Cow Corner

England slog through rain to set up whitewash

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England 137-3 (17.4 overs) ENGLAND WIN BY SEVEN WICKETS!: Huge cheers go around Lord's as Flintoff hits a FOUR off Nel to backward square leg to clinch to match. Freddie hit 31 runs off just 12 balls, he's full of confidence at the moment! England were always favourites after the runs were reduced. South Africa will have to buck their ideas up if they are to avoid a series whitewash under the lights of Cardiff. Be sure to join ol' Cowers then. Nighty night.

Scorecard   

England 119-3 (16 overs) 18 required: Freddie Flintoff picks up where KP left off. He knows that imminent showers could undo all their good work, so he wastes no time in hoisting boundaries all over the shop. As the light begins to fade, the white ball is gleaming as it sails over long-on for SIX! England are on the verge here. The tourists are on the brink... 

England 93-3 (13.3 overs) 44 required: PIETERSEN CAUGHT! KP welcomes Botha to the innings with a SIX over midwicket, but is caught by Amla two balls later trying to sweep for the same spot. He's done his job though, and rewarded the fans for their patience today. And, after all, isn't that what it's all about? 

England 77-2 (12 overs) 60 required: THAT'S THE SPIRIT! Pietersen smashes three consecutive FOURS, two over midwicket and one via extra deep cover. Kallis's head drops, but it gets worse for him when pulls his short ball over midwicket for SIX! Good to see England going for it even though they've sealed the series already.

England 53-2 (10 overs) 84 required: Now Pietersen begins to hit his stride, edging one boundary past third man and whacking another over mid-wicket. England need a few more overs like that to bring this run rate down. Pietersen sends one shot right at Shah and it hits him on the hand! Let's see how he fares once he's back in the crease! 

England 36-2 (8 overs) 101 required: Morkel and Philander share a few extremely tight overs. That is until Shah sends the latter straight back ground the ground for his first FOUR of the day. Two leg byes follow before the Middlesex slogger clips the same man over short fine-leg for another boundary.

England 19-2 (4.3 overs) 118 required: BELL EDGES!: After swiping England's first boundary via deep backward point, Ian Bell falls prey to Morkel's full ball and edges it to Boucher! A big cheer for Cap'n KP...

England 9-1 (2.6 overs) 129 required: Shah drives towards mid-off and Philander fields brilliantly to send bails flying JUST as Shah gets to the opposite crease. Shah is indignant, but it's high fives all-round for the Proteas. It's referred to the Third Umpire... NOT OUT! Shah's bat was right on the line as ball hit stumps.

England 4-1 (2.2 overs) 134 required: PRIOR GONE FOR A DUCK! Matt Prior goes for a big swing off Steyn but nicks it middle bat and Boucher is there for the catch! In comes Owais Shah... 

England 4-0 (2 overs) 134 required: A good opening from Nel and Steyn, reducing Bell to a couple of knocks for singles and some 84mph+ belters that Prior leaves well alone.

WELL, WELL, WELL: It looks as though England will get to bat. The covers are off, the pitch is being swept and we are slated for a 17:38 (BST) restart. England will have 20 overs in which to do their thing.  If their thing turns out to be 137 runs, then they'll win the match. Ian Bell and Matt Prior are out on the field and ready to go...

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INTERVAL - RAIN STOPPED PLAY: Chucking it down doesn't begin to describe what's happening out there. On the plus side, it can't keep this up for very long, unless this truly is the oft-foreseen rain coming to wash the scum from the streets. So, barring an act of vengeful cleansing from above, there could well be some Duckworth-Lewis-based batting from England to come.

South Africa 183-6 (32.1 overs): To paraphrase Tina Turner (ok then, Ann Peebles. Thanks, Memphis Soul pedants); Cowers can't stand the RAIN. It's stopped play again. Surely that's the end of the Proteas time at the crease.

South Africa 179-6 (31.2 overs): FLINTOFF FINISHES PHILANDER! After pulling a four past a diving Broad, Philander gets excited and swipes the next one high for Anderson at long off to gobble up. His head drops as soon as he scooped his shot. He knew.

South Africa 175-5 (31 overs): Philander comes in and makes an instant impact, picking up 10 runs, although nearly half of those are courtesy of leg byes from Flintoff and Broad. Boucher whacks Flintoff away past sweeper cover.

South Africa 158-5 (28.2 overs): NOW GIBBS GOES! Herschelle Gibbs skips across his crease to try and flick Stuart Broad's full delivery over short fine leg but completely misjudges it and the ball rebounds off pad onto stumps! the smiles are back on England faces now.

South Africa 155-4 (27.2 overs): FLINTOFF NIPS DUMINY'S RUN IN THE BUD! After firing a full toss that bangs Gibbs right on the hip (followed perhaps by a wee bit of sledging from the all-rounder), he gets Duminy to launch one high into the air that drops kindly for Bell at short midwicket! This after Duminy had send Patel straight back down the ground for SIX in the previous over.South Africa 141-3 (26 overs): Duminy and Gibbs have got their mojo working as a partnership now. Gibbs sweeps a boundary out of Prior's reach for four, before Duminy pulls one to square leg that Flintoff dives for a can't get. He treats us to some acrobatics though, no doubt inspired by Nastia Lukin et al from Beijing.

South Africa 130-3 (24 overs): Gibbs sweeps a lovely shot over to short fine leg for four from Collingwood. The tourists are chipping away, and add their current rate they'll get to 33 overs for 172.

South Africa 113-3 (20.2 overs): DE VILLIERS GONE! He tried to hook Patel over deep midwicket for the boundary but comes up well short and Flintoff catches! It was a poor shot, almost an afterthought really.

South Africa 100-2 (18 overs): Collingwood comes into the attack. Gibbs pushes him out to third man to bring up the ton for the Proteas.

South Africa 95-2 (16 overs): Shouts for lbw but it was too high on de Villiers. on the next ball he swipes through midwicket for three. Looks like AB is beginning to dig in here.

South Africa 80-2 (14 overs): AB de Vllliers is the new batsman; Gibbs rocks back and pulls Harmison over the top of mid-wicket. The run-rate is still excellent; the loss of those two wickets doesn't seem to have slowed down the tourists' progress. 

South Africa 75-2 (11.2 overs):  EDGED! DID IT CARRY? YES! Kallis edges Flintoff low...Prior claims the catch, and despite Kallis standing his ground, the third umpire correctly rules in England's favour! The South African captain is a gonner! England get a second wicket to check the tourists' progress!

South Africa 66-1 (9.1 overs): DISASTROUS FROM SOUTH AFRICA! Some really shoddy running from Amla, who is called through for a single by Gibbs only to hesitate half-way down, allowing Shah the chance to run round from mid-on and superbly hit the stumps at the striker's end with a cracking throw on the turn.

South Africa 66-0 (9 overs): Amla cracks four boundaries off Harmison's second over as South Africa continue to race along. Superb start this; England have bowled poorly, much too short on a wicket that is offering a little swing if the ball is pitched up. Amla is 34 not out from 31 balls. South Africa 50-0 (8 overs): Broad is poor on his first over back from the rain break; Amla meets his full delivery outside off with a full blade, the ball running away past cover for four; next ball is down the leg-side, and Amla flicks fine through fine-leg for another boundary. 

South Africa 37-0 (7 overs): The players are out and play is underway again. Pietersen makes an immediate change in the bowling, bringing Harmison into the attack for the expensive Anderson. The match has been reduced to 33 overs per side. 

2.20 - The chat from the umpire's broom cupboard is that the game will re-start in 10 minutes' time, at 2.30pm. There will be a reduction in overs, possibly to 33 a side. 

