30th over: South Africa 123-3 (Markram 32, Van der Dussen 5) Santner tosses one up to Markram outside off, and he’s having no such thing, cleansing him through cover point for four. Van der Dussen then turns one away fine for two and that’s a bit better from South Africa. They used to say that you double the score at 30 to get an idea of what a team’ll get after 50 – there’s no way that’ll be enough here.
29th over: South Africa 115-3 (Markram 27, Van der Dussen 2) The pace of Lockie Ferguson is not really what you want when you’re a middle-order batsman looking to play yourself in but with runs needed quickly. But that’s what Rassie van der Dussen has got, and he quickly gets down the other end thanks to a leg bye. The batsmen then swap singles, and this is great for New Zealand.
“Should Chris Morris come in next with a brief to play a T20 innings,” asks Gary Naylor. “In that format, he strikes at 150+, so (say) 40 off 25 balls would transform this innings. As it is, he’ll come in at 8 either in a collapse or without time to make an impact. A wasted asset.”
Yes, South Africa are getting to that point – when the scorecard came up, I was looking at how they might rearrange to get things moving before they’re got moving, and that’s one way.
28th over: South Africa 112-3 (Markram 26, Van der Dussen 1) Van der Dussen gets off the mark with a single.
Drat and double drat.
WICKET! Amla b Santner 55 (South Africa 110-3)
Trouble for South Africa! Santner coaxes turn from a full one that pitches middle, as Amla looks to play a run-down; he misses and loses his off bail! That a really good ball – the bounce was what killed the batsman there.
28th over: South Africa 110-2 (Amla 55, Markram 25) Santner has 0-20 off five; this platform has gone up more slowly than Wembley Stadium.
27th over: South Africa 107-2 (Amla 55, Markram 22) Talking of sportsfolk’s phrase making, as we were, Mark Nicholas has just noted that Lockie Ferguson – who’s back on – “bowls a fast cricket ball”. NFL types never call the the ball “the ball”, it’s always “the football”; is this to somehow assert extra and specific importance via an official, formal title? Markram takes two into the off side, then Amla drops and runs. A wide and further single follow.
26th over: South Africa 102-2 (Amla 54, Markram 19) This is a belting spell from Santner, who’s just turned Markram into a cat. Sorry, I’m currently reading the Worst Witch series, which isn’t bad though not up there with Michael Hardcastle. Four singles off the over.
“A-level physics students had to be told that the circuit needed to be complete?” asks Tom Carver. “Perhaps the deputy had been on his way to have a quiet word with Mr Armstrong’s about his teaching ability.”
25th over: South Africa 98-2 (Amla 52, Markram 17) Amla is 45 from 73 here – that’s a lot of dots. Does he make sure he bats long; does he get going or get out? He takes two into the off side, then raises his fifty by flipping four past mid on … just. “At his best, he’s close to incomparable” says mark Nicholas. Is that possible? Can one be semi-comparable?
24th over: South Africa 91-2 (Amla 45, Markram 17) South Africa are “just letting Santner bowl” as they say. Amla takes one down the ground, then Markram pushes and Williamson dives, stops, rolls and throws … Santner isn’t quite behind the stumps, so has to drag it onto them and Markram gets home on the dive. He celebrates by clouting a half-volley for four, and South Africa are just tickling the gas.
23rd over: South Africa 84-2 (Amla 43, Markram 12) Simon Doull wants Latham up to the stumps, and then Markram comes down and takes one on the pads. “Any international keeper worth his salt would be at the stumps right now,” fumes yerman as they chap a leg-bye. Glorious. Five off the over.
22nd over: South Africa 79-2 (Amla 41, Markram 10) Four singles added to the total – this isn’t so intense now, and is dallying around the “one for the purists” territory. But we’re still set fair for a thriller.
“Peter Salmon’s pub based cricket game sounds like fun,” emailes Brian Withington. “I was wondering about the scarcity of scoring threes and discovered that in York there’s a pub near the Minster called the Three Legged Mare, known affectionately as the Wonkey Donkey. Presumably sighting the Fox and Hounds would cause heated debate about the size of the pack?”
Which brings us back to Rory Stewart. Mornington Crescent!
21st over: South Africa 75-2 (Amla 39, Markram 8) De Grandhomme tanks through another one, conceding just two. This is like the 1992 World Cup final.
