Flintoff enjoys his career high
Andrew Flintoff hailed “the best day of my career” after putting England in sight of victory in the second npower Ashes Test against Australia with an outstanding all-round display at Edgbaston.
The all-rounder defied a shoulder problem at Edgbaston to smash 73 off 86 balls as Australia were set a target of 282.
He then struck with the ball, claiming three crucial wickets as the Aussies closed in deep trouble on 174 for eight.
Flintoff, who hit four sixes and six fours, said: “That is probably my best day in the game, especially at international level.
“If we finish things off, it would be the sweetest victory of my career.
“It is my second Ashes Test and hopefully my first Ashes win so it would be the highest point so far. It has been a great day for me.
“I went into bat at a tricky time and managed to come through it. I also think the partnership with Simon Jones (51 for the last wicket) shifted the momentum back into our dressing room. We believed that we could defend 282 and we stuck to our task.”
Flintoff did sound a note of caution with Shane Warne, who has scored two hundreds for Hampshire this season, Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz standing between them and victory.
He added: “We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Shane Warne is at the crease and Brett Lee is an able batsman. We’ve got to come out with the same intent in the morning and take these two wickets.
“But the atmosphere in the dressing room is buoyant. After last week’s defeat at Lord’s we wanted to come here and put a good show on and we played hard cricket and we are back in it.”
Flintoff had an ambulance waiting to take him to hospital for a precautionary scan but he felt comfortable and did not undergo the trip.
He said: “I’m fine at this stage. The shoulder is all right. I went to play a back foot shot against Shane Warne and I thought it had come out at one point and that my arm was going to drop off!
“It was uncomfortable for about half an hour after I did it. I came in at lunch, had some treatment, had a painkiller and it seemed all right afterwards.
“I came out with positive intent. It is something I have done before, batting with the tail, and it enabled me to play a few more shots and I had a bit of freedom which I enjoy.
“I was also still on a high from the batting when I bowled. I came on at a nice time when the ball was reverse swinging which helps me a little bit.”
Warne took six wickets to take him to within one of 600 in Test cricket, but he was quick to praise the contribution of Flintoff and claimed he always believed England would recover from their Lord’s mauling.
Warne said: “Freddie was fantastic. He is a guy anyone would want in their side. He is a special sort of player.
“He has that ‘X’ factor about him. He can lift a team around him and some of those straight drives were great striking. It is always nice to see Freddie do well. He is one of the good guys in cricket.”
Warne admitted: “I’d like think we are not finished. The beautiful thing about international cricket is every time you walk through the gate you never know what is going to happen.
“There is something different every day – especially when you get the number one and the number two sides in the world playing each other.
“I’ve never known as much hype as there has been leading up to this series and so far the Lord’s Test and this one have been unbelievable Tests.
“From Australia’s point of view it is very disappointing to be in the situation we are in at the moment because we fought so hard with the ball to get back into the game.
“England executed their plans with the ball pretty well. They have got some quality players and whoever wrote England off after the first Test was pretty silly.
“I’ve always said that they were a very good side and haven’t said any of the silly stuff that has probably been said. At the moment they are in a key position and we will fight all the way down. We will fight as hard as we can.”