Bairstow justifies selection
Jonny Bairstow dealt with the controversy surrounding his selection the best he way he possibly could have - by scoring runs.
After Kevin Pietersen's omission due to to his contract wrangles and text-messaging troubles, Bairstow was always going to be under heaps of pressure to fill the boots of the man he was replacing, but he stood up to the challenge superbly, sharing a valuable century stand with Ian Bell to help dig England out of a hole following the early dismissal of their top order.
The young Yorkshireman' finished the day on 72 not out, his maiden test half century, to help take England to 208 for five by stumps on day two.
Bell was eventually dismissed for 58, and said afterwards that the situation surrounding Pietersen was never on his or Bairstow's mind while they were out at the crease.
"If we had been thinking about that, then there would have been a lot of pressure on him," he said of Bairstow.
"I don't really think he would have thought like that.
"As soon as we got together as a group, I don't think that was on our minds. All we've thought about was trying to win this Test match.
"From the moment he turned up in practice, he just talked about being Jonny Bairstow and scoring as many runs (as possible) - like Jonny Bairstow has for the Lions and for Yorkshire.
"That seems to have worked for him really well."
Bell was impressed with the way Bairstow handled the short ball after the South Africans, who had clearly watched the tapes of the batsmen's struggles in that department against the West indies during his first stint for England, targeted him in that area.
"I'm not too sure about the shoes to fill," he said, "but he certainly showed some great character, having been left out of the team and had to go away and work on a few areas.
"He was tested with them straightaway - which you expect in Test cricket - and I thought he handled himself brilliantly.
"He'd obviously worked really hard on a method back at Yorkshire, and got through that test.
"He's got to start again and do it again for us (on Saturday).
"But I thought he was fantastic - and as the innings went on, we started to see some shots that you hear about in county cricket.
"He hit the ball really hard, certainly against the spinner, and looked a quality player. For us now, he needs to kick on with Matty Prior and get us into a good position.
"It was a fantastic effort. You know when you play South Africa it's going to be really tough. It was today, and we got through that.
"We've got our way back into the game, with the second half of our batting.
"It certainly would have been nice if I hadn't got out.
"But obviously there's a big period tomorrow morning; if we can win the first hour, this is coming into a great Test match now."