Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Flintoff Hits out ( but Fails to Attack

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Flintoff Hits out ( but Fails to Attack

Article excerpt

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

Andrew Flintoff produced his most eye-catching batting performance in two years ( but it was Steve Harmison who carried the England attack to Australia on day two in Sydney.

Despite the Ashington Express' efforts, however, England were still unable to take control of the final Ashes Test.

Since taking over as England captain, Flintoff has struggled all tour to marry the twin skills of swashbuckling middle-order batsman and frontline bowler, largely because of a niggling discomfort in his problematic left ankle.

It has hampered the all-action style which established him as the world's leading all-rounder and man of the series in England's 2005 Ashes triumph. Flintoff's confidence must have soared after scoring a brilliant 89 yesterday ( his highest individual innings since a century in the 2005 Trent Bridge Test against Australia ( but he could not stop England losing six wickets for 45 runs, leading them to be dismissed for 291.

Instead of then charging in with the ball like a man boosted by his return to form with the bat, Flintoff bowled only six of 55 overs possible on a rain-shortened day as Australia moved within 103 runs of England's total ( on 188-4.

His absence from the attack was all the more curious because it was a bowling line-up already missing the experience of Matthew Hoggard, who failed a fitness test on a side strain on Tuesday.

Flintoff relied heavily on Harmison and Lancashire seamer James Anderson ( a late replacement for Hoggard ( to bowl the bulk of the overs. "When you lose your best bowler of the series it's up to the other bowlers to step up a little bit, and we hope that's what we've tried to do," said Harmison. "Jimmy (Anderson) bowled well, Monty (Panesar) bowled well ( and I felt I got better as the day wore on."

Anderson halted a flying start from Justin Langer, who hit 26 off 27 balls before he was 'strangled' down the leg-side off his glove.

Opener Matthew Hayden then edged Harmison to Paul Collingwood at second slip before Anderson was responsible for the key dismissal of Ricky Ponting five runs short of his half-century, throwing down the stumps at the non-striker's end after the Australia captain had called for a quick single off Panesar. …

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