Cricket: COMEBACK KINGS; ENGLAND'S ONE-DAY WONDERS: Flintoff Leads His Team to Amazing Series Win Freddie & Co Go from Flops in the Ashes. to Down under Smashes

Article excerpt

Byline: Dean Wilson REPORTS FROM SYDNEY

ENGLAND completed the most astonishing comeback in their one-day history to beat Australia in the best-of-three finals with a game to spare.

A winter of discontent Down Under blossomed into a glorious finale as England found their mojo to go on a four-game winning streak and claim the Commonwealth Bank Trophy.

Beers, winner's cheques and trophies flowed into the England dressing room as a delighted Flintoff sat in his ice bath and was doused in a foamy brew.

Paul Collingwood's purple patch rolled on as he made a crucial 70 and took two game-breaking wickets to claim a third consecutive man-of-the-match performance in the rain-affected win.

There is no need to head back to Adelaide now after England's born again cricket heroes completed their 34-run victory in Sydney to bring the curtain down on an epic roller-coaster ride around Australia.

Of course it doesn't make up for the embarrassment of the Ashes series, but it goes one hell of a long way to mending some damaged reputations and restoring a touch of national pride in our cricket team.

For the first time in 14 years Australia have been beaten in the finals of their own triangular series. They failed to make the final in 2002 when New Zealand and South Africa conspired against them, but not since the West Indians of 1992/93 has another team beaten the Aussies... until now.

Not so long ago it looked as though Ricky Ponting's side, recent winners of the Champions Trophy, would never be beaten, and certainly not by an England team that had hit the wall with a nine-wicket defeat in Adelaide.

But somehow, thanks to the brief intervention of Michael Vaughan as skipper in three of the games, the emergence of young talent like Liam Plunkett and Ed Joyce, and the experience of Collingwood and Flintoff coming to the fore, England came out the other side as a credible one-day unit and can head to the World Cup full of confidence.

Ponting said: "England played a pretty complete game in the last final, they batted well in partnerships and then they bowled well to turn things around. We've got some work to do.

"They have played their best two games of the summer in the big games in the finals and so they can be very proud of what they've done and the way they have turned things around."

After winning the toss at the SCG, England needed to get a defendable score on the board and despite losing Joyce for 15, Mal Loye did his World Cup chances no harm with a bustling 45. …