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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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own