“A-level physics,” says Smylers, “the teacher (Hi, Mr Armstrong) arrives to find some of my classmates connecting the 5000 volt (but very low current) power supply to the door handle. Naturally he admonishes them, pointing out that for somebody to get a shock they’d need to be completing a circuit by touching two separate objects. So we ‘casually’ position a trolley near the door, and send a pupil out the fire escape to go round to the main door and see whether somebody entering would naturally push the trolley with one hand while still touching the door handle with t’other. While he’s out, we connect black to the door handle and red to the trolley. Our tester’s about to reach the door when … the deputy head cuts in front of him. The circuit worked, but the unimpressed deputy head did ask the teacher to step outside for ‘a quiet word’.
Superb – A-level physics lads were lads.
20th over: South Africa 73-2 (Amla 38, Markram 7) Santner rustles through another over unmolested – who are South Africa going to go for? It’ll take a serious bowling performance to win this with 270ish.
19th over: South Africa 71-2 (Amla 37, Markram 5) De Grandhomme, who wrestles crocodiles in his spare time, barrels in and crumps Amla on the pad first up; they think about a review, but it was perhaps going down … no, hitting the top of leg so umpire’s call. Amla then nabs a single and that’s it for the over; it’s a bit Test-match, this – South Africa need to get a wriggle on if this pitch is as good as we’ve been told.
“I’m able to watch live cricket for the first time in a good decade. I’m sure this has been noted before, but Colin de Grandhomme is big chap, isn’t he? Are there any other appropriately named cricketers?”
There are some good ironically-named footballers – Melo, Bravo, Noble, and such…
18th over: South Africa 69-2 (Amla 36, Markram 5) Santner comes on for a tweak and they knock him about for three. I reckon South Africa will be looking for 300ish here.
17th over: South Africa 66-2 (Amla 34, Markram 4) They’re struggling to get De Grandhomme away, and after Amla adds one more, he finds the away movement to beat Markram outside off. That’s drinks.
16th over: South Africa 65-2 (Amla 33, Markram 4) Ferguson begins with a bouncer and really, it’s odd how few there’ve been given how quickly how soft the white ball gets. Amla snatches a single thereafter, before Markram gets away with a drive through cover . I’m not certain he got all of that, but the big stride and bat speed forced it to the fence anyroad.
“Your story about the prank by the teacher,” says Sean Cunningham, “reminded me of a time when I was a little distraught at school and took out my anger by writing a bad word on the bathroom mirror using soap; realising someone was in the stalls I scarpered. A minute later the head boy charged into the common room demanding everyone empty their pockets to see if anyone had the ‘chalk’ use to write the word; guess what I had in my pocket?”
Gray’s Sporting Almanac?
15th over: South Africa 60-2 (Amla 32, Markram 0) This, right here, might just be the match. If these two can’t build something, this innings could well struggle. De Grandhomme into the attack and induces one play and miss from Markram after Amla adds a single. He needs to make something substantial from here.
WICKET! Du Plessis b Ferguson 23 (South Africa 59-2)
Hit that! Ferguson sends down the first bumper of the innings, then flings down an absolute jazzer of a yorker, hissing, spitting, screeching and screaming past the bat and into off stump. That was a sensational delivery – you’d be pleased with it.
14th over: South Africa 59-1 (Amla 31, Du Plessis 23) More short ones reckons McCullum, but instead Ferguson bangs in just back of a length and Amla’s middling them now, bumping three to wide, deep third man. And have a look! Another wide one, and Fafz doesn’t need to be asked twice, absolutely clouting four through cover to raise the 50 partnership. “We’re seeing signs that this pitch is a good one,” laments McCullum.
13th over: South Africa 52-1 (Amla 28, Du Plessis 19) Another for Henry, and this is a decent over for South Africa. A single to Du Plessis gives Amla strike and he drives uppishly for three before Du Plessis glides through mid off. De Grandhomme chases like billy=o, dives well … and following a prolonged study, has not, in fact, saved four.
“Sorry me again,” says Peter Salmon, “but I have to ask the question we all want the answer to: HOW DID BEN POWELL GET A SKELETON KEY FOR ALL THE INTERNAL DOORS OF THE SCHOOL?!!! Surely that is the dream of every schoolboy. Could he also make himself invisible to steal stuff?”
I have a key yarn. I was once approached by a teacher, who told me he fancied playing a prank on one of my mates, so could I come up with something. I took his keys and put them in my mate’s pocket. My mate’s then sat in his next lesson and who should arrive but the teacher looking for his keys and the deputy head. “I don’t have them says my mate”; “Alright then, turn out your pockets.”
The teacher hasn’t though through this part of it, so ends up having to tell the deputy head, his boss, that actually it was all a joke. The deputy head took it well, as deputy heads are wont do.
