retiring’ in his role. Four years ago, I spent too much time going back through the history of the poem, looking at how it became England’s cricket anthem. The piece featured in The Nightwatchman and is online these days.
The players are on the field. Stuart Broad has the new ball, Pieter Malan the man facing up first. Three slips and a gully are his catchers, a short leg too. PLAY!
What a gem from Andrew Samson. Of course, this is Vernon Philander’s final Test, which prompts plenty of discussion around stats. But they don’t get much better than this for those of us who always have their TV volume on multiples of five.
An email from overnight to get us going. “All this mention of what we can and can’t hear on stump mic brings to mind some of the epic exchanges that we heard in the early days during World Series Cricket,” writes Scott Probst. “The best, and least repeatable were the conversations between those two poets Dennis Lillee and Garth Le Roux. Kept us up nights at boarding school, waiting for those two to go at it from either end of the pitch.”
This always comes up in South Africa. I remember (fondly?) when Australia visited for the first time since readmission in 1994… you could hear everything. Shane Warne and Merv Hughes would have faced lengthy bans by today’s standards.
“It’s not a minefield,” says Athers of the track on TV, “but there’s plenty there for the bowlers.” Indeed, there’s a healthy string of cracks at one end. Joe Root walks up and takes a look. “He’s the new Jim Laker,” Athers adds. The Sky coverage, both their callers on the SuperSport team and panels in London, has been excellent.
Hello and welcome to the fourth day at the Bull Ring – the fourth and final day if the visitors have anything to do with it. They would never admit as much, but surely on days like today they arrive thinking about how wonderful life would be if they could wrap up the match half an hour before tea before settling into a lengthy session as the sun sets on the series and their successful Test tour.
England have earned themselves a finish like that, just as their South African hosts are deserved the drubbing coming their way. It’s a simple game now, Joe Root’s men needing ten wickets to salute 3-1 with two full days to go. For Faf du Plessis’ charges, their target is 466 – colossal. So, the best they can do is resist and hope for rain. Indeed, they need to do what England did to them at this ground in 1995, but I can’t see any Mike Athertons floating around in this Proteas’ dressing room.