South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day January 3, 2005

Patience was the key - Kallis

Nicky Boje added to England's agony with a crucial half-century © Getty Images

On the second day at Newlands, South Africa enjoyed their best day of the series so far, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Jacques Kallis and Nicky Boje, whose 104-run stand for the eighth wicket lifted their total to an imposing 441. By the close, England were struggling to stay in touch, after losing four top-order wickets in quick succession, including Andrew Strauss for 45, just two overs before the close.

"Patience was what was required on that pitch," said Kallis, whose 149 was his second big hundred of the series. "It has a slow, steep, tennis-ball bounce, and it's not easy to score on, because it's difficult to hit through the line. There's a little bit in it if the bowlers find the right areas, and with the uneven bounce, scoring will become more difficult."

For Kallis, it was just another day at the office, notwithstanding an incredibly hostile opening over from Steve Harmison, which he admitted "woke him up a bit". He has now scored 382 runs in the series, and this was his eighth century in 14 matches. But he could not have achieved the same success without Boje at the other end, and he was quick to praise his team-mate's contribution.

"Nicky played unbelievably well," said Kallis. "At one stage we were looking at 400 as a total, so to get towards 450 was a bonus. It's important that the lower order contributes, and they have done that in the last few games. It was nice to see, and it showed what sort of a player he is."

It was Boje's third Test half-century (he also has two one-day hundreds to his name), but his first since his return to the side after an operation to remove his thyroid gland, which, during a routine check-up, was found to have developed a cancerous growth. It was the sort of moment that puts a sporting career into perspective.

"It's quite a shock when it happens," said Boje. "You don't really think it can happen to a 30-year-old, a fit and strong guy, but it can happen to anyone. I'm on tablets now for the rest of my life, but I'm just lucky it's the type of cancer that stays in the thyroid. They say if you want to get cancer that's the one to get."

As for the match situation, Kallis admitted that the crucial period of the England innings would come when Andrew Flintoff comes to the crease, and seeing that they used Matthew Hoggard as a nightwatchman, they anticipate that moment coming sooner rather than later. But Flintoff himself was confident that his team would fight back hard, just as they had done at Durban last week.

"We'll have to scrap," said Flintoff. "The rest of us have got to bat well, but we've been in this position before and come out the other side. The Durban match has given us confidence, and over the past 12 to 18 months, whenever we've needed a performance, someone has stuck their hand up."