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Flintoff - England's gladiator supreme

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Oliver Brett | 15:06 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

It was not the moment when England actually won the second Test against Australia that will stick longest in the memory.

When Andrew Flintoff - surely bowling as well as any man has at Lord's - picked up the ninth wicket of the Australian innings, he dropped to one knee, and with his arms outstretched held the pose as he faced the spectators in the Mound and Tavern Stands.

Andrew Flintoff

Every day, every single little thing he did had been raucously cheered by spectators inebriated by his brilliance. So it was ironic that he was the one genuflecting to them, his besotted followers.

The fans had come knowing that in the years to come they would be able to tell their grandchildren that they watched Flintoff's last Test at Lord's. The cherry on the trifle, of course, was that their hero was providing the man-of-the-match performance in England's first win against Australia at headquarters since 1934, and only their second since 1896.

There had been criticism of the timing of Flintoff's announcement that he would play no further Test cricket after this current series, Australia's captain Ricky Ponting pointing out that this tour of last hurrahs might turn into a distracting "circus".

But if the Lord's experience is anything to go by, spectators can look forward to seeing performances that are less Coco the Clown and more Maximus Decimus Meridius. How appropriate, then, that Russell Crowe attended a day of this Test.

In his 77th Test, Flintoff had pulled out only the third five-wicket haul of his career. Having already sent down 29 overs previously in the match, he bowled another 60 deliveries early on Monday, plus the odd no-ball, at an average speed of 90mph. Did he bowl a single ball that did not ask serious questions of every batsman who faced him? I doubt it.

But it was not all about Flintoff. Andrew Strauss's big century, James Anderson's four wickets on Friday, the confident batting of Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, and Graeme Swann's 4-87 were all important pieces of an England jigsaw that is coming together nicely.

At lunch on day five in Cardiff, with Australia apparently on course to go 1-0 up in the series, that same puzzle had been upended, in hundreds of pieces, on to the carpet. In 10 days' time, assuming the injury niggles to three or four players can be sorted out, we will see the same 11 players taking on Australia at Edgbaston.

Now, the problem-solving will be in Ricky Ponting's camp. In post-match interviews, the Australian captain offered strong suggestions he would not be keen to either drop the misfiring Mitchell Johnson or shake up the team in any other way.

Strong performances from any one of Brett Lee, Stuart Clark or Shane Watson at Northampton - perhaps even Andrew McDonald - may change that thinking.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well done England, despite a heroic innings from Clarke, you have been all over Australia in this match (the opposite of what happened in Cardiff in fact).

    The Aussie attack is pretty toothless though and Johnson should be sent to practice line and length for the next 9 or so days, just to get the basics of bowling right instead of trying to bowl a killer ball every time.

    On that subject, if Johnson is to be kept in the team, then I would take North out of the batting line up and replace him with Lee.

    A fired up Brett Lee and some more disciplined batting in the first innings should take Australia a long way. Both teams could do with some decent umpiring as well - Doctrove in particular is not up to it.

  • Comment number 3.

    Excellent blog.
    Freddie is the best bowler in the world in my opinion, he has also looked promising with the bat in this series. My moneys on a Freddie century at edgbaston.
    Agree with you about the aussie attack aswell, Clark, Watson and Lee all will have a point to prove.

  • Comment number 4.

    I know some posters think that Freddie gets too much of the limelight and clearly there are others in the team who made extremely important contributions.
    However, putting his own stats to one side, you cannot ignore the pschological effect that Freddie has on his own teammates, and perhaps more importantly on the opposition. The other England players are queing up to pay tribute to the fella and Freddie is the one bowler that truly frightens the Aussies.
    The management must ensure that he is used properly over the next three tests. I appreciate he wanted to finish the job off today, but from what we read and hear, bowling him for 10 over spells may bring an early exit from this series for the big man from Preston.

  • Comment number 5.

    Every time Flintoff came on to bowl he made something happen. The likes of Anderson and Broad are good bowlers but they are yet to get to the stage where they can intimidate batters like Freddie. He really stands up for the big occasions for England, something that will be heavily missed when he retires after the 5th test.

  • Comment number 6.

    Let's enjoy a truly great performance by England. Freddie was brilliant, but it would be an injustice if people forgot about the performances of several other key players; Strauss (equally deserving of the man-of-the-match, for without his effort, England would not have had nearly enough runs to play with, however well they bowled). Graham Swann, along with Freddie, is probably my favourite England cricketer of the moment: he gave a much more accurate impression of his skills here; he also looks like a player in the Flintoff mold: an indomitable character who rises to the big challenge (I suspect he got himself TOO pumped up at Cardiff).
    Sweet though the victory is, though, England still have things to work on. Harmison MUST now come into the side: the pressure must be kept on this Australian batting line-up, and two bowlers of 90mph plus would be better than one. Also, if Freddie DOES happen to break down in the middle of a test match, our back-up bowling as it is does not seem able to present a consistent threat.
    Don't quite agree that Freddie is the best bowler in the world, though: given that Mitchell Johnson has yet to prove his staying power, the figures and record of Dale Steyn can't be argued with.

  • Comment number 7.

    Anyone else think that England would look much better with:

    - Harmison for Broad
    - Bell for Bopara (We need a top short leg for Flintoff and Harmison, Cook stands up too quick)

    With Flintoff, Prior and Swann you don't need Broad too deepen the batting, and right now he is the weak link who the Aussies are getting after to relieve the pressure

  • Comment number 8.

    "spectators can look forward to seeing performances that are less Coco the Clown and more Maximus Decimus Meridius. How appropriate, then, that Russell Crowe attended a day of this Test."

    Good grief, Oliver. You shoehorned that one in, didn't you?

  • Comment number 9.

    What a great performance. A little nervy after that partnership between Haddin and Clark, admittedly, but but still a great team performance from England, every player playing an important role in the win. Would you believe it the first time England have beaten anyone but West Indies and New Zealand in a live test match since Pakistan in 2006- Almost 3 years. The perfect time to end that run.

  • Comment number 10.

    Please please please let's not make Flintoff's head any bigger than it is already. "England bowler gets wickets". That's what he's paid to do. I feel he's a great PART of the team. If you believed the media England have only one player. Please let's have some more balanced reporting. Strauss should've been man of the match. He controlled it all superbly: scoring a total of nearly 200 runs and declaring at exactly the right time in the face of (what we all thought) was a dodgy weather forecast. Anderson's bowling was more important in the first innings and Swann was just as vital in finishing the Aussies off. And lay off the appalling gladiator gags.

  • Comment number 11.

    In fairness to Broad, I think he'll go on and be a top class England player. He already looks pretty good and Freddie, by comparison, had a much poorer start to his Test career. I also suspect Broad's fitness will be better, for longer.

    I am a fan of Freddie but, although his is great on occasion (and they are wonderful occasions!) he fails to record match-winning hauls too often to be considered a great bowler and his batting has been woefully under par. I think, despite the odd top-class performance, he has actually not fulfilled his massive potential. For Kallis to have more wickets AND a better bowling average, as well as a 20-something better batting average is too big a discrepancy to be ignored Freddie is capable of great performances but shouldn't go down as a great player.

    Despite all that, he's still been the best England player for the past five years and some of his Ashes performances will live long in my memory. I have tickets for the Saturday at Edgbaston and am praying he and KP will be fit!

  • Comment number 12.

    One word: talisman. Nuff said. Can't wait for the rest of the series!

  • Comment number 13.

    Broad figures for the match we better than Onions just. I would leave both well alone. Bell at 3 Bopara at 4 if Pieterson cannot play.
    I would not drop Bopara.
    Harmison for Flintoff or Onions if either is not fit.

  • Comment number 14.

