Play abandoned for the day
And that’s it. The rain has not relented, and with an hour or so until the close, play has been called off for the day, which might just help South Africa’s chances of avoiding defeat in a match in which almost nothing has gone for them thus far. Which will mean the world’s No1 Test side will have failed to win either of their home series this season, though some of the blame for that must go to the idiot schedulers who deemed a series against India worth only two Tests, and one against Australia only three. And with my current pet cricketing rant out of the way, I’ll bid you good day/night/afternoon/whatever. Thanks for sticking with it, and the team will be back tomorrow. Bye.
On patience: the need for, during OBO rain-breaks
This Movement Needs Discipline, reckons Robert Wilson: “You should not reward that flibbertigibbet Starbuck for straying onto the OD! OBO,” he says. “That encourages faithless permissiveness. The hardy, the Luddite, the frankly strange will stay with you. Rain is nothing. Don’t be afraid. I’m here. We‘re here. If we can’t manage a couple of hours of futile F5ing during a rain spell, Test cricket will not see the end of this decade.”
Maybe so, but I hope comrades will permit me a perfunctory public information announcement, to relay the fact that West Indies are 41-3 after 12 overs in The Other Place, and Simon Burnton can tell you more about it here.
… and John Starbuck can’t even respond to a simple request for a yarn or two.
“Oh, I don’t have any stories to tell,” he confesses, “I just wanted an OBO record. We readers don’t have statistics compiled about us - number of contributions per session, riffs started and so on - though I expect Gary Naylor, Mac Millings and Sarah Bacon could come up with a few figures. It would be a pretty pointless exercise but that is at least something in these conditions.”
Have you known us to be averse to “pretty pointless exercises”? Some OBO Banter* Stats might make interesting reading.
* Except we’re above calling our sharp, quickfire exchanges “banter”, obviously.
“Tom, Simon,” yelps John Starbuck. “As this is possibly the first time there have been simultaneous OBOs, the challenge falls to readers to get on both of them simultaneously, too. Any chance?”
Go on then John, but there’s nowt happening here. So tell us a story.
Prospects of play latest:
Dale Steyn news
The latest is that the South Africa pace bowler is ruled out of bowling in this innings (no surprise there) and will undergo a fitness test before the start of the second, Cricinfo reports. Newlands is now drizzly and deserted.
Pour your misery down
It’s still raining. Frustrating for the Australians, and the spectators, though perhaps not the South Africa bowlers, given the two days they’ve had. So what’s to do? What do people do to while away the time when they’re at a ground and the heavens open? I once saw a pretty competitive actual game hastily cobbled together with umbrellas (bat), tennis ball and bin (stumps) in the Western Terrace concourse at Headingley during a rain-ravaged England v Zimbabwe ODI in 2003. Or do you just scurry off to a nearby pub to do yourself some damage?
Over in the West Indies, England have won the toss and decided to bowl. Simon Burnton will gratefully receive your insights on that one over here.
In the meantime
Get a load of that Morkel spell at Clarke again, which now seems several days ago given the state of the match, and the Australia captain’s score, but is pretty essential to understanding just what a fine innings it has been.
Or whatever time it is wherever you are.
It’s still raining at Newlands, so who knows what state the groundstaff are now in - I’m imagining the scene in which the child, and the goat, and the nurse get lodged together in the Tunnel of Goats in that episode of Father Ted - but there’s exciting team news from the Caribbean where Lancashire’s spinner Stephen Parry has been granted his England debut for the second ODI. You can blether about that here, of course.
Some reading material for the rain delay
That’s it from me. Thanks for your company and make sure you stick around for the final session, during which Tom Davies will join you.
That is tea
With that rain lingering the umpires have decided to take an early tea and leave us to the serious business of laughing at ground staff.
More ground staff magic
David Cotton has a great addition to the ground staff fun. I actually saw the exact same thing happen at Yankees Stadium last year. It got bigger cheers than Derek Jeter.
