The Reuters global sports blog
Years of injury problems have led England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff to announce his retirement from test cricket once his participation in the Ashes series with Australia is over.
“My body has told me it’s time to stop. Since 2005 I’ve had two years when I’ve done nothing but rehab from one injury or another,” he said in a statement.
“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while and I think this last problem I’ve had with my knee has confirmed to me that the time is now right.”
Despite being unavailable so often, England will hugely miss their talisman and can only hope he gives one last tremendous effort to rip the little urn back from the Australians.
In all honesty they didn’t deserve any fortune after another day’s abject bowling display and signs from Strauss early on that it was a damage limitation exercise by time wasting with field placings and underbowling key bowlers.
England breathed a sigh of relief as the rains came to Cardiff on day three of the first Ashes test and spared the blushing bowlers any more punishment from their Australian tormentors.
Increasingly it’s looking like the only way England will be able to salvage any kind of result from this match is if further rains halt the Australian charge.
End of day two: Australia 249 for one in reply to England’s 435 all out.
What a difference a day makes. If Wednesday’s cricket was a breathtaking rollercoaster ride then day 2 was more like a gentle twirl on the teacups followed by a night in reading War and Peace.
All credit to the Australians who were magnificent in making England’s bowling look impotent and the pitch benign.
What an extraordinary first day of Test match cricket, even by Ashes standards. A day that ebbed and flowed, that tormented and teased both sets of supporters and ultimately left us with the question: where does the balance of this match lie?
As Kev notes, lunch for England would have been the equivalent of trying to digest tarmac, a disconcerting affair to say the least. Having won the toss and electing to bat England were reduced to 92-3 by a persevering if unspectacular Australian attack, which left the Barmy Army cowering behind their beer snakes fearing the worst.
Australia have no Shane Warne, no Glenn McGrath, no Brett Lee and no Stuart Clark, yet England still managed to lose three wickets on the opening morning of the first Ashes Test and failed to take the sort of grip on the match, and the series, that was there for the taking.
They lost four more wickets over the course of the day, to finish on 336 for seven, but it was a case of England playing themselves into trouble rather than any genuine menace on the part of the Aussie attack (the exception being the beautiful inducker from Peter Siddle that did for Matt Prior late on).
Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be praying that the rumours of a sideways turning Cardiff wicket prove to be complete fallacy when the Ashes series begins on Wednesday.
Ponting’s team have been bereft of a front-line spinner since the retirement of the mercurial Shane Warne in 2007 and Stuart McGill shortly after.
England’s cricketers face a monumental task if they are to regain the Ashes they surrendered so meekly in 2006/07. Forget 2005 for a moment and take a longer-term view. Since the turn of the 20th Century, England have managed just 17 victories in Ashes series, compared to Australia’s 30, as they have regularly been confounded technically and mentally.
A 2-0 series win over the West Indies at the start of the summer buoyed England’s confidence but looks can be deceiving. The fact is, England have failed to beat a leading Test playing nation home or away since Pakistan in 2006.
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has confirmed the recent rumours and announced his immediate retirement from all cricket.
The move follows the 34-year-old’s failure to be called up for a training squad ahead of the home Ashes series with Australia.
The selection of Australia’s Ashes squad has compounded England’s worst fears. This is a team more than capable of successfully defending the little urn.
There may be no Shane Warne, Adam Gilchirst or Glenn McGrath in the lineup but what the squad lacks in star quality it makes up for in depth.