    ""spectators can look forward to seeing performances that are less Coco the Clown and more Maximus Decimus Meridius. How appropriate, then, that Russell Crowe attended a day of this Test."

    Good grief, Oliver. You shoehorned that one in, didn't you?"

    You mean crowe-barred lol. Sorry:(

  • Comment number 15.

    As fan for many years, and having followed the last few days (via the amazing technology!), I would like to say how terrific I believe all these young men to be as role models to other young people growing up right now. The values and behaviours of commitment, dedication, hard work, passion for the team, self development and focus on a positive outcome seem to me to be so important in today's complex and confusing world! If only we could 'bottle it' and distribute its potency I believe so many young men would benefit and the world, (not just of sport), would benefit hugely.

  • Comment number 16.

    Here's my theory on Freddie's stats. I think most people would agree he's a world-class bowler so why has he not taken more wickets and got more fivefers? Maybe it's because he's used as a strike bowler and his wicket haul therefore includes world top order batsmen, just like today's. And because he's injury prone he rarely gets a chance to mop up tailenders. I haven't researched this (i've got a life!) but it would be interesting if his ratio of top order to lower order victims is significantly higher than any of his contemporaries. Anybody like to seek out the truth!

  • Comment number 17.

    Phenomenal effort by Freddie and encouragingly fearless cricket from England right from the off - the way that Strauss and Cook got stuck in on the first morning put Punter's boys on the back foot from the word go.

    Let's hope Freddie's heroics with the ball in his last few Tests will inspire a new generation of English youngsters to want to bowl genuinely fast - not just aspire to be a seam bowler and hope for a bit of wobble. As many have mentioned, too often Broad and Anderson et al do not look particularly threatening when conditions aren't helpful. A bit of extra pace will always make even the best batsmen realise they are in a contest - as witness Freddie's 95 mph ball to remove Hussey when he was well set and looking good - he misjudged his leave because he had that bit less time to react. And let's see English coaches and captains making sure that fast bowlers pitch the ball up and knock the wickets over too, rather than banging it in halfway down as a stock delivery.

    Finally, let's not see the ECB, the BBC and the Government repeating the mistakes of the past with regard to supporting Test cricket, i.e. failing to capitalise on the euphoria of our 2005 Ashes win - we must have live Test cricket (including women's Test cricket, where England lead the world) back on free-to-air television if it is going to survive and inspire future generations to take up the game.

    Having said that though, I have to congratulate the BBC on its radio and online coverage of cricket which is second to none, even pioneering in the live text department with inspired commentators like Ben Dirs and colleagues showing what can be done with the medium.

  • Comment number 18.

    Freddie hasn't been consistently good enough or fit enough to trouble the all time greats in terms of statistics. But cricket isn't all about stats and what he has been is a talisman for england. If he can be the deciding factor in 2 winning ashes series then who cares. Plenty of footballers scored more goals than Eric Cantona, but are they equally feted?

    As the Smiths once sang, some runs/wickets are better than others.

  • Comment number 19.

    Want to echo the point made by 'magnetic_monopole' on the BBC coverage. I've been following the event on mobile 'phone, laptop connected to WiFi and iPod, just superb, thanks and well done! Also agree that we MUST get test cricket back on free to air channels.

  • Comment number 20.

    " Harmison MUST now come into the side: the pressure must be kept on this Australian batting line-up, and two bowlers of 90mph plus would be better than one."

    actually, although i'm not a big fan of his, i'm pretty sure that i saw onions bowling speeds up at 90 mph. harmison has been bowling well recently and there is certainly a massive pressure from the media to get him back in the side. in the end i think injuries will dictate he gets a shot, onions looked to be carrying a knock, and i think flintoff might be strugling for the next one as well.

    as for this blog, what a load of hero worshiping rubbish. the galdiator reference was perticularly cringe worthy.

    finally, please lets not forget that at least one wicket (hussey) was a ghost wicket, and opinions were divided on another as well (hughes) and on another day it could have gone the other way, although i think this was a clear catch. there was a large slice of fortune in this win and they should never have come within 100 runs of us on a 4/5th day pitch chasing 500+.

    we still need to improve a lot to win the series, bopara and pieterson need to find some form with the bat and we still need to be more consistant with our bowling. with onions and anderson we rely too much on the ball swinging and are in trouble if it doesn't.

  • Comment number 21.

    Sorry Oliver, it WAS the moment when England actually won the second Test against Australia that will stick longest in the memory. We haven't done that at Lords this side of World War II. And, glorious as Freddie's 5-for was, I'd have given man of the match to Anderson for his four top-end wickets in Oz' first innings, before which they were well in the game, after which they never recovered.

  • Comment number 22.

    I find such articles, as well as Flintoff's mannerisms on taking a wicket, with all the arm stretching, footballish celebrations, not only inappropriate but potentially divisive to the team. So are we to think that no one else in the England team contributed to this victory? What will the likes of Swann, Anderson, Strauss, Cook, etc and all those guys whose contribution made the heroics of Flintoff possible in the first place be thinking reading this article?

    Please don't get carried away.

  • Comment number 23.

    Flintoff's second innings bowling spells were Test match pace bowling at it's finest. Quick, hostile, accurate .... testing every facet of opposing top batters technique. A real leader and inspiration of the bowling attack in the field - Steve Harmison please take note. Ian Chappell ... a stern but fair judge who has seen some decent pace bowling in his time agreed with me.

  • Comment number 24.

    Flintoff is an average player and Australia will win this series 3-1 despite the outrageous luck in the first Test and the despicable cheating in the Second. Poor England, can't even beat Australia when the Antipodeans have their weakest team in about 100 years.

  • Comment number 25.

    While, like everyone else, I admire Flintoff's bowling crusade, Graham Swann's performance has seemingly disappeared into the shadows without a trace. After his disappointing 1st Test and just one over in the first innings of the second, given the pressure, stress and magnitude of today's situation, cometh the hour, cometh the man.

    England, perhaps, have their best spin bowler since the heady days of the 1970s. Not only is he a better and more intelligent bowler than Giles, but his batting prowess is better too. The way he bowled Clarke with just his second ball, even offers England a certain Shane Warne mystique. While Flintoff is getting all the plaudits, without Swann's 4 wickets, the 2nd Test result might have been different. And after the disappointments of Monty, England have finally found a spinner that ticks all the boxes in the modern game.

    Meanwhile, bring in Harmison for Onions.

  • Comment number 26.

    Cochfac....I couldnt agree more.
    My son was 10 yrs old in 1981..we know what happened then.!
    He and his contempories all took up an enthusiastic interest in the great game thanks to SIR IAN,GOWER,LAMB,WILLIS and co.
    Shalford Cricket Club benefitted from this, most of them were converted, many still playing. Kept them off the streets and Shalford CC is a thriving village
    There must be many potential England fast bowlers out there, particularly of WI descent, if only the government of this country would recognise the importance of THIS SPORT (and others) in getting these youngsters off the streets and a chance to do something worthwhile with their lives.....get sport back into the state schools big time.

  • Comment number 27.

    As thrilling and welcome as today's victory was, it could have been so much more. If Fred had looked after himself properly, then we could be rubbing our hands at the prospect of another 5 years of top class bowling from him. It irritates me to see the likes of Broad and Anderson, guys who duck the limelight and look after their bodies, not to mention shoulder the responsibility when Fred is crocked again, get ignored or criticised when they 'fail'. We will never build anything if we keep overdoing the 'hero' bit. As AntonfromLancs says, without the devastating spell by Anderson, plus telling contributions from others such as the captain (how can you get 161 and not MOM?) we would have had nothing to bowl at this morning.

