England v South Africa commentary

Last updated: 6th August 2012  

England v South Africa commentary

Match Drawn The handshakes come now. Credit to both sides for making some effort to make a game on the final day but it was ultimately the draw that has looked the likeliest result for most of the game. An almost entirely even Test match after the one-sided affair at The Oval. With no rain, we may have seen England needing, say, 270 to win on the final day. Which would've been something very special. But it wasn't to be, and so we head to archery and occasional cricket ground Lord's for the final Test with England still ni with a chance of retaining their number-one status.

Over 33 - England 130/4 (Trott 30, Bell 3) Trott leans into a classical cover-drive to collect four career-statistics-massaging runs. Might as well.

Over 32 - England 126/4 (Trott 26, Bell 3) Trott clips Morkel away for a couple of runs before edging wide of third slip for four. If Smith will insist on prolonging this match, then he could at least have the decency to put seven slips in place. Trott gets a single to long-leg. Long-leg! Why is there a long-leg?

Over 31 - England 119/4 (Trott 19, Bell 3) Kallis now bowling bumpers at Trott with a short-leg in place. Hopes that bad light might allow us all to go home to our mothers fade as the evening sun comes out again.

Over 30 - England 118/4 (Trott 19, Bell 3) Another over ticks by, but Smith isn't ready to call this one yet. The umpires may yet take it out of his hands; they've called for the light meters.

Over 29 - England 118/4 (Trott 19, Bell 3) Kallis seemingly suffering no ill-effects of that back spasm, which is good news. They can be funny things, I'm told. Can linger for days or clear up overnight. Kallis' appears to be in the latter category. Ten overs to go. I'd expect handshakes if there isn't a wicket in the next one.

Over 28 - England 118/4 (Trott 19, Bell 3) Bell blocks out a maiden from Morkel. The thrilling intensity of the last couple of hours has gone now. Don't think the handshakes are too far away. Been a surprisingly fascinating end to the game, though. Athers points out on commentary the seemingly obvious but oft forgotten (by us all) fact that a Test match is very, very long. That six-wicket afternoon session for England managed to revitalise a game that seemed absolutely dead.

Over 27 - England 117/4 (Trott 19, Bell 3) Kallis into the attack, which is unexpected. Looks a fraction easier for Bell and Trott, who collect a few singles, but it's good news for South Africa to see Kallis back bowling ahead of next week's Lord's Test.

Over 26 - England 115/4 (Trott 18, Bell 1) Smith still refusing to attack. Shows his declaration with only Imran Tahir to come wasn't really that positive. Don't think he thought England would make any kind of tilt at the total and just wanted to stop them taking 20 wickets. There's still a ring field and only two slips as Bell edges just short of that man. Fine, aggressive over from Morkel even if it wasn't fully backed up by his captain. Couple of painful blows for Trott to take on the body after Bell scurries a leg-bye.

Over 25 - England 114/4 (Trott 18, Bell 1) Trott plays out a maiden from Philander. Fourteen to go.

Last hour We're now into the last hour - 15 overs to go. Captains can shake hands on a draw at any stage from now on. Won't happen for a while, though; South Africa fancy it. One more wicket in the next half-a-dozen overs and things remain interesting. Or 'terrifying' if you support England.

Over 24 - England 114/4 (Trott 18, Bell 1) The number of possible results drops to two. Bell's instructions quite clear as he plays out a maiden over with watchful blocks and leaves.

Over 23 - England 114/4 (Trott 18, Bell 1) Bizarre field from Smith here. Clearly not convinced England won't get these runs as Philander has just one slip, a gully, and a ring field. Can't understand that. England have given up the chase. Get the men in the cordon and around the bat.