The lead balloon
I chose to read this entry from James Steerforth with the theme tune from Curb Your Enthusiasm playing in my head. “I was waiting at the bar of a rugby club in North Sydney, at which I tended to spend most lunch hours, when I looked to my right and realised the man next to me waiting for his order was Mark Ella,” he says. “I mumbled something stupid about the Wallabies’ current form and was a bit nonplussed when he offered a curt “yes” and then turned around abruptly and went back to his friends. I was feeling a bit peeved about his rudeness until I realised he was at a wake.”
Smooth work, James.
Actually this one is even better
A thankless task
One bloke was actually being dragged along on his stomach as the cover acted like a sail.
More Warwick Capper
Don Oliver says, “On the subject of Warwick Capper and catching a ball, OBOers of the non-AFL ilk might be interested in some context. Check out the link below for examples of Aussie Rules marks (catches) and hairstyles through the ages…note the recurrence of the word “ripper” to denote something really, really good. Like Michael Clarke…”
I really want to paste the clip that Don has suggested but I will leave that to intrepid YouTubers and instead go with a blast of Warwick’s minor pop hit, ‘I only take what’s mine’. There is some footy in it too, after all.
128th over: Australia 490-7 (Clarke 161, Harris 4) - rain stops play
As Ryan Harris takes guard for his first delivery from Philander some very dark clouds are beginning to hover over the ground. Harris takes the paceman on and watches a top edge fly over the head of de Villiers for a boundary.
With that the umpires decide they’ve seen enough drizzle and call the ground staff onto the ground to cover the pitch. It’ll be no mean feat because the covers are being blown all over the shop by these strong winds.
127th over: Australia 489-7 (Clarke 160, Harris 0)
The Johnson dismissal finished the over so now is a good time to cut back to Pepp Fitzgerald with a celeb spot. It’s not a sports one, but I’m still letting it through.
“I once run over Mel Gibson on my bicycle,” says Pepp. “he wasnt too pleased.. he had a farm up in Yackandandah in those early days of fame, my dog flew out of the basket and went him, I was so rattled, I knew I knew him but thought I’d seen him as wicket keeper in a local match the previous week! Mel wasnt interested in my gibbering explanations. He curtly told me to conrol my dog and ride my bike on the road in future... which of course , I have done.”
OUT! Johnson c de Villiers b Duminy 0 (Australia 489-7)
Well Duminy has four now and this is getting a little ridiculous. The faint edge was there and Johnson has to go.
JP Duminy and AB de Villiers now believe they have Johnson out caught behind down the leg side. In the absence of skpper Graeme Smith the pair call for the review.
WICKET! Haddin c Amla b Duminy 13 (Australia 489-6)
Haddin’s lean patch continues with the keeper somewhat lazily slapping Duminy straight to a juggling Amla at mid-off. That one came against the flow of a short but very comfortable stand between he and Clarke. Like Watson, Haddin might rue the missed opportunity to ammass some cheap runs.
126th over: Australia 486-5 (Clarke 158, Haddin 12)
Haddin welcomes Philander back into the attack by slamming the paceman into the gap between mid-wicket and mid-on, with a boundary taking him into double figures and also reminding us that Philander is now past his ton, a truly rare sight in the Test arena.
Nicholas Darling wants to know why keepers wear pads. “Has anyone seen a keeper’s pad’s defend an otherwise shin-shattering blow?” Erm, yes. Yes I have.
125th over: Australia 480-5 (Clarke 157, Haddin 7)
JP Duminy continues with little penetration into a strong breeze, enabling Clarke and Haddin to push singles in a quiet over.
Greg Potter stooged himself. “My tale’s lamer than most,” he says. “12 year old me was catching the tram home from the MCG with my dad after a Richmond game (his team) and I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw that we were sitting opposite a sports legend and one who I was dead keen on, Keith Greig - a dual Brownlow medallist by then. Dead-set legend. For some reason, he was also sitting with his dad. Go figure. Anyway, I mustered up my courage and asked him for his autograph. My dad looked unaccountably uncomfortable, given that he’d helped me get autographs from such luminaries as Ron Barassi and Malcolm Blight in the past. Keith whispered to Mr Greig, and it’s possible that a glance was exchanged with me Da. Keith signed my autograph pad, I thanked him profusely, and it was about 6 years before I twigged that I’d hassled some poor bugger with a carrot-top and a passing resemblance to a legend.”
