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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 17:50 GMT

Flintoff heroics in vain
By Thrasy Petropoulos
BBC Sport in East London

England's Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff stopped short of removing his shirt after snaring Tendulkar

For a moment there was a fear he was going to repeat the shirt-waving histrionics of Mumbai.

After all, Andrew Flintoff had just captured the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday and he was leaping in unbridled jubilation towards his smiling team-mates.

The Indian magician's spell had been broken and England, largely through Flintoff's back-of-a-length seamers, were about to drag themselves back into a match that was slipping away from them.

It certainly made a different scene to the one Flintoff witnessed last December, when he was sat down and told to prepare himself for possible World Cup disappointment.

The hernia operation he underwent before the Ashes tour was taking longer to heal than was originally predicted and he had been sent home early from Australia.

I'd sooner have had none for eighty and a first-ball duck and England win the match
Andrew Flintoff

There were no guarantees, he was told by his physiotherapist and therapist, he would be fit for the World Cup.

Three months later, Flintoff was delivering the best all-round performance of his international career.

That it was not enough to prevent India winning by 82 runs under the Kingsmead lights could hardly be held against him.

Not only did he snare the wickets of Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, but he brought a runaway train to a virtual standstill.

From 91 for one after 15 overs, India could managed only 21 runs from the next ten with Flintoff returning remarkable figures of 10-2-15-2.

As for his innings of 64 from 73 balls, he was the only batsman to show any degree of control.

And yet, Flintoff's overriding emotion was one of immense disappointment.

"Okay, I might have put in a decent performance but it's the team that counts," he said.

"I'd sooner have had none for eighty and had a first-ball duck and England win the match."

If, however, at the age of 25 Flintoff has finally unlocked the all-round potential he has hinted at for so long, England's fans may come to disagree with those sentiments.

"I'm working on my game, I'm trying to improve and I think I'm moving in the right direction," he said.

"Personal performances on nights like that don't happen very often. I didn't go for many runs and you don't get Sachin Tendulkar out too often.

"I'm striving to improve, striving to get better. I just hope I live up to your expectations."

Links to more England stories


Nehra rips through England
26 Feb 03 |  World Cup
India v England: over by over
26 Feb 03 |  Team Pages
England undone by Nehra
25 Feb 03 |  Photo Galleries
Have Your Say on India
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say
Have Your Say on England
04 Jan 03 |  Have Your Say

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