The Reuters global sports blog
A stunning spell by Andrew Flintoff saw Australia’s last five wickets tumble for just 93 runs as the tourists came under an intense barrage of brutal deliveries from England’s retiring talisman, who secured his side their first test victory over Australia at Lord’s since 1934 by 115 runs.
If anybody ever questioned what England would be missing once Flintoff retires at the end of this series, they got their answer in spades as Lancashire’s finest bowled unchanged for nine overs from the Pavilion End, returning figures of 3 for 33, and completing his first five-wicket haul in an innings for four years.
There was heightened tension at the start of play as Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke resumed their partnership, with Australia 313 for five overnight and threatening to overhaul a world record run chase and steal a 1-0 lead in the series. But Flintoff had other ideas.
Haddin was the first to go, failing to add to his overnight score of 80 as he could only edge a vicious lifting delivery from Flintoff to Collingwood at second slip, in the England man’s first over.
England will go into day four of the second Ashes test in complete control having closed day three on 311 for 6, giving them a massive 521 lead over Australia, who will be asked to chase down a record total to avoid defeat.
Despite bowling out Australia an hour into the morning session, 11 runs short of avoiding the follow-on total of 225, England captain Andrew Strauss decided against asking the tourists to bat again after seeing Australia’s tail-enders play with purpose and in some comfort in clement overhead conditions on what is still a favourable batting surface.
I’m still unsure as to whether England’s first innings total of 425 is a good score on what is essentially still a flat Lord’s track, but with Australia 156 for 8 at the close of play on the second the home side can be proud of their efforts so far.
Australia took just 11 overs of the morning session on day two to polish off England’s tail, as Andrew Strauss, unbeaten on 161 overnight, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad, provided little resistance to some good swing bowling by Ben Hilfenhaus.
With the furore over Cardiff being awarded the first Ashes cricket test still bubbling, here’s a run down on each venue for England v Australia and how the results might pan out.
Cardiff: Starts Wednesday, July 8th
A controversial choice for the first test, given that Trent Bridge and Old Trafford were overlooked entirely, but we’ve been told to expect the wicket to turn sideways. Don’t be surprised to see: England field two spinners, Shane Warne drooling over the pitch … from inside the commentary box, Ricky Ponting cursing the fact his only spin front-line option is Nathan Hauritz and rain.
Pakistan bowled aggressively and batted with supreme calm to seal a convincing eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final of the World Twenty20 on Sunday.
Shahid Afridi’s finely judged 54 saw them home with eight balls to spare after three wickets from Abdul Razzaq had limited Sri Lanka to 138 from their 20 overs.
Bright spring sunshine hit Lord’s on Saturday but with England’s first Test against West Indies having finished inside three days there was no one there to enjoy it.
Instead, the England and Wales Cricket Board were left gloomily counting the lost gate receipts for the final two days of the earliest Test yet staged in England.
There was much tut-tutting* when we heard there were still 19,000 tickets available for the first cricket Test at Lord’s — officially the first day of summer for those of us brought up in the UK.
So only 15,000 or so were brave enough to book a day off work and pay a small fortune for a ticket to watch today’s first day — at best around a fifth of the first of two matches between two teams who only finished playing each other in the Caribbean a couple of months ago — and that if the weather holds.