12th over: South Africa 44-1 (Amla 25, Du Plessis 14) Ferguson replaces Boult – I daresay Du Plez and Amla in particular will be getting a close look at the maker’s name. Amla takes his loosener for one, you bet he does, and Du Plessis then slices a single to third man. Amla then takes two to point, which gives him a magical, mortifying 8000th ODI run. Only Kohli got their quicker. Amla is an absolute boss.
11th over: South Africa 40-1 (Amla 22, Du Plessis 13) Henry continues and finds some nice shape away – Du Plessis is tempted, but just pulls away at the last millisecond. These lads are so very very good. Another maiden.
10th over: South Africa 40-1 (Amla 22, Du Plessis 13) Du Plessis, who takes a big stride down the track and clumps through mid off. He doesn’t get all of it and the face closes in the process, but it speeds to the fence nonetheless … and after a dot he gets all of the next one, wide, short and clattered through cover. A
single follows, and I’m pretty sure South Africa would’ve took this at the start of the powerplay.
9th over: South Africa 31-1 (Amla 22, Du Plessis 4) Well look at that. Henry swishes through a maiden, but this has the look of a match that’ll be decided by wickets not runs.
“I can’t blend riffs like Abhijato,” says Ben Powell, “though I can ‘boast’ of the experience of earning a suspension from school for the crime of possessing and using (and being caught with) a skeleton key to all the internal doors of our school. I was going to describe this as the tip of the iceberg, but it was more the straw that broke the camel’s back, I feel, which other straws are probably not fit for publication in a newspaper of the Guardian’s standing. Unfortunately the suspension was in February, and I don’t recall any tour games happening at the time, and, in fact, have little memory of the extra time off, other than the prolonged (28 years and counting) bollocking it earned me from my parents.”
At least your dad wasn’t the deputy head of the school which felt such antipathy towards you, eh.
8th over: South Africa 31-1 (Amla 22, Du Plessis 4) In commentary, McCullum says he’s not sure New Zealand should’ve fielded, and Amal shows why! First, he transfers weight beautifully to drive four through cover point and then, when Boult goes around, he strokes through mid off for four more. Now he’s in! Those were vintage! He adds a single for good measure, and already this could be a key partnership.
7th over: South Africa 22-1 (Amla 13, Du Plessis 4) This is great stuff, tough, absorbing and intense – 50-over cricket is absolutely bazzing – if South Africa can refrain from collapse, we could have waselves a serious ball-game. Du Plessis edges two – Ferguson does very well to save the boundary – and both these batsmen are in but not in at all.
“Did anyone else used to play car cricket?” asks peter Salmon. “Very simple, runs were scored based on how many legs the character in the name of a passing pub had – Red Lion was four, the swan was two, etc. Royalty, King’s Head and so on, was out. I think we had more byzantine laws that gave ones and sixes. Had the astonishing effect of making a dull car ride just that little it duller.”
Gosh, where did you grow up? Ottley or Kings Street? In my ends we had to make do with toilet cricket.
6th over: South Africa 20-1 (Amla 13, Du Plessis 2) Boult is grooved, another fuller one drawing Amla’s desperate glance; it misses and he wears a knuck on the pad, but outside leg – and we see the ball was missing leg stump too. But from here it looks a matter of time. Amla, though, is fighting, and twists two when Boult strays straight.
5th over: South Africa 18-1 (Amla 11, Du Plessis 2) Henry finds some swing off a fuller one to spirit one away from Amla, who drives airily. He’s not in nick at all, and unlike in Tests when you can perform a Strauss career-saver simply by not giving it away, there’s nowhere to hide over 50. But he adds three next ball, the only runs from the over.
“Goochie should also be remembered for being the father of the term ‘daddy hundred’” emails John Starbuck. “Perhaps lasting cricket fame is more about contributions to the language than for actual athletic feats?”
Yes, agreed – it’s funny how language permeates. I was late to the pub the other day so naturally informed I was playing catch-up. Who knew that Henry Kelly was shaping our interaction at the same time as celebrating European differences and integration?
4th over: South Africa 15-1 (Amla 8, Du Plessis 2) Another quietish over, just four from it – it’s funny really, for all the master blasting at the top – and surely that’s what Stevie was talking about – now it’s serious we’re back to the wickets in hand. The more things change and all that.
3rd over: South Africa 12-1 (Amla 5, Du Plessis 2) One off the over, a single to Amla driven into the covers. I wonder If Amal Clooney types Amla as often as I’m typing Amal.