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree with the gent who commented on the lack of praise given to Swann. He bowled dreadfully in Cardiff and the doubters were out in force with the comments about how he'd only been good against the West Indies and hadn't been tested. There was a lot of pressure on him in a similar way to the pressure that had been placed on Hauritz at Cardiff. Like his Australian counterpart, Swann answered the critics in the best way possible. Flintoff will grab the headlines but you look at the Australian scorecard and see numbers four to six all claimed by Swann.

    Shane Warne made a very good point about pace. Swann's control of pace is beautiful to watch. His final over before dismissing Johnson saw him zipping around from 51 to 77 mph. To be able to do that and retain the amount of spin he gets is very impressive.

  • Comment number 29.

    2 Points on Freddie.

    1st - Pontings describing of the timing of his retirement as creating a "circus" is as disgusting as it is hypocytical! Does no-one remember the last ashes? The whole thing was Warne and McGraths last hurrah! Even in 2005 they were playing on the "Warnes last series in England" theme, as in so many other area's Ponting hates to see in other teams what is fine in his own!

    2nd - How on earth are we going to replace him! He is the ownly English bowler who actually frightens the opposition (despite his medicore career figures), witness the start this morning of an Aussie past 100 almost wetting himself every ball Fred bowls! The only other other English bower who does this is Harmison, but then only 1 match in 3 (if we're lucky) The rest of our bowlers are no where near his level, and as far as I'm aware there is no one that good coming through, I'm more worried now about visiting S Africa, than the rest of the ashes!

  • Comment number 30.

    Well done to the boys - a great result however you look at it. Those querying some of the wickets might want to think back to 2007 and Strauss' bad decisions in particular. in an ideal world such things wouldn't happen but in the real world you just have to accept the decisions that don't go your way.

    People are right to highlight The roles played by Jimmy and Swanny in particular. As an aside, when did an England scorecard have 6 clean bowled?

    The batting continues to be a worry. If KP isn't right then he should rest until he is. Meanwhile there is an obvious replacement for him or Bopara. Someone with a Test double century to his name and currently in the form of his life, single-handedly scoring more runs at Cardiff last week than the entire England team managed in their second innings there. The other thing abbout Rob Key is that he has rather more experience of captaincy than most of those on central contracts, which is another area that needs some work. Not Strauss' fault, just the way things work these days with Test players having little time to play with their counties and practice the art of captaincy there.

  • Comment number 31.

    Great performances not only by Flintoff (brilliant) and Strauss (dependable), but also Alistair Cook.

    Cook missed out on his century (to be fair who could have ever predicted that Johnson would bowl one straight?!), but he set the tone for the entire match by scoring fast and with a sense of dominance. Strauss was 40+ runs behind him when he fell on 95, as Cook had made all the running.

    So in among all the deserved tributes to the Andrews, I just want to say well done to Cook, possibly he could play the Trescothick role in this series (quietly effectively without ever getting the headlines).

  • Comment number 32.

    In the first innings, Anderson said he owed some of his wickets to Flintoff anyway, as he exerted pressure from one end and Anderson picked them up from the other. They've gelled into a fantastic new ball partnership - long may it continue!

    Missed today's play due to work, but I yesterday I think Flintoff's bowling was outstanding - especially as he was carrying a knock. I also think that when Prior, Collingwood and Flintoff were at the crease (not all at once!!) in the second innings, it was a very fine batting display for England - the finest I've seen for a long time from us. Exactly what we needed at the exact right moment - gave us the option of declaring first thing on Day 4. Prior in particular was fantastic, and I think he's developed into a top keeper/batsman.

  • Comment number 33.

    Just watched the highlights and I'm struck by how FF milked the applause - but didn't go to his team-mates. He's not a team player and never has been. Couldn't capatin because he had to think about other players not just himself. He's a terrific player and a big personality but the adulation he's received for basically bowling out a few tailenders is boredering on the absurd. The Haddin wicket was important but who got out Clarke to break the scary partnership with Johnson? SWANN.

  • Comment number 34.

    Garygastropod - I see your point, Flintoff is a showman and does milk the crowd. But I think that's his value to the England team - not every personality wants to be scrutinised, to be the centre of attention. Some, esp English players, often like to remain relatively anonymous.

    Maybe the huge egos of Broad or Pietersen could get riled by Flintoff's showmanship, but on the whole the team responds to his personality - he eradicates their nerves and shyness. You really think Collingwood, Cook, Onions, Strauss, Prior or Anderson felt anything other than delight at seeing Flintoff play to the crowd?!

  • Comment number 35.

    Thanks for all the interesting replies. Just a quick rejoinder to those of you who think I am overdoing the Flintoff praise - on another blog I wrote today I got a few people questioning why I had "only" given him nine out 10!

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh please really acknowledge the work of the whole team-Flintoft did really well in the 2nd innings but the groundwork was set by others-look at the first over this morning as Anderson came in. What will you do when Flintoft is no more-perhaps we might get a more balanced and realistic view.

  • Comment number 37.

    A great Talisman of the Game, not just for England, but for Cricket.

    Way past his best, but shown that every dog has his day, and this was probably the last highlight in an exceptional career.

    I would love to see Harmison in for Broad next test. I do not see the point in Bowling on over of 4 straight bouncers before a full lengther against Tail-enders. You're meant to test a tail-ender's technical prowess with hard to hit balls, you're not meant to give them easy balls to duck under. He's a decent prospect, but out of his depth at the moment.

  • Comment number 38.


    "Just watched the highlights and I'm struck by how FF milked the applause - but didn't go to his team-mates. He's not a team player and never has been..."

    Flintoff is one of those rare sportsmen who actually gets away with his OTT behaviour. Not since Botham have England had a cricketing folk hero and, in my view, it makes Ashes cricket all the more enjoyable.

    Of course, he was milking his last appearance at Lords in a Test match, but there will still be the ODI and even perhaps the 20/20. So, in that respect, his farewells were all a bit hollow. But Freddie is "a nice bloke" and the crowd seem to love him all the more for this milking. And why he got 'Man of the Match' rather than Strauss or Clarke. For usually it is the batsmen who garner that offering.

    As I stated in a previous post, I feel sorry for Graham Swann who deserves similar plaudits for his bowling performance. But this won't occur because he is 'not the one and only FF!'

    As another poster commented, I'm sure most English players enjoy the media attention being turned on Flintoff as it allows them to live their lives normally away from the publicity glare.

  • Comment number 39.

    ThethirdRonaldo - Good point about Flintoff's taking all the attention being to the benefit of other players; one of the TMS commentators made the inverse point regarding Ponting: last time, there were lots of Australian "hate figures" for the England fans to focus abuse on (Hayden, Mad Dog McGrath, Warne, Gillespie's caravan) but now there's only really Ponting who gets people's backs up, hence the increased focus and pressure on him.

    Not sure about Cook taking the Trescothick role - Tresco smashed the Australians all over the place in a way that Cook is just not capable of. Tresco was also more consistent (England's top scorer of the series). He's a big loss, and his absence may yet be the difference in this series.

    Incidentally, Jimmy Anderson now bowls at 90mph as well as Flintoff and Onions. Anderson is a big success of the last couple of years: he was pretty poor on the last Ashes tour and is now improved in all three facets of the game. He'll be leading the line once Freddie is gone.

    As for Harmison, I'm not a fan of his (such a waste of talent, with his crybaby bottling under pressure) but he's been playing brilliantly this summer, and I think in particular his great performance in the county game last week, after the disappointment of being told he wasn't in the team for Lords, has earned his way back. Now that the pressure and expectation is off him, with Freddie and Jimmy our main pace bowlers, Harmison may just be able to relax and enjoy it. If he does that, watch out Aussies!

  • Comment number 40.

    Retrogirl, I don't think Freddie's knee and ankle injuries can be blamed on his drinking. They are degenerative injuries that could have happened to anyone - he's just unlucky.

