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Downcast Australia scorched by Flintoff's fire

Last updated on: July 21, 2009 

'Flintoff lords it over Australia'



Australia woke in a sombre mood on Tuesday after arch-rivals England broke their 75-year hoodoo at Lord's a day earlier, forging a 1-0 lead in the Ashes series with a 115-run victory in the second Test.

Having castigated Ricky Ponting's team for letting England off the hook in the first Test, the Australian media were more circumspect in their assessment of the defeat and full of admiration for Andrew Flintoff's brilliance with the ball.

"Fiery Flintoff spell breaks Poms' 75-year Lord's jinx," Melbourne tabloid The Herald Sun pithily announced on its back page, next to a picture of the burly Lancastrian all-rounder raising his arms after taking one of his five wickets.

"Flintoff lords it over Australia in historic win," the Age newspaper said of the injury-ravaged bowler, who announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of the series.

Image: Andrew Flintoff celebrates a wicket
Photographs: Reuters

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Flintoff's hostile spell on the final morning quickly eradicated any faint hopes the tourists had of recording an unlikely victory and was reminiscent of another Englishman who tormented Australians in past Ashes series.

"It reminded me a bit of [Ian] Botham in the 1980s... Freddie just had a superb Test match," former Australia bowler Geoff Lawson gushed on Sky News.

Image: Andrew Flintoff claims the wicket of Peter Siddle

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Much less praise was reserved for England captain Andrew Strauss, however, whose first innings 161 was overlooked after he appeared to 'grass' a catch in removing struggling Australian opener Phillip Hughes on the fourth day.

Strauss, lambasted in Australia for sending a 12th man and a physiotherapist in the dying overs of the Cardiff Test, had made baseless appeals and allowed his team to sledge too much in their hunt for the win, according to one columnist in the Age.

"At Lord's, England again has been the uglier team... [Their] bowlers have sledged more than Australia's... Strauss' England had revealed itself to be competitive, but manipulative and petty," it said.

In short, they had acted rather too Australian, the columnist concluded.

Image: Andrew Strauss

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Ponting must now rejuvenate a downcast dressing room before the third Test, with key players struggling and warnings ringing in his ears about becoming only the second Australia captain to lose two series in England, the first in more than 120 years.

Selectors have few options to replace Hughes at Edgbaston, while injured paceman Brett Lee is unlikely to be fit enough to step in for wayward all-rounder Mitchell Johnson.

"Johnson's failure to find a consistent length and line, and subsequent lack of pressure, is Australia's biggest worry," the Herald Sun said.

England, however, can head into the third Test on a high and with grudging praise from former Australian Prime Minister and avowed cricket enthusiast John Howard.

"They deserved to win because they did play better than us," Howard told Australian national radio. "They behaved, dare I say it, like an Australian team in the field."

Image: Ricky Ponting

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