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England v South Africa, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 2nd day
David Lloyd: A duel to remember
July 31, 2008
Andrew Flintoff has revived England's fortunes
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Lloyd: 'Up steps Andrew Flintoff, and he turns it around in five-six scintillating overs' © Getty Images

Andrew Miller: Today, the series exploded into life. David Lloyd, have we just witnessed one of the finest spells that Andrew Flintoff has ever produced in his career.

David Lloyd: Well, it was breathtaking. English cricket, you could say, was dead and buried yesterday. The world was caving in on the captain and the team, and up steps Andrew Flintoff, and turns it around in five-six scintillating overs. It was absolute drama, it was theatre and everybody on the edge of their seats; I thought the spectators were pretty quiet but he roused everybody. It was thrilling stuff.

AM: You mentioned that it had been a bit quiet, and yesterday England's performance as we discussed was pretty abject. Do you reckon that there was a real anger in the performance today from the England?

DL: Well we saw an extraordinary scene before play this morning when all the players were in the customary circle. Somebody has a chat and it's almost a rallying call, "Come on lads, up and at him, let's get some wickets." There were a number of players talking in measured terms. Flintoff was one of them, [Ryan] Sidebottom was another and it wasn't a rallying call. It was more philosophical really. They were in quite a big circle. I found it extraordinary that that sort of chat was not done in the dressing room - keep it private because so many cameras are around and cameras pick that sort of thing up. The viewing public as well would see what was going on with their interpretation.

They [England] needed to do something this morning and they bowled pretty poorly in that first session. They were spraying the ball, particularly wide of off stump - 41% of deliveries in the morning session were just left alone and that was a pretty ordinary performance. They were a bit better in the afternoon. They were very angry with the performance that they put in yesterday. They are still just in this game, perhaps better than that. South Africa are 25 ahead with six wickets down, but it's Flintoff who has dragged England back in this game.

AM: Let's talk more about his performance, because he started pretty lucklessly, didn't he? Neil McKenzie had a reprieve, a dropped catch as well and there was that extraordinary lbw decision against Jacques Kallis.

DL: I have never ever seen Andrew Flintoff, since he was fifteen, get so angry and animated with the umpire really as to why he had turned the lbw decision down. Aleem Dar is a very cool umpire and takes everything in his stride but Flintoff was asking him what was wrong with that. You could see, you could lip read and he continued when Aleem Dar went to square leg and Flintoff was fielding in the vicinity. He was still asking what the problem was, and I think it was compounded because it was Kallis, who has not got too many runs in the series, but looked like settling in. But he got him in the end. There seemed to be a problem with the sightscreen. With a full length delivery - an absolute snorter - he uprooted Kallis' off stump. And that was a private battle, two heavy weights of the game, Kallis and Flintoff, sparring away at each other but in the best possible way of sportsmanship, Flintoff won in the end.

AM: Well, ten years ago it was of course Michael Atherton and Allan Donald in the similar position. Are we going to be talking about this spell in 2018?

DL: Yes, I am sure we will. It's a type of game that has meandered along and England have been abject, as you said, right at the beginning. But it needed something, and I think that is the thrill of Test match cricket. It was brilliant stuff. No quarter asked or given, plenty of effort from Flintoff against Kallis, one of the best players that we have ever seen. Flintoff won that duel and everybody at Edgbaston was on the edge of their seats especially they had little to shout about from an England perspective.

AM: So, at the close of play, South Africa have got a slim lead, four wickets in hand, are England back in the game?

DL: Very much so, and you would expect the ball to be in Flintoff's hand first up tomorrow morning, if he can lift himself up again. But the memory would be of today's play, of today's effort. A great effort from England today, perhaps a little lacking in skill this morning but they are very much in this game, 25 on and the challenge when it comes around and it will come around. England would hope sooner rather than later, how these batsmen who have been abysmal, will turn out in the second innings.

AM: Paul Collingwood of course is going to be under particular scrutiny. It was an unfortunate day for him to drop a catch, wasn't it?

