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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 15:02 UK

Strauss salutes awesome Flintoff

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Strauss delighted at 1-0 lead

England captain Andrew Strauss hailed Andrew Flintoff's inspirational display after the all-rounder helped his team to an historic victory over Australia.

Flintoff took a match-winning 5-92 in Australia's second innings as England secured a 1-0 lead in the Ashes.

"He said to me that I wasn't getting the ball out of his hand until he had all the wickets," said Strauss.

"Freddie was right in the zone. He's got a great heart and that's what gets him over the line."

Playing in his final Test match at Lord's, Flintoff bowled one of the best spells of his career to ensure England completed their first win over Australia at the home of cricket since 1934.

"He was like a bull chasing a red rag," added Strauss.

"He was dying to get out there and play."

Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin resumed on Monday having given Australia a fighting chance of creating history of their own, with 209 runs needed for the highest ever run-chase in Test cricket.

But Flintoff dismissed Haddin in his first over and, despite doubts over his fitness, continued unchanged as England claimed wickets at regular intervals through the morning session.

The Lancastrian bowled with great aggression and fire to claim a memorable five-wicket haul, ensuring his name will be added alongside some of the all-time greats on the honour's board at Lord's.

"It's right up there with anything," said Flintoff of his five-wicket haul. "It's always a privilege to play at Lord's and to get my name on the board is really special.

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"It's been a great Test match for the team. Everybody in the side has contributed. It's nice to get five wickets but it's been a hard battle over five days. Everybody can be proud."

Flintoff hopes to have three more Tests before he retires from the five-day form of the game at the end of the series, but the 31-year-old struggled with a knee injury during the second Test.

"It's not ideal," added Flintoff. "But I had four Tests and now it's one down, three to go.

"I have played for most of my career with a bit of pain. I'll be fine. There is so much at stake and there's always that adrenaline to take the pain away.

Proud Flintoff credits team-mates

"I bowled a lot of overs and my pace has been up. I've felt good apart from a few twinges and they went away so that's an encouraging thing.

"When you get injured, come back from an operation and do rehab it can be testing at times.

"Putting on an England shirt again is at the forefront of your mind and playing against Australia winning a Test match is one of the things that keeps you going."

Flintoff excelled with the new ball in both innings, claiming 1-27 and 5-92 and said: "It's something I never really got an opportunity to do before but now a role I feel a lot more comfortable in.

"When I was younger with the new ball I got caught in two minds - whether I should be swinging the ball or just putting it there.

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"Now I just try to hold it seam up and whang it - it seems to be working."

Meanwhile key batsman Kevin Pietersen is also struggling with an Achilles injury, but Strauss said he was optimistic of having both him and Flintoff available for selection at Edgbaston.

"We'll see how they react over the next three days but we're hopeful we'll have a fit team for the next Test," he said.

But England coach Andy Flower revealed that he was not convinced that both would be fit for the third Test, which gets under way on 30 July.

"Fred's performance was sensational," said Flower.

"He's a brave guy and he's played through pain before. He's also the sort of guy to give the team confidence. But if he's not fully fit and doesn't think he can get through the game he won't play.

"At the moment we don't know - we'll make that decision when we get closer to Edgbaston.

"Pietersen's been playing with an Achilles problem for a number of months and it's been difficult to diagnose.

"It does affect your batting. It makes it very uncomfortable. He's good enough and man enough to deal with it but it is an uncomfortable situation.

"It's fortunate we have a break before the next Test."

England had narrowly avoided defeat in the first Test at Cardiff before bouncing back strongly at Lord's, and Flower was keen to stress that there is a lot more work to do if his team are to reclaim the Ashes.

"I am very happy and very proud," added Flower. "I was a relieved man after the Cardiff escape but take a lot of pride in how we played and handled pressure in this Test.

"Now we want to build on it but there's no room for complacency.

"They are the world's number one team and they will go away and regroup and we have to do the same.

"We've won one match and we want to win the series. There is a lot of work still to be done by all of us."



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see also
Flintoff inspires England victory
20 Jul 09 |  England
Beaten Ponting blames slow start
20 Jul 09 |  Australia
Jonathan Agnew column
20 Jul 09 |  Cricket
England v Australia photos
20 Jul 09 |  Cricket
England optimistic over Flintoff
19 Jul 09 |  England
Ashes memories: Lord's
14 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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