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Page last updated at 18:58 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 19:58 UK

Flintoff seeks cloudy conditions

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff was a welcome addition to England's attack

England's Andrew Flintoff admitted he felt nervous during his first day of Test cricket for 18 months, which ended with South Africa on top at Headingley.

England fell for 203 with thick cloud cover overhead, South Africa responding with 101-3 in brighter evening weather.

And Flintoff said: "The ideal scenario is that we come back tomorrow and there's a lot more cloud cover overhead.

"I was nervous after such a long lay-off but I got quite a cheer."

He hit four boundaries to get to 17, but then edged a catch behind, admitting: "I was a bit disappointed to get out because I felt better with the bat than I had in a long time.

"The Western Terrace get behind the England side and it helps when you're out in the middle. But South Africa bowled well. They pitched the ball up and gave the ball a chance to swing.

You can't blame Amla for walking back - the decision was made and you've got to get on with it

Andrew Flintoff

"We'd like to have scored a few more runs but I enjoyed being back in the side. It's a start today - we've got the first innings and the first day out of the way and I'll continue to enjoy it."

He felt England had not bowled well until the end of the day, when James Anderson picked up two wickets, and Flintoff himself removed South African captain Graeme Smith.

"I've had some good tussles with Smith and it was nice to get him out," said Flintoff.

The Darkness Is Calling
There was a moment of controversy at the end of the day, when Hashim Amla accepted Michael Vaughan had caught him at mid-off, only to troop back out to the middle on the insistence of the South African dressing-room.

Flintoff said: "Michael threw it up thinking he'd taken the catch, it was referred and the decision went against us.

"You can't blame Amla for walking back - the decision was made and you've got to get on with it."

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur insisted: "I felt I was well within my rights to tell him to stay out there so we could get the correct decision and I believe the correct decision was made."

It was the second controversial incident of the day, with AB de Villiers claiming a slip catch from the edge of Andrew Strauss's bat during the England innings, only for TV replays to show the ball first touching the ground.

"It's fair to say that AB took a lot of criticism at lunchtime from some of the England players - from Michael Vaughan himself

""It's amazing there's a lady up there called Mother Cricket, who doesn't sleep - and it came back to haunt Michael Vaughan later in the day," said Arthur.

see also
Hoggard fears for England career
18 Jul 08 |  England
South Africa in England in 2008
14 Nov 07 |  Cricket

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