Operation Ashes as Flintoff flies down the home straight

Andrew Flintoff bowled through the pain barrier yesterday to place England at last in full view of their first Test series win in South Africa for 40 years. It is the sort of thing that fast bowlers habitually do, but it was another titanic effort from Flintoff.

Andrew Flintoff bowled through the pain barrier yesterday to place England at last in full view of their first Test series win in South Africa for 40 years. It is the sort of thing that fast bowlers habitually do, but it was another titanic effort from Flintoff.

It may also have been his last - or at least his penultimate - hurrah on this trip, since it is beginning to seem certain that he will be sent home before the one-day series, which starts next weekend, with the main business of the winter done and the small matter of the summer's Ashes campaign ahead.

Flintoff went into the final Test with a side strain and, more significantly, a bone spur on his ankle, a recurrence of the injury he had last summer. A cortisone injection in the middle of last week eradicated some of the pain, but not all.

"It's slightly worse again," said Flintoff after taking four of South Africa's first- innings wickets for 44 runs to take his haul for the series to 21 and reduce the home side to 247 for 9. "My priority is to get through this game. I can't run in thinking about it, I've just got to get through my bowling and batting and then at the end of the match I'll think about it."

The probability is growing with each ball that Flintoff will fly home this week for an operation, which will give him time to recuperate before the Ashes. Missing a seven-match one-day series seems a small price to pay for his presence then.

He was at his most hostile yesterday, removing both Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith in the home side's middle order. Smith had dropped down from the opening spot to try to lend some solidity down below but he made only 25 before failing to appreciate that Flintoff was getting just enough movement and edging to slip.

England could feel satsified with their day's work but their coach, Duncan Fletcher, was seen in a forceful exchange with the umpires, Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar, after bad light ended play. Fletcher's predecessor, David Lloyd, now a Sky commentator, watched the covers going on when play was called off and spotted that a polythene sheet was placed directly over the pitch without the blanket which soaks up the surface moisture. Had this gone unchecked the pitch would have sweated and made batting a tricky proposition to say the least. Lloyd let the England camp know, Fletcher let the umpires know and the blanket was put in place.

This last act means that England should be in charge of the match after inserting the opposition. "We didn't bowl as well as we should have done in the morning but we talked about it at lunch and things changed," said Flintoff. "I just want to get through this Test now." England need him to do precisely that.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
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

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape