8.4 overs: England 25-2 ( Denly 0, Root 6) A sigh of relief, as Root kisses a four through the covers, but respite is brief. He’s then has to perform some kind of pike leap, cut in half by a bouncer that rises off the pitch. Ye gods, then Rabada sends one short, and Root heads the ball off the top of his helmet to the boundary for four. And as Root is checked for concussion, they take DRINKS.
8th over: England 17-2 ( Denly 0, Root 2) Denly, 16 balls without scoring, is batting well out of his crease to Philander. Philander dangles the ball at various lengths, but Denly holds his nerve. Four overs, four maidens for Philander.
7th over: England 17-2 ( Denly 0, Root 2) Root runs through his multiple batting skills, ducking, diving, prodding, surviving. More Rabada magic.
6th over: England 15-2 ( Denly 0, Root 0) Denly somehow survives a Philander special, just escaping an lbw squeeze, then just nibbling, but not enough, at one on a perfect line. Philander and Rabada are quite the bowling double-act – one blows you away, the other dissects the remains.
5th over: England 15-2 ( Denly 0, Root 0) Rabada gave Sibley a thorough working over there, probing outside his off stump, though he did stray briefly onto his pads where Sibley nudged him through the onside for four. Then bang.
A suggestion for OBO over readers who like wallowing in England discord.
WICKET! Sibley c de Kock b Rabada 4
Oh dear. Sibley gets a sniff at a rocket slightly wide of the stump and pushes slightly desperately at it. He’s given not out but South Africa review straight away. Sibley then starts walking, but Denly calls him back, but Reiffel tells him to keep walking. Confusion a-go-go. Anyway, he’s out.
4th over: England 11-1 ( Denly 0, Sibley 0) Replays show the ball nicked Burns’s thumb as it went past. Such a peach from Philander, whose skills with the ball are pseudo-magical, especially against left-handers. Denly successfully plays out the rest of the over.
Burns c de Kock b Philander 9
Burns falls to his very first ball from Philander, a beauty, that rockets up from nowhere and Burns dutifully nibbles away.
3rd over: England 11-0 ( Burns 9, Sibley 0) Rabada is going for it here. Burns somehow, with a kind of twisted bat, directs a 90mph ball through gully for four. He looks awkward, but was ever thus, and how he’s compiled those runs.
2nd over: England 6-0 ( Burns 4, Sibley 0) Jelly babies and ginger nuts , Sibley plods forward heavily and gets within a lego brick of an edge to Philander. And so it continues.
1st over: England 6-0 ( Burns 4, Sibley 0) And just as it was in the South African innings, so it nearly was in the England innings. Rabada sent down a very full ball, that shaped in and Burns looked as if he’d got a tickle, he turned immediately to see the ball fall into de Koch’s gloves. He was given out on the field but, hesitatingly reviews, and it seems the noise was a foot or a glove. Not out. His working over continues for the rest of the over as Rabada sends down two no balls at top speed and hits him on the hip as he awkwardly twists. Advantage Rabada.
Four wickets each for Broad and Sam Curran. Let’s see what Philander and Rabada have up their sleeve. Rob Key has just suggested that Philander is similar to Darren Stevens…
South Africa all out 284
Just a sniff short of the 300 they were hoping for, we are about to see how good a score this is. Sibley, Denly, Burns – a top three to inspire what? Confidence? Trepidation? Lying down in a dark room? Another mince pie?
WICKET! Philander c Buttler b Broad 35
Philander reviews the most obvious caught behind since Burglar Bill broke into Burglar Betty’s house, for reasons currently inexplicable. And that’s that.
84th over: South Africa 278-9 (Philander 29, Nortje 0) Sam Curran is on the prowl for his fifth wicket, it would be his first Test five-fer. Nortje, not completely convincingly, survives the last four balls of the over.
83rd over: South Africa 277-9 (Philander 28, Nortje 0) Broad, long limbed, slightly rounded back, reels in and finishes off yesterday evening’s over.