  • Comment number 41.

    Flintoff - 4 runs and 1 wicket in the first innings - 30 runs and 5 wickets (3 of whom occupy the bottom half of the Australian batting line up) in the second innings.
    'Gladiator supreme' - no, more like 'Media darling'.

  • Comment number 42.

    England was the better team for the majority of the 2nd test but at the end of the day this is a contest between 2 fairly even sides, and luck played a decent part in the victory (winning the toss, benefitting in every change in conditions and then getting the benefit of the doubt on every tight umpiring decision). Strauss has proven to be a cynical captain (through his antics in the dying minutes of the Cardiff test and various indiscretions at Lords eg. falsely claiming a catch, appealing when the ball came off Clarke's helmet in the 2nd innings) and while Freddie is a great player he's not the messiah, whatever his adoring public may think or he may imply through his post wicket antics. The Australians need to lift their heads and sharpen their bowling in particular but rest assured they will be back with a vengeance. Lets just hope the better team wins and the umpires clean up their act - surely even the barmies would rather see England win fairly than have the umpires hand England another Ashes series!

  • Comment number 43.

    Whilst fred was superb and im pleased that he finally managed a long overdue five-for at Lords, equal praise must go to Andrew Strauss's superb 161 in the 1st innings and Anderson and Swann's 4 wicket hauls. collectivley these 4 contributions won england the match. for Edgbaston i would stick with the same unit, unless onions is injured, bring Harmy back i guess. We have a good record in Birmingham, and the atmos is always very intimidating for the visting team, England need to keep there foot on the gas and push for the second win with agressive batting and bowling from the off. I would love to see Punter and chums pummelled into the ground. Come on England.

  • Comment number 44.

    Well Done England!

    A bit of luck with the decisions, and a lot of good play. The series is now on well and truly.

    Flintoff did well to get a fiver and to intimidate the Aussies, but I feel the sooner he leaves the side for a well earned retirement, the sooner the England team can improve even further. It is a well known stat that England have won more test matches without him in the side than with him playing. As for the ridiculous poses, the sooner we see the end of that, the better.

    All in all Freddie has been a good player (albeit at times, brilliant!), but far too infrequent to rank among the greats.

    Well played to the whole side with Strauss, Swann, Onions, Anderson ( he swung the match!), Prior, Fred excelling.

    A note of caution: beware a wounded Aussie side.

  • Comment number 45.

    If England win one more test in the series, Australia have to win both the others! Cripes!!

    Anyhoo all the Freddie haters, just go away please, give the guy his day in the sun. He was awesome today, and I thought wonderfully modest after the game. As for being an ego- its his ego that makes him step up when the game is on the line! But just watch his body language, compared to say KPs, toward his teammates, and you will see that he is a team player. Did he play to the crowd? Absolutely, but again thats playing to his and his teams fans, it showing appreciation of the people who shell out there hard earned money to support the team.

    *sigh* why do we English so enjoy knocking down our heroes!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Some of the criticisms of Flintoff on here are incredible.

    The guy is an inspirational leader, who will be sorely missed when he finishes this series....His spell today was fantastic and those commenting that it was only 'tail-enders' he was getting out, should remember that it was these so-called tail-enders who were being hailed as England's potential thorn in the side just 24 hours ago....Flintoff's rip-roaring effort made sure that any record breaking upset was never going to happen....Without Flintoff, who knows what may have happened??

    It may seem over the top to suggest this, but I truly believe that Flintoff is right up there with Sir Ian Botham, for ability, acheivement and popularity with the general public....Whilst Botham was indeed a great player, whose stats back this up, lets not forget that when confronted with the World's best team during his time, Botham was often found wanting....Flintoff, when facing the supposed World's best, as often had the sheer presence to intimidate and defeat them....Yes, this test owed much to other players too, as did the 2005 series, but ultimately Flintoff was the man that the Aussies will always pinpoint as the difference.

    In the same way we feel the Aussies are more vulnerable without Warne, so the Aussies will feel about us once Freddie has departed.

  • Comment number 47.

    Darth_Blader: cricketers are top sportsmen and athletes. If you take care of your body then you give yourself the best chance possible of recovery.

  • Comment number 48.

    Congratulations to the England team on this important and historic victory. Sometimes, a long record of failure such as ours against the Australians at HQ becomes a bit of an albatross so its good to wave it goodbye. How you dispose of it is not important! Flintoff is the main strike bowler able to bowl faster than all the others so I really would expect him to be able to mop up any tail Australian or otherwise. However, it has been the efforts of the whole team before today which has even allowed him anything to bowl at. It has taken him a great many tests to turn in 5 for hauls so lets not get too carried away just yet. Before we get the inevitable comparisons with 1981 again, consider that Botham had a major impact on three consecutive tests with both bat and ball and thus determined the outcome of that series. Botham was a one off that year - let's just accept that and embrace the class of 2009 for the great team which they are threatening to become. Its great to see a good old fashioned off spinner thriving against erstwhile confident Australian left handers. Well done EVERYBODY.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well done England.

    As much as I like Stuart Broad as a cricketer I think a spell back in county cricket may just help his bowling. Steve Harmison back for Edgbaston (I know he has his detractors) as he's the form bowler in county cricket at the moment.

    Such a switch might make the County Championship more interesting as well.

  • Comment number 50.

    Totally agree, SaintlyMark, Kit Ramsey and CharlesBurgessFry. Instead of criticising Flintoff for enjoying his last few test matches, listen to what Aggers said about Freddie enjoying himself: 'the Aussies will be thinking " oh dear" '; who'd want to face him throwing pin-point accurate, 95 mph exocets down the wicket? Freddie has not always got the wicket hauls but doesn't he just dry up the runs and probe the batsmen, thus helping others reap the reward; this is teamwork par excellence. In his interview he paid tribute several times to the team effort and it wasn't just said for effect. The inescapable fact which I know some England supporters find difficult to swallow is the crowds (and a few others not always able to attend matches)love him and he has an ability to lift the team and the crowd in a way which no-one else seems able to match.

    Like every other human being on the planet (and that includes us), he's not done everything right in his life, but he's done an awful lot right and is a truly great sportsman. Greatness isn't just about statistics - they only tell half a story without a context.

  • Comment number 51.

    Good to see you blokes have expanded the squad to 15, with additions of Koertzen, Doctrove and Llong... When was the last time you can remember 3 of your top 5 being gunned and going on to win.

    Well done Freddie. A champions effort.

    Mitchell Johnson has always struggled with the new ball - at home or away; he's always seemed a more potent first change bowler.

  • Comment number 52.

    Lets admit our team is known around the world as roudy bunch nowadays. The proof enough is the way both Umpires behaved in this test, they referred Hauritz's catch to third umpire and didn't see need to refere for Strauss' catch. They very much took Englands appealing as sort of confirmaton that Strauss took legit catch, where as they had no trust in Australian player's appeal and felt need to have it looked at by third umpire... This says a lot where we stand today.

    The baviour of Ponting is utterly disappointing and shameful and I must say Ricky and Clarke do not represent all the Australians. I agree with you Jeff Thompson..

  • Comment number 53.

    It seems there are those that only wish the man of the match to only go to the top run scorer or top wicket taker.

    It is an equivalence to say that a football MOTM can only go to a goal scorer. Not so, the best and most inspirational players can have a greater effect than pure statistics.

    People such as Bryan Robson, Bobby Moore & Terry Butcher would regularly put on match-winning performances without being on the score sheet.

    Listen to Shane Warne, he knows a thing or two about great bowling and he says he is the best in the world, the one bowler that any other team would be glad to see out of the side.

  • Comment number 54.