Over 22 - England 112/4 (Trott 17, Bell 1) Short ball from Steyn flicks Bell's hip and doesn't quite carry to De Villiers. Bell's faced five balls and already been whacked on the finger and the bony part of the hip. They're chipping bits off him. Steyn absolutely steaming in round the wicket to Trott with a short-leg and leg-slip in place. Trott forced to jerk his head out of the way of a corking bouncer and suddenly this looks tricky for England. Required rate's gone above eight an over, but I think you can forget about that now. Six wickets in 17 overs is the stat that matters.

Over 21 - England 110/4 (Trott 16, Bell 1) Bell's approach will tell you what England's plan is now. Suspect it's shut up shop time, but it's been brave from England to continue their chase this long. Such a shame that Prior ran himself out. Another quickfire half-century from him would've been just the ticket. He was seething as he walked off. Early alarm for Bell as Philander gets the ball to bounce alarmingly and catch the glove but it flies to safety behind square for a single. Trott calmly clips to leg for a couple. Doesn't seem too bothered by that run-out fiasco. He's back in his bubble.

Over 20 - England 106/4 (Trott 13, Bell 0) Ian Bell is the new batsman. Still 19 overs to go. All things still possible, but an England win now the outsider of three.

WICKET! Prior run out (Smith) 7 Shocking piece of cricket from Trott and Prior. Trott hits Steyn for four through point, two through midwicket and then works the ball to leg for an easy single. But the batsmen think there's a second run there. They're really, really isn't, but by the time Trott sends Prior back it's too late and he's run out by a foot despite a despairing dive. Suddenly it's South Africa sniffing victory.

Over 19 - England 99/3 (Trott 6, Prior 7) Prior looking busy as he cuts and sweeps for singles as Tahir continues. Trott doing his bit with singles as well before Prior gets a sweep away fine to the boundary. Risky sweeping out of the rough, but it's just about Prior's only boundary option unless Tahir bowls a bad ball.

Over 18 - England 91/3 (Trott 4, Prior 1) Prior in at five for England. Loads of rattle from the South Africans as he comes to the middle. Both sides still fancy this. Fascinating stuff. England need 162 more from 21 overs.

WICKET! Cook c Rudolph b Steyn 46 A message came out to Cook and Trott from the dressing room while the ball was changed in the middle of Steyn's over. Very much doubt the instruction was hit the next ball into the hands of cover, but that's what Cook's done as he tries to work the ball into the legside and gets a leading edge. All four results still possible here.

Over 17 - England 88/2 (Cook 45, Trott 3) It's a tease of an innings this from England. They're just about keeping the required run-rate to something that could lead to an interesting last-hour dart.

Over 16 - England 82/2 (Cook 42, Trott 0) England won't give up the run-chase if they keep getting deliveries like this. Another full-toss, and Cook takes a different and more successful option than Strauss by slog-sweeping over midwicket for six.

Over 15 - England 76/2 (Cook 36, Trott 0) Trott's the new batsman. Think England may decide to halt the run-chase. I think that's at least one and probably two or three wickets too early. Required rate's still barely above seven with a host of stroke-playing batsmen to come. Cook, meanwhile, extremely lucky to escape an lbw decision after playing back to Tahir. South Africa review, but Cook survives on an 'umpire's call' verdict on the impact point being in line with the stumps.

Over 14 - England 75/2 (Cook 34) Interesting to see who England send in now. Will give us an idea of their intentions. I'd be inclined to save Trott should a 'dig in' be required later. Strokemakers for now, for me, starting with Bell.

WICKET! Strauss c&b Duminy 22 Unbelievable. Another full-toss does the trick as Duminy ends his first over with a loopy delivery that the England captain miscues straight back into the bowler's hands.

Over 13 - England 71/1 (Cook 34, Strauss 19) Tahir into the attack. Harder for him to kill the run-chase with two left-handers in. With a right-hander, he can bowl round the wicket into the rough and remove a lot of scoring options. Easier for the southpaws to knock him around for singles and pick up the rest of the runs they need with the no-balls Tahir bowls seemingly every over.

