When the fifth day of a Test match has the right ingredients

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The fifth day of a Test can be dreadful. It can also be the best thing ever. When you get the right ingredients, it’s rich and intoxicating, like a creamy mustard sauce laced with smack.

The second (and final) Test between South Africa and Australia is set up perfectly. South Africa could win or Australia could win. Nor is a draw out of the equation and that’s a good thing. People talk about wanting a result, but a draw is a result and that extra layer of complexity is one more thing that affects the way in which play develops. The changing tones of the action are what make cricket what it is.

Then there are the subplots. The most significant is that of old man Ponting. The crease-faced munchkin is being written off because he’s not been getting into double figures of late, but the man’s always looked gash early on. He managed to get up and running yesterday and if he does so again, it’ll be fascinating to see how he does.

Follow today’s play in person, on TV, on the radio or via the internet. It will be better than whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing by some margin.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. I was supposed to be meeting Susanna Hoffs out of The Bangles for a pie and a pint followed by an afternoon of naked mud wrestling, but you’re last paragraph has killed that idea. Once she reads your article she’ll watch the cricket instead. There is no way she’ll turn up now.

  2. Certainly beats crossing London for my “appointment” at the apple store to have some goatie faced wassock in “triage” tell me that despite my ipad only having acracked screen it would need a complete replacement which would cost £240 plus VAT, but he couldn’t work the VAT out becuase he was no good at maths, which is what I did with my lunchtime. sorry, is this meant to be cricket related?

  3. 95 runs
    5 wickets
    38 completely hypothetical overs
    70 minutes (because of the 5 o’clock bad light, just like every other day)

    Given that Smith is in control of the bad light decision (a bouncer barrage from Steyn and Morkel will do it), it’s hard to see Australia getting the win unless they speed up. Maybe if they get to tea without losing another wicket…

    1. Good pre-empting Bert. I notice too that Australia have taken tea on 222. If they can get passed the double Nelson without losing any more wickets…

      Did it work??

  4. Yay! Go Australia(*), 9 from the first over after tea!

    (*) – I reserve the right to claim that this statement was made by someone else pretending to be me. Or that I was only doing it in a patronising and condescending manner.

    11 from over 2 so far!

  5. “Boy, I’m glad we only had two of these, so that we could fit in more one-day matches!” — Nobody

  6. Another utterly compelling end to a Test Match.

    35 needed from the tail
    Johnson needs a runner but can’t have one
    The best bowler in the world looking to get to 250

    If only we had Ravi Shastri to dramatise this for us

  7. Can I add that I am massively looking forward to the shot Haddin is going to use to give his wicket away

  8. Quote of the day from Cricinfo:

    “… Boy, what a Test match this is! Four seasons of the IPL couldn’t provide anything like this. “

  9. Christ that was extraordinary. Now, let’s find the administrators who scheduled a two-match series, and shoot them in the head.

  10. So this result means South Africa can’t replace England as World Number One Test Team until they tour us?

    Just wanted to check that.

    So England will remain World Number One Test Team?

    1. Yes, you’re right daneel. South Africa would have needed to win every match in their summer to claim the Number One Test Team before they play here, against the Number One Test Team.

      As a result of this match, England, the Number One Test Team, will remain the Number One Test Team at least until South Africa attempt to claim it off us (The Number One Test Team) next year.

      England*, incidentally, are the Number One Test Team.

      *The Number One Test Team

  11. By the way, has anyone noticed that KC hasn’t made a single comment on this thread? Which makes me suspect that this entire article was a ruse, designed to make us all stop what we’d planned to do and concentrate on the cricket instead.

    So that KC could slip off and take our places!

    Well I hope you enjoyed yourself, and that the mud doesn’t come out of your ears for weeks.

    1. You must be new here. The Cricinfo articles are not to be praised. Or read, for that matter. Only the comments are worthy of discussion.

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