Ashes 5th Test, Day 2 - England 291 Australia 188-4: Flintoff rediscovers sure touch but England cannot capitalise

For almost two hours it seemed as though Andrew Flintoff would finish his unfulfilled Ashes tour on something of a high. After six weeks of torment, pain and disappointment the England captain had at last found form with the bat and looked set to post his first hundred in Australia.

Ricky Ponting's vibrant and classy bowling attack had tested Flintoff's technique, while England's inadequate batting was again causing him to question his sanity. Flintoff handled both with aplomb as England's lower order again failed to give the team's last recognised batsman the support he needed. Flintoff deserved to reach a sixth Test century but he fell on 89 attempting to hit Stuart Clark on to Bondi Beach.

The frustration that comes with batting with the tail forced Kevin Pietersen to ask if he could move up the order, yet Flintoff appeared more than ready to eke out every run he could when placed in an uncomfortable position. Brett Lee bowled with pace and hostility, but Flintoff kept the good balls out and clobbered the bad ones for four. Lee was twice slapped to the backward point boundary and once driven hugely down the ground for four. Flintoff in this sort of form makes magnificent viewing.

If only he could have batted like this all series.In his previous eight innings he had scored only 158 runs at an average of 22.57. The majority of those had come in a carefree and unconvincing manner in Perth and Melbourne when the fate of the Ashes had been settled.

This innings, however, contained all the attributes Flintoff has spoken about in the build-up to each Test. It was defiant, full of pride and showed immense character. The fact that the innings has not changed the course of the Test is not down to him.

After losing their last six wickets for the addition of 47 runs, and being bowled out for 291, England needed to strike with the new ball. And they did when James Anderson strangled Justin Langer down the leg-side. It is obvious that Langer does not have the same scriptwriter as Shane Warne, who collected his 1,000th international wicket in the morning session when he trapped Monty Panesar in front.

Langer is having a Test to forget. The soon to be retired opener has dropped three relatively easy slip catches and the method of his dismissal summed up how cruel sport can be.

If England's collapse highlighted the team's batting problems, Anderson's opening spell epitomised the woe of the bowlers. His first five overs conceded three runs and contained the wicket of Langer. The next two leaked 17 and Australia were away.

Matthew Hayden and Ponting took Australia to 100 but both fell either side of the tea interval. Hayden edged a cut at the impressive Stephen Harmison to second slip and Anderson at mid-on brilliantly ran out Ponting as he attempted to take a quick single.

Panesar had another indifferent day. The spinner's status among the fans may have increased in Australia but his bowling has failed to reach the heights of last summer. He had a big appeal for a caught behind off Michael Hussey, which resulted in him ending up at leg gully. Umpire Billy Bowden was correct to give the batsman not out, as he was to warn the bowler about his behaviour. There is a fine line between enthusiasm and dissent, and Panesar is in danger of falling the wrong side of it.

Michael Clarke was undone by the steep bounce of Harmison. The fast bowler gets better with every game he plays but it is of little use when the cigars are being handed out.

England's dismal batting in the morning highlighted why they have been unable to compete in the series. The Test was delicately poised when play resumed and a good session for England would have placed them in a healthy position.

Batting was always going to be tricky against an Australian attack armed with the second new ball, yet England again failed to handle pressure during a crunch period. The bowling was of a high quality but that should be expected.

Paul Collingwood should have been dismissed by the fifth ball of the day but Langer grassed a low catch at fourth slip. The drop, off the bowling of Lee, did not prove costly as a Glenn McGrath leg-cutter accounted for him when he had added two more runs to his score.

Whether Collingwood should have been facing the ball that dismissed him is debatable. England's running between the wickets has been poor and this was highlighted when Flintoff and Collingwood completed only three runs following the captain's drive to the extra cover boundary. The shot allowed Flintoff to pass 50 but more vigorous running would have allowed the pair to collect four runs and keep Collingwood off strike.

There was little Collingwood could do about the lifter that trimmed the edge of his bat but the same could not be said of Chris Read, who chased a delivery from Lee which was short of a length and was caught behind. Read has kept wicket beautifully but his Test career is likely to end if he fails to post a decent score in England's second innings.

Few believed Sajid Mahmood would be the answer to England's No 8 quandary and, after a third successive duck, the plan must surely be abandoned. Lee fully deserved his wickets. The first-ball dismissal of Mahmood left the New South Wales man on a hat-trick in front of his home crowd but the all-important delivery was short and very wide.

The loss of three wickets in as many overs left Flintoff with the tail. Harmison gave his close mate support and a couple of boundaries were biffed. Unlike Pietersen, who seemed to look for singles, fours and sixes, Flintoff skilfully placed the ball in gaps and completed twos.

When Clark trapped Harmison in front Flintoff took more risks but Clark was too good and Adam Gilchrist too athletic.

Second Day ratings


Andrew Flintoff 8

If only he could have batted like this earlier in the tour.

Paul Collingwood 3

Little he could do against a McGrath jaffa.

Chris Read 3

Kept well again, but must score runs to keep Test career alive.

Sajid Mahmood 1

Third consecutive duck - perhaps his mark should be 0.

Stephen Harmison 7

If only...