    Quote from Oliver Brett:

    "In 10 days' time, assuming the injury niggles to three or four players can be sorted out, we will see the same 11 players taking on Australia at Edgbaston."

    Unless you have the inside scoop, Brett, I expect to see the in-form, gladiatorial Steve Harmison replacing the lackluster, mediocre Onions to reinforce the England attack!

    It makes a lot of sense to do so!

    If you disagree, please give me one plausible reason why you think Onions should retain his spot in the team.


  • Comment number 55.

    If Freddie was a selfish prima donna then I could perhaps understand some of the posts on here, but he is not, as came accross from his post match comments and the fact that all his team mates can't speak highly enough of him.

    The bloke was enjoying his last day at the home of cricket and produced the best spell of fast bowling there can have been at Lords for some time. Saintlymark et al, I'm with you.

  • Comment number 56.

    when was the last time the england selectors had the confidence to change a winning team, so that they press home the advantage in a series and makes sure we win the whole series, and not just enjoy our moment of success in one test match.
    they had the temerity to drop Monty, despite his last wicket heroics in Cardiff, and i think they must now bring Harmison in for either Onions or Broad, and really put the wind up the aussies. if Ponting leaves a losing team unchanged, and we show that we are not satisfied with our winning side, it certainly reflects an enormous reversal in pschological dominance, and also shows some common sense. Harmison is certainly worth teh gamble, as the Aussies fear him, and at teh moment they are quite comfortable with Broad and Onions.

  • Comment number 57.

    What a pefermance by england..flintoff heroics were very similar to the oval test in was fitting though, that he was the man of the match. Freddie was good, i felt like crying with laughter with his trademark celebration and his constant expressions of respect towards the aussie batsmen.

    It is also intriguing to note that there were many doubters questioning freddie's fitness for the test. On the eve of the test match an aussie channel 9 commentator(whom will regret his comments) publically claimed freddie was not fit enough to play and all the attention dreiven towards his retirement would disrupt England's performance.

    But how wrong was he? Andrew Flintoff thrives on playing the big occassions. Maybe this aussie commentators and other uninformed aussie commentators should perhaps take a page out of freddie mantra. They should begin to focus in finding their own all-rounder.In that they do have Mitchell Johnson buhis bowling is very suspect and he is no-where near Flintoff's consistency wit the ball.

    Despite, England's vistory one should be aware of what te future holds for England with freddie leaving soon. He has been such an intergal part of the team..whom can england replace him with.

    Nonetheless, I believe England have a good spinner with Swann. He can bat,he talks the talk,and walk the walk s proved against the best he can do it. His delievery to Clarke was pure class!

    I look forward to watching the rest of the series...does anyone or is anyone willing to sell their tickets for te final test match at the oval....


  • Comment number 58.

    Greatest XI over last 5 years: Tendulkar, Strauss, Pointing, Lara, Kallis, Gilcrist, Flintoff, Akram, Warne, Mulli, McGrath

  • Comment number 59.

    You Poms amuse me - best bowler in the world - LOL!!!! He hadn't taken a 5 wicket spell for 4 years and averages well over 30 with the ball. If that's the best bowler in the world, god help test cricket!

    Unlike the Poms, the South Africans, Australians, etc think that series other than the Ashes are important and require their players to consistently perform. In fact, given Engalnd was thrashed 5-0 by Australia in the last Ashes series, and have generally been so poor over the last 20 years, many South Africans, Indians and Australians see the series between those 3 countries as the pinnacle of cricket. I know the Australians were absolutely rapt with their series win in SA and it may be one of the reasons why they've been so below par so far in this series.

  • Comment number 60.

    blueShauno - on statistics, you couldn't have Strauss or Flintoff in that side. I'd replace them with Hayden and Dale Steyn.

  • Comment number 61.

    No Chris Gayle in there, Blue...? Hmmnn!

  • Comment number 62.

    KitRamsey (post 46) - why do you only consider '05 and the current series when assessing Flintoff's supposed greatness? In Australia in '06-'07 he was woeful, hence why he still average around 30 with the ball against Australia. As with any other form of statistics, cricket stats over a long period, and therefore an appropriate sample size, don't lie. And the stats show Fatty, sorry Freddie, has had a couple of good series, the rest of the time he has been average at best. And please don't use injury as an excuse - he's supposedly injured at the moment but went alright yesterday (with special mention that 2 of his 5 wickets weren't actually legitimate).

  • Comment number 63.

    Good blog, if a little overboard on the subject of Flintoff. Don't get me wrong, I've always rated him and was desperately sorry when his injury problems started a few years ago. But this was a great team performance; from Prior's excellent keeping to Onions' mopping up of the Aussie tail in the first innings. I've been a more or less constant critic of Strauss in the past, and here's my apology. He recovered brilliantly from the debacle at Cardiff, and deserves full admiration for his bottle in deciding not to enforce the follow-on - not to mention a knock he'll remember for ever. Finally, a word about Mitchell Johnson. He is a very dangerous bowler, currently suffering a temporary problem with his action. It's a bit like when a darts player can't let go the dart properly, and almost certainly stress-related. A week fishing would do him more good than playing cricket. I hope he sorts it out because this series needs him.

  • Comment number 64.

    I do agree that flintoff played very well but the fact that this is only his third 5 wicket haul displays how much he has failed to live up to his potential. The true all rounder for england is graeme swann, not flashy and not as talented but he makes the most of what he has. his figures were as good as flintoff bowling wise for australias second innings(and he was really given a bowl in the first) and in the first test he hit a combined 78 off 103 balls to flintoffs 63 off 128 balls. And over when he does take wickets its not all the best batsmen on paper but its always the one that actually is doing damage at the time, just look who he bowled in this test compared to flintoff. Its about time the man was given some credit

  • Comment number 65.

    What the undeniably talented Freddie could have achieved if form and injuries had been different, we'll never know, but he has given the cricketing world some Botham-esque moments - not many, but enough that he will live on in the memory for years to come.

    He was on top form on the 5th morning, and England only hope he can keep that level of aggressive accuracy up for the rest of the series: if so we will win the Ashes back, and that would be a fitting way to leave the Test stage.

  • Comment number 66.

    Sorry for the digression, gang, but a necessary one, I feel:

    Why is it that this blog is up to snuff when in comes to numbering the posts to make referencing them easy and being open 24/7; whilst 606 remains mired in a more unenlightened, 'primitive' age?

    Is someone asleep at the wheel?

  • Comment number 67.

    Statham, Higgs, Lever and, now, Flintoff, all great bowlers, all popular with their colleagues, and all Lancastrians, great people and a great cricket club.

  • Comment number 68.

    "Did he bowl a single ball that did not ask serious questions of every batsman who faced him? I doubt it."

    Freddie was immense throughout the 2nd innings but this sort of hyperbole does little to dissuade those who consider us prone to getting carried away with our successes. If this is what we read from the BBC I dread to think what the tabloids have to say about it.

    Flintoff is only human and it isn't hard to recall several loose deliveries that were clattered for four. By all means let's knight him, crown him and install him as the head of our new national religion; I'll sign up. It would be nice if we could keep the hero worship out of our professional journalism though.

  • Comment number 69.

    I like Flintoff, he is a top player and great for the game, but his recent wicket celebrations are bordering on ridiculous. His trademark arms spread in recognition of his awesomeness has now evolved into kneeling, arms spread with his eyes shut, like he is receiving plaudits from God himself. Is he retiring through injury or because he plans on developing a new career as the next messiah? If so he should be sectioned along with Gazza, although don't know if they would be a good influence on each other. Hopefully in the next test he bowls Ponting and then shuts his eyes, adopts crucific position and levitates above the wicket. The crowd would go off.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ha I love the way the aussies get so wound up when they lose, especially whenn Freddy is turning them over! Ponting is really doing a top job as the whinging bad guy, is he available for the panto season?

