Flintoff invites comparisons with Lloyd and Richards

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The Independent Online

Lord's knows all about whirlwind batting involving the West Indies but it was the opposition who were on the receiving end of two of one-day cricket's most memorable innings at the game's most famous ground.

Lord's knows all about whirlwind batting involving the West Indies but it was the opposition who were on the receiving end of two of one-day cricket's most memorable innings at the game's most famous ground.

Yesterday, the roles were reversed as Andrew Flintoff matched the ferocious power of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards that guaranteed victory in the first two World Cup finals in the Seventies.

The difference was that Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Ricardo Powell ensured that, unlike Lloyd and Richards, Flintoff ended up on the losing side.

Lloyd and Richards were two of the finest batsmen the game has known. Flintoff might not join their exalted company but, as he showed yesterday, he can be just as devastating on his day.

Lloyd's most famous innings at Lord's was his 102 on a glorious summer's day in the inaugural World Cup final in 1979. It took the gangling left-handed captain 85 balls and included two sixes and 14 fours.

Four years later, Richards despatched Mike Hendrick's last ball of the innings over square-leg for his third six off his 157th ball to finish unbeaten on 138. England were then swept away by the fearsome bowling of Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.

Flintoff lost nothing in comparison yesterday. His six-hitting against the inexperienced medium-pacers Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith was as clean and ferocious as anything Lloyd and Richards managed.

Given the quality of the Australian bowling that he had to contend with, Lloyd's qualifies as the best of the three. He took on Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Gary Gilmour and Max Walker, smashing them all over Lord's.

As Flintoff did yesterday, Richards faced a less threatening England attack with even Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins having a bowl.

Richards had Collis King with him, blazing away with 86 off 66 balls; Lloyd had the steadying influence of the veteran Rohan Kanhai, and Flintoff had Strauss. Not even Lloyd and Richards changed gear with such stunning effect as Flintoff did yesterday.

The statistics are sufficient to make the point. He spent 59 balls getting his bearings, with one six and four fours. Then he lashed 73 off 45 balls with six sixes and four fours. It was an unforgettable performance to set before 30,000 in the sunshine. It was no less so for the result.

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