'Someone has to stick up their hand and put a special one in'

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The Independent Online

The all-rounder Andrew Flintoff last night insisted that England had the confidence to bounce back in the third Test against South Africa after slipping into trouble yesterday.

England's position puts their year-long unbeaten run, which stretches to 13 successive Tests, under threat, but Flintoff believes their ability to fight back during that sequence has given the confidence to succeed againhere.

"The plan wasn't to lose four wickets tonight, but tomorrow the rest of us are going to have to bat well and may have to scrap," Flintoff said.

"We've been in this position before over the last 12 months and come out the other side so there's a great deal of confidence we can get back into this Test match. Over the past year we've improved as a side and every time we've needed a performance from someone they've stuck their hand up and put a special one in and tomorrow is going to be no different."

The tourists need only look back as far as the previous Test in Durban for inspiration when they conceded a 193-run first-innings deficit.

Those energy-sapping efforts in Durban's intense heat were followed by just two days off before the start of this Test, but Flintoff insisted that tiredness in the England camp was not to blame for South Africa's fightback. "This is what we train for back home," he said. "We're in good nick as a group of bowlers and I thought it was a pretty good effort the way we stuck at it."

He also paid tribute to opener Andrew Strauss, who became the fourth fastest England player in history to reach 1,000 Test runs yesterday after scoring the 29 he required in his 19th innings.

"It's an amazing effort," Flintoff acknowledged. "He's played fantastically well since he's come into the side and he's helped the England team become as good as we are now. I just wish my 1,000 runs had come as quickly."

South Africa believe the wicket is favourable enough to help them establish a major first-innings lead. Jacques Kallis said that early wickets would be vital if they are to press home their advantage. "We have to try and knock the nightwatchman over early and get Flintoff in when there is a little bit of juice in the morning and then land the ball in the right area," Kallis said."There's enough in this wicket."

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