Over 12 - England 65/1 (Cook 32, Strauss 17) England just about keeping the target run-rate in close-enough order to allow Prior and co to have a risk-free dart in the last hour. This could still be sensational, you know. Cook gets four with an edge through the slips and you wonder when the Proteas will decide to stop trying to score points and start to trying to preserve their 1-0 lead.

Over 11 - England 59/1 (Cook 27, Strauss 16) A firm Strauss drive is parried at cover to allow a single before Cook, still looking in busy one-day mode, flicks away fine on the legside for two and then out to deep square-leg for a single. A short, wide delivery from Morkel gets the treatment from Strauss and the target is now below 200.

Over 10 - England 51/1 (Cook 24, Strauss 11) Cook punches Steyn off the front foot through the covers for four and the flicks through midwicket for two more.

Over 9 - England 44/1 (Cook 18, Strauss 10) Sensational over from Morkel, going past Strauss' outside edge twice in succession and then beating the inside edge with one that passes just over the off bail.

Over 8 - England 43/1 (Cook 18, Strauss 9) Steyn into the attack after Philander rather lost his way. Couple of uncomfortable legside singles before Cook clips rather more pleasantly to deep square-leg for another. Strauss scampers a second leg-bye in the over. Extras have been England's friend in this match.

Over 7 - England 39/1 (Cook 17, Strauss 8) Good over from Morkel, who is keeping a lid on things rather nicely since the first-over fireworks. Just a leg-bye from it.

Over 6 - England 38/1 (Cook 17, Strauss 8) Loose from Philander here, allowing Cook to clip off the pads for four through square-leg and then carve a wide ball over gully for a single. A Strauss cut shot to deep point makes him the second England player in this match to reach 7000 Test runs. Philander's line all over the place here, bowling everything either on the pads or short and wide. Not the right options to these two - or indeed any - left-handers and there are nine runs from the over. England need 215 more from 33 overs. Based on the over-rates of this Test so far, we'll still be playing at 8pm if this goes the distance.

Over 5 - England 29/1 (Cook 11, Strauss 5) Cook works Morkel into the legside for a single, but it's a quiet over after the craziness of this post-tea session.

Over 4 - England 28/1 (Cook 10, Strauss 5) Wondered whether England might be tempted by Bell or even Prior at number three, but it's Strauss who strides to the middle. If England are going to go for this, it'll be after a period of consolidation. Strauss off the mark, though, as he flicks a full, swinging delivery to long-leg. Cook picks up a single with a thick outside edge past gully. Philander ends the over - or thinks he does - with a very short bouncer that sails over Strauss' head and is called wide. And the extra ball is pulled to the square-leg boundary by Strauss. Game still moving forward...

WICKET! Pietersen c Tahir b Philander 12 That might be the end of England's dip at this target. Pietersen miscues an attempted pull shot to Imran Tahir at mid-on. The ball was there for the shot as well, he just didn't get hold of it.

Over 3 - England 21/0 (Pietersen 12, Cook 9) Morkel bowls down the legside, but it's not a wide. Just one of the many, many things that makes this run-chase harder than the ODI equivalent. England still up with the rate, though, as Cook again back-cuts to great effect to keep the ball away from the point sweeper.

Over 2 - England 17/0 (Pietersen 12, Cook 5) Cook into the action now, back-cutting Philander for the fourth boundary of the innings. A clip to long-leg brings a single.

Over 1 - England 12/0 (Pietersen 12, Cook 0) Here we go. Morkel to Pietersen, and KP lands the first blows by flashing a couple of boundaries behind square for four. England up with the rate! Free entry to the ground, by the way, after 5pm. Which is now. Twelve runs from the over as Pietersen hammers the last ball of the over to the cover fence. Game on? Surely not.

Opening up Pietersen opening the batting with Cook. Massive fan of that from England. Great response to Smith attempting to throw his weight around with a nine-down declaration. Fantastic mind games going on here.

