England v South Africa - first ODI as it didn't happen
Preamble Morning. If you had said, at the start of 2012, that a switch from Test cricket to ODIs would increase England's chances of victory, you'd have been the recipient of the kind of disdainful look usually reserved for those who suggest that the Sopranos clearly borrows a number of dramatic techniques from Doogie Howser MD and that only ignoramuses fail to appreciate that Jedward must be celebrated as the quintessence of the creative freedoms afforded by a postmodern society. Yet that's how things seem at the moment. In 2012 England have won three out of 11 Tests, and 10 out of 10 one-day internationals
Only five sides in history – none of them English – in this form of the game. England are top off the ICC Rankings too, for the first time since 1995, although South Africa will usurp them for the second time in a week if they win today. (Unlike in the Test Championship, the rankings change after each game rather than each series.) The upcoming three-match T20 series will also determine who is top of the T20 Championship.
I don't know about you but I'm slightly No1ed out, and not just because of the continence issues. These days every England game seems to be conducted with one eye on the top of the bloody ICC Rankings. We've almost forgotten that winning matches and winning series are a joyous end in themselves. Being good was fun for a while, but we're in too deep now. There's too much stress. I want out.
The forecast in Cardiff is dreadful. Ah. Mind you, it's not raining .
South Africa have won the toss and will bowl first They include five of the XI from the final Test at Lord's; England have six. Stuart Broad have been rested for this series, so Chris Woakes makes his first appearance since last August. There's no room in the side for Jonny Bairstow, at least not yet. With no Andrew Strauss, the composer quota is filled by the South African debutant Dean Elgar.
England Cook (c), Bell, Trott, Bopara, Morgan, Kieswetter (wk), Bresnan, Woakes, Swann, Anderson, Finn.
South Africa Amla, Smith, Elgar, de Villiers (c/wk), Duminy, du Plessis, McLaren, Parnell, Peterson, M Morkel, Tsotsobe.
In a surprising development, the covers are on, and not for aesthetic purposes.
Something to talk about given that there is bugger all chance of a completed match today We haven't had enough misanthropy on the OBO of late, so let's address that with one simple recycled riff: what would you put in Room 101 and why?
10.36am The covers are still on. A woman in the crowd is hiding under a hoodie, reading Fifty Shades of Grey. What would Fred Trueman make of that?
Has anyone actually read that thing? Is the whole world apart from me now having great lovin' as a result? IS SOMETHING BRILLIANT HAPPENING?
10.40am "Re Room 101 entries," says John Collins. "Corporate sponsored sixes and trumpeting. Hell, while we're at it can we just put Ravi Shastri in there too?"
10.54am "I'd like to consign rain that falls in daylight hours between April and the end of September to Room 101," says Paul Frame. "Surely we can all agree that rain is great, but that it should only fall between 9pm and 6am during the summer?"
Agreed. This whole summer has been like . Which is a very good thing in theory, but not when you are being drenched every second of the day.
10.59am "Rolling back to 1995, when we ruled the world, ," says Elliot Carr-Barnsley. "It had a SIX in it! In today's cricketing world he would've been called boom-boom Athers. Well, it was rapid for him. A victory helped in no small part by what must have been a truly horrible innings from Carl Hooper."
That was a magnificent innings, in a series decider as well. I think he took 27 balls to get off the mark, with Ambrose and Bishop seaming it square on a wet pitch, and then went through the gears. I've got a feeling the six was over extra cover. Atherton was an underrated one-day opener.
11.05am Sky are showing highlights of the last ODI between these sides, a low-scoring thriller at the last World Cup. If you are very, very, very, very, very, very, very bored, .
11.15am "Athers' six," says Douglas Campbell. "Hooked high onto Mound Stand?" You might be right, my memory is a little addled. Let me check the Guardian archive.
11.18am Douglas Campbell 1-0 Rob Smyth. The archive tells us that Atherton "pulled Bishop high over square leg for six, a shot reminiscent of the great Rob Smyth in his pomp".
11.20am "Room 101?" says Richard Hudson. "I'd put WH Smith's policy of always trying to flog me a bar of chocolate every time I go to the till..."
This is precisely the kind of petty gripe I would be happy to call my own. More of this kind of thing please!
11.23am "Please insert fifty shades of everything into room 101," says Phil Withall. "No that's not a euphemism, but the ability of sub-editors to use it in everything from politics to gardening to hair colour, great in-joke chaps. Thank you an' g'nite."
I love the smell of serotonin in the morning.
11.26am . The match needs to start by 3.32pm or we'll all be cordially invited to do one.
11.53am Here's Roger Sweetman. "Can you put the decision to drop KP to humour a captain who averages about 15 with the bat in the last series in Room 101?" No, but I'm quite tempted to put you in, and everyone else who disrespects the Strauss. Nobody disrespects the Strauss on my watch.
11.55am "I'd put people who swing their arms while they walk into Room 101," says Susan Perry. "It's not like it has a tangible effect on propulsion. Grrrr."
11.56am This is the best email so far, from Dave Pople. "When I'm paying for petrol by card, the assistant says 'If you'll enter your card'... then 'If you'll enter your number'... then I desperately try to remove it before she (usually a she) says 'if you'll take your card' – but she says it anyway. What does it even mean? Why make it conditional? I then say thank you and she says 'no problem'. It had better not be an effing problem. Blood boiling, I leave."
12.07pm Play will start at 12.45pm if there is no further rain. Play may not start at 12.45pm. If we do start then, the match will be 38 overs per side.
12.12pm Be honest: how many of you were whooshed when you . It does seem like a fair few people were whooshed. I blame KP.
12.17pm "When exactly did Andrew Strauss morph from universally admired, level headed, dignified and down to earth chap into petulant, spoilt, monarch child dismissing people from his presence because of his own jealousy & Machiavellian games," says Rory Taylor. "When we lost a couple of games perchance?" I blame KP.
12.40pm We won't be starting at 12.45pm.
12.42pm "Room 101," says Daniel Maxwell. "How about putting in telephone helpdesk people who, after satisfying the most simple query, and despite the finality of your closing tones, insist on asking 'Is there anything else I can help you with sir?'."
When they do that you should just hit them with a list of problems. "Well the cream the doctor gave me isn't really working. Also, I get a little lonely sometimes ... I have intimacy issues ... I cry myself to sleep most nights ..."
12.46pm "Swinging your arms while walking reduces the angular momentum generated by leg movement," says Matt Healey. "It makes walking more efficient, providing a tangible effect on ambulatory propulsion. Just thought you and/or Susan Perry should know." I knew it would be worth coming into work today.
12.50pm The latest plan is to start play at 1.15pm.
12.59pm Play is not going to start 1.15pm. It's raining again.
1.01pm This is great. THE SICK TRUTH ABOUT IT HELPDESK OPERATORS. "I'm at work on an IT helpdesk as we speak (well type) and the reason we ask if there's anything else we can help with is because we are told to do so by strict call specs set by the client we work for," says Miv. "Not doing so can lead to warnings & dismissals believe it or not. It's not like we actually give a monkeys about the caller or their problems, I'm currently typing this, listening to my iPod in one ear while listening to some poor sod whine about lost emails in the other. A chat about his personal problems would be a godsend rather than take the next call from some muppet who can't drag and drop. There I said it – I feel better."
I don't know about you, but in terms of disappointment this is right up there with finding out the truth and Santa, the tooth fairy and Leland Palmer.
1.13pm In case you missed it earlier in the week, .
1.20pm "When Miv (1.01pm) says (s)he works at an IT help desk, do they mean that one that keeps calling me up to fix a problem they've discovered on my computer by guiding me through the downloading of not-at-all-suspicious software?" says Matt Dony. "They keep trying, but if anything, my computers got more problems than ever. AND my bank account seems empty. Strange..."
1.23pm This is a sensational discovery from my colleague James Dart. It seems YouTube has a Moodwall, whereby you can search videos by 'vibe'. Seriously. There are a number of vibes, including 'creative', 'powerful', 'epic' and 'gross'. 'Despairing for the future of humanity' is not yet an option, though.
