Flintoff ends England’s wait

LONDON: Andrew Flintoff took five wickets as England finally ended their 75-year wait for an Ashes victory at Lord’s with a 115-run win over Australia on the final day of the second Test on Monday.

Victory saw England take a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series having clung on for a draw in Cardiff. Australia, set a mammoth 522 to win — a target that had they achieved it would have surpassed the fourth innings Test world record victory total of 418 for seven made by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03 — were bowled out for 406 shortly before lunch on the fifth day.

Fast bowler Flintoff, who before this match announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of this series, took 5-92 runs in 27 overs, including 3-43 in 10 overs on Monday. It was only the third time in the 31-year-old all-rounder’s 77-Test career he’d taken five wickets in a Test innings. Off-spinner Graeme Swann provided good support with 4-87.

Michael Clarke did his best to deny England with a superb innings of 136 but ultimately could not prevent the hosts beating Australia in a Test at Lord’s for the first time since 1934, when they won by an innings and 38 runs.

“To win an Ashes Test match at Lord’s feels very special but we’re not going to get carried away,” England captain Andrew Strauss insisted. His Australian counterpart Ricky Ponting was magnanimous in defeat. “We are obviously disappinted to lose in this type of venue but we were outplayed from the first ball to the last ball. Now we have to bounce back, regroup and hit the ground running for the next Test at Edgbaston.”

Australia resumed on 313-5 – 209 runs adrift of their target – with Clarke 125 not out and Brad Haddin 80 not out. But starting again is never easy and they were unable to add to a stand worth 185 with Haddin out for his overnight score. Haddin edged the 10th ball of the morning, fast bowler Flintoff’s fourth, straight to Paul Collingwood who took a good low catch at second slip.

Flintoff was now fired up and hit Clarke on the head with a bouncer, as the batsman took his eye off the ball, before beating him on the outside edge. New batsman Mitchell Johnson was fortunate on four, after being completely deceived by a Flintoff slower ball that struck him on the pad, that veteran umpire Rudi Koertzen, standing in his 100th Test, had correctly called no-ball.

But it was Swann who, with his second ball on Monday, took the wicket England craved when he beat Clarke in the air as the batsman went down the pitch and bowled him off-stump to end the Australia vice-captain’s innings of more than five hours.

Flintoff then bowled Nathan Hauritz for one as the batsman shouldered arms and Australia were 363-8. Flintoff, the star of England’s 2005 Ashes series win, though then completed only the third five-wicket haul of his Test career when he bowled Peter Siddle, and celebrated by going down on one knee with his arms outstretched after leaving his side on the brink of victory.

Fast bowler Johnson, who’d struggled with the ball, defied England with a 62-ball fifty. But Swann, who dropped a difficult caught and bowled chance off Johnson, bowled him for 63 to seal England’s victory.