124th over: Australia 478-5 (Clarke 156, Haddin 6)
Clarke brings up his 150 by slinking onto the back foot and depositing Abbott for a boundary to the on side. His pull shot is then replayed with an added gun-shot sound effect as the ball strikes the blade, a genuinely odd production quirk of this South African telecast. As that happens we see the first drops of rain for the day and high winds cause an issue for Umpire Dharmasena, who has something in his eye. The rain clouds look threatening at this point so we could be due for a delay soon.
Art Vandelay has a very niche sports star sighting. “back in the 90’s i was playing beach cricket with some mates on the gold coast. “Warwick Capper walked past and asked if he could play for a couple of overs. A catch was hit in his direction, and as he went to take it he jumped in the air and yelled out “CAPPER!” - that story will mean nothing to international readers but Australians from AFL states will love it. We don’t discriminate here. All sports are welcome, no matter how provincial.
123rd over: Australia 471-5 (Clarke 149, Haddin 6)
A bowler down and with his side losing enthusiasm by the minute, Graeme Smith perserveres with JP Duminy. That’s all fine by the new man Haddin, who slams him over mid-wicket for a boundary.
Graham O’Reilly has a stat that makes for good reading to Aussie eyes. “I see that Australia have at different times in this innings been 1 for 111, 2 for 222, 3 for 333 and just now 4 for 444. At this rate they’ll get to 10 for 1100 some time late Monday. That should be enough.”
122nd over: Australia 467-5 (Clarke 149, Haddin 2)
With Abbott still plugging away, Clarke is in pursuit of his 150 milestone and has no such nervous trembles as those that preceded his century.
Pepp Fitzgerald is back and says, “I got lucky last night, Russ... I could get lucky again, Pup keeping at it, and Watson.. can never tell with Watto though.. could be good, could be maddening...”
Pepp then sends me a favoured cover of Get Lucky and I think it might be a wind-up...
121st over: Australia 466-5 (Clarke 149, Haddin 1)
There is an interesting start to the over as Vernon Philander’s throw from the deep is not backed up by the bowler Duminy, who probably should have taken the stumps and run Brad Haddin out. Haddin had actually given up on it, he was that far gone.
Robert Wilson is in need of salvation, though clearly hasn’t seen any West Indian fast bowlers out on the town because he would have blurted the anecdote out straight away. “The sun is splitting the trees here in Paris and I have a hangover that could sell sponsorship rights. I woke up to no milk for my coffee and a very serious assault by my cat. I turned fifty on Monday. My question is this. Where is Geoff Lemon? I want Geoff Lemon. Geoff Lemon can save me.”
I think he’s back tomorrow, Robert. Have a Lucozade and some grease.
120th over: Australia 462-5 (Clarke 146, Haddin 0)
Clarke is in super form now and strokes a truly delightful cover drive for a rare boundary against Kyle Abbott. The latter might be tiring after a day and a half of luckless toil.
Now this is a stat...
119th over: Australia 457-5 (Clarke 141, Haddin 0)
If Darren Lehman’s theory that a laughing team is a winning team holds true, then Australia might win this game in a canter. With cameras catching Shane Warne dozing off again, Warner, Harris, Johnson and even skipper Clarke in the middle are all in stitches at the sight of old man Warnie having a a nanna nap on the big screen.
Watson’s wicket is followed by a single to Clarke, as ‘keeper Brad Haddin joins him at the crease.
WICKET! Warson c Amla b Duminy 40 (Australia 454-5)
Having slog-swept Duminy for a towering six, Watson holes out to Amla at deep mid off and shakes his head ruefully as he trudges off. Many more runs were there for the taking, to be truthful. Watson knows it.
118th over: Australia 448-4 (Clarke 139, Watson 33)
Has anyone else got an impressively unimpressive tale of meeting a sports identity? Some of the ones that came through after I’d logged off last night were genuinely impressive.
