England rock to rhythm of Freddie and the screamers

Flintoff exacts sweet revenge for England's years of misery
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Flintoff exacts sweet revenge for England's years of misery

There is nothing sweeter in sport than revenge.

While the modern generation seems not to recognise it, the indignities to which the West Indies have been consistently subjected over the past five years or so are all the more satisfying for opponents who suffered for so long at the hands of the ruthless efficiency of teams led by Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.

None was more repeatedly humbled through the West Indies' decade of dominance than England. Twice in successive series in the Eighties they went down in all five Tests in a series: the dreaded "blackwashes".

In 1988, they changed captains four times. A host of promising careers were ended by the damage - psychological and sometimes physical - inflicted by devastating batsmen and merciless fast bowlers, Nor were England the only victims. Australia were similarly blown away. They did not win a series between 1978 and 1995.

It is now payback time and England are simply the latest to take full advantage of the weaknesses in talent, experience and, above all, spirit, of the successors of those who made the teams under Lloyd and Richards great.

Lord's was the West Indies' 29th defeat in 39 Tests overseas since 1977. Only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are yet to beat them.

England's 556 for 9 declared was the ninth total over 500 they have conceded in the 20 Tests since Brian Lara returned to the captaincy early last year. Three have been over 600. Bangladesh posted their highest Test total, 416, in St Lucia in May.

The list of those who have benefited from the ineffectual bowling and avuncular fielding is lengthy. There have been two individual double hundreds and 34 hundreds under Lara.

Not all who appeared on it would be classed among the finest batsmen of the day. The Bangladesh left-arm spinner Mohammed Raffique, for instance, made 111 off them in St Lucia.

Yesterday, they felt the fury of Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff's bat. No one has taken them apart with quite the same humiliating effect as the beefy Lancastrian. They would have felt how others did when Viv Richards was pummelling the ball all over the ground and occasionally out of it.

They have known of Flintoff's ability for some time. His unbeaten hundred in May's final Test in Antigua was evidence of the maturity of a batsman once derided for his lack of discipline.

His power was in evidence in his remarkable hundred, in a losing cause, in the NatWest Series match at Lord's last month. So it was yesterday in different circumstances.

When Graham Thorpe was fifth out on the first day at 262, the contest was evenly balanced. Flintoff appreciated his role and batted accordingly to ensure that the West Indies were denied another wicket before close.

His mood was obvious when he punched the first ball he received on resumption to the cover boundary. The innings that followed was that of a batsman who, like Richards in his pomp, can intimidate bowlers.

As soon as he takes guard now, Brian Lara spreads the field. His bowlers seem to shake in their boots at the ferocity of his strokes. The modern comparison at No 6 would be Adam Gilchrist.

He needs to be tested against bowling - and fielding - of higher than the club standard that the West Indies have been reduced to. That will come but, for the moment, he and his team are getting their own back on once mighty opponents.


England won the toss

England - First Innings

(Overnight 313-5)

A Flintoff lbw b Bravo 167

272 min, 191 balls, 17 fours, 7 sixes

ÝG O Jones C Jacobs b Collymore 74

140 min, 97 balls, 12 fours

A F Giles c Chanderpaul b Bravo 24

48 min, 47 balls, 2 fours

M J Hoggard not out 15

64 min, 42 balls, 2 fours

J M Anderson b Banks 2

12 min, 13 balls,

S J Harmison not out 31

25 min, 18 balls, 5 fours, 1 six

Extras (b 0, lb 6, w 1, nb 15, pens 0) 22

Total (9 wkts dec, 565 mins, 134 overs) 566

Fall: 1-77 (Strauss), 2-125 (Key), 3-150 (Vaughan), 4-210 (Trescothick), 5-262 (Thorpe), 6-432 (G O Jones), 7-478 (Giles), 8-522 (Flintoff), 9-525 (Anderson).

Bowling: Collins 18-1-90-1 (nb10) (7-0-37-0 7-1-34-1 2-0-3-0 2-0-16-0), Collymore 30-6-126-2 (nb2) (5-1-22-0 8-2-25-0 5-0-38-1 12-3-41-1), Lawson 23-4-111-1 (nb2) (7-1-23-1 7-2-15-0 3-1-9-0 5-0-49-0 1-0-15-0), Bravo 24-6-76-4 (nb1,w1) (3-2-5-0 1-1-0-0 5-0-24-1 7-2-13-1 1-0-12-0 6-1-17-2 1-0-5-0), Banks 27-3-108-1 (15-2-51-0 3-0-11-0 4-0-16-0 5-1-30-1), Sarwan 12-0-49-0 (11-0-44-0 1-0-5-0).

Progress: Second day: New ball taken 85.4 overs at 320-5. 350: 390 min, 91.2 overs. 400: 427 min, 98.3 overs. 450: 479 min, 111.4 overs. Lunch 453-6 (Flintoff 119, Giles 11) 112 overs. 500: 519 min, 122.5 overs. 550: 560 min, 132.4 overs. Declaration at 2.35pm.

Trescothick 50: 75 min, 61 balls, 10 fours. 100: 232 min, 162 balls, 19 fours. Thorpe 50: 120 min, 104 balls, 8 fours. Flintoff 50: 118 min, 83 balls, 6 fours, 1 six. 100: 179 min, 122 balls, 14 fours, 3 sixes. 150: 267 min, 184 balls, 17 fours, 5 sixes. G O Jones 50: 86 min, 62 balls, 9 fours.

West Indies - First Innings

C H Gayle b Hoggard 7

14 mins, 9 balls, 1 four

D S Smith c Giles b Hoggard 4

2 mins, 2 balls, 1 four

R R Sarwan not out 87

165 mins, 127 balls, 16 fours

*B C Lara not out 74

153 mins, 103 balls, 11 fours, 1 six

Extras (b 9, lb 2, w 0, nb 1, pens 0) 12

Total (2 wkts, 168 mins, 40 overs) 184

Fall: 1-5 (Smith), 2-12 (Gayle).

To bat: S Chanderpaul, D J J Bravo, ÝR D Jacobs, O A C Banks, C D Collymore, P T Collins, J J C Lawson.

Bowling: Hoggard 8-0-48-2 (6-0-36-2 2-0-12-0), Harmison 8-0-41-0 (3-0-13-0 5-0-28-0), Anderson 4-1-18-0 (3-1-14-0 1-0-4-0), Giles 14-2-45-0, Flintoff 6-0-21-0 (nb1).

Progress: Second day: Tea 24-2 (Sarwan 10, Lara 3) 5 overs. 50: 45 min, 10.2 overs. 100: 83 min, 20.1 overs. 150: 134 min, 32.4 overs.

Sarwan 50: 95 min, 78 balls, 10 fours. Lara 50: 86 min, 55 balls, 7 fours, 1 six.

Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and S J A Taufel (Aus).

TV replay umpire: J W Lloyds.

Match referee: R S Madugalle (S Lanka).