Sport

What a fine mess English cricket finds itself in. Yet for supporters of a certain age, the last two months in Australia have just been a return to normal service.

Look and learn: Matt Prior watches as Hashim Amla plays another sublime shot on his way to an unbeaten 183

Amla class and Smith clout stand out

England 385 South Africa 403-2 (SA lead by 18 runs with 8 wkts left): England's celebrated bowling attack left in tatters as South African pair turn the First Test on its head

Graeme Smith is in line to become the most-capped Test captain

Evergreen Smith ready for third England scalp

Captains come and captains go. But Graeme Smith of South Africa seems to plough forever onward and upward. By the end of the series against England which begins at The Oval on Thursday, he will be the most enduring captain in Test history.

Misbah ul-Haq could make Pakistan the best Test side in the world within two years

Rajan's Wrong 'un: With Whatmore at his side Misbah may make Pakistan purr

He could plausibly make Pakistan the best Test side in the world within two years

England captain Andrew Strauss: 'I feel in good form but
I haven't performed well enough'

Defiant Strauss: I'm not stepping down in the middle of a series

He was disappointed and he was defiant. If he was going anywhere he was not saying so. It was neither the time nor the place. There was a series still on the line and, if it cannot be won by England now, it can be drawn.

Forearmed: 'We anticipate a long time in the field,' says Jimmy Anderson, leader of the England attack, 'and generally around the world we anticipate that'

England's bowlers must strike balance

History suggests tourists need five-man attack to counter pitch and heat

2012: Electricity, communications and water are cut off as temperatures plummet. Food supplies, especially for children, are said to be dangerously low, and many people are too scared to venture out

Robert Fisk: Is Homs an echo of what happened in Srebrenica?

No entry to the International Red Cross. Not yet. Maybe in a few days, when the area has been secured. Men and boys separated from the women and children. Streams of refugees. Women, children, the old, few males. Stories of men being loaded on to trucks and taken away. Destination unknown. Devastation. No journalists, no freedom of movement for the UN. The place was called Srebrenica.

Will Hawkes: Hampshire a bigger club than Essex? That's a bit rich...

County Focus: Incredibly, Chris Tremlett is the first Hampshire-born Hampshire cricketer to have played Test cricket for England in England

Robin Scott-Elliot: How Beefy used Operation BBQ to rescue English spirits

View From The Sofa: Botham: The Legend of '81, BBC 2

Will Hawkes: Non-stop rain and a deluge of stats adds up to one dull day

View From The Sofa: England v Sri Lanka, Sky Sports 1

Will Hawkes: Too much INXS and plenty of Floyd adds up to a tedious gig

View From The Sofa: Cricket AM, Sky Sports 1

On the Front Foot: Long Room, short fuse as MCC pays lip service to sledging

In an admirable attempt to clean up the game, the MCC and the England and Wales Cricket Board last week began to put their feet down.

Sport on TV: O'Brien hits a purple patch to become the hairo of Ireland

As if smashing England all round the park in Bangalore on Wednesday was not bad enough, Ireland's hero Kevin O'Brien then took his helmet off and revealed his purple quiff to celebrate his historic hundred off 50 balls. Perhaps Shane Warne's Advanced Hair Studio has taken on an acidhead stylist. Purple hair, green beards, orange sideburns – oh no, hang on. That's their natural colour.

Sport on TV: Harmison's wide of the mark but as usual Warne is bang on

Who needs 'Auld Lang Syne' any more? We're all doing the "Sprinkler" now, and the group hug with everyone jigging up and down. Four years ago Steve Harmison was spraying it around, now it's just champagne and Mitchell Johnson that are going all over the place. And for a change, we don't have to try and forget all about the auldest acquaintance in sport.

Sky's the limit for Strauss, who made England real contenders

Ashes holders are not a great team (yet) but remember just how far they have come since their humbling at Shane Warne's hands at the MCG in 2006

Captain: Why it's cricket's toughest job

It is not easy leading a losing side. I know, I played in enough of them and watched the pressure get to Gower, Atherton and Hussain in different ways.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried