Flintoff refuses to see a long-game connection

One-day defeat remains simply that to skipper

Just for a moment - no more but still enough to induce nightmares for a month - it was possible to watch Andrew Flintoff and Ricky Ponting yesterday and imagine that it would be like this for the rest of the winter. There was Flintoff, falling for something akin to the three-card trick and having only fleeting luck with his bowlers.

He could not even rely on his big mate, Stephen Harmison. These are early days, the phoney war is still being conducted, but Harmison is the man from whom Fred is expected to extract his very best. Not yesterday, he didn't.

And then there was Ponting, letting his bowlers go about their work, making inspired changes which always seemed to take wickets (five times in all) and having a team of batsmen who were also craftsmen. If one failed another one came along. All so easy.

Then came their respective appearances before the microphones and notebooks. Flintoff looked tired and for all his natural attempts at a smile he was careworn. After one week. There are six months to come. Ponting was chipper, carefully gracious but ready to score a cunning point.

Flintoff looked for something, anything about which to be upbeat. "The one thing we wanted at the top of the order was to get off to a good start," he said. "Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell played well and then Jimmy Anderson bowled well, so did Sajid Mahmood with the new ball. There were positives but we're bitterly disappointed."

He could not concede that any of yesterday's performance was connected to the Ashes, but he could not escape its pertinence to the short form. England, despite Fred professing to be happy with the talent and character at his disposal, remain awful at it.

"It's not through not trying, it's a young side with a little bit of inexperience. Senior players have to step up if we have got any aspirations of doing anything in the rest of this winter."

He meant England's form at one-day cricket, but everybody who listened to him, having witnessed what had just taken place, feared that it might have an all too sombre reflection on something that matters a great deal more to many Englishmen.

Ponting was perfectly happy with his charges. He could wax lyrical about the young bowlers, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson, who each took three wickets, and he did not forego the opportunity.

"The result the other night wasn't what we were after but we came here with a nothing-to-lose attitude," he said. "We didn't get off to a flier but it ended up being very comfortable. I thought Watson and Johnson were both outstanding. Watson's bouncer has become important to us and Johnson is improving with every game. He's definitely in the mix for the Ashes."

Most of Ponting's ploys came off in a manner in which they frequently did not in the 2005 English summer. Not the least was the bouncer from Watson which Flintoff hungrily pounced on as far as mid-wicket. The question about whether that strategy might work in the Ashes could have been planted.

"I think we can [use that strategy] for sure," Ponting said. "A lot of their players like to play that shot and at certain times through the last Ashes series I think we felt the grounds were quite small in England and they could just lob it over [our] heads. The grounds are bigger in Australia so we might have some success."

So the Champions Trophy did have a little something to do with the Ashes then. Damien Martyn cut through the caution. "We've been waiting for this game since we left England. We'll enjoy the day and the moment." When they left England. The Oval and all that. It seemed so long ago.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?