Look at Abhijato Sensarma, effortlessly blending two riffs. “Many cricketers from the subcontinent,” he says, “(where English isn’t a native language), especially in the good old days, have one common reserve phrase which they use as a reply to all questions asked in a foreign accent they can’t comprehend – ‘The boys played well’. It’s one of the things everyone knows and laughs about, both in as well as outside the professional cricketing circle. A few years ago, when our biology teacher asked my witty classmate a question none of us knew the answer to, he stroked his imaginary beard for a while, then sagely said – ‘Ma’am, the boys played well’. He ended up getting a school, um, ‘vacation’ the next day, but it was a shared classic moment in all of our childhood highlights reel.”
My word, if that was the standard for suspension, how was anyone ever there?
2nd over: South Africa 11-1 (Amla 4, Du Plessis 2) Du Plessis drives to extra cover and they take a second – presumably at Amla’s behest, given the look he receives – and Du Plessis has to charge home. That should have blown the cobwebs away.
WICKET! De Kock b Boult 5 (South Africa 9-1)
No there will not! Boult is full of length, gets a little bit of nip off the surface as De Kock makes room to drive, and that’s all he needs, stumps splattering like broken fingers.
2nd over: South Africa 9-0 (De Kock 5, Amla 4) Boult is fairly charging in, but his third ball slants across De Kock and he glances it for four more. I doubt there’ll be many more of those.
1st over: South Africa 5-0 (De Kock 1, Amla 4) De Kock has a nervous flail at Henry’s second ball, doing well to avoid edging; he quickly chases down the other end with one into the leg side. Amla is then served a gift, on the pads to flick for four, and he’s away.
“A leak in my bathroom has led to me working from home this morning,” exculpates John Butler. “So now obviously watching the build up and ‘working’. Interesting to hear Amla is struggling to deal with the short ball after being hit by Archer just prior to the World Cup. Stuart Broad has never been the same batsman after he got a double black eye by the ball that got through his grill. I also got hit in the face when I was 14, which I blame for both ruining my chances of becoming an international sportsman and model. When I got hit, I just naturally reverted to playing off my back foot for what must have been a year. I wondered whether professional cricketers get counseling about this sort of thing because it’s a little like mild PTSD. Or, perhaps, even hypnosis would be useful as a therapy?”
I’m sure it’s available to them, but we’re dealing with hardwired stuff – I remember accidentally turning the hot tap on my daughter when she was less than a year old, and she baulked every time I went near it for quite some time afterwards.
Out come De Kock and Amla, the former in form and the latter so out of it he’s forgotten that good form even exits.
South Africa: Amla, De Kock, Markram, Du Plessis, Van der Dussen, Miller, Phehlukwayo, Morris, Rabada, Ngidi, Tahir.
New Zealand: Guptill, Munro, Williamson, Taylor, Latham, Neesham, De Grandhomme, Santner, Henry, Ferguson, Boult.
“I remember that Gooch catch,” tweets Mr D Johns, “and it was one of the moments that made me fall in love with the whole absurd ‘circus’ (thanks, Richie Benaud). Weird the clip is labelled as lucky when there are at least 2 moments of athletic brilliance.”
Yes, agreed – it should not be forgotten that Gooch was a more than useful footballer and on West Ham’s books.
“Re cricketer placeholders,” tweets Jim Baxter. “It’s an obvious one, but the Australian tendency to start every sentence with ‘ah, look’ seems to be spreading to cricketers of other nationalities.”
I’ve read Carter Beats the Devil – I heartily recommend – so think this is what they call misdirection. Keep your eyes on the hands at all times.
And for anyone old thinking yeah, whatevz, seen that before – well you have.
“I’m sure Ian Rubenstein’s school pastime can be adapted to the 21st-century workplace PowerPoint cricket,” says Adrian Armstrong. “A single per bullet point, 2 per hyperlink, 4 for an image, 6 for embedded video. A wicket falls, naturally, at the end of each slide. Refinements welcome.”
I’m Theodore Donald Kerabatsos here, but think we need to allocate runs for particular phrases: blue sky, imagineer and such.
Faf du Plessis would also have fielded, but hopes that the blue sky will help the ball come on nicely. He says that the win over Afghanistan was good for self-belief and has made one change: Lungi Ngidi is back, but we’ve not yet been told who he’s replacing.
New Zealand win the toss and will field.
They’re unchanged, and Kane Williamson notes that they’ve gone 11 days without playing.
It’s sunny and all, so here we go to Mark Nicholas, resplendent in, er, petrol blue.