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Flintoff elated with Ashes lead

LONDON, July 21 – England fast bowler Andrew Flintoff said there was no way captain Andrew Strauss was going to get the ball off him after he led England to a 115-run second Test victory over Australia here at Lord's.
ANDREW_FLINTOFFMan-of-the-match Flintoff took five wickets for 92 runs in 27 overs, including three in an unbroken 10-over spell Monday for 43 runs as Australia, set a world record 522 to win, were bowled out for 406.

Victory meant England had won a Test against Australia at Lord’s for the first time in 75 years and saw them go 1-0 up in the series with three to play after they clung on for a draw with just one wicket standing in Cardiff.

Before this match the 31-year-old Flintoff, whose career has been blighted by injuries, announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of this Ashes series.

But he began the process of bowing out in style, with only the third five-wicket haul of his 77-match Test career and first at Lord’s.

"It’s been a good Test match and a real team performance, there were some very special performances in this Test," the all-rounder told Sky Sports.

"It’s nice to get five wickets this morning and take the plaudits but it has been a real team effort."

Flintoff sent England on their way Monday when, with only his fourth ball, he had Brad Haddin (80) taken in the slips by Paul Collingwood. And once that happened there was no way Strauss was going to stop him before the job was.

"There was no chance!" Flintoff said. "He would have been on a losing battle there."

Strauss, whose first innings 161 helped give England a solid base on which to build, said: "I just want to give a special mention to Andrew Flintoff, who was magnificent this morning.

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"To win an Ashes Test match at Lord’s is something many guys have dreamed of doing over the last 50 or 60 years or so and to be the guys who pulled it off is pretty special."

Off-spinner Graeme Swann provided excellent support to Flintoff with a return for four for 87, including the key wicket Monday of Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke whose 136 threated to spoil England’s party.

"It’s unbelievable," said Swann. "Everybody was a little bit nervous and apprehensive this morning. Fred (Flintoff) getting that wicket (of Haddin) calmed everyone down."

Swann, who bowled Clarke with his second delivery Monday, a well-flighted ball," added: He held them together I think so to get him out was probably the key wicket.

"So I’ll take all the glory," he added with a grin.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who in 2006/07 led Australia to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash of an England team captained by Flintoff, had no complaints.

"England have been the better side from the first ball – and not only in the big moments," he said. "We just have to bounce back now."

Ponting’s men were on the wrong end of several questionable umpiring decisions during the game but he said: "They are all irrelevant now.

"At the end of the day we’ve been beaten by more than 100 runs in a Test match. We can’t change anything that happened."

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There had been reports in the British press that this could be the last test for Flintoff, who has most recently been struggling with a knee problem.

But Flintoff, the star of England’s 2005 Ashes series win, insisted: "I’ve got three more Tests left and will obviously give my all in them. It’s going to be hard to get through them but I’m confident I’ll do it."

However, England coach Andy Flower warned that neither Flintoff nor star batsman Kevin Pietersen (Achilles) would be picked if they could not get through the full five days.

"He’s got to be able to guarantee he can last a full game," Flower said of Flintoff. "We’ll get medical advice to see if that is a probability."

The third Test starts at Edgbaston on July 30 and Flower, turning to Pietersen, said: "He’s been struggling with that Achilles and been in a lot of pain. There is a break between the second and third Test to assess how he is."

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