Byline: DAVID LLOYD
JIMMY ANDERSON and Ryan Sidebottom took two wickets apiece as England managed to polish off South Africas first innings here today without any significant help from Andrew Flintoff.
The man who put the spark back into Michael Vaughans team was robbed of a fifth victim when Paul Collingwoods nightmare match continued with a dropped slip catch.
But Flintoffs ace partners did their bit for the cause as South Africa, having resumed on 256 for six, were dismissed for 314, giving them an important but not insurmountable lead of 83 runs at the halfway stage of the npower Third Test.
Anderson sent back Morne Morkel and Mark Boucher while Sidebottom accounted for Ashwell Prince and Andre Nel.
It was not only Collingwood who slipped up, though. Monty Panesar, surely now unrivalled as international crickets worst fielder, dropping a sitter in the deep just before South Africas innings ended.
And, despite their fightback from a position where the visitors had been in complete control at 226 for four, England still had a mountain climb in order to level the series.
Thanks almost entirely to Flintoffs efforts yesterday evening there was a completely different atmosphere inside the ground this morning. For the best part of two days the crowd, what there was of it, had been as flat as Englands performance. But Vaughans men were roared on to the field and most seats were occupied by the time the countrys return-ing hero ran up to bowl his first ball.
Flintoffpointed out last night that the second-day fightback would count for little if South Africa were allowed to rebuild. And even his most optimistic fans knew Super Fred could not do it all by himself, so Sidebottoms second-over success looked as though it might be really significant.
While Flintoffwas recovering from his ankle injury, Sidebottom turned him-self into Englands player of the year with a string of fine performances. But the left-armer has been fighting a back problem for much of this summer and, having missed the Headingley defeat, he continues to look under par.
Bearing that in mind, perhaps Prince thought Sidebottom was the man to attack. In any event, having batted so solidly yesterday when caught in the eye of the Flintoffstorm, the left-hander let himself down by driving loosely at a modest away-swinger to edge to keeper Tim Ambrose.
South Africa had added only eight runs to their overnight total when Prince departed. And if Collingwoods wretched match had improved just a bit, instead of getting even worse, then England really would have been on a roll. …