Target England need to score 253 runs or survive 39 overs, depending on your position on the glass half-full/empty spectrum. South Africa have been poor this afternoon; shouldn't have given England a single sniff. Although a corollary of their own batting failures is that they've given their bowlers a sniff. Would be entertaining if England sent Pietersen out to open the batting.

South Africa 258/9dec Psychological point-scoring going on here. Smith declares at the fall of the ninth wicket. Stops England bowling South Africa out, suggests they're happy with the position but also worth remembering that South Africa's number 11 is Imran Tahir...

WICKET! Morkel c Cook b Broad 10 Morkel flays a couple of offside boundaries as Broad attacks him with the short ball before holing out to Cook at midwicket. Five wickets for Broad.

Over 67 - South Africa 249/8 (Petersen 15, Morkel 2) South Africa still going for their shots, Morne Morkel slogging a short ball up into the air and just clearing a back-pedalling Taylor running back from midwicket.

WICKET! Steyn c&b Anderson 3 Stunning from Anderson! Steyn punches the ball back towards Anderson who sticks out a left paw in his followthrough and pouches a superb catch. Hasn't caught anything in this Test but has just produced something quite magical.

Over 66 - South Africa 247/7 (Petersen 15, Steyn 3) Petersen makes his intentions clear, hobbling down the track and smacking Broad over midwicket for four. Quick runs snuff out any lingering threat of English miracles.

Tea A cracking session for England - six wickets for 116. Admittedly one that would've been far more use to them this morning, but they've at least got something to take with them to Lord's.

Over 65 - South Africa 239/7 (Petersen 10, Steyn 0) Petersen and Steyn survive until the tea break and have probably removed that slight glimmer of hope Broad gave England wih his four-wicket burst.

Over 64 - South Africa 234/7 (Petersen 5, Steyn 0) Hostile maiden over from Broad, who has burst into life with a staggeringly good spell. He has a habit of doing this.

Over 63 - South Africa 234/7 (Petersen 5, Steyn 0) If England can get two wickets in the next two overs, tea will be delayed. Could be something sensational in the offing here. But probably there won't be. Petersen can't run, but can smack long-hops to the point boundary.

Over 62 - South Africa 230/7 (Petersen 1, Steyn 0) Dale Steyn blocks the last ball of the over. Still 47 overs to go in the day and South Africa lead by 224. There's just - just - a game still on here.

WICKET! Kallis c Prior b Broad 27 Another one for Broad! If England could've had this session this morning instead of this afternoon... Kallis almost falls hit wicket after pulling to square-leg, before failing to get his gloves out of the way of another short ball and punching the ball through to Prior.

Over 61 - South Africa 226/6 (Kallis 23, Petersen 1) Anderson back. Kallis drives to deep point for a single.

Over 60 - South Africa 225/6 (Kallis 22, Petersen 1) A slight victory for England here; they've got Kallis and Petersen batting today which neither of them would've particularly wanted. Don't think England need to be tight on the quick singles here.

WICKET! Philander lbw b Broad 6 Bowling full and straight(ish) continues to do the business for Broad as he jags one back to hit Philander in front of off stump. Would've gone on to hit middle just under the bails.

Over 59 - South Africa 223/5 (Kallis 21, Philander 6) Eye-catching shots on both sides of the wicket from Kallis as he drives through the covers for four and then clips wide of mid-on for three as Jonathan Trott gives chase. Philander keeps the strike with a quick single. There are 50 overs left in the day's play. Can't see South Africa even thinking about a declaration for another 15.

Over 58 - South Africa 215/5 (Kallis 13, Phlander 5) Philander off the mark with a thick outside edge wide of the slips off Broad. Best weather of the Test now, by the way.

Over 57 - South Africa 209/5 (Kallis 12, Philander 0) Maiden over from Finn. He could do with a couple of wicket here; looks certain either he or Bresnan will miss out at Lord's.

