Strauss hails historic victory as Flintoff comes up trumps

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss praised the stirring response his battle-weary side gave to their underwhelming Ashes series beginning after they recorded a historic win at Lord’s yesterday.

England channelled the momentum of the rearguard action in Cardiff last week into the second npower Test and completed their first win over Australia at the ground in 75 years.

Victory, by 115 runs, was sealed 20 minutes before lunch on the final day following an Andrew Flintoff-inspired morning.

With five wickets required on the fifth day to seal a 1-0 lead in the five-match campaign, Flintoff capped a splendid team display with a spell of 10-1-43-3.

Off-spinner Graeme Swann claimed the other two wickets to fall, to snuff out lingering hopes of Australia setting a new world-record Test chase of 522.

“It was pretty much the ideal response,” said Strauss. “It was important we came out and started the game well.

“We’d been given that little bit of momentum from the way the guys played that final day in Cardiff and we needed to build on that.

“We came out well and put the Aussies under pressure for the first three-and-a-half days, but as is always a case in an Ashes Test they come back at you at some stage.

“To go 1-0 up in the series is all you can ask for and if we can continue playing that brand of consistent, positive cricket then we’ll put them under pressure again and then it’s just a case of us taking our chances.”

Before they head to Edgbaston, the scene of next week’s third Test, England will need to check on the fitness of star men Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen on their respective knee and Achilles/back problems.

Fast bowler Graham Onions also finished the Test with an elbow niggle.

Despite dominating the majority of the contest, England entered the final morning with Australia in the ascendancy after Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin shared a 185-run stand on the fourth evening.

Flintoff began his progress to only a third five-wicket haul in Tests with his fourth ball when he had Haddin caught in the slips.

And he charged in, defying any discomfort he may have experienced in his right knee, with little respite for the batsmen until the job was completed shortly after 12.40pm.

“We have always said that when he is up and running and bowling as well as he can he is probably as good as anyone going around,” said Australia captain Ricky Ponting. “Ask all of our batters in this game and they will say he is right up there with the best quicks in the world when he is bowling well.”

In contrast to man-of-the-match Flintoff’s reception throughout his final Lord’s Test, Ponting left to re-think his team’s plans having experienced hostility from the stands.

“I got my first clap as I got off the stage from the post-match interview,” Ponting revealed.

“It took me to crack a joke to get a laugh out of them.

“I am not sure what the animosity was about there but they seemed to take great pleasure in me dropping that catch the other day.

“There were about 15 replays of it in the next couple of overs.”

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