Cricket: Flintoff withers the white rose

Lancashire v Yorkshire
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The Independent Online
ANDY FLINTOFF'S drive to resurrect his England career ahead of next week's naming of the winter tour parties gained timely impetus here yesterday with an innings of typical ferocity that left Yorkshire looking up from the foot of a very tall mountain.

Striking the ball cleanly and with immense power, Lancashire's 21-year- old all-rounder - courted by Sussex and Hampshire as he considers a new contract at Old Trafford - destroyed Yorkshire's erratic and rapidly dispirited attack with such brutal effectiveness that his side's wilting Roses rivals were required to chase a deficit of 247 runs when they began their second innings in mid-afternoon.

Carrying forward 45 runs from the first evening, he advanced to 156 by lunchtime, the century he added during the opening session gained him a line in the more comprehensive records of Roses fixtures as the first Lancastrian to extend an innings by one hundred or more before lunch since hostilities began.

He went on to reach 160 before the off-spinner Michael Vaughan tricked him through a crafty change of length and pace into giving a soft catch to short midwicket. The score was a career best, overtaking the 158 he made against Gloucestershire at Bristol earlier this season, which included the summer's quickest century, blasted off a mere 61 deliveries.

He was not as quick yesterday but mightily impressive none the less. After completing his 50 with the first boundary of the day off the 64th ball he had faced, Flintoff needed to score off only 14 of the next 39 deliveries received to move in to three figures, his second half-century adding 11 boundaries to the seven fours and two sixes already to his name.

Some 42 balls later he reached a 150 that contained 25 fours and two sixes. For Yorkshire, there was simply nowhere to hide, not least for Matthew Wood, who had the dubious distinction of fielding at silly point and spent much of his time airborne, arms wrapped round his head and legs tucked underneath him in the cause of self-preservation.

Such was the regularity with which Yorkshire's wayward attack fed his voracious appetite, tempting him into pulls and drives that were eagerly lapped up. One felt sorry for Ian Fisher, the young left-arm spinner, who took a pounding but should have had Flintoff's wicket on 95 when Richard Harden, running in from long-off, spilled a straightforward catch.

It was not the only catch to go down. Wicketkeeper Richard Blakey dropped another routine one to let off Glen Chapple, who went on to make 41 and helped Flintoff in adding 108 for the seventh wicket. Chapple led a charmed life: he also survived on 24 when a ball from Vaughan hit the stumps via his bat but failed to disturb the bails.