Ashes 2009: Flintoff Inspires As England Take The Lead

Ashes Flintoff Inspires As England Take The Lead
Ashes Flintoff Inspires As England Take The Lead
©Action Images
Ashes Flintoff Inspires As England Take The Lead
Ashes Flintoff Inspires As England Take The Lead
©Action Images

Australia 263 (Watson 62, Anderson 5-80) & 88-2 v
England 376 (Flintoff 74, Strauss 69, Broad 55)

Third Test, Edgbaston, day four: stumps

Andrew Flintoff delighted the Edgbaston crowd with a boundary-filled half-century as England took the lead of day four of the third Ashes Test against Australia.

Flintoff was one of four men to score a half-century as England were bowled out for 379 replying to Australia's 263 to give them a lead of 113 before Australia closed on 88 for two in their second innings.

Play eventually restarted in the third Test at midday as Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell strode to the wicket.  Ricky Ponting and his fellow Australian tourists must have been glad to get outdoors to make inroads into the England batting line-up. 

With the loss of the whole of day three, it seems a draw is the most likely outcome for this test match but neither side has given up hopes of a victory; England lead the series 1-0.

The first session saw some swing from Ben Hilfenhous and Peter Siddle and a couple of LBW appeals gave the bowlers some hope. After a dozen overs, it was the former who took the wicket of the England captain, caught behind trying to cut a ball that was too close to him. Strauss departed for 69 with the score on 142 for three.

Hilfenhaus continued to bowl until lunch, swing occasionally inducing a false stroke from Bell and Paul Collingwood, but after both playing some crisp offside drives, the pair almost made it to the break with their wickets intact before Collingwood drove at one too many, edging the impressive Hilfenhaus to Ricky Ponting at second slip, departing for 13.

Bell quickly reached a half-century after lunch, taken with England on 159 for four, but he perished soon afterwards when Mitchell Johnson finally had an lbw appeal answered in the affirmative by Rudi Koertzen; Bell couldn't have been much more out on this occasion.

He made 53 but England then pushed on with some wonderful attacking cricket from Flintoff and Matthew Prior (41). Prior hit six fours in 59 balls before he toe-ended Siddle to mid on, where substitute Phil Hughes pouched a simple catch.

Prior played second fiddle to Flintoff, who evoked memories of his 2005 heroics at the same ground with some imperious driving, particularly off of Shane Watson, and some big hits through the leg side.

Stuart Broad got in on the act when he straight drove Johnson for four with some class and a chip over the infield off of Nathan Hauritz brought up a half-century stand for the seventh wicket. Next ball, however, the fun was over when Hauritz got one to turn sharply into Flintoff, who in attempting to leave the ball, gloved to Michael Clarke at slip for a nicely-made 74 in 77 deliveries with ten fours and a six.

Nottinghamshire team-mates Broad (55) and Graeme Swann (24) showed no less intent to keep England firmly in the ascendency, wasting little time and playing plenty of shots, Broad in supreme form on his way to his fourth Test half-century before he was the last man to fall, caught and bowled by Peter Siddle.

Australia came out and batted well as they began their first innings, Simon Katich (26) and Shane Watson putting on 47 for the first wicket before Katich feathered a catch to Prior off of Graham Onions.

Swann then bowled a fine mini-spell to Ricky Ponting (5) which ended with the Australian skipper driving and leaving a gap between bat and pad, through which Swann spun the ball back into his stumps.

Watson, who closed on 34, and Mike Hussey, on 18, then dug in to ensure that there would be no further loss of wickets before the close.

© Cricket World 2009

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