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More rain expected on the east coast

Posted in England in South Africa 2009-10

Staring out from my Durban hotel room across the Indian Ocean it is hard to believe that it is the start of the South African summer.

Torrential rain, dark skies and a deserted beach - a scene you would normally expect were you unwisely battling against the elements during a stroll along the promenade on Brighton seafront.

The sun did poke its head out on Wednesday morning which was the cue for the England players to have a fitness session on the sand adjacent to the hotel. There was even time for a group of them to lark about in the sea.

It has been pretty miserable other than that.

Having travelled here on Monday, the players were given Tuesday off as a reward for that fantastic win in Port Elizabeth.

One group, including Stuart Broad, opted to play a round of golf but having reached the course were told it was too wet to play so had to trudge back to the hotel for an afternoon playing FIFA 2010.

Others decided to take a short taxi drive to the vast Gateway shopping mall - imagine a slightly bigger version of Bluewater.

Seeing an opportunity to escape the hotel, I went there for a look around with two people who seemed to know their way around the shops - James Avery, the team's media manager, and Gemma Broad, the video analyst and sister of Stuart.

Gemma had a couple of things on her shopping list - a toothbrush for Richard Halsall, the fielding coach, and some moisturiser for Graeme Swann. Nice to know sportsmen are looking after themselves.

Joe Denly and KP also had a stroll around Gateway, probably just for a change of scenery.

Yesterday's break in the weather meant the players could net at the Sahara Stadium which is the venue for the fifth and final one-dayer of the series. The original plan had been for a middle practice but the rain put paid to that.

Matt Prior

Making use of the only sunny spell since arriving in Durban, England keeper Matt Prior hits the Indian Ocean

All the players, barring Jimmy Anderson - victim of a dodgy knee and stubbed toe - had a decent workout.

KP and Andrew Strauss took turns at launching some throwdowns at each other before both had a net against Broad, Saj Mahmood and Graham Onions.

Jonathan Trott looked in superb nick and as he took his pads off said it was one of the best nets he had had.

At either side of the practice area were two armed guards - quite an alarming sight when you find yourself a few yards away from a loaded machine gun.

"Be careful out here," warned Reg Dickerson, the team's security expert. "Don't go anywhere on your own."

Apparently Durban has a higher crime-rate than Johannesburg, which seems to be the yardstick against which dangerous cities seem to be measured.

The cricket ground is a five-minute walk from the hotel but you are advised to take taxis everywhere. The beach is off-limits too, although with the current weather that's probably not a bad thing.

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