Maybe we should offer a selection of vibe-based OBOs for each game.
1.26pm The umpires have inspected again, and play is (probably not) going to start at 1.45pm.
1.30pm Guess what? Yep. We have around two hours to start the game. Mystic Bob has just the slightest hunch it won't happen.
1.39pm "," says Steven Pye. "All five wickets have fallen to the spin of Ojha and Ashwin. Just as well that England play spin so well, otherwise I'd be worried about our forthcoming tour…..oh." That's going to be a laugh riot for those of us getting up at 4am, isn't it.
1.42pm Another cracking discovery from James Dart. , and . There have some decent victims between them: Vengsarkar, Ganguly and Akram. And here's . Ah and – when he came on first change against Pakistan.
1.50pm "I'm a loyal OBOer," says Martin Rands. "I've laughed and cried, raged and nodded my way through years of the thoughts of other OBOers ranging from the truly insightful through the mildly interesting to the, frankly, deranged. During that time I've despatched many of my own thoughts TO ABSOLUTELY NO AVAIL… What's going on here boys? Is it a conspiracy (unlikely), are all my thoughts unworthy of publication (certainly a possibility) or am I simply being gathered up by the OBO spammer? PLEASE allow this one the oxygen of publicity, if only to confirm that I've got the right email address." Security!
2.05pm "Rob, have you seen the scorecard over at Leicester?" says Andrew Hewitt. "Hampshire's last pair are halfway to what would have to be the greatest comeback in sporting history!" Crikey, .
2.09pm The covers are still on.
2.10pm The covers are still on.
2.11pm See 2.10pm.
2.17pm "For all the Londoners out there, I would put into Room 101 people who walk down the escalator and then stop at the bottom just as it flattens out before stepping off," says Kat Wilson. "Where is the logic in this? Just because it no longer resembles a stair you stop walking?! It is SO annoying. It then causes a backlog for all the other angry impatient people (like myself) trying to shave a few precious seconds off their commute."
Hang on, I'm confused. Do they not have escalators up north or is this behavioural trait unique to London?
2.24pm "," says Tom Savage. "Can you OBO that instead while we're waiting for play?"
It's a great idea, with only one slight problem –
2.28pm Play will possibly maybe probably not no chance start at 3pm. The match will be four balls per side.
2.29pm Okay, it'll be 24 overs per side, if they actually set foot on the pitch.
2.40pm "Balcombe's out," says Sam Blackledge. "You jiffed it."
It's okay, there's no need to head to Google translate. .
2.48pm GUESS WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CARDIFF? Yes, it is raining; yes, you are a genius; no, you don't win a hundred dollars.
2.50pm The covers are coming off now. This is one twisted hokey-cokey we're doing. I don't know what day it is. Beefy is currently inspecting the surface: live grass, damp, cold, blah blah. England should definitely bowl first if they win the toss.
2.53pm Play is going to start at 3pm. I swear, by the moon and the starts and the sky.
. Best quarter-to-two song ever. End of and fact.
2.57pm Here come the players. I swear it! It's a modern miracle.
0.0 overs of 24: England 1-0 (Cook 0, Bell 0) They've gone off after one ball! One ball, done one. Only in cricket. Morne Morkel bowled a single ball – a leg-side wide – and then the umpires took the players off again. Apparently the rain is not especially heavy, so
3.02pm "If this doesn't get an OBOer breakdown, then I'll eat my hat..." says Peter Harmer. There's no point losing it; .
3.03pm Oh, cricket.
3.04pm The covers are coming off for the 974132423423MAKEITSTOP123443242342309090909094235th time today
"How many balls do they need to bowl before they can deny the spectators a refund?" says Robin Hazlehurst. "Was that one delivery enough to say 'ok folks you've seen some cricket, hope you got your money's worth' or do they need a couple of overs at least?"
I don't think so. but I'm sure they changed the policy after that.
3.06pm Play will start at 3.10pm, and it'll be 23 overs a side.