Monty Panesar 3

Bowling is acceptable rather than good.

James Anderson 5

The usual mixed bag.


Glenn McGrath 8

Could easily have had six wickets.

Brett Lee 8

Pace and hostility continue to discourage England's lower order.

Stuart Clark 8

Future leader of Australia's attack.

Justin Langer 3

Finale is not going according to plan.

Matthew Hayden 3

Should have gone on to get a big one.

Ricky Ponting 4

Must have believed the fielder was Panesar when he set off for a quick single.

Angus Fraser

Ball of the Day

What can you do when an 80mph ball pitches on a good length and moves away from you? If you are unlucky, you edge it. Paul Collingwood was unfortunate and it gave Glenn McGrath his only wicket of the day.

Shot of the Day

Andrew Flintoff batted superbly while posting his highest Test score since his hundred against Australia in 2005. The best stroke was a straight drive off Brett Lee. It nearly took the umpire Billy Bowden out of the game.

Moment of the Day

Who gives a stuff whether Sir Richard Branson thinks the Ashes should remain in Australia? It was great to hear a true lover of the game expose his limited knowledge of this most cherished prize. Just get your trains running on time.

Debate of the Day

What is Sajid Mahmood doing in the team if he bowls only four overs? Good question. Perhaps England should have played Ed Joyce and batted him at seven. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, though.

Second-day scoreboard from Sydney

England won toss; second day of five

England - First Innings

(Overnight: 234 for 4)

P D Collingwood c Gilchrist b McGrath 27

120 min, 73 balls, 4 fours

*A Flintoff c Gilchrist b Clark 89

195 min, 142 balls, 11 fours, 1 six

ÝC M W Read c Gilchrist b Lee 2

13 min, 9 balls

S I Mahmood c Hayden b Lee 0

2 min, 1 ball

S J Harmison lbw b Clark 2

51 min, 24 balls

M S Panesar lbw b Warne 0

20 min, 14 balls

J M Anderson not out 0

6 min, 5 balls

Extras (lb5 w3 nb2) 10

Total (462 min, 103.4 overs) 291

Fall: 1-45 (Strauss) 2-58 (Cook) 3-166 (Pietersen) 4-167 (Bell) 5-245 (Collingwood) 6-258 (Read) 7-258 (Mahmood) 8-282 (Harmison) 9-291 (Flintoff) 10-291 (Panesar).

Bowling: McGrath 29-8-67-3 (nb2) (7-1-22-0, 8-2-23-0, 6-1-12-2, 8-4-10-1); Lee 22-5-75-3 (w1) (4-1-12-0, 8-2-25-1, 3-0-13-0, 7-2-25-2); Clark 24-6-62-3 (w2) (7-2-18-1, 7-1-14-0, 2-0-10-0, 3-0-12-0, 5-3-8-2); Warne 22.4-1-69-1 (13-0-43-0, 6-1-16-0, 3.4-0-10-1); Symonds 6-2-13-0 (4-0-13-0, 2-2-0-0).

Progress: Second day (10.19am start; min 93 overs): New ball taken immediately. 250: 376 min, 86.4 overs. Innings closed: 12.17pm.

Bell's 50: 149 min, 108 balls, 6 fours. Flintoff's 50: 109 min, 89 balls, 6 fours, 1 six.

Australia - First Innings

J L Langer c Read b Anderson 26

41 min, 27 balls, 4 fours

M L Hayden c Collingwood

b Harmison 33

113 min, 77 balls, 5 fours

*R T Ponting run out Anderson 45

96 min, 72 balls, 6 fours

M E K Hussey not out 37

114 min, 98 balls, 3 fours, 1 six

M J Clarke c Read b Harmison 11

39 min, 24 balls, 1 four

A Symonds not out 22

49 min, 34 balls, 3 fours

Extras (lb8 w4 nb2) 14

Total (for 4, 228 min, 55 overs) 188

Fall: 1-34 (Langer) 2-100 (Hayden) 3-118 (Ponting) 4-155 (Clarke).

To bat: ÝA C Gilchrist, S K Warne, B Lee, S R Clark, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Flintoff 6-0-31-0 (nb2, w1) (3-0-19-0, 3-0-12-0); Anderson 17-7-55-1 (w1) (7-3-20-1, 5-2-20-0, 5-2-15-0); Harmison 16-5-34-2 (w2) (4-0-23-0, 4-2-2-1, 8-3-9-1); Mahmood 4-1-15-0 (one spell); Panesar 12-0-45-0 (11-0-36-0, 1-0-9-0).

Progress: Second day: Lunch: 4-0 (Langer 4, Hayden 0) 1 over. 50: 52 min, 11.5 overs. 100: 110 min, 24.3 overs. Tea: 109-1 (Ponting 37, Hussey 3) 29 overs. 150: 172 min, 41.2 overs. Rain stopped play: 4.26-5.34pm 155-4 (Hussey 29, Symonds 0) 43.1 overs.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak) and B F Bowden (NZ).

TV replay umpire: P D Parker.

Match referee: R S Madugalle.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
Life and Style
Stepping back in time: The Robshaws endured the privations of the 1950s
food + drinkNew BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?