Flintoff casts shadow on England
The fact that Andrew Flintoff has played a central part in England's preparations here at Lord's has made it pretty clear that he will line up against South Africa in the second Test.
Before that, he will need to come through Lancashire's four-day match against Hampshire which starts on Friday, unscathed and I suppose a couple of failures with the bat could complicate matters.
But it is with the ball that England have missed Flintoff most, and now they believe that he is physically capable of playing in a four-man attack, he could bat as low as number eight if they want.
Ideally, we would want to see Flintoff batting at number six, with the wicketkeeper and four bowlers behind him - and I think that is what England are really hoping for, too. That means Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood will be feeling the heat again here.
Captain Michael Vaughan argues that to have fierce competition for places is a healthy state to be in, but I am not so sure. A batsman playing for his place can be a hideous spectacle as he clings to the crease, fearful of taking the slightest risk.
It only adds to the intrigue of the situation that Collingwood and Bell might well find themselves batting together at Lord's as they are currently numbers five and six in the order.
The bowlers will be feeling it, too, as Headingley, the venue for the second Test, is usually a ground requiring only a four-man attack. The most vulnerable are Stuart Broad and James Anderson, but if they both get among the wickets at Lord's, the selectors will again face a very awkward decision.
After 19 consecutive international matches against New Zealand it will be nice to see some new faces out in the middle, and I expect this to be a confrontational and hard-fought series.
Pietersen has yet to face his old countrymen in a Test match and with, possibly, five pacemen at his disposal; Smith will make sure that Pietersen's opening encounter is a torrid one.
South Africa certainly start the series as favourites, but they do have weaknesses, notably their ability to play the swinging ball and, traditionally, a poor technique against spin bowling. Indeed, if the remainder of the summer is dry, Monty Panesar could be the difference between the two teams.