Andrew Flintoff guided England to their first victory during the current Australian tour yesterday with a disciplined and mature unbeaten 72. But the three-wicket win over New Zealand came at a cost as Michael Vaughan limped away from the Bellerive Oval with a hamstring injury that threatens his involvement in the remainder of the one-day tournament.
Vaughan sustained the injury when chasing the ball in the later stages of New Zealand's innings. He remained on the field, regularly flexing and stretching his left leg, as England restricted the Black Caps to 205 for 9 in their 50 overs.
Vaughan then opened the batting but he soon had to call for a runner. He played a couple of crisp strokes in his innings of 17 before pulling James Franklin to Ross Taylor at midwicket.
The injury is desperate news for Vaughan, who has worked unbelievably hard to get himself fit for this competition. The only good feature of what took place is that it is not his dodgy right knee that is giving him problems. If it was it would be Vaughan's career, rather than his participation in the Commonwealth Bank series, that was being discussed today.
"I felt it go when I chased two balls in an over off Monty Panesar's bowling," said a dejected Vaughan. "It is bloody annoying and sore. I am hoping it is not as bad as it feels and that I'll be able to play in Brisbane on Friday but, if I'm being totally honest, I am very doubtful. I have never had a hamstring injury before so it is all new to me.."
James Anderson produced a fine spell with the new ball to reduce New Zealand to 67 for 3 and Duncan Fletcher, the coach, must havewondered why he does not bowl like this more often. Flintoff was as purposeful as ever and Paul Collingwood exploited a sluggish pitch beautifully with clever changes of pace and excellent control. Monty Panesar's figures were respectable, too, but he seemed more intent on saving runs than taking wickets.
Chasing just over four runs an over on a New Zealand-style pitch was never going to be straightforward and so it proved. Andrew Strauss was unfortunate to be given out lbw when the ball hit his bat but, before the arrival of Flintoff, nobody seemed prepared to take control.
Flintoff was busy from the moment he took guard. He picked the correct moments to be positive and his shot selection was superb. There was slight controversy when he was caught off a waist-high full-toss from Mark Gillespie, which was correctly called a no-ball. Words were exchanged, but when Flintoff thumped the next delivery down the ground for four the result should have been a formality.
But cruising to victory is not England's style as Paul Nixon, Jamie Dalrymple and Jon Lewis dragged the match into the final over. But Flintoff's composure got England home with one ball to spare.
"It is a relief to win a game," said Vaughan. "This was an important day for us. We had to win today for the whole momentum of the tour. We have had a tough tour and we haven't won any games and we are just delighted to be talking about winning a game of cricket. We are trying to go back to the basics of one-day cricket. You can't run before you can walk and that is the stage we are at at the moment.
"I was confident we would chase the total down but I knew it would be difficult. But Andrew saw us home brilliantly. We feel he is at his best at six because if we stay in the game we have a match-winner in our middle/lower order. He played the perfect innings."
Flintoff was equally pleased. "It is nice to be involved in a victory," he said. "The one thing I have wanted to do for a while, especially in the one-day form of the game, is finish a match off - be there at the end. I am pleased to have done it."
The Australian media has taken great pleasure in England's inability to win here. They will now, no doubt, state that they are yet to win a game on the mainland, or the North Island as Tasmanians call it.
* Ken Schofield, the former executive director of golf's European Tour, is to chair the independent strategic planning committee set up by the England and Wales Cricket Board in the wake of the Ashes defeat. The six- or seven-man panel, including Nasser Hussain and Angus Fraser, will make recommendations on how to regain the Ashes in 2009.
New Zealand won the toss
ÝB B McCullum c Vaughan b Anderson 16
N J Astle b Collingwood 45
*S P Fleming b Anderson 12
R L Taylor c Vaughan b Anderson 1
P G Fulton c Vaughan b Flintoff 27
C D McMillan c & b Collingwood 22
D L Vettori lbw b Panesar 11
J E C Franklin c Collingwood b Flintoff 20
S E Bond not out 22
M R Gillespie b Anderson 10
Extras (lb9 w10) 19
Total (for 9, 50 overs) 205
Fall: 1-26 2-61 3-67 4-97 5-127 6-144 7-146 8-185 9-205.
Did not bat: J S Patel.
Bowling: Lewis 9-0-51-0; Anderson 10-0-42-4; Flintoff 10-1-37-2; Panesar 10-0-36-1; Collingwood 10-1-25-2; Dalrymple 1-0-5-0.
A J Strauss lbw b Franklin 28
*M P Vaughan c Taylor b Franklin 17
I R Bell lbw b Patel 45
E C Joyce run out 5
P D Collingwood c Taylor b Patel 10
A Flintoff not out 72
ÝP A Nixon run out 15
J W M Dalrymple c Patel b Gillespie 1
J Lewis not out 2
Extras (b1 w2 nb8) 11
Total (for 7, 49.5 overs) 206
Fall: 1-39 2-62 3-79 4-98 5-138 6-198 7-201.
Did not bat: J M Anderson, M S Panesar.
Bowling: Franklin 9-1-34-2; Bond 8-0-29-0; Gillespie 6-0-40-1; Astle 2-0-4-0; Patel 10-1-34-2; Vettori 10-0-42-0; McMillan 4.5-0-22-0.
England beat New Zealand by three wkts.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) and S J Davis (Aus).Reuse content