Cow Corner

It’s about Father Time for jubilant England

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England finally broke their 75-year Lord's hoodoo against Australia with a swashbuckling 115-run victory in the second Ashes Test to take a tantalising 1-0 lead in the series.

England, who had secured just one victory at St John's Wood since 1896, produced a sterling display with the ball on the final day, as the inspired Andrew Flintoff precipitated a procession of wickets with a packed crowd roaring him on.

Australia harboured hopes of a world-record run-chase of 521 runs, but were not able to usurp Andrew Strauss's side, and the England captain was left to reflect breezily afterwards as though his declaration was never for a second in doubt.

England knew that it would be imperative to break the sixth-wicket partnership between New South Welshmen Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, who shared 195 runs on the fourth day. Flintoff obliged, removing Haddin as if he were chucking a new cherry into a slip cradle, with Collingwood taking an electric catch.

Graeme Swann reminded everyone prior to the day's play that the only record of any note on the cards was whether he would take a seven-for. He mustered just four, but teased Clarke into a slog so rash that it utterly belied his previously stout resistance.

The off-spinner tossed a loopy delivery up to Clarke, who fox-trotted down the wicket before taking a cursory glance behind him to see his timber scattered to all parts. England's close fielders cavorted mid-pitch before the team celebrated en masse with relish - the ebullient Swann loved every second of it.

Flintoff had Australia's batsmen on the back-foot literally and metaphorically, and he swiftly sent Nathan Hauritz's off stump cartwheeling through Matt Prior's legs with a delivery that jagged back appreciably.

Hauritz joined the ever-growing club of batsmen to shoulder arms extravagantly before hearing the death-rattle behind them. The Australian was the latest to discover that his judgement was comparable to a disorientated punter after drilling consecutive Rosie Rat ciders.

If you showed a highlights reel of this match, you could forgive an onlooker for thinking that there is a secret points system for leaving the ball, and Hauritz probably assured his captain Ponting that there would be something in it for him too.

Mitchell Johnson, for all the filth that he has produced in this match with the ball in his hand, unfurled three crisp back-foot punches through mid-on to temporarily quell the Flintoff hysteria. It did not last for long.

In came Peter Siddle wearing his usual expression of thunder, and out went Siddle, with the look of a fan who had just been instructed by a Lord's steward to take the crate of stubbies out from underneath his soaked sweater.

If Siddle is the Australia rabbit then Ben Hilfenhaus is the ferret - going in after the rabbit in a frantic and slightly bewildered fashion. But it was his partner Johnson who spared the former bricklayer's blushes.

After compiling a brisk 63 and having bludgeoned more booming drives than Happy Gilmore wielding a Big Bertha down the range, Johnson finally lost his off peg to prompt frantic and frivolous celebrations from England's finest.

Umpire Rudi Koertzen has copped a fair amount of stick from this parish, but he put the erratic and largely erroneous decisions of the third and fourth days behind him to end his 100th Test with a competent display of head-shaking.

After Ricky Ponting's damning assessment of Leicestershire during his side's warm-up match there earlier in the summer, Northamptonshire will be awaiting his arrival with baited breath over the next week.

Australia's Lord's spell has finally been broken, and the only person happier than Flintoff with England's victory was his coach Andy Flower, who gushed over a 'fairly decent performance all-round.'

All England need to do now is to adopt the West Indies approach to winning a Test series: pinch a win early, then roll out three decks with all the characteristics of a sun-baked patio, erect a deck chair, and just bat, bat, bat.

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I­ wish I was a betting man because I knew England would­ win today and thought Strauss did the right thing in declaring­ yesterday when all my cricketing pals said England­ would be held to a draw. I­ think it will be a 2-1 to England now because they broke the­ psychological edge the Aussies had previously. It is great to see Aussies­ getting a beating and let's hope this victory will urge everyone to have confidence in the team in the next Test. My prediction is an Ashes victory for England and for the grumpy Ponting to whinge all the way back to Australia on a­ kangaroo ride!" (The objective and considered thoughts of the mysteriously titled, P).

STAT OF THE DAY: In the process of taking five wickets for 92 runs, Andrew Flintoff became only the sixth man in history to have his name engraved on the Lord's honours board in both columns. The all-rounder already had a century to his name at the home of cricket after a destructive 142 against South Africa back in 2003.

SHOT OF THE DAY: After coming in at number 11 with a look of bewilderment, Ben Hilfenhaus stroked a sublime cover-drive and held his pose in wonder before realising that the only thing the shot lacked was an element of timing. He and Johnson hastily scampered a swift two.

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