While the South African batsman have been in great form so far in the series, 5 of the top 6 have scored hundreds, with Prince netting two, and only Kallis missing out. Kallis had even failed to reach double figures in the series. The big all rounder is South Africa’s best batsman, with 48 Test 50’s and 31 Test 100’s to his name. He has seldom gone a series without getting amongst the runs and it was unusual that he had not feasted on the conditions thus far. With good scores in the warm up games, including a big hundred, it was more of a case of needing time at the crease rather than being off form. His bowling has been as good as ever, as seen with his three wickets in the England’s first innings, and a great catch in the slips, adding to the claim that he is the best all rounder in the world. While not getting to a hundred, this innings will set him up for the end of the series.
While Kallis is South Africa’s best player, Flintoff is perhaps England’s best, or at the very least the most important. His battle with Kallis last night showed England exactly what they had been missing in the last 18 months without the all rounder, and more of the fight and aggression that England need in tough situations. The dual, which Flintoff won when he sent Kallis stumps flying with a superb yorker, was the best moment of the Test series, and perhaps in a long time in Test cricket. It brought back memories of Donald and Atherton from past series, and will no doubt be responsible for bringing the crowds in for the remainder of this match and the last Test, staring on Thursday.
While Flintoff was aiding by the batsman “losing” the ball for a split second after delivery, due to a short side screen, but even with this to his advantage, and the batsman’s disadvantage, the consistency of his bowling, pitching yorkers perfectly, can not be taken away from him. It was Test cricket at its best, with two great players turning a team sport into an individual contest. The fact that it brought England back into a game, and series, which was slipping away from them, highlighted the importance of Flintoff’s contribution.
The runs scored by Kallis will bring more confidence to a South African batting line up that has been at the top of their game, but it was the Flintoff v Kallis battle that will be the enduring memory of this Test, and probably the series.
(Pic from cricinfo.com)