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Durban awaits for TMS team

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Adam Mountford | 21:37 UK time, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

This Test match series always promised much - but following the dramatic conclusion to the opening game at Centurion Park the anticipation ahead of this week's match here in Durban could hardly be higher.

It was certainly a nerve-tingling Test match for the TMS team in Centurion with former England captain Michael Vaughan feeling the tension from his new viewpoint.

During his debut TMS Test Vaughan quickly learnt about the infamous commentator's curse. On the third day while Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen were building a useful partnership, Vaughan was in discussion with Gerald De Kock about how impressively the two were batting together.

He then said: "Things are looking good. I just hope I haven't put the kiss of death on them". What happens next ball - KP plays on and Vaughan is crestfallen. "That's it I resign!" exclaimed the Ashes winner whilst Gerald turned to him and said: "Well bowled Michael Vaughan, a wicket to you!"

The main debate since Sunday evening has centred on whether England may get the same sort of bounce they enjoyed following the last great escape in the opening game of the Ashes series in Cardiff. The England coach Andy Flower has been playing this down, but it will be fascinating to see how his team react come Boxing Day morning.

Having seen the sort of weather you have been coping with back home I am reluctant to talk about the conditions here in Durban. But after a hugely frustrating week spent here during the one-day international series when the rain never seemed to stop and not a single ball was bowled, unfortunately the forecast here is a little mixed again for the next few days. Hopefully like last week in Pretoria the rain will come during the evenings rather than disrupting play.

There is certainly no chance of a white Christmas here in Kwazulu Natal with temperatures ranging from 23 to 33 degrees and it is a little difficult to get into the festive spirit despite a sprinkling of decorations in the hotels and streets of Durban.

The England team will have a light training session at Kingsmead on Christmas morning before spending the afternoon with their families at the team hotel in Umhlanga about 20 minutes outside of Durban.

I remember watching England practice one Christmas Day in Melbourne and it was a rather strange sight seeing the likes of Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard bowling wearing santa hats.

Alastair Cook will also celebrate his 25th birthday on Christmas Day -bizarrely two other England cricketers in recent times have also had their birthdays on 25 December with Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones both born on that day.

alastaircook595getty.jpgAlastair Cook will celebrate his birthday the day before the second Test starts

But come Boxing Day morning all thoughts of turkey and presents will have to be forgotten as a large crowd is expected for the crucial opening day of the second Test.

I am sure the TMS commentary team will show restraint on Christmas Day and will be on top form come Saturday morning. We have the same personnel on duty here as in Centurion with Jonathan Agnew joined by Simon Mann and Gerald De Kock with expert analysis from Michael Vaughan, Vic Marks and Geoff Boycott plus contributions from former South Africa captain Shaun Pollock.

As well as ball-by-ball commentary we will also speak during the Test to Dr Ali Bacher who has been at the heart of South Africa cricket for 40 years and to the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board David Collier. Plus as this is the last Test of the decade we will be looking back and looking forward.

We will be assessing some of the major developments and stories in the game over the past 10 years including match-fixing, the rise of Twenty20 cricket and the effect of terrorism and violence including a special interview with Paul Farbrace, who was one of those injured in the Lahore attacks. We will also be glancing into our crystal balls and opening "Old Aggers Almanac" to look ahead to what may take place in the cricketing world over the next 12 months.

As always we want you to take part in this. Among other things we want you to predict what will be England's line-up for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane come 25 November 2010.

Will it be Broad and Anderson opening the bowling or will Harmison surprise many and return to the side to try to exorcise the ghost of his first delivery at the Gabba four years ago? Will the likes of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell still be in the side or will perhaps Ravi Bopara and Rob Key be back in favour?

You can make your predictions either on this blog or email

Just a warning this Test gets under way half an hour earlier than last week - so try and keep your hangover to a minimum and set your alarm for 0745 GMT on Boxing Day morning for the opening day.

And if you miss anything look out for a full review of the day's play on Aggers and Boycott's TMS podcast - all the details here at Plus Kevin Howells will provide updates every 15 minutes over on Five Live if you are looking to keep in touch with all the other sports action as well as the cricket.