3.09pm See 3.07pm.
1st over of 23: England 1-0 (Cook 0, Bell 0) Morne Morkel bowls a legitimate delivery to Alastair Cook, prompting huge cheers from a crowd who now have a great tale for the grandchildren. Yes, yes they really did see some play at the Swalec Stadium on 24 August 2012. It's a Twentythree23 game, which means an unusual role for Cook, Bell and Trott. Cook plays defensively for most of Morkel's first over, which brings no runs off the bat.
"Room 101? Pies without bottoms," says Jo Beasley. "Apart from fish based products, cottage or shepherds - pies should be surrounded in pastry. A bowl of thick stew with a measly lid is not a pie, it's know in my circle of (not at all sad) friends as a 'lie pie'." I wanna be in your gang.
2nd over of 23: England 2-0 (Cook 0, Bell 1) The left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who is No1 in the ICC ODI bowling rankings, will start from the other end. The crouching Bell misses an attempted cut at a pretty wide delivery angled across him, and then he fiddles the first run off the bat from the tenth delivery. A great start from England, who are on course for a score of 23 for none from 23 overs.
"Being accosted on the pavement by grinning strangers with their clipboards and their charity signs, trying to get me to set up a direct debit, like it'll just be the best wheeze in the world," says Jonathan Wood who, in a reversal of the norm, likes to talk about the charity work he doesn't do. "I'm sorry, you're not half as interesting as you think you are, you're trying to stop me getting where I want to go, and I'm British so I really, really just want to be left alone."
3rd over of 23: England 4-0 (Cook 1, Bell 2) England are motoring now, and Bell takes a quick single to mid on to make the score 3-0 from 2.3 overs. Cook then takes a ridiculous single to mid off and would have been out by a mile had Parnell not whizzed his throw like an eejit, miles wide of the stumps at the bowler's end. "One of the great England Powerplays you're watching here..." says Andy Bull to my right. England's scoring rate is an epiphany-inducing 1.33 runs per over.
"The difficulty of buying 500ml bottles of water makes me irrationally angry," says Richard Mansell. "Unless one searches diligently all one can get are 750ml bottles, which have a real cost of only slightly more than the 500ml bottles, but are charged at a much higher price (thus their prevalence). The money doesn't annoy me, though – it's the difficulty of squeezing them into the tiny little elasticised pockets behind airline seats into which we have to cram our necessaries." Are you sure you're not in the Truman Show and the subject of a cunning scheme designed to make you lose it? I've never had a problem finding 500ml bottles, ever.
4th over of 23: England 16-0 (Cook 8, Bell 7) Cook pings Tsotsobe through the covers for the first boundary of the innings, and then slices three more past point. Bell continues a generation-defining over by drilling a lovely boundary over mid off. Twelve from the over.
"Murray's Meltdown was in 2003," says Andrew Goldsby. "9 years? 9 YEARS? OBO just made me feel old. Very very old." How did you think we feel? Look what 10 years of OBOing and MBMing did to Scott Murray.
5th over of 23: England 32-0 (Cook 9, Bell 22) What a storming shot from Ian Ronald Bell! He walks down the track to Morkel's first ball and pulls it sweetly over midwicket for six. , a sweet roundhouse blow over the ropes. He gets another six later in the over, and if anything this one was even better, a delicious on-the-run drive over long off. Sixteen from the last Powerplay over.
RAIN STOPS PLAY. 5.3 overs of 23: England 37-0 (Cook 10, Bell 26) Yep. It's hootering down, so that might be it for the day. They need to be back on by around 4pm. It's currently 3.32.08.
3.38pm It's not going to happen. Go home. Get out of here!
3.40pm "Room 101," says William Hardy. "People who don't start bagging their shopping until after they've paid. Exacerbated by then not having their money ready, as if surprised at being asked to pay."
Play has been abandoned It's all over! England have beaten South Africa by 37 runs! That's how this works, right? Ah. Okay, the match has been abandoned due to rain, so it's 0-0 with four matches to play. The second ODI is at Southampton on Tuesday afternoon. See you then.