Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Freddie Proving Himself to Be an Action Man of All Seasons

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Freddie Proving Himself to Be an Action Man of All Seasons

Article excerpt


ANDREW FLINTOFF'S status as the world's finest all-round cricketer is not in doubt - even among Australians in denial.

But after a spellbinding summer when his success transcended the sport itself and he became a public icon, could Preston's finest follow the unfollowable and continue to maintain his exalted standards at the highest level?

The early, glorious signs are that he can.

Flintoff was one of the few stars of the World XI to rouse himself for the much-derided Super Series against Australia last month, and, after a fortnight back in Blighty where he almost suffered writer's cramp such was the furious amount of book signing he did in Oxford Street, Freddie hopped on another plane to help England continue where they left off on that unforgettable September day at the Oval.

There were understandable concerns that the visitors would come unstuck in Pakistan thanks to a combination of heat, dust and post-Ashes hubris.

Lesser sides would have melted on the opening day at Multan, when they were invited to bowl first on a pitch as dead as Tony Blair's antiterror bill.

Typically, it was a lionhearted performance from Flintoff that led England's fightback after Pakistan had strolled to 161 for one.

He bowled with aggression and while displaying superb stamina, once again completing more overs than any of his colleagues, and finished with superb figures of four for 68 from his 23 overs.

The key was that he was able to apply extra pressure through reverse swing, the form of old ball movement that he has mastered in the last six months and which surely confirms his status as not only England's best bowler but the finest fast bowler in the world.

Having proved that he can thrive with the ball on the unforgiving Pakistan pitches, could the big Lancastrian get England out of a little hole today when he strode to the wicket after Kevin Pietersen had misread Danish Kaneria's googly? …

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