    On a serious note, 4 wicket halls for Anderson/Swann, decent support from Broad and Onions, runs for Strauss, Cook, Colly and Prior, and some superb catching show this wasn't a one man show. Freddy did a great job but I think those wickets would have fallen on the final day even without him, though it may have been a bit more nail biting!

  • Comment number 71.

    Anderson (in Australia's crucial 1st innings) and Strauss, with the bat and in slips ;) were more influential on the outcome of this match than Fatty. Yes FF took 5 in the 2nd dig, but the facts are Australia still made 400+. The difference between the 2 teams was their respective 1st innings, where Strauss dominated for South Africa, I mean England, with the bat, and Anderson destroyed Australia's top order.

  • Comment number 72.

    Have just read through these comments and cannot believe what I am reading. Most people gave England a bashing after the first test (which was fair enough, we played very poorly in most areas). This time around, we have played very well - and still everyone wants to give England a bashing. Fact is we had a bit of luck, but you make your own luck at times, and we were by far the better side, pretty much man-for-man: Our openers outdid their openers, okay their middle order did slightly better than ours in the second innings (honours equal in the first), Prior kept wicket better than Haddin and scored almost the same number of runs. The worst of our bowling was still decent, and equal to the best of theirs, while the best of our bowling (Anderson and Flintoff) was on a different plane to anything they were capable of. And Swann outbowled Hauritz (although to be fair Hauritz was injured). Our fielding on balance was better than theirs apart from a few sloppy moments.

    I hope the comments from people on here are not representitive of what the rest of the country thinks. If so, I don't know why these guys bother slogging it out the way they do. Sorry but I am a bit embarrassed to be English if this is the slating we give our side after they outplay the Australians. What do you guys want the team to do before you say something nice about them? I think if we'd won the series 5-0 some of you would still find something to moan about. And please don't criticise Oliver Brett for writing a complimentary piece on what should be a day to celebrate a great victory.

    And for those complaining about Flintoff's celebrations, did anyone else notice that as the England players were hugging each other after the last wicket, Flintoff was the only guy who went to both Aussie batsmen to shake hands, and the umpires, before joining the rest of the team? No criticism of the rest of the players, you can understand their jubilation, but it reminds us again that he is a good bloke.

  • Comment number 73.

    De maaaan!! Look at him! Isn't he the best! Doesn't matter that he doesn't come close statistically to all time best players. Or that when he's not in England he gets slapped to all parts of the park. Or that he has hardly any 5 wicket innings hauls. The fact is he puts on a show and I love it! If I weren't english I may call him a idiot but I'm not and I won't. Freddy my lad, I love you and you are the Lords king!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Freddie is the most natural bowler i have seen in world crick right now . Its disappointing that i cant watch him again . Hope he rethinks on his retirement from test cricket . I have seen him bowling in India in the lifeless wicket . The bounce he is able to generate there , the typical sliding delivery across the left handers on chest high thats amazing if you can do it in India that shows you are the best ...

  • Comment number 75.

    Boredatlords - If you're referring to me, actually I'm not Australian. Just because I'm intelligent enough to think for myself and not swallow all the hype surrounding a clearly overrated player, does not mean I'm bitter at the result. I'm actually neutral and just want to see good cricket. What I don't like is massive adulation of a bloke who can only perform once every 4 years - it's not the Olympics Fatty!!

    Usedtobeenglish - Oh, yes, Fatty is a very good sport when he's winning. Didn't quite go like that last time down in Australia though!

  • Comment number 76.

    Just who is this Oliver Brett clown anyway? Surely with writing of that sycophantic, crawling nature he belongs more with The Sun than the BBC.

  • Comment number 77.

    No reasonable fan on either side should go to the extent of alleging that England had 13 players on, including the two in white coats. But the fact that England got some umpiring largess through three vital decisions. The more discreet tactfully refer to it as 'rub of the green', hoping to euphemise it. Lingering doubt will remain whether England could do it without the gratuitous advantage or Australia pull it off without the crippling disadvantage.
    To be fair to England, they have to abide with dodgy umpiring decisions as much as the Aussies regardless of which side gets favored. The only decision that incurred some culpability was the Strauss catch. Perhaps the English captain did not have the presence of mind to retract his claim when the batsman hesitated to walk, or perhaps he was genuinely sure of a clean catch. Enigmatically Rudi chose the second umpire for a referral rather than the third.

  • Comment number 78.

    SensationalGoBlues, you say " As with any other form of statistics, cricket stats over a long period, and therefore an appropriate sample size, don't lie. And the stats show Fatty, sorry Freddie, has had a couple of good series, the rest of the time he has been average at best. "

    You obviously haven't actually looked at Flintoff's stats, because if you had, then you would not be calling him 'average at best'. Admittedly, the start of his career was a bit 'ropey', but maybe that was because he was introduced too early - I don't know.

    However, since the beginning of 2004 (a total of 48 matches, over 5 1/2 years, including numerous injuries to cope with) Flintoff's stats are as follows:

    Fielding - 37 catches.

    Batting - 2533 runs @ 35.67

    Bowling - 173 wickets @ 28.15

    A Test Match bowling average of just over 28 is definitely not 'average'!

    I'd like to see you try to tell Sir Ian Botham that his career batting and bowling averages of 33.54 and 28.40 respectively, showed him to be 'average at best'!

  • Comment number 79.

    When I played cricket many moons ago the team consisted of eleven players and a designated twelfth man. Not a thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth man, ad infinitum. Nor were substitiutes allowed on the field to allow injured players to consistently receive treatment for on-going injuries not related to that specific match. Some of the army of twelfth men that England employ are not even on the pre-named squad.

    Being an Englishman abroad (living in Ireland) I shudder shamefacedly at some of the dubious tactics the England team uses in regard to this grey area of the rulebook. If Flintoff hadn`t gone on and off the field at regular intervals for treatment on his knee (it sure wasn`t for toilet breaks and manicures), then he wouldn`t have finished the test. The English players seem to be able to wander on and off the field as they wish, and are automatically substituted, and never by the same man twice.

    The Aussies to their credit haven`t as yet made too much of the issue, but I really think they should make more of it. The powers that be have to really get their teeth into this flounting of the laws, and either stringently enforce the twelfth man regulations...or change them.

  • Comment number 80.

    why the downers on Onions? bowled well in the first innings, carrying injury in the second. if he is fit, he deserves his spot UNQUESTIONABLY. he has performed well every time he has appeared for England, impossible to suggest otherwise. do you think if they pick GBH the 2004 version is just going to turn up at Edgbaston 5 years later? how short are you memories? he was hounded out last time.

    harmy deserves a chance but only if one of the others in possession are unable to take their place. broad may not be our most potent bowler but there is no guarantee harmy will fare better, only a chance. would harmison have taken wickets? you just dont know. no way he would have taken that stunning catch either

    and all this talk of good bowling at county level. who is the top wicket taker? oh its graham onions

  • Comment number 81.

    datatarathian - yep, just another example of that English sportsmanship. Deliberate flouting of the rules that they know they get away with - in England anyway.

    fuzzyfelt30 - whilst a bowling average of 28+ over the last 5 years is better than his career stats, it is still nowhere near the god-like status that English fans (and Fatty himself) seem to afford it.

    Re Botham, well he was very good but also nowhere as good as the English would have you believe. He retained a reputation made from his amazing 1981 series, yet for the rest of his career never came close to replicating those performances. His figures overall against Australia included an average of less than 30 with the bat and around 27 with the ball, so again nothing earth shattering, and against the best team of the era, the West Indies, his numbers are pathetic (21 batting, 35 bowling). Geez, he wasn't even the best allrounder of his generation, with Imran easily having better batting and bowling averages (37 batting, 22 bowling), yet the Poms would have you believe he was the greatest of all time! There's that British hype again of going way over the top in any success you have.

