Proteas braced for Flintoff
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has welcomed the return to England colours of Andrew Flintoff at Headingley.
Last Updated: 17/07/08 4:52pm
South Africa captain Graeme Smith has welcomed the return to England colours of Andrew Flintoff for the second Test at Headingley.
Flintoff is making his first Test appearance for 18 months having battled back to full fitness following two ankle operations and a side strain.
And Smith believes the Lancashire all-rounder's presence in Leeds will authenticate the outcome of the second Test.
"Personally, I have a lot of respect for 'Fred' - what he's achieved and the type of man he is," said Smith.
"I'm sure he's going to be a big influence on the England team - so for us, it is going to be a challenge.
"There's obviously a lot of hype around him and he seems to handle everything in his stride.
"He is dangerous with both (bat and ball); he's a guy you really have to respect on both fronts, as opposition.
On the hosts' decision to bat Flintoff at number seven, Smith commented: "(England captain) Michael (Vaughan) obviously sees him more as a frontline bowler.
"But if you look at his batting - especially in the Ashes 2005 - he has played some key knocks.
"I suppose at Headingley, with overhead conditions, they might think they need that extra batter.
"We expected him to play; we prepared to face him from the start, but obviously they took a slightly more cautious route.
"Now it's just where they are going to fit him in - and I guess that debate goes on.
"But, if we can win, no one can ask questions of us."
South Africa comfortably batted out for a draw in the first Test after being asked to follow-on.
And the tourists are aiming to take the confidence gained during that rearguard into the remainder of the four-match series.
As for the traditionally vocal Headingley spectators, Smith is hopeful they too can help switch his team on to the task in hand.
"We can use it as motivation," added Smith. "Most of our guys enjoy it and are interested in it. When the 'barmy army' travel to South Africa, there is one of the best cricket atmospheres in the world.
"Most of those guys usually have a good sense of humour. It's just important that you use it in the right spirit.
"The crowd, the whole influence of everyone around us is going to be different from Lord's.
"I did a function with Michael (Vaughan) last night and he said there would be a few (fancy dress) 'cows and pigs' walking around the stadium.
"I think there will be a few interesting characters - and a whole different atmosphere.
"I'm sure the juice levels will be up and as a team it's something we're prepared for and are looking forward to.
"These are the challenges of winning away from home."
South Africa's only injury worry concerns opening batsman Neil McKenzie, who is a minor doubt with a groin strain.
McKenzie batted for more than nine hours while making 138 in the second innings of the series opener and, if he is unfit for Headingley, Jean-Paul Duminy will replace him for a Test debut.
The other possible change would be to bring Andre Nel into a four-man pace attack in place of left-arm spinner Paul Harris.