'The whole team plays for each other as situations arise'

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The Independent Online

The England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones shared in a 177-run stand with Flintoff - a record for the sixth wicket against Australia at Trent Bridge - while Matthew Hoggard got in among the batsmen in a way he has not done for some considerable time.

"It was nice to put on a partnership with Geraint," said Flintoff, fresh from the fifth Test hundred of his career. "We've put on a few before."

One of the most significant of those was the 170 at Edgbaston last year when England found themselves in a similar position to yesterday's.

"We have a good relationship on and off the pitch and we complement each other quite nicely. We are both aggressive players, but we score in slightly different areas, our games are different, but we both try to hit the ball and score runs quickly," Flintoff added.

Jones merely did what was expected of him yesterday, scoring 85 invaluable runs. Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, has insisted all along that Jones' batting talent is the reason he is in the England side.

Jones is first and foremost a batsman. The keeping is secondary, which is the way of modern cricket. As far as Test wicketkeeping goes, it is runs that count far more than catches behind or stumpings. Yet Jones has been vilified for his glovework, because missed catches, as the old adage goes, cost matches. The tally of his put-downs and misses since his England debut on the 2003-04 tour to the West Indies, prior to the Australian first innings here, stands at 11 dropped catches and two missed stumpings.

And while he has always enjoyed the support of the people who matter in the cricketing hierarchy, Jones must have felt under pressure every time he walked out to keep wicket or to bat.

The Papua New Guinea-born, Australia-raised Jones certainly knows how to score runs - he has been doing that for Kent since his debut in 2001.

Yesterday at Trent Bridge was something else, though, as Flintoff has acknowledged. He was studious in his approach, yet fearless in punishing the balls that deserved it. His timing was spot on, there was one stunning off-drive to the boundary in the morning and later a wonderful straight drive off Warne for four.

Hoggard, too, must have been feeling the pressure as he has struggled to find form and take wickets - he came into this match with seven Australian scalps. But finally he produced the goods in conditions which favoured swing bowling, whipping out three key batsmen in one prolonged and aggressive spell of 11 overs.

"Matthew Hoggard has bowled well all summer," insisted Flintoff, "but different conditions demand different bowlers. Today the ball swung and he put it in the right areas. And he was swinging it into the left-handers, which is always dangerous for a batsman.

"But as an attack we bowl for each other. The whole team plays for each other. As different situations crop up so different players respond."

That was echoed by the Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who said: "This is the best attack we have faced. They are always working together, hunting as a pack."

There is every chance that England fans will hear howls of joy some time over the next day or so.

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