  • Comment number 82.

    Flintoff's intimidating broadsides at speeds consistently in excess of 90 mph were just what England needed. When did we last see Aussie batsman in genuine discomfort from aggressive bowling? But this was a team win with ample support from Anderson, Broad, Onions and especially Swann.

    There is not a lot between these sides and it is important that Strauss continues to use Flintoff as his aggressive front line bowler. The Aussies do not look quite so assured against the pace and bounce of Freddie and that may mean Harmison should get another chance too. However I thought all the bowlers played their role on a day where it would have been easy for England to have become frustrated and bogged down especially as Clarke and Haddin had done so well.

    Ponting redeem himself as a great captain in his after match interview and, as he promised, the Aussies will try to come back strongly at Edgbaston. If I were Strauss, and injuries permitting, I'd play unchanged. Onions bowled well and has the action that is well suited to consistent line and length over a long session. Broad also bowled much better in the second innings when cutting out the short stuff. Bopara needs one decent innings to show his talent and just needs to concentrate a little more on his own game when under attack.

    Well done England. It was a long time coming but well worth the wait.

  • Comment number 83.

    As we in England revel in our limelight it is well to think a bit on some facts conveniently left off in the reporting.... 3 outs, 2 from Flintoff, were not out. There he was, Freddie, in a fantastic superhero pose as good as Batman any day, basking in false limelight.

    The England Captain, fresh from a 1st test debacle as he sent in the blatant time-wasters, claiming a catch that wasn't and a properly referred request to the 3rd umpire would have shown that. But the Captain knew it all along. Did he not think he would be questioned? The mind boggles.

    Then the finale, Freddie on one knee with arms outstretched to the crowds looking for every moment like a king about to be beheaded.... but acting like the hero that he clearly isn't.

    Makes me and others sick to be English and see this falsehood and lie and then calling it a magnificent victory.

    The Australians are right to hold us to task for our poor sportsmanship. It was a victory in terms of winning the game, but it was a failure in sport. We in England need to win with no questions hanging over our heads, then we can call the victory magnificent. And not before. We do have much to recover from.

  • Comment number 84.

    "69. At 02:59am on 21 Jul 2009, Lobstergogs wrote:

    I like Flintoff, he is a top player and great for the game, but his recent wicket celebrations are bordering on ridiculous. His trademark arms spread in recognition of his awesomeness has now evolved into kneeling, arms spread with his eyes shut, like he is receiving plaudits from God himself. Is he retiring through injury or because he plans on developing a new career as the next messiah? "

    Oh, reign your neck in. He plays for the crowd. They will him to take wickets for them, and when he does, he acknowledges them. It's unbelievable what we will knock our sportsman for in this country. He played a fantastic game but OH! he didn't celebrate 'properly'? Execute him!

    And anyone who boils sport down to pure stats kind of misses the entire point of sport. Do the stats say who the wickets were? When they were taken? What the effect on the team and the crowd were? Did they stir the heart and fire the blood? Can you tell that from the statistics?

    Is Flintoff the greatest player ever? No. He isn't. Does he play with a smile? With great sportsmanship? With great heart? Is he exciting to watch? Is he occasionally brilliant? Yes he is.

    But we tear him down because his stats aren't as good as you would like and he doesn't celebrate 'properly'.

    What a miserable country.

  • Comment number 85.

    To sensationalGoBlues ---

    ["yep, just another example of that English sportsmanship. Deliberate flouting of the rules that they know they get away with - in England anyway."]

    The twelfth man rule is a grey area. I don`t think it has anything to do with bad sportsmanship of players, but of expediency of management and of bewildered officialdom. The lack of enforcement of the regulations is down to said officialdom, and the standing umpires. It`s the same for all teams. Just that England seems to flout the "grey" rules more than most.

    A player can be announced fit at the start of a match, but can break down during it. But is such a breakdown because of an injury sustained during the match, or because of a recurring injury sustained in previous ones? The umpires are not medical experts. Therein lies the problem. However there should only be ONE twelfth man who should be designated before the match starts. If more than one player is injured...tough luck!

    I`m not downgrading Flintoff`s performance on the 5th day, it was magnificent. Just that if it weren`t for "illegal" treatment during a match, it`s doubtful he would have lasted to the 5th day and/or have been able to produce such a performance. Neither probably would Pieterson have lasted the test. Nor if the rules had been strictly observed would they have been allowed fielding substitutes. With both Flintoff and Pieterson starting the match with well-publicised injury problems, England at certain times could have been restricted to only nine men on the field.

    The twelfth man rule must be rectified, and quickly. To my mind, as it stands, it sours what otherwise was a great test match, with great performances, and until fixed it will continue to sour forthcoming ones.

  • Comment number 86.

    Great to win but the umpires need to be rewarded for all the decisions that they gave to us! The aussies have taken defeat wonderfully well and have not whinged about the dodgy decisions. Ricky Ponting needs to be praised for his acceptance of the decisions.
    My respect for him has gone up immeasurably! They will come up hard for the next one! Beware!

  • Comment number 87.

    It was clear in 2005 that the Aussies feared Freddie most and there's a carry-over from that now. No surprise really, accurate 90+mph bowling that also does a bit does a bit tends to upset even the highest quality batsmen. As regards Freddie's celebrations and having everyone line up to shake his hand, well he can do what he likes if he's going to bowl like that. There's no bowler in the world as destructive as he is on such a benign pitch as Lord's was.
    I saw a reference to Swann's 4 wickets not getting as much coverage. Good. Monty suffered from the pressures of being the next great hope and if Freddie's antics mean that Swann gets missed, so much the better. Our press seem less interested in England winning Test matches and more interested in who they can build up and destroy.
    Can't we just celebrate a really top performance after such a disappointment at Cardiff? A great team performance in which everyone played their part.

  • Comment number 88.

    If KP behaved the way that Flintman does he would be laughed out of the ground. The biggest ego in cricket was out there pretending to be Englands Saviour and the adoring mob were lapping it up and baying for more. Yuk

  • Comment number 89.

    plugmonkey i could not agree more!

    but originalbloggs...what planet are you on..its people like you who are bringing this country down.
    i'd like to see how you would behave after taking 5 wickets in your final test match at lords, against doubt you'd barely celebrate, and then there would be people having a go at you saying there was no emotion in the game anymore. people like you just cant be pleased, if we won immacuately bowled them out for 5 and won in a day, you'd be saying we could have done it better.

    so what if the decisions were dubious, you can only play against what your given to play against mate.

    Also, the main reason i went to comment on this, was as amazing as Freddie was, both with the bat (2nd innings) and the ball, everyone was banging on about how important the wicket of ponting was in the 2nd innings, and who came up and bowled him but Stuart Broad. That man has been hit around the ground abit, and come under flak from alot of people in the media and on here, but he comes up with what all the updates were calling 'the most significant wicket', but he as far as i have seen anyway has received no plaudits, for bowling the australian captain and as i read 'almost ensuring us victory'...give the lad some credit, hes only 23, and to boot he has batted extremely well for someone who is supposed to be a bowler.
    shame on you putting this victory down, and freddie, bring home the ashes boys!

  • Comment number 90.

    much is being said about the team for the next test,most seem an unchanged team is the answer with which I in principle agree. however, due attention has to be paid to the edgebaston pitch. it seems to be something of a feather-bed for batting which suggests the ausie team will score well. surely the selectors should look at bowlers who have don well on this pitch before deciding the line-up. I believe harmison did well when Durham gave warwickshire a beating not long ago.