Over 56 - South Africa 209/5 (Kallis 12, Philander 0) No hat-trick, Philander calmly blocking a good-length ball. Watching replays of Duminy's dismissal; he got his feet in a horrible tangle.

WICKET! Duminy lbw b Broad 0 Two in two balls for Broad as JP Duminy is trapped plumb in front by a full delivery. Hawk-Eye said the De Villiers one was just sliding down leg, but no problem with this one. Vernon Philander to face the hat-trick ball.

WICKET! De Villiers lbw b Broad 44 Broad back into the attack and removes De Villiers, who inexplicably plays all round a straight one and misses. Should slow South Africa's progress anyway, which will at least reduce the amount of time England's batsmen spend facing a no-win examination this evening.

Over 55 - South Africa 205/3 (De Villiers 41, Kallis 12) De Villiers plays another gorgeous back-foot drive for four off Finn, showing his own quality and how true this pitch remains. Dead ball! Here we go again; Finn knocks the bails off at the non-striker's end and Rod Tucker signals dead ball.

Over 54 - South Africa 200/3 (De Villiers 36, Kallis 12) Kallis smashes a six over long-on as Pietersen gives up 11 runs in the over to allow South Africa to reach 200.

Over 53 - South Africa 189/3 (De Villiers 32, Kallis 5) Finn completes his over to allow Kevin the Destroyer to get back to work demolishing South Africa's batting order.

Over 52 - South Africa 185/3 (De Villiers 28, Kallis 3) After a triple ton in the first Test, Amla has now been dismissed by a run out and a full-toss. Cricket can be an odd one. Kallis fit enough to bat just one place below his normal spot in the order, and he promptly edges wide of slip to get off the mark with three.

WICKET! Amla c Cook b Pietersen 28 This is getting silly now. Big, loopy full-toss from Pietersen and Amla slaps it straight to Cook at cover. No-one can quite believe that's happened.

Over 51 - South Africa 179/2 (Amla 27, De Villiers 28) The fifty partnership comes up in just 51 balls as Finn replaces Bresnan.

Over 50 - South Africa 178/2 (Amla 27, De Villiers 27) What today has shown, I think, is that KP has underperformed as a bowler in international cricket. He is far more talented than eight wickets at 100-odd apiece suggests. All right he lacks the control of a specialist and will go for a few runs, but no reason why he shouldn't have been a genuine part-time option with 50 or 60 Test scalps to his name.

Over 49 - South Africa 171/2 (Amla 22, De Villiers 25) Three dropped catches for Anderson in this game. Symptomatic of a curious sloppiness in England's fielding throughout the summer. Difficult to say what's caused it, but standards have slipped.

Over 48 - South Africa 170/2 (Amla 22, De Villiers 24) In the middle of an over chiefly containing pies slapped for four by Amla, Pietersen induces an outside edge from De Villiers that Anderson puts down at slip. Regulation chance, and the sort Anderson normally swallows. Think he was caught dozing there.

Over 47 - South Africa 160/2 (Amla 13, De Villiers 23) De Villiers continues on his merry way with a crunching pull shot off Bresnan.

Over 46 - South Africa 156/2 (Amla 13, De Villiers 19) De Villiers keen to get this lead up to safety in a hurry. Maybe the chance later for South Africa to have 20 overs of bowling and see if they can't land a few more blows of their own. A punch off the back foot brings two runs before a reverse-sweep bounces away to the fence. AB already 19 not out off just 12 balls.

Over 45 - South Africa 149/2 (Amla 13, Dev Villiers 12) Good over for De Villiers, who punches Bresnan for two classy offside boundaries off the back foot before collecting three for a cover drive that has Broad sliding to keep inside the boundary.

Over 44 - South Africa 135/2 (Amla 10, De Villiers 1) Amla serenely drives Pietersen through the covers for four. Important, because it means KP's Test bowling average is once again into three figures after a brief but glorious foray into double-figures after that Smith wicket.

