Andrew Flintoff marked his final Test at Lord’s with an inspired spell of bowling that changed England’s seventy-five year drought against Australia.
Australia needed 209 runs with five wickets in hand to keep their history at Lord’s intact since 1934. England’s though would have always been considered the most advantageous situation, giving that they still had a sizeable cushion of runs and it was a matter of getting the balls in the right areas. Still Australia could not be undermined, not with Michael Clarke at the crease.
After the manner in which Clarke and Brad Haddin batted on the fourth day’s evening session, certainly England needed to lift their game in order to stamp Australia’s strength down, and get the victory that they had worked towards. And it came in the form, once more, from Flintoff who announced his retirement. Flintoff’s accuracy, line, length and aggression proved too much for Australia.
Flintoff broke the partnership, holding Haddin to eighty as the Australian wicket keeper was caught in the slips by Paul Collingwood. Mitchell Johnson has proved to be quite the thorn, and not just with the ball. South Africa should know. Johnson once again fought hard with the bat, harder perhaps given that he has been the real let down for Australia with the ball. Clarke was also sent back to the pavilion by an ecstatic Graeme Swann for 136 and it meant that Australia had lost the hope that kept the challenge alive overnight.
Flintoff struck twice in bowling Nathan Hauritz and then, repeating the effort against Peter Siddle. Flintoff’s five wicket haul proved decisive in the final innings of the match but Swann finished it with the wicket of Mitchell Johnson, bowled for another outstanding knock of sixty-three. It meant that Australia made 406 runs in the fourth innings, and still lost the match by 115 runs with fifteen minutes to what would have been lunch on the fifth day of the second Test at Lord’s. England now go up 1-0 after two Tests with the third Test of the Ashes at Edgbaston now ten days away.
The Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, must be wondering what it is about playing England in England that lands him in history breaking embarrassing moments.