2.05 - The covers are being taken off by the groundstaff, to the delight of the crowd. 

The covers are still on...the rain has eased a little, but it is very murky and misty. Not a great day for cricket. 

South Africa 37-0 (6 overs): RAIN STOPPED PLAY! Broad bowls a good over to Gibbs...before the drizzle starts to get heavier and the umpires have no option but to take the players off. Most vexing. 

South Africa 36-0 (5 overs): Amla clips off his legs for four off Broad before the bowler gives away more runs with four wides down the leg-side. Gibbs isn't one to miss out on a party; he joins in with three boundaries off four balls from Anderson as South Africa continue to make a positive start, despite the conditions.

South Africa 12-0 (3 overs): Amla edges through slip off Broad for the first boundary of the day, and gets a leading edge later in the over as he tries to work a ball on the on-side. Gibbs rocks back and pings a short Anderson delivery over mid-wicket, a much more comprehensive shot. England need to keep the ball full in these conditions. 

South Africa 4-0 (1 over): Gibbs faces Anderson in the first over of the day; he pushes past the bowler for three to get the South African innings off the mark. Reduced overs, remember, so South Africa will be even keener than normal to get things going quickly.

13.17 - YAY! The covers are off, and the players come sprinting out! We're about to get underway! England in particular look really keen to get out there and get this match started. 

13.16 - BOOOOOOOOOOO! The hover-cover is coming back on; the rain is steady and hard enough for the covers to be called back on. We're not going to be starting at 13.15. 

13.15 - The rain is coming down again, although not too hard. Nasser Hussain is down taking a look at the pitch: a few green patches, perfect for bowling, could be quite damp underneath. 

12.53 - England have won the toss and elected to bowl first; probably a good decision because the conditions are still damp and humid. It's not going to be easy batting on a pitch that has been under covers for the last few hours. Meanwhile, South Africa have announced two changes to their side: Philander comes in for Albie Morkel and Ntini is replaced by Nel. 

12.45 - England have named an unchanged side from the one that has cruised into a 3-0 lead in this series. 

12.25 - Good news, y'all. Play to start at 1.15pm; 39-overs per side 

12.05 - It has brightened up a little, and the groundstaff have emerged from their underground hovels like Jawas skuttling out of their sanddune caves. 

11.30 - Sorry folks; the rain is still coming down. The covers have been on for hours now; there is a decent crowd in the ground - why, I'm not sure. The sky is a thick, warm duvet of grey; the players like tiny bed mites, dwelling in the damp, sweaty conditions beneath. 

11.10 - Pietersen has said this weekend that after the success of getting Steve Harmison back in the England side, he is targetting another of the old guard: "To get Tres [Marcus Trescothick] back in the team would be massive, but he's got his reasons etcetera and that's it." Not much sign of sympathy there, but certainly a signal of intent. 

10.55 - The chat in the Sky commentary box is that Makhaya Ntini is past it and destined for the knackers yard. Any thoughts, readers? 

10.35 - Very glum out there. I wonder which side would be more disappointed with the rain; England, chasing a series white-wash, or South Africa, who must be desperate to prove that they are not the utter chumps they have proved themselves to be thus far. 

10.18 - There are some puddles forming on the outfield, and the rain is fairly steady at the moment. No chance of play starting on time at 10.45. Sorry. Put your feet up for a while; read the paper, enjoy your breakfast. 

10.10 - Although the teams haven't yet been announced, there seems no obvious reason why England would change the side that has bullied South Africa like a gang of tooled-up hoodies terrorising a speccy, Peter Crouch-lookalike. 

10.05 - The forecast is patchy at best; thunderstorms were expected later in the day, but they appear to have come early. Which isn't good news. It looks fairly grim and grey and, well...wintery out there. 

10.00 - Hi kids! Welcome to Lord's...where it has been lashing down. Chances of a prompt start seem thinner than Shane Warne's hairline. Stick with me though; I might be wrong...

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