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Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Perfect partners
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport at Trent Bridge

Geraint Jones (left) and Andrew Flintoff
All the focus going into the second day at Trent Bridge was on a crucial England partnership - it just did not prove to be the one we were all expecting.

"If we can bat well and those two can get away they can give us a good chance," said Marcus Trescothick.

"They will score at a fast pace and we will be looking at a good score."

He was talking about Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen, a prospective combination that has been salivated over since Pietersen's international debut.

But again it came to nothing as Pietersen edged a Brett Lee yorker to the keeper.

Instead England, and an increasingly jubilant Trent Bridge crowd, got Flintoff and Geraint Jones, a partnership that has brought outstanding success in the last year.

You wouldn't say they were technically perfect but they're not too bad and they're able to get runs
Former England star Chris Broad

This was the fourth time - but the first this year - the 'Little and Large' of the England side have shared a three figure stand together.

On each occasion, they have lifted their side from having the upper hand to being able to dictate terms.

But this is no occasional coupling. In 11 appearances together, their average partnership is a healthy 79.27 runs.

Over the last three years, Flintoff's talent has rarely been in doubt. He has added patience to power.

He has needed it this year, too, as he struggled to rediscover his form on his return from ankle surgery, complaining at times of "batting with a toothpick".

FLINTOFF/JONES 100 STANDS
177 v Australia, Trent Bridge 2005
170 v West Indies, Edgbaston 2004
118 v New Zealand, Headingley 2004
105 v New Zealand, Lord's 2004

But Jones' performance is all the more laudable because he came to the crease not only at a crucial point in a crucial Test but also at a crucial time in his career.

Centrally-contracted England players receive an annual appraisal, the contents of which are highly confidential.

When Duncan Fletcher drove down to Canterbury in April, he is likely to have said that the odd lapse with the gloves was acceptable as long as the runs kept coming.

This summer, until now, they have stubbornly refused to come, with 114 for Jones in six innings and only 102 more in as many appearances at the crease for Kent.

After three high-profile dropped catches and some shoddy glovework early in the series the critics have been increasingly vociferous.

Former opening batsman Chris Broad, part of the last England side to win the Ashes in 1986/87, was watching from the stands at his home ground.

Geraint Jones
Jones scored 85 in his first innings

"There was an awful lot of talk after Old Trafford that he was going to be left out and he's come in and got 85," Broad told BBC Sport.

"The England management have great confidence in Geraint Jones' batting. His wicket-keeping may leave a little bit to be desired but he does a job."

Flintoff and Jones are good friends off the field, and complement each other well on it.

Flintoff looks to impose himself, reasoning that the best form of defence is attack.

Meanwhile, Jones has an uncanny knack of ticking the scoreboard along in a low-profile way while cracking the occasional high-profile boundary, usually square of the wicket.

"Obviously they like batting with each other. They're the sort of people who enjoy being out in the middle and the challenge," says Broad.

"You wouldn't say they were technically perfect but they're not too bad and they're able to get runs."

Australia's attack were without Glenn McGrath and all struggling for rhythm, resulting in arguably one of the worst showings in recent years.

But a lot of their woes have been down to being put under stress, and a pair of batsmen who score 74 runs in an hour go a long way to building that stress.

"Australia haven't been put under pressure like this for a number of years," says Broad.

"Most other sides know what it's like when you're under pressure - you do make mistakes."

England might not have enforced their dominance in the way they expected, but the results were just as obvious.




WATCH AND LISTEN
News conference: Andrew Flintoff


Interview: England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones



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