Back at Cape Town, Clarke rolls his wrists over a pull shot out to the deep after Abbott bowls a rare half-tracker. That matters not to the camera crew, who are too busy getting a good shot of David Warner using a roll of elastoplast like a monocle. Genius all round.
117th over: Australia 446-4 (Clarke 138, Watson 32)
When Watson isn’t flogging Duminy over the fence he looks at sea against the very gentle spin on offer, getting off strike with miscued heave to the leg side. Clarke is more orthodox, getting a decent stride in before his lovely forward defence comes into play. Duminy is operating with Graeme Smith at a very wide slips position and there’s a brief break in play when heavy gusts of wind force the umpires to bring out the ‘heavy bails’.
So am I actually...
116th over: Australia 444-4 (Clarke 137, Watson 31)
Abbott, who has genuinely impressed me so far despite failing to pick up a wicket, resumes after lunch to Clarke and is straight on the money again. Those three maidens he bowled while the Aussie skipper was stuck on 99 were everything his own captain could have asked of him and built an almost unbearable amount of pressure on Clarke.
His fourth delivery here draws and edge from Clarke but the bowler can only watch on in frustration as it drops short of Faf du Plessis at gully.
115th over: Australia 444-4 (Clarke 137, Watson 31)
“That’s right out of his bracket,” bellows Mark Nicholas as Shane Watson slog-sweeps JP Duminy for a huge six to get us underway. It’s followed by a straight one, which only just eludes the outstretched arm of Hashim Amla before bouncing once over the rope.
Out of his bracket? Really Mark? Blimey...
Just a little bit about me..
Not only have Australian broadcaster cut to tourism advertorials and a rugby show, they’ve pinched my twitpic of Damien Fleming and claimed it as their own. Cheeky.
Meanwhile, Clarke and Watson are now jogging onto the ground and we’ll be underway shortly.
Over Rate Gripes
The oddly-named Rocket Rocket writes in with a peeve. “How is it possible for SA to only bowl 26 overs this morning?” he asks. “Abbott 6, Philander 6, Morkel 6, Spinners 8.And Abbott’s six overs went for a total of ONE run, surely speeding things up.And there was only ONE wicket to fall. What is happening?Is SA in some strange space-time discontinuity where time is running at a different rate?”
Well, it’s not fast Rocket, but it’s no worse than expected. I always bank on around 27 overs in the first session these days and I can understand that the Proteas are hardly keen to rush through things. It’s nothing compared to the Windies teams of the late 80s, that’s for sure.
Right as I type that the Australian broadcaster is showing highlights from one of those glorious South Africa v Australia encounters featuring Andrew ‘Ronald’ McDonald, who was my spirit animal though Victoria’s decade of (relative) domination in Australian domestic cricket. It’s cruel that he only played 4 Tests. Not as cruel as if he hadn’t played any at all though, I suppose.
Here are my observations from the first session:
- Michael Clarke has played a truly special innings, once that I simply couldn’t envisage when he was being physically annihilated by Morne Morkel in the middle session yesterday. I’ve always considered his physical bravery one of his most undersold traits but that was something else. As it stands it could be a match-winner and it’s all uphill now for the Proteas.
- I want to get a tattoo of Steve Smith’s lofted straight drive. On my face.
- Kyle Abbott has bowled much better than 0-53 from 23 overs. Dean Elgar has bowled much worse than 1-99 from 22 overs, though it was probably poetic justice that it was his ropey part-time spin that claimed the wicket of Smith, himself a master of the art.
- Shane Warne looks like a WAG. Who is advising him on the spray-tan colour? You could only describe it as “terracotta”, though he did at least provide some entertainment when cameras showed him sleeping in the Australian viewing area.
Gary Naylor has some observations on Clarke, though I think he was a little harsh at the outset. “When Morne Morkel was beating up Michael Clarke yesterday, I tweeted that his Test career could be disintegrating before our very eyes. He had no means to defend himself effectively, his back was so stiff that he seemed incapable of ducking or swaying to avoid the ball and the spectacle looked more cruel than sporting. Had it been boxing, the referee would surely have stopped the fight. But the game, as ever, knows more than us mere observers. Well played Michael Clarke.”
