Brilliant Flintoff brings Test back to life
Andrew Flintoff gave a thrilling illustration of what England have been missing throughout his long absence when he brought the Test back to life in the dying minutes of the second day.
England's bowlers had largely squandered ideal conditions in which to fight their way back into the match, but Flintoff finally tore in from the Pavilion End in a ferocious, bruising spell of six overs to rough up and then dismiss Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers as the crowd bayed in appreciation.
It was tough and dramatic Test cricket at its very best.
The heat, humidity and cloud cover helped the ball swing all day - just as England had hoped it would - but until Flintoff's late burst, far too many deliveries were aimed too wide of the off stump.
As we saw at Headingley, Neil McKenzie needs no second invitation to leave the ball well alone and, with the obdurate nightwatchman Paul Harris, removed an hour and a half's worth of shine - and English energy - before the first wicket of the day eventually fell.
The worst offender in the morning was James Anderson, who had also wasted the new ball the previous evening. He gradually improved during the day, and took an outstanding caught and bowled to dismiss Hashim Amla, giving England an opening with South Africa on 117-3.
Unfortunately, Ryan Sidebottom has been below par here - a legacy of not having bowled much recently because of his back injury, I suspect - and Michael Vaughan also gambled on the weather shortening the day.
He simply rotated his three pacemen, Flintoff, Sidebottom and Anderson until they had little left to give. Paul Collingwood - whose bowling, we were told, would be useful - was given only two overs and when Monty Panesar came on, he consistently dropped too short.
Flintoff stood out throughout the day throwing body and soul into his 24 overs. He might have dismissed McKenzie twice before he finally trapped him lbw for 72 - a catch by Andrew Strauss at slip was ruled by the third umpire to have bounced first, and Collingwood dropped him at slip.
Flintoff will return for the start of the third day with a new ball just four overs away, but with worries already surfacing about him being dangerously over-bowled.