Comment: Flintoff rewards patient fans

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The Independent Online

A gripping passage of Test match cricket at its best rewarded the patience of the Edgbaston crowd after the frustration of a 90-minute rain delay after tea, turning what had been at least a better day for England into one that will give them hope of turning this match on its head as they bid to avoid a series defeat.

At the heart of it all - upliftingly for all England fans - has been Andrew Flintoff, who has roared back to something fast approaching his Ashes form with the ball to give the South Africans a classic fast bowler's going-over.

The highlight was a stunning victory against Jacques Kallis, the magnificent all-rounder, who had been looking ominously well set before Freddie let himself go.

Having completed his first half-century of the series, Kallis had just creamed Ryan Sidebottom for a couple of glorious boundaries - but then ran into Flintoff on a mission, and simply had no answer.

In 10 deliveries, England's talisman had Kallis jamming down his bat to keep out one ball and then ducking away from the next, setting him up in the manner of a true fast-bowling great before delivering the coup de grace, ripping out his off stump with a swinging yorker.

And that was not the end of it. Sensing fear in the South Africans, Flintoff went in hard now on AB de Villiers, who was plainly rattled as Flintoff continued his barrage and was soon panicked into hooking a ball he should have ignored, the ball flying off the top edge to Sidebottom at fine leg.

Sadly for England, bad light closed in to spare the tourists any more punishment. But after a day in which Sidebottom and James Anderson had toiled largely ineffectively, raising more questions about the selection of this team, Flintoff had given his teammates just the lift hey needed to tackle day three.

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