Over 43 - South Africa 129/2 (Amla 5, De Villiers 0) Maiden over from Bresnan mainly spent trying to pick the bones out of Smith's downfall.

Stats England wickets at The Oval: two. Pietersen wickets at Headingley: three.

Over 42 - South Africa 129/2 (Amla 5, De Villiers 0) Curious wicket, that, it must be said. The feeling is that Davis gave it out because he thought it hit the glove on the way out while third-umpire Asad Rauf has upheld the decision because of the mark on the bat caused by hitting the boot.

WICKET! Smith c Taylor b Pietersen 52 Another for Pietersen! Not sure it's the right decision, though, with Smith given out caught at short-leg and then eventually deciding to review it before inconclusive Hot Spot pictures lead to the original decision being upheld. There is a mark right at the bottom of the bat, but it looked more likely to have come from hitting boot or pad than ball to me. But the delay before a slightly confused-looking Smith went for review is another piece in the puzzle. As is the ball hitting the arm guard as it loops off the pad. Umpire may have thought it hit the glove there.

Over 41 - South Africa 129/1 (Smith 52, Amla 5) Bresnan goes past Smith's outside edge with a good one pushed across the left-hander before a legside clip brings a single. Terrible misfield from Broad at mid-off allows Amla to pick up four for an off-drive.

Over 40 - South Africa 124/1 (Smith 51, Amla 1) Pietersen continues and is absolutely convinced he's had Smith caught behind. Matt Prior convinced as well, but Steve Davis shakes his head. Instant review from England, but replays suggest daylight between bat and ball, while there's nothing on Hot Spot. Smith just clipped the bottom of his pad with his bat, which is presumably what made England think there was something more going on. Excellent delivery, though, spinning sharply to beat the edge.

Over 39 - South Africa 123/1 (Smith 50, Amla 1) Bresnan starts the afternoon session with a maiden over to Hashim Amla.

Lunch That wicket in the last over of a rain-interrupted session has only raised more questions. What if? This game now a stick-on draw, with only personal milestones and stat-massaging to play for.

Over 38 - South Africa 123/1 (Smith 50, Amla 1) Perhaps it's a genius selection from England. Who needs Swann when you've got an off-spinner who gets left-handers out in his first over and also scores brilliant hundreds. Smith gets two runs from the last ball of the over to reach his half-century.

WICKET! Rudolph lbw b Pietersen 69 Kevin Pietersen into the attack and immediately rips a big-spinning off-break past Rudolph's edge and into the back leg. Steve Davis happy that's going on to hit the top of middle-and-off, and Hawk-Eye agrees after Rudolph reviews. This is good for England, and this is bad for England; good that they've finally got the breakthrough, but bad because it does rather raise questions about their team selection. Bresnan has bowled three overs in this innings, and a part-time off-spinner has picked up two wickets with big, big turn.

Over 37 - South Africa 119/0 (Rudolph 69, Smith 47) Tim Bresnan into the attack for the first time, and he almost gets Smith as for once an edge carries to the slip cordon but Anderson can't hold on one-handed low to his left.

Over 36 - South Africa 115/0 (Rudolph 68, Smith 44) Two boundaries in the over for Smith, taking advantage of the fact there's no fielders straight. The first is a miscued pull that dribbles to the long-on fence, the second a crunching drive off a long half-volley.

Over 35 - South Africa 106/0 (Rudolph 67, Smith 36) South Africa lead by 100. England's plan to get the South African batsmen to use up all their lives before Lord's going quite well, but they could probably do with getting one of this pair out now so that someone else can use up all their lives.

Over 34 - South Africa 104/0 (Rudolph 67, Smith 35) Rudolph suddenly looking less comfortable now England are going at him with a short ball. Shame they waited 30 overs. He fends to leg for a single. Smith slashes a cut to third-man to keep the strike.