  • Comment number 91.

    Good to see I hit a nerve with someone. sgu06sab you are wrong, it is not people like me who bring our country down, it is claiming what we don't earn.. The Australians have been very good at not harping on the poor decisions and false catches which is quite good for them and has made me think better of them. But in their minds, the facts are flowing as they must. And this will make them more dangerous in the next tests.

    If we won fairly then they would be quaking in their boots because they would KNOW we were the better side. But right now, do you really think the Australians believe we are better? I don't think so.

    I want to cheer and shout about my heros too, but those heros need to be clean heros. If Freddy won all that fairly I would be ecstatic and cheering as mad as anyone and say so here. His performance needs improving. As does the Captains.

    I want to be able to hold my head high in front of the Aussies, as cheer squad for the victor. But that's a little difficult at this time. My conscience demands fair wins, not foul.

    Are you reading this, Freddy? Are you reading this, Straus? Do it damn good, and do it right. Winning at any cost might keep your job, but it loses you respect.

  • Comment number 92.

    I do not see anything wrong in Flinty playing to the crowd. Many good players do it. Fred carries the crowd with his inspired play that draws strength from the crowd. Fine, no toll tax on that.

    But injured players going into a game and misusing the substitution laws is unfair. The other side can morally object to it. Even though you may have ways to justify it in the book it will not be in the spirit of the game, just as repeated 12th man visits weren't at Cardiff.

  • Comment number 93.


    "The biggest ego in cricket was out there pretending to be Englands Saviour and the adoring mob were lapping it up and baying for more. Yuk"

    So what! Freddie was milking the crowd and the crowd loved him for it. It's all part of the Ashes drama. To give the guy credit, his body is falling apart - beset with injury - rehab - injury - rehab. This was his moment for all the pain, upset and self doubt he's been through during recovery. All that hard work he's done to get himself back into the Test arena. You can't blame the guy. I agree it was OTT on Monday morning - particularly when the last two wickets were tailenders. But so what?

    Meanwhile, go put your hair-shirt on and start flagellating.

  • Comment number 94.

    Every team resorts to time-wasting and other dubious tactics when necessary. As I said in my previous posts above, officials have to clamp down on such tactics. The will to win is all important, but as OriginalBloggs observed, not at any cost. The integrity of the game must be retained. Otherwise it`s ... well ... just not cricket!

    As for umpiring decisions most teams accept bad ones with reasonable good grace (at least in public), and also accept that the swings and roundabouts of bad umpiring decisions are all part of the game. Umpires are only human. What cannot be accepted is umpiring inconconsistency which is what happened at Lords, although as I recall, thankfully only on one occasion.

    Australia will come back hard at Edgbaston. They are by no means down and out by their defeat at Lords. I hope for an England win, not by using shady and somewhat illegal methods, but by the skill and perseverance of eleven fit men (and just one twelfth man).
    If they do that, then I will applaud and cheer as loudly as anyone.

  • Comment number 95.

    @ sensationalGoBlues: love the immature comment about Strauss's SA heritige. Yes, he was born in Jo'burg, to an English mother. He moved to England aged 6, was educated here (he's an alumni of Durham University), and has played most of his cricket here (save for a brief spell playing junior grade cricket in Oz- nothing unusal in that as plenty of English crickiters have done that.)He's certainly played all his 1st Class cricket for Middlesex- an English team, fuded to a large extent by the ECB. He once commented during the last Engalnd tour of SA that it was useless proteas fans jerring him in Afrikaans as he can't speak the language owing to him never having been taught it! His Englishness is nothing like as dubious as KP's- the accusation that Pietersen is a cricketing mercenary is a lot harder to refute, but Strauss never expressed any desire to play for anyone but England (unlike KP).
    Personally, I reckon it's sour grapes from an Aussie (don't hide your anti-English prejudice behing a veil of neutrality) who wishes Lord Brockett was opening their innings (the Aussies did have a claim on him and Strauss's wife, Ruth, is an Aussie) instead of Hughes the Hopeless!

  • Comment number 96.

    Originalbloggs firstly don't tell me i am wrong, on what is my own opinion. They are by there very nature subjective. The aussies are not harping on about it for the fact they would be called hypocrites, are you honestly saying that they have never had an umpiring decision go their way, so by your logic they are not worthy to be rated the best test nation as they have claimed it without earning it.

    As with all sports, what goes around comes around, these things happen, and the decisions are human errors. You want freddy to play better!? I guess i do too, but that is being hailed as one of the greatest bowling performances in recent history, and led to him being suggested as the current number 1 bowler in the world. Yes if it was not his last series, if it wasn't against the australians, and if it wasn't a tight finish, then we may not be so ecstatic about it, and he would have been wrong to act how he did. but the fact is that was the situation, and everybody, him included just got swept away with the emotion. His celebrations i feel were fine. Much less cringe worthy and stupid that Panesar jumping and wailing like he's just won the lottery after bowling out tail enders, which he cant even seem to do anymore.

    England have been on the end of so many sporting refereeing failures in the past (maradonna -hand of god) (the try that could(or could not have been) in rugby world cup final against the saffers), so I dont have any sympathy really. Yes the decisions were wrong and obviously it would be better to win it fairly, but at the end of the day, thats life. and if the same thing happens in the next test no i wont be harping on saying it wasn't fair although a lot of people will be, at the end of the day, thats just sport, and the controversy is just one of the factors that makes it so damn interesting.

    Also your point about Strauss i feel is just 'wrong'. Since he's become captain his batting average as gone up and he's thrived. He made the (albeit) obvious choice to relegate Broad down the order to 2nd change bowler, when many would have just ploughed on with him, and gave Flintoff the nod and the new ball. Many also forget that it was pretty much him and cooky that are the main reason we won this test with there disciplined and superb first innings scores.

  • Comment number 97.

    "Softandfluffy" wrote:
    "Meanwhile, go put your hair-shirt on and start flagellating."

    I like flagelot beans but flagelating is not my scene. Far too much pain.

    It is the method of those celebrations, not the celebrations themselves that are getting to people. Joyful, happy, sharing with team mates, smiling, winderful, just the way other players celebrate. But this "Look how wonderful I am, come and bow down before me" is a different kettle of fish.

    And he did not win the match for England. There were quite a few other players who played just as significant a part. No applause and adoration for them. Freddie takes all of the glory. As usual. Still, he will probably be drunk from now until Edgmaston and will most likely miss the bus again.

  • Comment number 98.

    Whereas there is no doubt that Flintoff bowled extremely well his antics after taking a wicket were nothing short of nauseating. He is by far the most self-opinionated sportsman I have ever seen. Also don't get carried away - Flintoff's handful of good performances hardly warrant him as being considered a great.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think he was more saying thank you to the fans, and they were saying it to him to be honest as suggested in the article, but I guess only he will know this, although it seems unlikely he was saying how great he was.
    Think Edgebaston 2005 and Brett Lee, he is a humble man, and a good what if the man likes a drink, who doesnt :P

  • Comment number 100.

    "They (Australia) are by no means down and out by their defeat at Lords."

    Good god, the Aussies only need to win one of the three remaining Tests and draw two, and they have retained the Ashes. This series has hardly begun.

    Gotospecsavers :o)

    Look, I agree with your views. FF was OTT. If he had just got a hatrick by getting the top order out, then, yes, he would have deserved to milk the gallery for all it's worth. But this is the Ashes. So, allow him his moment of ham-acting and self-adulation. Players like Strauss, Anderson and particularly Swann also deserved the plaudits. But the media wanted a folk hero and Freddie is always ready to please.

    No doubt 'England's saviour' woke up this morning with a hangover and was last seen in a pedalo heading up a Brummie canal!


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