Day 5 - Close
England win by 115 runs
In a contest between evenly matched teams, results can be determined by the briefest moments. The first hour this morning was one of those defining periods.
With England’s jitters and Clarke’s belief, you felt that between Australia and the history books stood only the new-ball spell from Andrew Flintoff. Having announced his retirement from an unfulfilled career, the pressure was on body and mind to demonstrate they could rise to these occasions.
Duly, they did. It’s only the great players who possess the ineffable ability to claim crucial moments as their own. Shane Warne, for instance, could turn entire series with the sheer strength of his personality. Today Flintoff touched that greatness once more as he bowled England to a one-nil lead.
It was a sight to cherish - the appalling state of Test pitches coupled with an unrelenting schedule threaten to kill off express-pace bowling altogether. Yet Flintoff, a high calibre casualty, produced one of the great hostile spells. Running on one-knee and buckets of adrenalin he took three wickets bowling unchanged for 13 searing overs. Again he dared to go full and again he was rewarded.
Few get the privilege of leaving top-level sport on a high, and Flintoff still has three games to go. But victory, the man-of-the-match and the Lord’s honours board is quite a way to launch the farewell.