What about the two centuries he made to kick-start a 2-0 lead for the Aussies early in their home Ashes, Gary? I know he’s had a lean trot in the five Tests since but he had a lot of credits in the bank.
And that would be lunch
Australia add 103 runs for the session for the loss of Smith.
Clarke remains steadfast and looks like he could score as many runs as he likes. You could probably write your own ticket for how many runs Australia will score in this first innings.
The South Africans miss Steyn like sleep. I’m Scott Heinrich and on that note, I’ll leave you with Tim Rogers before Russell Jackson picks up the afternoon session.
114th over: Australia 434-4 (Clarke 137, Watson 21)
Elgar seemingly goes through the motions to take us to lunch, neither batsman troubled at all until Watson gets a rush of blood to the head and miscues a big drive that nevertheless clears the rope - and an unwitting Philander at long-off.
113th over: Australia 425-4 (Clarke 136, Watson 13)
Duminy comes on as South Africa go all-spin just before lunch. To no effect, it must be said.
112th over: Australia 423-4 (Clarke 135, Watson 12)
Clarke helps himself to a driven four off Elgar through the covers as the score continues to build at a quick rate. How the Proteas are missing Steyn.
Scott ‘not Ponting’ Poynting writes: “The mouthing-off of the much maligned Warner seems to have made it much more difficult for SA to obtain the right atmospheric conditions for reverse swing, no?”
111th over: Australia 415-4 (Clarke 128, Watson 11)
Watson cuts Morkel over gully for four to keep the score ticking over. The Big Tuna is now over the wicket to Clarke, and not so short. Hmm.
Hello again to Julian McClung: “Your thoughts on the result of this match? Australia’s to lose?”
Quite. There are only two possible results to this Test match. And neither points to a South African series victory.
110th over: Australia 407-4 (Clarke 127, Watson 4)
Elgar and co choose not to review a half-hearted lbw appeal for Clarke that is turned down, the Aussie skipper advancing down the pitch to meet the ball. Bad call: had they gone upstairs, Clarke would have been out.
109th over: Australia 404-4 (Clarke 125, Watson 3)
Watson barely survives a run-out attempt, and a swish outside off-stump off Morkel, but he stays alive in a nervy return to Test cricket.
It’s hello to Andrew: “If South Africa need a wicket quickly or they are in danger of falling behind their average of one wicket per session.”
Nope, it’s one wicket per session thus far.
108th over: Australia 402-4 (Clarke 125, Watson 1)
Review! Enter the forgotten man, Shane Watson, and Elgar rises in appeal for lbw, the batsman trapped back in his crease trying to cut. Decision is not out and rather a bizarre review from the Proteas - not even close. Did it even hit his pads? No.
Wicket! Smith b Elgar 84 (Australia 401-4)
Clarke goes over the infield, lifting Elgar to the fence to bring up the 400 for Australia.
But South Africa then have their breakthrough as Smith unluckily drags one off Elgar, that keeps low, onto his stumps.
South Africa hadn’t looked close to a wicket but now they’ve got one.
107th over: Australia 396-3 (Clarke 120, Smith 84)
Morkel extracts a bit of life from the pitch but still no breakthrough. One ambitious bouncer is even called a wide.
106th over: Australia 395-3 (Clarke 120, Smith 84)
Elgar continues with his dobbers, to no effect at all. The batsmen either pick runs or block with ease.
Andrew in Brisbane says: “Now might be a good time to remind the viewers about Graeme Smith’s pre match comment. ‘We can handle pressure, we can handle expectation and we can handle things been thrown at us’ There’s those who can, do; those who can’t, talk.”
105th over: Australia 391-3 (Clarke 116, Smith 84)
Morkel around the wicket again to Clarke, and again short, but Pup has all the answers.
104th over: Australia 385-3 (Clarke 115, Smith 80)
Singles all round off Elgar and it really looks like the Proteas are out on their feet.
Julian McClung: “Here’s a vid for you. Australia “Slam the Door” on any chance South Africa have of winning this match? Sorry - not cricket related but thought you’d take an interest.”
Yeah, I’m interested.