Ashes 2nd Test, England vs Australia Day 5

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England 425 & 311/6d, Australia 215 & 406 (107.0 ov) England won by 115 runs – Flintoff 5-92, Swann 4-87

Flintoff takes his first ever Lords Test Five For propelling England to a 1 0 Ashes lead and Breaks their 75 Year Lord’s Curse

SPORT CRICKET AUSTRALIAAt the start of the day the equation was simple – Australia needed a further 209 runs and England needed to take the final 5 wickets. Either way, history was to be made today. It was time for England to break their Lord’s Ashes curse (75 yrs without an Ashes win at lords or for Australia to smash the highest ever test chase (522 would completely eclipse the 418 chased by the Windies in Australia in 2003). Yesterday the record 6th wicket partnership for Australia at Lords played them back into contention but they still had a mountain to climb. Admittedly the assured batting of Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin looked ominous for England and as an England fan you often have to think the worse.

But a ball being relatively new, 6 overs old, and the opening spell from Flintoff would surely be key to the partnership being broken. If England could then send the free flowing Johnson back to the hutch to boot the tail would then be exposed.

After a great first over from Jimmy Andersen built early pressure an inspired Flintoff struck in his first over. In typical style he hit the pitch hard catching Haddin on the crease and his outside edge duly collected by Collingwood at wide slip. Haddin failed to add to his overnight total and surprise, surprise it was Freddie who broke the key partnership.

B Haddin C Collingwood b Flintoff  80

A venimous spell of bowling was to follow that rarely would drop below 90mph and feature McGrath-like-accuracy. Johnson was clearly unnerved and struggled to pick up the length. As did Clarke who took a blow to the temple. Then came a  vicious Freddie full toss to Johnson that would have cleaned him up, plumb lbw, had he not overstepped. In an attempt to get comfortable at the crease both Clarke and Johnson decided to play some shots, with Clarke playing the kind of exquisite cover drives that got the final day England nerves going and thinking the impossible from day 4.

After a sterling but unfruitful first spell from Andersen, the England captain turned to Graemme Swann to see if he could put an end to the Aussies last throw of the dice. Swann duly obliged with only his second delivery. Michael Clarke having nimbly advanced down the track and driven off Swann’s first delivery tried to repeat his shot with the second.  This time however, the ball was fighted 5mph slower, dipped and drifted past the outside edge as he danced down the track, the ball turning just enough to hit the timber. Australia’s best player of spin came unstuck and would need a  minor miracle from here on in.

Clarke   b Swann   138
Much to the delight of the brimming Lord’s crowd the Flintoff hostility continued from the other end. Hauritiz shouldered arms to a Flintoff delivery that nipped back off the seam and rattled the off peg. In his quasi pterodactyl celebration you could see shades of the 2005 Ashes. Flintoff had 4 wickets and could sense his first ever test 5 for and the England victory.

Hauritz  b Flintoff  1

With Australia 8 down Mitchell Johnson could only attack. He hit some boundaries off the spinner along with a straight drive in the air back to swann who dived to his right with the ball momentarily stuck in his hand, before it fell out.

Flintoff had other ideas and was writing his own script. After an hour and a half of bowling you’d think it was time for him to have a rest. But trying to get the ball out the big man’s hand would be an impossible task. This 90mph bowling machine was not finished yet. He continued to steam in, bowling Siddle pinned on the crease with a ball that kept slightly low. The stadium erupted, Flintoff’s now came out with the full pterodactyl celebration down on his knees as his England team mates congratualted him. This was Flintoff’s first ever five wicket haul at the home of cricket. A spell of hostile, at times unplayable, bowling that was too hot for the Aussies to handle.

Siddle    b Flintoff   7

Swann, not to be outdone by Flintoff, polished off Johnson (63) as he advanced down the track and got bowled to give England the 1 0 series lead in the Ashes and break the 75 year curse hanging over England at the home of cricket.

Johnson    b Swann   64

Swann’s efforts deserve so much credit, 4 for 87, but you feel that Flintoff’s  5 for 92 was what drove England to this historic win. In my eyes, this confirms Freddie’s status as the best bowling all-rounder in world cricket today. Come the end of the series we will be able to assess whether he was a true great of the game . One thing is for sure, his retirement will leave a gaping void in the England bowling attack.

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