Andrew Flintoff was the hero for England on the final day, and his bowling made such a difference. An early wicket or two was always going to be crucial when Australia resumed on 313 for 5 – and Flintoff delivered.
To get Brad Haddin in his opening over made England heavy favourites and Flintoff followed that up with a remarkable spell of pace and hostility to earn himself his first five-wicket analysis in a Test at Lord’s, in what is his final Test at the ground.
In the end, Andrew Strauss simply could not get the ball out of Freddie’s hands! Strauss would have wanted to use Fred in short bursts but you can understand him wanting to finish things off, and he thoroughly deserved his other successes as England wrapped up the game.
Flintoff hits the bat very hard, and a lot harder than you think. It can be quite unnerving to face him because he can get extra bounce from quite a good length and the ball hits your bat a lot higher than you expect.
I’ve faced him myself, of course, and it is a real challenge even for the best batsmen. He showed today that in the big situations in Test cricket, it’s the big performers like Flintoff who stand up to be counted time and again.
England thoroughly outplayed Australia at Lord’s and deserve to be one-nil up. Ricky Ponting’s comments immediately after the match were spot on: the Aussies didn’t get it right in the very first session last Thursday and were always chasing the game after that.
But what a great two matches we have had so far – it really sets up this series now and I think it’s going to be as exciting in the remaining three Tests as it has been at Cardiff and Lord’s.
Australia have a bit of thinking to do, especially in the cases of Phil Hughes as opener and Mitchell Johnson with the ball. But I think they will stick with Hughes, who is a fantastic young player, and Johnson will get a run out in the practice game at Northamptonshire before the third Test.
From what I hear, Brett Lee doesn’t look like he’ll be ready to play in Northampton, even though he will be fit for selection for the Edgbaston Test. But Johnson, for now, must use the game in Northampton to iron out a few chinks.