DL: Yes, it was a similar catch to the one that Kallis took, when he was diving to his left. This time it was very low down with Collingwood diving to his right; identical catch really and it didn't stick. So it's a miserable time for the lad. I feel so sorry for him. I think it's a selection issue. He should have never been selected; he should've been playing in county cricket finding form. But as always he has got another innings, he has got one more chance. And if I had two bobs to spare then I would be quite romantic and say that Collingwood will score a hundred in the next innings. I don't know how but there we are, he has got one more innings.

AM: Well, yesterday we thought England were down and out but we have got a real Test match going here at Edgbaston. You've been listening to Cricinfo Talk.

Comments: 8 
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Posted by Shane on (August 1, 2008, 9:49 GMT)

Actually Daniel_Smith, I don't agree. Conditions were not the same and you would do well to recall that Ian Bell was asking the same questions, but importantly in near perfect light conditions. This was late afternoon gloomy conditions and we're talking about experienced international cricketers questioning the committee end seats above the site-screen. Even Freddie himself was humble enough to suggest that it may not have been solely down to his (albeit fantastic) bowling. Wonderful spell that it was. This is not a new phenomenon and has often been complained about at Edgbaston. Surely it sets a dangerous precedent to allow someone to bowl 90mph+ bouncers in that kind of unsafe condition? I wonder if your views will be as dismissive when someone gets seriously hurt?

Posted by Colin on (August 1, 2008, 9:35 GMT)

Point taken but England did bat in decent light. I do not want to take away from Flintoff's performance but there were many balls which Kallis just did not see. There was one ball to Boucher where he clearly did not know where the ball was which had nothing to do with the vast ability of Freddie. This makes for an uneven contest which is a pity. I cannot understand why grounds around the world do not check the site screens before games. It is not rocket science.I watch my cricket at Newlands and on numerous accasions the game is held up because of a dodgy site screen

Posted by Daniel on (August 1, 2008, 8:48 GMT)

I would just like to reply to Bomber1. Surely England batted under the same conditions, and Andre Nel and Morne Morkel have also benefited from the problems you pointed out.

South Africa have been the better team for the last two tests. Fred has restored some much needed pride. I hope Anderson and Sidebottom give him support.

Posted by Vipul on (August 1, 2008, 6:14 GMT)

Both Andrew Flintoff and Virender Sehwag yesterday showed why they are truly one of the best players of their generation. The term genius can be aptly applied for both Freddie and Viru. They are BOX OFFICE DRAWS and with their unique ability to conjure anything out of absolutely nothing they set the pulse racing of all the spectators throughout the world. Edgbaston was the venue in 2005 Ashes where Freddie had swung the pendulum decisively in Englands favour with his fiery spell to Ponting and Co. Other bowlers like sidebottom Anderson struggled manfully to make any impact but it was freddie who came to his teams rescue. Those 45 minutes where he got the wicket of Kallis twice and DeVilliers once were the most engrossing passages of play in recent times. And what can one say about Viru's innings yesterday. I got the impression that he was playing a totally different game compared to the other batsmen. As long as there are players like Freddie and Viru Test Cricket can never be dead.

Posted by Colin on (August 1, 2008, 6:11 GMT)

surely the duel would have been far more equal if it was fought on even playing fields. It is pointless even playing cricket if the batsman is unable to see the ball due to poor site screens

Posted by Majid on (August 1, 2008, 4:50 GMT)

What a fantastic player Flintoff is. He has been immense since he returned from injury. It is a pity that the majority of his England colleagues are quite simply a shambles. It is time for a lot of these players to be dropped and even a look at the management of the team in my opinion.

Posted by Kashif on (August 1, 2008, 4:23 GMT)

It was a fantastic day of test match criket.. flintoff just showed everyone why he is such a good bowler,he just showed a lot character some world class bowling as well.. he is back at his best and south africa better watch out because he is bowling at 87-89mph consistently along with some swing.. england definetly back in the match,south africa have'nt showed enough character as usual they are letting the advantage slip poor cricket some poor shots from them.. excellent from Freddie!!!!!!! :)

Posted by Ravi on (August 1, 2008, 3:17 GMT)

Kallis-Freddie duel was one of the best to watch this along with Sachin-Lee down under earlier this year.

I hope Harmison and Simon Jones come back and are in good form - then this Eng attack will be a potent one.

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