Morning Tanya, writes Guy Hornsby, another great day of cricket in store. But with more players going down with this gastro bug it’ll be a miracle that it won’t affect the result, but it’s Friday so I’m being optimistic and saying we’ll have them out quickly and runs from Burns and Root today. The problem is that we said this in NZ and we folded, so we’re fragile. So it’s as likely 175 all out as 290-5, I’m afraid.
Did you know? writes Finbar Anslow, “that until yesterday three of the top ten run scorers in Australian test cricket played for Somerset?”
Ah, no. But I do now. Time for an emergency piece of toast and marmite. Hope that dog is behaving Graeme – you’ve got six minutes. ..
Graeme Smith, South African’s new interim director of cricket, is chatting to Ian ‘n’ Mike. His shoulders could have their own chat show.
“I was looking forward to being in the comm box, but South African cricket has got into a lot of challenges into the last while and I wanted to get in and see if I could make a difference and help. The biggest challenges? I’m still working to try and add a bit more intensity, a bit more experience, a bit more leadership.
[re Kolpaks] I think it is always difficult to stop guys going to earn a good living that comes their way – in many ways its a good thing for them but for us it is a big challenge. We’ve got to be able to give our guys a good living, the strength of our cricket willthen improve, and then work out transformation, how we brings really talented black Africans through.”
Graeme Arthur drops a note.
When does play begin? Have I got time to take the dog out?
And, out of interest, what would have happened if England had failed to field 11 fit players from their squad? Or, indeed, should a number of the current team have to leave the field? Is there a point beyond which play is abandoned / suspended?
You’ve got time for a quick stroll round the block – play starts at 8am GMT. As for the illness question, I think they could keep calling people up ad infinitum. Back in 1986, you could whistle for an old pro in a suit pressing the flesh in a hospitality box…
We’re on, Rob Key has ironed his shirt and is calling it “a crucial day.” Ebony Rainford-Brent praises Sam Curran.
Nasser Hussain and Ian Ward are out on the pitch in matching white shirts, no ties. The clouds are out, it is humid. Nasser says day 2 is the best day for batting. Shaun says said the pitch is as good as he’s seen it for a few years . The cracks in the pitch are not yet in play – too far outside off stump.
It is especially poignant to read the report on the future of the Melbourne Test while England play in South Africa. It was only a couple of years ago that all grade cricket had to be cancelled in the Cape Town area because of drought, and the touring Indians were donating money to water charities.
Drilling deep into the report, particularly prescient in Australia right now, with burning bush fires and controversy over the future of coal, it suggests that the Boxing Day Test will soon no longer be able to exist in its present form because of rising temperatures, and will have to be moved to the evening or a different time of year.
Cricket Australia’s response: “Cricket is played in different climates and countries around the world and it is committed to both addressing the impact of climate change and ensuring cricket continued to be played in Australia on December 26 for many years to come.”
Here is coverage from Day 2 of Australia v New Zealand and Travis Head’s century – as it happened.
Good morning everyone! An intriguing day ahead at Centurion. While we wait for the coverage to start, a couple of things. Firstly, there is more sickness in the England camp to report – now Mark Wood joins Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and two members of support staff in the sick bay.
Also, do read this important report into the future of the Boxing Day Test in this era of climate crisis.
Tanya will be here soon. Here’s Sam Curran’s thoughts on the first day of play:
“It’s been a tough week as a squad and we’re pleased how we’ve stuck together as a group. It was tough out there, warm with not much breeze. Of course we would like to have bowled them out by the close. But I would say it’s been an even day. [Quinton] de Kock played beautifully, yet all in all we’re pretty pleased.
“There was a special atmosphere out there with the band and the Barmy Army. It was pretty cool … There is some nice carry here so you can nick the batters off and there is a bit of variation in the bounce. Maybe we will need some different plans for Quinton in the second innings.”
Read more from Vic Marks here.