South Africa's performance was all the more impressive as fast bowler Rabada had been banned from this match as a result of swearing at England all-rounder Ben Stokes during the hosts' 211-run win at Lord's last week that put them 1-0 up in this four-match series.
"Broady, Jimmy, Woody and Stokesy only bowling a handful of overs in the second innings last week means they're nice and fresh - and when they get the opportunity this week I hope they're still fresh".
The latter was particularly valuable in retrospect, as he and Alastair Cook pushed England into a much stronger position than was immediately apparent on the third evening, before the clatter of wickets the following day. "It was tough going for us, the previous one, we weren't as good as we would like to have been but in cricket you get another go and we're looking forward to this Test".
It seemed likely he would play one crashing drive too many and that was the case when he nicked Morkel to de Kock for 78 off 76 deliveries.
With conditions still flawless for seam bowling, South Africa made light work of removing England's openers - Alastair Cook caught behind off Philander (2-48) off a thin inside edge and Keaton Jennings edging the very next delivery, from Morkel, behind as it straightened on him.
"That was a very untypical English wicket and I thought we adapted to it well".
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He is only one match into his Test career but already Heino Kuhn will be acquainted with the gauntlet of life in South Africa's top order.
His team were on the ropes after a serious pummelling at Trent Bridge, the cocksure composure of victory in the first match of the series a distant memory.
Root then added a 57-run stand for the fourth wicket with Jonny Bairstow to take England out of the initial slump.
Not even South Africa. "The first Test was plain sailing for him as captain but it's a real test here".
Yorkshireman Root is championing the Brut Sport Style range while Anderson, a Lancastrian, is backing Brut Original.
Joe Root senses his pedigree seam attack will have conditions to suit against South Africa on their return to a favourite hunting ground at Trent Bridge. He had overtaken Amla in run terms and looked at home in the middle, he had made du Plessis' decision look a decent once, with runs coming fairly easy and damage limited.
In light of South Africa's collapse, Ballance's second innings 34 looks rather better than it did at the time, but he still needs to score to cement his place at number three.