Steve Harmison made a successful return to England colours © Getty Images
 
First impression of the day

Steve Harmison was, in the words of his captain, "buzzing" when he learnt he'd be playing in his first Test since that abject performance at Hamilton in March. And the first over of his latest incarnation as an international cricketer fully backed up that assertion. His very first ball nearly did what 246 had failed to do at Edgbaston and remove Graeme Smith, but Alastair Cook in the gully couldn't cling onto a loose cut. Unperturbed, Harmison responded by squelching Smith's nether-regions with a wince-inducing nipbacker, and then for his grand finale, burst a rising ball through Tim Ambrose's gloves and straight into his mouth. As his team-mate spat blood for the cause, Harmison stalked down to fine leg with a renewed eagerness. Brisbane this was not.

Innings of the day

Once again he was the rock of South Africa's batting, but whereas at Edgbaston he had been as enduring as a slab of Aberdeen granite, here Smith was something a little more porous - Purbeck limestone, perhaps? Quite apart from his first-ball reprieve, he looked shaky throughout his 46 from 103 balls - forever prodding and missing outside off to James Anderson in particular, and inside-edging him past his own stumps for good measure. Perhaps with the series in the bag, Smith was feeling the effects of his dodgy back more acutely than he had done with the adrenalin pumping at Edgbaston, but whatever the cause, England still struggled to prise him from the crease. He is one tough cookie.

Over of the day

Of the many things that Harmison has lacked in recent years, match fitness is the first and most crucial factor. In Sri Lanka before Christmas and in New Zealand in March, he went into each Test series on the back of a solitary warm-up outing, and twice paid the price for his lack of preparation. This summer, he has bowled 335 overs for Durham in first-class cricket alone, and his rhythm was in abundance as he purred to the crease with a malevolent intent that has not been in evidence since he belatedly burst into life against Pakistan here two years ago. Smith finally succumbed to a perfect bouncer that fizzed to Anderson on the fine-leg boundary then, one ball later, Hashim Amla was late on a 92.9mph yorker that obliterated his middle stump. There's no substitute for sheer pace, as a certain former England coach will doubtless be growling from his Cape Town retreat.

Butterfingers of the day

When Harmison last played for England, eight matches ago, Cook was busy defying his well-earned reputation as a klutz. In that match, he snared six stinging catches in the slips and gully, including a one-handed pluck off Stephen Fleming in the first innings, and two in quick succession to set up Ryan Sidebottom's hat-trick in the second. Today, however, he reverted to type. That first-ball reprieve for Smith was bad enough, but then, 25 overs later, Cook compounded the error when an edge from Hashim Amla off Andrew Flintoff burst through his fingers in the slips. Seconds later, the shades that had been wrapped firmly round his features all morning were whipped off and placed on top of his head.

Captaincy call of the day

Okay, so he was merely playing by numbers, as even the finest captains would occasionally admit to doing. However, Pietersen's decision to throw the ball to Monty Panesar for the final over of the afternoon session was transformed from routine call to masterstroke when AB de Villiers played back to the first ball he faced, and was adjudged lbw for 39. Replays suggested the decision was a shade harsh, but as Monty hurtled off into the delighted embrace of his skipper, England had the look of a side that could do no wrong.

Spreading the love moment of the day

Pietersen's tenure to date has been overflowing with love - for his team-mates, for his outgoing captain, for his family and his wife, even for the coach, Peter Moores, with whom he is said not to see eye-to-eye. But the clearest manifestation of this approach to the leadership was his decision to throw the ball to Stuart Broad for the post-tea resumption. Broad's figures in the first two sessions were conspicuous by their mediocrity - each of his colleagues had taken a wicket and conceded less than three an over, whereas his nine barren overs had gone for 46. But the show of faith paid dividends. Broad claimed two cheap wickets in a five-over spell and was able to leave the field feeling much better about his game.

Undignified departure of the day

The first of Broad's victims was Morne Morkel, who was roughed up by the bouncer and gloved a looping chance to a diving Ian Bell at short leg. But the moment got worse for Morkel before it got better. As he set off for the pavilion, his radar went awry, and he ended up clambering over the advertising hoardings in front of the groundsman's shed after aiming for the wrong set of pavilion steps. The England team broke off from their celebrations to join in the mirth, and as for Morkel's team-mates, by the time he finally reached the dressing room, they were too doubled up in laughter to offer any sympathies for his dismissal.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo