Flintoff bowls England to victory at Lord's

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff claimed only the third five-wicket haul of his career today as England completed their first Lord's triumph over Australia for 75 years.

The 31-year-old all-rounder claimed five for 92 as Australia, chasing an unlikely victory target of 522, were dismissed for 406 shortly before lunch on the final day to seal England's 115-run triumph.

The emphatic victory, England's first Ashes win at Lord's since 1934, puts them 1-0 ahead in the five-Test series with three matches remaining and establishes them as firm favourites to emulate the success of 2005 and regain the Ashes.

Australia had resumed the final morning in front of a sell-out Lord's crowd on 313 for five with high hopes of claiming the 209 more runs required to reach the world record victory target.

Michael Clarke and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin had forged an unbroken 185-run partnership overnight and with Lancastrian Flintoff clearly struggling with his right knee problems the previous evening, Australia were hopeful of setting up another drama like Edgbaston four years ago.

But Flintoff, playing his final Test at Lord's following his announcement he is retiring from Test cricket at the end of this series, quickly shifted the balance in England's favour by claiming the breakthrough with his third ball of the day.

Haddin had failed to add to his overnight 80 when he fished at a full-length delivery outside off-stump, which flew low to Paul Collingwood at second slip.

It gave England a flying start and with Flintoff generating speeds in excess of 90mph in a hostile, aggressive spell, Australia looked unlikely to challenge their victory target.

Flintoff demonstrated his threat by hitting Clarke, who resumed overnight on 125, on the shoulder with a short ball while new batsman Mitchell Johnson edged him just short of Collingwood at second slip.

But despite several other close escapes, Johnson provided determined support for Clarke to leave England once again anxious about Australia's ability to claim an historic victory of their own.

The pair added a crucial 43 runs and it took the introduction of off-spinner Graeme Swann in the 13th over of the morning to finally break their stand with his second delivery.

Clarke, who had progressed to 136 after over five hours at the crease, came down the wicket to try to hit Swann down the ground but was beaten by the drift and the ball continued on to hit his off-stump.

Boosted by the removal of Australia's only remaining recognised batsman, Flintoff seemed to run in with extra vigour and claimed his next victim in the next over when new batsman Nathan Hauritz shouldered arms and lost his off-stump.

Peter Siddle was dismissed in similar fashion, this time with a delivery which nipped back through his defences to hit middle stump, and Flintoff raised his arms to acknowledge his first five-wicket Test haul for England since his epic spell at The Oval four years ago.

Four overs later - and just 20 minutes before the scheduled lunch interval - Swann ended Australia's resistance by bowling Johnson for a determined 63 when he attempted another big drive and missed, allowing the ball to shatter his stumps and seal England's triumph.

How the final day unfolded

1105: After Michael Clarke survives a couple of hairy moments against James Anderson in the opening over, Andrew Flintoff makes the breakthrough in the next as he removes Brad Haddin, the batsman failing to add to his overnight total of 80. Superb line and length by the England all-rounder encourages Haddin to wave the bat and an edge carries to Paul Collingwood at second slip. Australia 313 for six.

1200: Clarke's resistance is finally broken after an hour of the morning session as Graeme Swann's looping delivery spins back sharply to remove the off stump as the batsman advances down the pitch. Clarke's removal for 136 leaves the Australians with just three wickets in hand and still 166 runs short of their victory target. Australia 356 for seven.

1209: England move ever closer to victory as Flintoff claims his fourth scalp of the innings, Nathan Hauritz removed for just one run after misjudging the flight of the delivery, which turns off the seam and uproots the off stump. Australia 363 for eight.

1215: Mitchell Johnson earns a reprieve on 36 as Swann drops a difficult caught-and-bowled chance diving to his right.

1229: England move to the brink of victory as Flintoff claims his five-for, dispatching Peter Siddle for seven with another ferocious delivery which beat the tail-ender for pace and crashed into middle stump. Australia 388 for nine.

1232: Johnson reaches his half century from just 62 balls with a single into the legside.

1243: Swann delivers the killer blow for England as he bowls Johnson (63) to set the seal on England's first victory over Australia at Lord's since 1934. Flintoff, with figures of five for 92, receives a huge ovation as he leaves the Test arena at Lord's for the final time. The tourists are all out for 406 as England claim victory by 115 runs and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.