So let's hope the second Test lives up to the excitement of the first and may I take this opportunity on behalf of the whole BBC cricket team to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for the blog Adam

    Enjoying the early exchanges of 20 days of "chess" that is this Test match series. Sterling ball-by-ball job by Aggers, Vic, Boycs and Simon at that thrilling Centurion opener. Eagerly anticipating Durban on Boxing Day - here's hoping a) the threatened rain stays away ... and b) they prepare a decent pitch i.e. 22 yards out in the middle that has some pace and bounce.

    Am I the only one who dislikes this referral nonsense ?
    Back to the good old days I say and the unique drama of umpire raising finger and batsman on his way.

    A Merry Christmas to the TMS team and cricket lovers worldwide.

  • Comment number 2.

    CollisKing - you're not the only one who doesn't like the referral system. I must say I hate the way it interrupts the rhythm of the match and no doubt whilst folks are hanging around waiting for some decision to be made. Andy Flower has expressed his reservations too.

    Democratic systems have no place on the sports field and the umpire's decision should be final. If they want to use Hawkeye, Hotspot or whatever to help them make the decision that's fine, but no referrals from players, please. It becomes another opportunity for gamesmanship.

    Adam - you've got an excellent addition to the team in Michael Vaughan - his analysis is of course top notch, and he interacts very well with the TMS team. It's always a real pleasure listening to the commentary.

    I wish all the TMS team and the England team a merry Christmas and look forward to start of play on 26th December!

  • Comment number 3.

    I trust online audio commentaries of these matches are available to all cricket fans right across the globe, not just in Great Britain.

    It would a be travesty otherwise.

    Happy birthday, Al Cook!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'd just like to congratulate you on the recruitment of Michael Vaughan, Adam. Please try to get him on a long-term deal and keep him away from the clutches of Sky.

    His obvious love of the game, his ability to make excellent analytical points in relation to the play based on his experience as a recent Test captain, his dry humour and his ability to cover more discursive topics (Sheffield bands this afternoon, for example) would be wasted on TV.

    The best addition to TMS in a long time.

  • Comment number 5.

    Whilst I have enjoyed the comments of MPV there has been time when he goes on a little too long about other stuff (the Sheffield bands being a case) Having received a signed copy of his autobiography for christmas - Thanks to all involved - I fear he may tell all his stories before I have time to read it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Adding Michael Vaughan to the TMS team was a stroke of genious. Please make sure his contract is renewed after its 12-month period has expired. He has added greatly to the value of your commentry (which is already light years ahead of Sky's offering).

    Keith Billinghurst

  • Comment number 7.

    I'd like to agree wholeheartedly with those who are delighted to hear Michael Vaughan's insightful and interesting comments on TMS. The team were already top notch, but Vaughany's contributions give a fascinating view of players he knows well and has until recently played with. As others have said, it is a real feather in the cap for the BBC to have secured his services, and I trust the relationship is a long and happy one!
    Wishing all the TMS team and blog readers a very happy and peaceful New Year,
    from an England and Yorkshire County Cricket Club supporter!

  • Comment number 8.

  • Comment number 9.

    I would like to say well done to TMS for recruiting Vaughany and als o well done to Vaughany for easing in to the role like one of his trade mark cover drives.
    The balance in the box is spot on, do not let Blowers back it is nice to be entertained and have the facts and score correct.
    I would rather listen to how England celebrated when they won and the thoughts of our best ever captain than what bus or pidgeon is in view !

  • Comment number 10.

    Enjoying the current commentary team very much. Simon Mann is a real unsung star and much preferable to ArloWhite or Blowers as a commentator. Also good to hear Kevin Howells on international duty - his county coverage is excellent in the summer months.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am really enjoying the current commentary team, particularly the addition of Michael Vaughn. The other day Vic Marks was discussing the difficulty of converting kilometres per hour to miles per hour. I have a simple method developed when serving in the RAF in Germany many years ago. If you multiply the kph by 6 and move the decimal place one left you have a reasonably accurate conversion kph to mph. A bowling speed of 161.7 kph (161.7 x 6 = 960.2) equates to 96.02 mph. Try it out it works for all speeds.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well done England and TMS at Durban.

    That sensational sunday afternoon wicket-tumbling session has left me with a permanent grin on my face - a grin that refuses to budge.

    Add me to the Simon Mann appreciation society. His understated enthusiastic commentary alongside Geoff or Vic is the perfect TMS ball-by-ball fit. Michael Vaughan is doing well on his debut series .... bringing the necessary contemporary perspective to the commentary box.


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