Flintoff's power fails to conceal England frailty

England 173 and 417 South Africa 682-6dec SA win by innings and 92 runs
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The Independent Online

The first thing Michael Vaughan must do when he sits down with England's selectors to discuss the direction in which his side are going, following their humiliating innings defeat to South Africa here yesterday, is demand that the captain regains his place on the selection committee.

He certainly hinted this could be the case last night. "I have not yet thought about having a bigger role in the selection policy," he said. "I will discuss a few things with selectors this week, where I will decide on the kind of role I have."

After the chastening experience Vaughan has had during this one-sided encounter, it is imperative that England's new captain is given the power to pick a team that fits his vision.

Thrown into the job on Monday evening after Nasser Hussain's decision to resign, Vaughan has not had the chance to pick a side let alone consider the quality of man he wishes to work with. Before the squad for the third Test at Trent Bridge is announced on Saturday, he has plenty to occupy his mind.

If consolations can be taken from this match, they are that over the last four days Vaughan has had the ideal opportunity to judge the character and desire of the other 10 players in his side. It would be a surprise if there were wholesale changes to the team, but the time is right to bring an end to a couple of careers.

Alec Stewart has been an outstanding player for England, but even he must be struggling to motivate himself now that he has announced his decision to retire at the end of this series. Darren Gough has been an equally loyal and hard-working servant, but there is little a positive mind can do when the body can no longer respond as you would like it to. And even though Anthony McGrath has not embarrassed himself during his brief Test career, England's future does not lie in his hands.

Steve Harmison and Ashley Giles can expect another opportunity to show they have what it takes, but only because there are few contenders for their positions. If they do not perform soon, the trap door is sure to open under them.

Mark Butcher and Hussain should be assured of their places after innings of 70 and 61 respectively. Before Butcher carelessly clipped a half-volley to square-leg, England looked capable of taking this match into the fifth day, but the loss of three wickets on 208, either side of lunch, sealed their fate.

Andrew Flintoff can expect to play a pivotal role in Vaughan's England after his excellent all-round performance. During South Africa's record total of 672 for 6, he was inspirational as he pounded in, over after over, with everything against him. In 40 overs he had four catches dropped and deserved a much better reward than 1 for 115.

It will be his second Test century, a magnificent 142, for which the burly, uncomplicated right-hander will be remembered most in this Test, even if it did nothing more than reduce the size of England's embarrassment. In a game that they were out of from lunch on the second day, the biggest plus was that Flintoff's innings highlighted his prodigious talent.

England's supporters were at last given something to cheer about during Flintoff's 204-minute stay. In an innings that contained 18 fours and five huge sixes - one of which disappeared over the sightscreen and ended up on the Nursery ground - Flintoff struck the ball as hard and consistently as any Englishman since Ian Botham.

No bowler escaped the full force of Flintoff. The normally miserly Shaun Pollock was struck for 20 in an over and even South Africa's 10-wicket hero, Makhaya Ntini, received a pounding. After keeping the tourists' celebrations at bay until 5.05pm, their emphatic victory came when Flintoff was stumped having a heave at the spin of Paul Adams.

Though they are great to watch, these fireworks should not distract from a complete performance by South Africa, who won their third Test match in a row at Lord's since readmission in 1992, nor from the ineptitude of the majority of England's cricket.

Ntini said after his five-wicket haul in the first innings that if his grandfather - a village elder in the Eastern Cape - was still alive he would have killed a cow in celebration. After following up first-day figures of 5 for 75 with a second five-wicket haul, the cattle in the region can be grateful his grandfather is no longer alive.

When Ntini found the outside edge of Harmison's bat he became the first South African, and only the 10th overseas bowler, to take this volume of wickets at the home of cricket. After being hugged by his colleagues Ntini went to the middle of the pitch and kissed the ground. To see that it meant so much to this wholehearted cricketer to be on the same honours board as Bob Massie, Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh in the visitor's dressing-room made it a very special moment.

Incredibly fit and athletic, Ntini is a captain's dream. Even when he was being hit around the park Graeme Smith, the South African captain, had to prise the ball out of his hands, and throughout the match his presence and pace unsettled England. Five of Ntini's wickets were taken with the short ball, each batsman being late on the shot.

After his fabulous innings of 259 on Friday and Saturday, Smith told his side they needed another name on the honours board to win this match. Vaughan will hope the South Africans are not shown where they are at Trent Bridge.


Fourth day; South Africa won toss

ENGLAND - First innings 173 (Ntini 5-75).

SOUTH AFRICA - First innings

(Friday: 412 for 2)

*G C Smith b Anderson 259

573 min, 370 balls, 34 fours

H H Dippenaar c Butcher b Giles 92

273 min, 202 balls, 14 fours

J A Rudolph c Stewart b Flintoff 26

95 min, 74 balls, 3 fours

ÝM V Boucher b Anderson 68

38 min, 51 balls, 12 fours

S M Pollock not out 10

39 min, 19 balls

A J Hall not out 6

17 min, 19 balls

Extras (b25, lb21, w5, nb13) 64

Total (for 6 dec, 177 overs, 748 min) 682

Fall (cont): 3-513 (Smith), 4-580 (Rudolph), 5-630 (Dippenaar), 6-672 (Boucher).

