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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
England scent victory
Andrew Flintoff
South Africa had no answer to the brute force of Flintoff
Fifth Test, The Oval, day four (close): South Africa 484 & 185-6; England 604-9 dec.

Andrew Flintoff's brutal 95 inspired England and set them on the path to a series-equalling victory.

Flintoff came out blazing in the morning, smearing 12 boundaries and four sixes and pushing England's lead out to 120 before Michael Vaughan was afforded the luxury of a declaration.

England's attack did not put his efforts to waste, and South Africa led by just 65 runs with four wickets in hand.

The day started with England's hopes resting squarely on the shoulders of Flintoff, who answered his call with aplomb.

When he was dismissed 30 minutes before lunch, a new record had been set for England's ninth wicket, eclipsing the previous standard set 111 years ago. It was also the highest ninth-wicket stand by any team against South Africa.

Steve Harmison
Harmison made his mark on the game with an inspired spell

Flintoff's contempt for the South African attack was measured by the fact that Harmison, Flintoff's passive but important partner, contributed three of their 99 shared runs.

It was reminiscent of the 63-run last-wicket stand shared by Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath at Edgbaston in 2001, only this time England were not on the receiving end.

England were dealt a blow when Martin Bicknell fell lbw to Shaun Pollock on the third ball of the day, but it only quickened Flintoff's resolve to move into overdrive.

He rode his luck early on - Jacques Kallis could have had him three times, either caught off miscued pull shots or through one excellent lbw shout - but later farmed the strike expertly.

Flintoff did not take long to get his timing right, and after his early scares played a selection hooks and drives so barbaric he broke his bat for the second time this series.

No bowler was spared his scorn, and Flintoff reached his apex with successive sixes off Paul Adams, the second of which flew long and high over long-off.

Andrew Flintoff celebrates the wicket of Neil McKenzie
Flintoff capped a great day with the controversial wicket of McKenzie

It sped Flintoff to 95, and to his credit he did not fudge his way to a third Test century, instead missing another expansive swipe and seeing his stumps rattled.

The declaration came just before lunch, but it was after the break that England began to dream of victory as Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith fell to reduce South Africa to 34-2.

Gary Kirsten and Kallis set about repairing the damage, but neither were comfortable to an imposing Harmison and both fell to him after adding 58 for the third wicket.

There was no argument as Kirsten was caught in slip, but Kallis was suitably aggrieved to be given out lbw by umpire Venkat after being struck high on the pads and outside the line of off-stump.

Jacques Rudolph's wretched tour continued when he was bowled by Bicknell offering no shot, leaving his side 118-5 and still two runs behind.

Neil McKenzie hit seven crisp boundaries en route to 38, and it was a bitter pill for South Africa to take when Venkat gave him out lbw to Flintoff despite firstly getting a thick inside edge to the ball.

Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher, two players not adverse to a scrap, were unbeaten when bad light stopped play nine overs early.

But England have picked up the scent of victory and will expect to break down their resistance on Monday, though a better than even chance of showers dampens enthusiasm.


England: Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan (captain), Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe, Ed Smith, Alec Stewart, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Martin Bicknell, Stephen Harmison, James Anderson.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Herschelle Gibbs, Gary Kirsten, Jacques Rudolph, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Paul Adams, Makhaya Ntini.



Links to more Eng v SA 2003 stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
England's Andrew Flintoff
"It's been a good day for England"


England's Steve Harmison
"We got stuck in out there"



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