Andrew Flintoff steamrolls Australia to help England win an Ashes Test at Lord's after 75 years

Andrew Flintoff picked up five for 92 and inspired England to a famous win at the Mecca of cricket in 2009 © Getty Images

On July 20, 2009, Andrew Flintoff ran in like a tireless workhorse and picked up five wickets to help England beat Australia by 115 runs at Lord’s. Karthik Parimal revisits the day when England beat Australia at the Mecca of Cricket after 75 long years.

In 2005, with his tall frame and athletic build, he charged in and rattled one of the best Australia units to help England reclaim the urn. Twenty-four wickets from nine innings at 27 apiece were his numbers during that series and he was hailed as one of the finest all-rounders produced by the country after Ian Botham in the 1981 Ashes. Four years later, Andrew Flintoff no longer galloped. He ran in as though ankle weights were tied to his legs, but it was his right knee that had taken a battering and refused to heal quickly. He knew it was time to bid adieu and, on the eve of the second Test of the 2009 Ashes, slated to be played at Lord’s, he announced this series would be his last.

One expected the announcement to steal the spotlight away from the on-field action, but, as is so often the case, all talks were put on a backburner the moment the game commenced on the morning of July 16. Andrew Strauss won the toss and chose to bat first and, alongside Alastair Cook, put on 196 for the first wicket. The latter fell for 95, but Strauss kept piling on the agony on the Australian bowlers, who were without the services of Shane Warne this time around. He amassed 161 as England’s innings came to a halt on 425.

In reply, the Australian batsmen were bamboozled by James Anderson and Graham Onions, who took four and three wickets respectively to skittle them out for 215. Flintoff, who was restricted to spells of five-overs, owing to his injury, bowled 12 overs for one wicket. Only Michael Hussey (51) and Simon Katich (48) offered resistance. A rare victory at Lord’s, one that evaded the Englishmen for 75 years, now looked more than just possible. The follow-on wasn’t enforced, but composed knocks from the willows of Strauss and Cook ensued, yet again, and although both were dismissed for the same score of 32, the middle-order did a fine job of maintaining the flow of runs.

After Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood walked back with 44 and 54 respectively, Matt Prior and Flintoff provided the finishing touches, the former scoring a 42-ball 61 and the latter a 27-ball 30 to steer England to 311 for six before declaration. Australia were set a target of 522 with just under two days left. It was, for many, a question of how long before the English edged ahead in the series, or if the Australians were indeed capable enough to salvage a draw from there.

The chase began tentatively, and the openers Katich and Phil Hughes were packed within the first 10 overs. Ricky Ponting and Hussey then dropped anchors and after a 44-run stand, Stuart Broad rattled the timber behind Ponting. Graeme Swann then struck twice, having Hussey caught by Collingwood before cleaning up Marcus North with a delivery that spun just at its last legs. At 128 for five, the duo of Michael Clarke and BradHaddin got together to etch one of the finest partnerships in the Ashes. Each threat from the English bowlers was safely negotiated and, by stumps, were at 313 for five, with Clarke and Haddin unbeaten on 125 and 80 respectively.

With just 210 runs needed to win on the final day, the Australians were back in the contest. However, the England knew they were just a breakthrough away. Flintoff walked up to Strauss, his captain, and told him that he would be opening the bowling (on the final day) and he would like the Pavilion End to start from. Strauss obliged, and Flintoff, his confidence a notch above the rest on that day, steamed in and had Haddin caught in the slip cordon in the fourth ball. “Just to let you know I’ll keep bowling until all the wickets are gone,” he told Strauss after the over was complete.

Clarke managed to hold one end up, but Swann broke through his defences to abruptly halt what was a stoic innings. Then, two inswingers, that could have left the best of the batsmen in a daze, accounted for the wickets of two baffled tail-enders in the form of Peter Siddle and Nathan Hauritz. With that, he pocketed a five-wicket haul, only his third in 77 Tests, but two of those against familiar foes now. His last five-for was at The Oval against Australia in 2005, a game which England drew before going on to win the series. After the fall of (his) fifth wicket, he spread his arms wide in jubilation as he kneeled down on the pitch, a moment that was captured and flashed across front pages of the newspapers worldwide on the following day.

Andrew Flintoff steamrolls Australia to help England win an Ashes Test at Lord's after 75 years

Andrew Flintoff acknowledges the crowd after England beat Australia by 115 runs at Lord’s in 2009 © Getty Images

Swann returned to grab the final wicket, that of Mitchell Johnson’s, as England finally triumphed at Lord’s by a margin of 115 runs. Flintoff’s last match at the Mecca of cricket was incredible, one that led Ricky Ponting to wonder why the stalwart all-rounder was in a hurry to hang up his boots.

Brief scores:

England 425 (Andrew Strauss 161, Alastair Cook 95; Ben Hilfenhaus 4 for 103) and 311 for 6 decl. (Matt Prior 61, Paul Collingwood 54; Nathan Hauritz 3 for 80) beat Australia 215 (Michael Hussey 51, Simon Katich 48; James Anderson 4 for 55) and 406 (Michael Clarke 136, Brad Haddin 80; Andrew Flintoff 5 for 92) by 115 runs.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)