Andrew Flintoff was appropriately involved in the pivotal moment as England bowled out Australia to reclaim the Ashes at the Oval today.
Michael Hussey (121) was immovable for almost six hours for Australia, but they still finished 348 all out on the fourth evening as a late three-wicket burst from Stephen Harmison helped England complete an npower series-clinching 197-run win.
Doubts were beginning to surface when Flintoff struck to end a third-wicket stand of 127 between Ricky Ponting (66) and Hussey.
Australia had reached 217 for two, and Ponting’s team needed only a draw to retain the urn.
Flintoff, meanwhile, had done little of substance with either bat or ball to mark his 78th and final Test for his country before retirement because of a chronic knee injury.
But it was in those circumstances that he summoned a moment of brilliance in the field, throwing down the stumps as Australia’s captain tried in vain to make his ground – responding to a call for a single to wide mid-on from Hussey.
It was a game-breaking instant, reminiscent of Ponting’s run-out by substitute Gary Pratt in Australia’s Trent Bridge defeat on the way to losing the Ashes for the first time in a generation in 2005.
This time, Hussey did his best to keep England at bay, but even his 219-ball 10th Test hundred could not keep back the tide in a match which had previously been notable for the nine first-innings wickets shared by Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann – match figures eight for 158 – and a century on day three from home debutant Jonathan Trott.