Did not bat: P R Adams, D Pretorius, M Ntini.

Bowling: Gough 28-3-127-0 (nb9, w1) (5-1-18-0, 2-0-14-0, 7-2-25-0, 2-0-10-0, 5-0-20-0, 5-0-18-0, 2-0-22-0); Anderson 27-6-90-2 (5-1-23-0, 5-2-8-0, 4-0-18-0, 1-0-4-0, 2-0-20-0, 7-3-12-1, 3-0-5-1); Harmison 22-3-103-1 (w1) (4-1-19-0, 9-2-29-1, 3-0-16-0, 1-0-8-0, 2-0-19-0, 3-0-12-0); Flintoff 40-10-115-1 (nb4) (6-0-21-0, 2-0-6-0, 3-1-7-0, 8-2-19-0, 6-2-18-0, 5-1-15-0, 10-4-29-1); Giles 43-5-142-1 (7-0-22-0. 13-1-42-0. 16-4-41-0. 7-0-37-1); Butcher 6-1-19-0 (w3) (one spell); McGrath 11-0-40-1 (8-0-28-1, 3-0-12-0).

Progress: Third day: 450: 500 min, 118.4 overs. 500: 552 mins, 129 overs. Lunch: 516-3 (Dippenaar 46, Rudolph 3) 137 overs. 550: 622 min, 147.3 overs. 600: 683 min, 161.2 overs. 650: 722 min, 170.4 overs. Tea: 673-6 (Pollock 6, Hall 1) 173 overs. Declaration: 4.29pm.

Smith 50: 100 min, 79 balls, 8 fours. 100: 207 min, 155 balls, 16 fours. 150: 345 min, 239 balls, 19 fours. 200: 424 min, 287 balls, 27 fours. 250: 546 min, 350 balls, 33 fours.

Dippenaar 50: 158 min, 128 balls, 9 fours.

Boucher 50: 51 min, 43 balls, 10 fours.

ENGLAND - Second innings

M E Trescothick c Adams b Ntini 23

79 min, 47 balls, 4 fours

*M P Vaughan c Pollock b Hall 29

61 min, 42 balls, 4 fours

M A Butcher c Kirsten b Hall 70

183 min, 125 balls, 14 fours

N Hussain c Boucher b Ntini 61

193 min, 135 balls, 10 fours

A McGrath c Boucher b Pollock 13

35 min, 25 balls, 2 fours

ÝA J Stewart c Hall b Ntini 0

2 min, 2 balls

A Flintoff st Boucher b Adams 142

203 min, 146 balls, 18 fours, 5 sixes

A F Giles c Pollock b Ntini 23

90 min, 68 balls, 3 fours

D Gough c Adams b Pollock 14

35 min, 22 balls, 3 fours

S J Harmison c Hall b Ntini 7

36 min, 30 balls

J M Anderson not out 4

35 min, 18 balls, 1 four

Extras (b6 lb5 w3 nb17) 31

Total (481 min, 107.1 overs) 417

Fall: 1-52 (Vaughan), 2-60 (Trescothick), 3-186 (Butcher), 4-208 (Hussain), 5-208 (Stewart), 6-208 (McGrath), 7-297 (Giles), 8-344 (Gough), 9-371 (Harmison).

Bowling: Pollock 29-7-105-2 (nb9) (7-2-9-0, 7-4-18-0, 4-1-17-1, 11-0-61-1); Ntini 31-5-145-5 (nb6, w2) (5-0-32-0, 8-1-39-1, 6-1-22-0, 5-2-15-2, 3-1-21-1, 4-0-16-1); Hall 24-6-66-2 (w1) (6-1-16-1, 3-1-10-0, 6-1-18-1, 4-1-3-0, 1-1-0-0, 4-1-19-0); Adams 20.1-1-74-1 (nb2) (7-1-20-0, 5-0-21-0, 7-0-32-0, 1.1-0-1-1); Pretorius 3-0-16-0 (one spell).

Progress: Fourth day: 150: 201 min, 45 overs. 200: 263 min, 58.1 overs. Lunch: 208-5 (McGrath 13, Flintoff 1) 61 overs. 250: 332 mins, 73.4 overs. New ball: taken after 83 overs at 293-6. 300: 376 mins, 84.3 overs. Tea: 343-7 (Flintoff 84, Gough 14) 90 overs. 350: 420 mins, 93.4 overs. 400: 466 mins, 103.2 overs. Innings closed: 5.05pm.

Butcher 50: 139 mins, 100 balls, 10 fours. Hussain 50: 162 mins, 116 balls, 9 fours. Flintoff 50: 88 mins, 67 balls, 7 fours, 1 six. 100: 164 mins, 112 balls, 13 fours, 3 sixes.


Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI) and D B Hair (Aus)

Men of the match: M Ntini and G C Smith.