Over 33 - South Africa 102/0 (Rudolph 66, Smith 34) Anderson continues the short-pitched assault, clanging the side of Rudolph's lid before another outside edge bounces short of the slips and beats Pietersen's half-hearted fielding effort to bring four more runs and the hundred partnership.

Over 32 - South Africa 96/0 (Rudolph 61, Smith 33) Cracking stuff from Finn. From nowhere some real aggression from England, with Rudolph mis-hooking a bouncer and somehow getting the ball to safety at long-leg before the left-hander fences at a length ball and sends it between slips and gully at catchable height for four. An uncertain defensive prod crashes into Rudolph's body off the inside edge, and there is at least something for the Proteas to think about now. Good stuff from Finn.

Over 31 - South Africa 90/0 (Rudolph 55, Smith 33) Smith blocks the last ball of Anderson's rain-interrupted over.

Restart Back out we come. About 35 minutes now until lunch.

Covers Coming off now.

Roped Don't worry. Everything's going to be fine. There's a rope going round the outfield. All is well.

Rain stopped play Ludicrous weather here. The sun is still out and, just as the covers were wheeled on the rain stopped again. The players looked like they would get back out into the middle and then it started raining again and now the covers are on. Still bright sunshine.

Over 30.5 - South Africa 90/0 (Rudolph 55, Smith 33) Sun's out, but it's started raining and the players are trudging off the field again.

Over 30 - South Africa 90/0 (Rudolph 55, Smith 33) England would've hoped that even if they couldn't force a victory here today they would at least land a couple of psychological blows. They haven't. South Africa have regained the control that KP snatched from them on Saturday.

Hours of play Lunch has been moved to 1.30pm, with tea now at 4.10pm and the close at 7pm.

Over 29 - South Africa 85/0 (Rudolph 55, Smith 28) Another outside edge fails to travel any distance in the air, and finds the gap between second slip and gully to hand Rudolph another boundary. Anderson ticking. Some talk on comms of getting another slip or two into position, but is there any point if nothing's going to carry?

Fifty for Rudolph, and an excellent one it is too. Forced up the order in trying circumstances and he's battled through tough times and cashed in on any runscoring opportunities that have come his way. Knows how to bat at Headingley, does Jacques. Gets to his half-century in fittingly stylish style with a cut carefully placed behind point with Finn bowling way below his top pace in his second over of the day. Struggling to crack 80mph which is a worry.

Over 27 - South Africa 76/0 (Rudolph 47, Smith 27) Curious atmosphere at Headingley. After the raucous antics of the last few days the Western Terrace an eerily quiet, desolate place today. Even the carcuses of failed beer snakes have been cleared away.

Restart Play about to resume at Headingley. Point-scoring all that can be done from here on in. South Africa scoring more of them at the moment.

Progress It's not raining right now, and the covers are coming off. It rained way, way harder yesterday and we managed to get play under way quite quickly so a restart shouldn't be too far away.

Lord it Well this one's a draw. Might be time for England to try and at least take a couple of confidence-boosting wickets but no time now to force a result. Thoughts turn to the final Test at Lord's, and it'll be interesting to see what state the ground's in after all the Olympic Big Darts. England would love to turn up and see a green-top.

Update Looked like this might be a brief shower, but it's still coming down and more covers are coming on.

Rain stopped play A shower arrives to interrupt play. Could probably do with staying and putting this game out of its misery.

Over 26 - South Africa 76/0 (Rudolph 47, Smith 27) Finn into the attack, and Rudolph whips him through mid-on for four. The lead now 70.

Over 25 - South Africa 69/0 (Rudolph 42, Smith 25) Anderson almost suckers Rudolph with the three-card trick. Bouncer, bouncer, full outswinger but just passes the outside edge with the batsman only half-forward.

Over 24 - South Africa 69/0 (Rudolph 42, Smith 25) Poor bowling from Broad after his excellent last over. Two wide half-volleys cracked away by Rudolph, the first for the always-popular all-run four and the second reaching the boundary. A punch down the ground brings Rudolph a single and makes it 10 runs from the over. Runs are a factor here; the bigger South Africa's lead, the less time they have to bat. Their lead is now 63 and the draw grows ever more inevitable.

Over 23 - South Africa 59/0 (Rudolph 33, Smith 24) I remain astonished that we haven't seen a team ripped apart in a session-and-a-half in this Test. There's been something in this pitch for the bowlers throughout; can't remember a game with so many plays and misses and edges falling short. Been a frustrating game for bowlers.

Over 22 - South Africa 58/0 (Rudolph 33, Smith 23) Couple of encouraging signs for England here as Smith is beaten by a lifter from Broad and then gloves another just out of the reach of leg-gully. An outside edge then drops short of Anderson at second slip. So many catches have dropped short of the cordon in this Test, but Prior, Strauss and Anderson really couldn't be much closer in there. Excellent over from Broad, but South Africa's lead now up over 50. Time slipping away.

Over 21 - South Africa 54/0 (Rudolph 32, Smith 21) Fifty up for South Africa thanks to some more legside accumulation from Smith before Rudolph cracks a square-cut for four more. Main point of excitement is that a couple of the big tent pegs used to hold the nets up for morning practice have not been removed from the field. Steve Davis now carrying them around like a confused festival-goer.

Over 20 - South Africa 47/0 (Rudolph 28, Smith 18) Another lovely shot from Rudolph, driving Broad this time to the right hand of mid-off and making good enough contact to pick up four. If you've anything to say on the day's play then drop an email to Dave.Tickner@sportinglife.com

Over 19 - South Africa 43/0 (Rudolph 24, Smith 18) There is more than one way to score Test runs. Smith gets his first of the morning with a crabby, unattractive squidge into the legside before Rudolph drives elegantly, languidly and effortlessly through mid-off for three.

Over 18 - South Africa 39/0 (Rudolph 21, Smith 17) Encouraging start for England as Stuart Broad gets one to fly and jag back past Jacques Rudolph's inside edge. The pace of it takes Matt Prior by surprise, with the England keeper unable to gather cleanly.

State of play South Africa lead by 33 runs with all 10 wickets in hand. There are 98 overs scheduled in the dayKallis can't bat for about another half an hour (I think) after the time he spent off the field yesterday. Alviro Petersen is injured but will bat if need be. England need 10 wickets in, what, 50-55 overs? And for it not to rain.

Injury update Jacques Kallis feeling better today, apparently. Think England missed their chance yesterday via a combination of South African stubbornness and unpleasant weather.

Weatherwatch There's been some rain around this morning with the covers on at one point, but for now it's dry and we're all set for a prompt start at 11am.

Reveal That old man? It... was........ me. Day five of the second Test. It's going to be a draw unless something silly happens.

Welcome The scene: a dark, dingy drinking hole. The time: 50 years from now. An old, wizened man sits drinking alone in a corner. "Don't approach him," cautions one observer. "No," says another, "Buy him a drink and he'll tell you such tales of the Fabled Lost Test of Leeds." "That's just a myth," snorts another. The old man raises his head. "Tis no myth, lad," he says, his voice cracking but strong, defiant. "I seen it." "Tell us old man, is it true that in the Lost Test there was a batsman no bigger than a child?" "Aye, Diminutive James they called him. Had the shiniest helmet and proudest nose in the land and he Batted Solidly in Support of KP." "Oh yes, KP. Don't they say he played one of the great innings in the Lost Test." The old man smiles at the memory. "Buy me another cup of firewater, and I'll tell you how he smote the mighty Steyn straight back over his head, and how the Lost Test was washed away by a mighty storm summoned up by the demonic Ale Serpents worshipped as gods by the strangely attired shamen of the Western Terrace."

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